|Jeff Potter is the President of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, which joined the D-League prior to the 2007-08 season. After blogging throughout the inaugural season, Potter decided to keep the blog going throughout the offseason and into the Mad Ants' second campaign. Check back often for updates to the President's Blog.
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More Summer League Updates
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 11, 4:30 p.m. ET
Folks, I’m not sure if you have been paying attention, but our boy, Earl Calloway, had himself a heck of a week. Earl started all four games for the Pacers this week at the Orlando Summer League, and he was a huge bright spot for the team. I believe Earl led the team in minutes played, points per game, assists, and was up there challenging for tops in rebounds per game. Talk about stat stuffing! It now looks like Earl has played so well that the Utah Jazz asked him to come and play for them in their summer league, the Rocky Mountain Revue. Earl is definitely in the mix for a NBA roster spot!
Here is the best part of this whole situation – Earl is the exact type of guy you hope receives great things. He is such a wonderful person; I can’t tell you how lucky I feel for having him as a part of my extended “Mad Ants’” family. He is truly Mr. Mad Ant, and I will keep you all updated on all things Earl Calloway. Also, keep in mind that you can hear it from the horse’s mouth by reading Earl’s blog on our website. He is keeping us up to date with his thoughts on how he played and what other experiences that comes to mind while he fights his way to the NBA. In fact, I’m an avid reader, and I feel honored that Earl wrote about me today! Check him out – he is a new blogger, but he is a good one, and I think he loves it!
The good stories will not end there. I am headed out to Las Vegas to scout and watch our other Mad Ant players in the summer league. I’ll try to give a blog a day to update you on what I see, who has impressed, and which Mad Ants have stood out. This should be a fun week!
The Summer Leagues Have Started
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 8, 11:30 a.m. ET
Sorry to have missed the last two posts, but I got caught in the holiday season and wasn’t able to get a blog post up. I hope that everyone had a great holiday weekend and that everyone stayed safe. I’m not a big fireworks guy, but it is always nice to get together with family and friends.
Let’s get into the fun stuff – summer basketball. Yesterday, Earl Calloway kicked off the summer season by leading the Pacers to a win over the OKC team. Earl started, played 30 minutes, and led the team in scoring with 16 points and 7 assists. A great start for Earl, and it solidifies him as a real NBA caliber player. He’ll have another game today, and you can watch his games by going to the Orlando Magic website at www.orlandomagic.com. Even better, Earl will be blogging on our website throughout his run in Orlando. Be sure to check that out.
Next week I will be in Las Vegas to watch the summer league out there. I will be able to personally watch Rod Wilmont (Milwaukee Bucks), Dahntay Jones (Denver Nuggets), and Cheikh Samb (Detroit Pistons), and I’ll give you guys as many updates as I can.
I can’t help but note how it stung to write “OKC” above when talking about Earl’s game. If you have followed this blog, you know I am from Seattle, and you must be able to imagine my hurt to see the Sonics leave. I think of all the enjoyment that team brought me over the years. It stoked my love of the game. Watching Seattle’s only major championship, watching players like Tom Chambers, Dale Ellis, X-Man, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton – I can’t tell you how they helped develop my passion for this game. What an absolute failure by everyone involved. I still can’t believe that Howard Schultz – a seeming man of intelligence – would sell the team to Oklahoma buyers and not expect this to happen. His lawsuit now seems like such a pathetic grasp to save face. I wish him luck and hopefully he can get control of the team, but it seems far-fetched to think a judge would actually send the team back to Seattle as a remedy. Further, I can’t believe that Seattle’s city leaders would accept a buyout and not go to the judge’s decision on the lease. It really is a tough pill to swallow.
Okay, I’m out of here for now, but look out for my blog post on Friday. I’m also working on getting the ability for you guys to post comments on the blog, so, get ready with your sarcastic comments!
Thoughts On The Draft
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 27, 10:00 a.m. ET
I thought that was.a pretty exciting draft last night with all the trades, with my only critique being that so many Euro guys who probably won't play in the league next year got drafted. I think I was actually a little surprised that Miami took Beasley. He is obviously a talented player, but with everything coming out of Miami indicating that Pat Riley had concerns about him, coupled with the fact that OJ Mayo came in for a last minute workout, I just thought they were going to go in a different direction (trade down or pick Mayo).
I thought our affiliates had a good draft. I am very impressed with the make over Larry Bird has done with the Pacers. First, he gets a cat quick point guard in TJ Ford who will really be able to push it. I think that fits Jim O'Brien's philosophy much better than Tinsley (Not to mention that Ford seems to be much more of a solid citizen than Tinsley). There is the health concerns with Ford, but those concerns had to be there with O'neal, and now they are out from under that huge contract.
I doubt that we will see Brandon Rush down with us, but there could be a chance to see Roy Hibbert. Another possibility is an Indiana native who played in the D-League last year, Josh McRoberts. He was picked up in the Portland deal, and it would be great to see him. He's very talented, but I think he had a tough time with Idaho. I'm curious if he would do better with us. I know from speaking with Tom Spiece that he was in Fort Wayne often for tournaments, so he is definitely familiar with the area. This could be a very fun reunion.
As for the Pistons, they traded DJ White, their first round pick, for a second rounder. I was so excited about the Pistons picking up White because there would have been a real chance he would have been sent down to us with as deep as they are on the front line. As it is, they picked two big guys in the second round who will go to their camp. If they don't make it and they sign with the D-League, we get their rights.
We'll see how it all shakes out. The interesting thing for me is watching the second round, because that is where we see a lot of guys who come to our league.
Okay, I'm on my way to Atlanta for the pre-draft camp for the D-League. I'll let you know how it goes on Tuesday.
More Player Updates and Other Musings
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 24, 4:00 p.m. ET
Alright, I think I have some good news about one of our players. I received an email the other day from a Turkish agent asking for James Peters’ contact information. I got the okay from James to send it forward and, within two days, he was signed to play in Turkey. For those who don’t follow this sort of thing, Turkey is a fantastic league and a real player in the International game (as evidenced by players such as Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur). This is a really good thing for James and his family, and I think it could mean big things for this career.
I think that this demonstrates that not everything need be a NBA contract for the D-League to be successful in the development of players. There is nothing to wrong with playing overseas for your career, as you will often find players who are much better than those on the NBA bench. They have simply priced themselves out of the NBA, and it would be a step back to take the veteran minimum to be a role player when they are the star on their European team. I certainly hope James career is headed in that direction!
Now, I haven’t spoken much about pop culture in a while, but I feel there is a topic that needs to be addressed. Last night, Julie and I were watching our new favorite show – The Bachelorette. First, I have to say that I think I would have been voted off because I just don’t think I could listen to Deanna and all her talking. All the self-analyzing is just too much for me. That is neither here nor there, and I’m sure I’m the bad guy in this, but it is just too much by half for me.
Beyond that, I think the show is a hoot and very engrossing. Last night I was watching the show, and I think I will go crazy if she doesn’t pick my boy Jason from Kirkland, Washington. He is easily the most “real” person left on the show, and did you see the reunion with his son? It was like out of a movie! How could she say no to that? Moving on, here is why I think she is going to dump Jeremy. She just keeps talking about Jeremy being perfect, and I think that will mean she dumps him because he is too perfect. As far as Jesse goes, he clearly can’t win because he just isn’t very good looking.
Alright, I’ve eliminated any traces of manhood for me, but I just had to say what so desperately need to be said – go Jason! Alright, I’ll see you guys Friday with the results of the draft and how that may affect the Mad Ants.
Ron Howard in New York
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 20, 5:30 p.m. ET
First, sorry if this gets posted a bit late, but it is entirely my fault -- I turned it in late. But, here it is, and I thought I would give you a quick update on how Ron Howard did in his workouts with the New York Knicks this past week. From the news I have heard, Ron more than held his own. He tested athletically the best of all the participants (a lot of free agent players and D-League guys), and he felt that he continued to improve his play through the four days of workouts, where some others may have fallen off due to fatigue. I think he is still in the mix for their summer league team, but that depends on what veterans will play in the league to learn their new coach’s (Mike D’Antoni) system. At the very least, Ron has continued to solidify himself as a solid NBA prospect and someone who will make a nice living at this game.
I thought I would give a few thoughts on the NBA championship. First, I am so happy to see the Celtics win. I think it is good when you have those trademark franchises succeed such as the Red Sox or the Yankees. Rivalries like the Lakers and Celtics can only help this league be more successful, and I am curious to see what type of numbers the finals received. I just think you see far more interest in the leagues when you have the “big” teams going at it for championships.
As for the games, I’m a little shocked the Lakers didn’t win because I just felt they had the best player in Kobe, and I thought that would make all the difference. But, I guess that is why they play the games. Needless to say, I was very happy for the old Sonic Ray Allen.
Well, I’m off for now. Have a great weekend!
The End of the Fun
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 17, 10:00 a.m. ET
Well, it has been a fun week out here in Seattle. I have spent almost all my time with my family, as I just don’t get enough time with them. Running the team just doesn’t allow for me to get back as often as I would like, so I do cherish these opportunities. There were many highlights, but attending my beloved Mariners’ game last night was great. It is tough to see the M’s in its current state, but it is fun to see a game, no matter how bad they may be. The other highlight has to be playing wiffle ball with my family. I do so enjoy that game!
If I was to say there was one thing I missed about Seattle (beyond my family), it would be the water and the mountains. Sometimes I forget how much I miss being so close to Lake Sammamish and the Cascades. It affords a lot of fun outside activities. We were also able to go down to the waterfront with Sydney to see the aquarium, eat lunch, and enjoy the view of Puget Sound with Mount Rainer standing out in the background – really beautiful.
Okay, enough of the waxing nostalgic about my little vacation. I have a flight to catch and need to pack. Hope all of you had a great weekend and will have more for you on Friday.
Posted by Garrett Martz on June 13, 11:30 a.m. ET
My name is Garrett and I am an account executive with the Mad Ants. I would like to say thank you to Mr. Potter for offering me the guest blogger spot while he is on vacation. It’s an honor and a privilege. I will try not to let the tens and twenties of readers down with the quality of my blog.
Writing a blog is much tougher than I anticipated. I just wrote about three paragraphs and decided it was not up to mustard and deleted it all. I am clearly not a top tier blogger like Mr. Potter or Rod “Boom Tho” Benson. I’ve decided to list some top moments that happened over the course of our inaugural season.
5.) Getting to perform as Cowabunga Calfie at some of our games. For those that don’t know, Calfie is MidWest America Federal Credit Union’s mascot. An intern would usually fill this role, but I would “suit up” when necessary. If you have never dressed up as a giant cow, I suggest you try it. It’s much more fun that you might imagine. There is something about no one knowing who is under the “cow head” that brings out the goofiness in you.
4.) Another great moment was the Mad Ants’ Draft Party at Crazy Pinz. Up until this point the Mad Ants had a staff, dance team, coaches and an arena. Something seemed to be missing…..players! It was a great atmosphere with hundreds of our season tickets there bowling, eating, and just having a great time. Coach D and Coach Jackson did a great job of explaining each draft pick to the crowd. It was awesome to finally be able to have some players to talk about. I can’t wait until this years Draft Party in early November.
3.) Piston’s legend /President Joe Dumars attending a Mad Ants game to watch his rookie Cheikh Samb perform. It just says so much about the level of play in the D-League, as well as the Piston’s trust in the Mad Ants with one of their future commodities. In fact we actually had another NBA executive come to a Mad Ants game in the form of John Hammond. He is the former Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Pistons and was recently hired as the General Manager of the Milwauke Bucks. I suggest everyone go to www.pistons.com to read a great interview Keith Langlois did with Joe Dumars. Mr. Dumars talks about Cheikh Samb’s future with the Mad Ants.
2.) If you ask anyone on our staff, which game was their favorite, I guarantee everyone tells you “70’s Night.” Alicia Harrison did an amazing job putting it together. There is something about wearing a leisure suit that just makes life seem a little better. The outfits were hilarious. Every time I looked at our bench I could not help but laugh at Coach Jackson’s afro wig and Coach Noll’s powder blue leisure suit. The Madame Ants were dazzling in their array of outfits. They covered the entire spectrum of the 70’s fashion, from Sarah Bowser in her best “Marsha Brady” dress to Carly Shaleen in her disco queen getup. I would also like to take full credit for the hilarious picture of Mr. Potter, April, and Carly doing the Hustle on the main page. Getty Images has nothing on me.
1.) This may sound a little sappy, but what I have enjoyed the most is meeting so many new people in Fort Wayne and creating new friendships. I knew no one on the Mad Ants staff before taking this position and now we are like a family. There is something about hanging up 15 ft by 12 ft banners together at the Coliseum every game that just creates a bond! It’s been so much fun meeting various business people around town and seeing what makes the Fort Wayne machine work. And we can’t forget about our season ticket holders. We love talking to them throughout the year and getting their take on how we can improve the Mad Ants experience. I am constantly amazed at all the connections you’ll discover you have with people around town. I look forward to meeting more new people as we gear up for our second season.
Okay, this blog has officially become a novel, so I better wrap it up. I would not be doing my job though if I did not mention the brand new row of courtside seats that opened up on the baseline next to the visiting team’s bench. These are great seats that are going to go fast. There is nothing like seeing a game courtside, so give me a call at 469-4667 x 107 and we’ll have 6’11 guys diving for loose balls over you in no time!
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 10, 9:30 a.m. ET
I thought it would be fun to take a blog and write about some of the guys on the team and what they are doing for their summer workouts. I haven’t been able to reach everyone one of them, but here is the best update I can give:
I think that is everyone as I sit here in the morning. Folks, I am off to beautiful Sammamish, Washington for a week of family and fun. Thus, I will not have a blog on Friday, but I will try to have something up from a week from now. In my place, I may have a special guest blog for me. I hope all of you have a fun and safe week, and I will see you back here in a week or so.
I Know, I Know
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 6, 11:00 a.m. ET
I know that I missed my blog on Tuesday, but I have a very good excuse. Get your hankies ready, this is a real tearjerker. On Monday, my wife, Julie, found a four baby bunnies in the corner of one of our tree beds. I must say, they were unbelievably cute, and I was so happy to have them in our lawn. I was worried about one thing though – there was no sign of the mother and nighttime was coming. We live in a very wooded area with lots of critters that would love pick up an easy meal like these little babies.
As I drove home from work that night, I thought about the potential threat to the baby bunnies. First, we were on the verge of a huge thunderstorm, and I was worried about the animals being water logged in some way. Second, as I mentioned, I was worried about raccoons, cats, or any other animal getting to them. I drove up and put my headlights in the area where Julie found them. I walked over to take a look. They could be seen, but it looked like they had pretty decent protection. In the end, I decided I wouldn’t put a bucket over them because I didn’t want to interfere with their mother’s ability to get to them, and I didn’t want to mess with nature.
Well, it turns out that was a poor choice. I woke up and found the baby bunnies outside of their nest. I went over to investigate, and they were laying motionless on the lawn. I found one with its head completely gone. I tried to move two of them to see if they were alive, but they were clearly lifeless. So, I assumed all four were dead. Needless to say, I was (and probably still am) taking this very hard. I blame myself because I should have put a bucket or something like that over them. Anyway, I went and grabbed a shovel to remove the dead bunnies. I picked up the first two and shook them again to see if they would give me any sign of life, and I got nothing. I then went to the other two bunnies. I picked them up, and I obviously didn’t get any signs of life from the one missing a head. But, I did get some movement from the one bunny I didn’t try to stimulate earlier.
I immediately went into the house with the bunny and put it into a box with some warm towels placed inside. Julie grabbed a hair dryer to warm it up, and I got some milk and placed it into a baby bottle. Julie started dropping a little milk in its mouth, and it really started to move! Julie and I couldn’t have been any happier, but we knew we had to get it to someone with actual knowledge of how to treat an animal. I was able to find an animal rehab center, and I immediately ran the little bunny over to get some treatment.
It sounds silly, but it was a very traumatic day for us. The nice lady at the rehab center said that the bunny is in bad shape because it looks like there were some wounds to the head and the belly. I’m going to get an update today, so I hope it is getting better. I’ll be sure to update you on our favorite bunny, but that is my very good excuse for not writing a blog on Tuesday. Now, do you feel appropriately guilty for speaking ill of my failure to blog on Tuesday?
Sales & Marketing Meetings
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 30, 2:40 p.m. ET
I just got back from Denver where the D-League held their annual sales and marketing meetings. Needless to say, it was a great experience. The people who run these meetings are the D-League staff (President Dan Reed and Vice Presidents Bobby Sharma and Shawn Smith, for example), but it also involves the NBA’s team marketing group. Their roles are to provide account managers (ours is Tommy Smith, who you have heard me refer to previously) to each team to provide us with some ideas and help us implement strategies to increase our sales. These folks are the very best at what they do. They do nothing but study what it takes to help teams increase revenues and gather info on what other teams have done that works best – in other words, best practices.
This was my first conference, and I was quite impressed. The league provides so much info, it is actually overwhelming. To say the least, I am not sure if the Mad Ants have even scratched the surface on all the things we can do sales wise. We will get to a point where we get everything implemented, but it will take time, as you have to build a house one step or brick at time. I want to thank everyone in the league offices for putting on the conference and for making it such a fun, valuable experience.
Okay, I have to run to a meeting, but I hope everyone has a great weekend! Most importantly, tell your friends to buy season tickets!
Memorial Day Weekend and Other Musings
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 27, 9:40 p.m. ET
It was a great weekend for the Potter household. We spent it with family and got to watch my daughter interact with her young cousins. Sydney is walking now and starting to form some words, so it is quite odd (and fun) to see her become a little person. With her cousins, she can now walk and follow them, as compared to a month ago when she had to just hope they would hover in her crawling areas. I must say, she is pretty cute!
This week takes me out to Denver for NBA sales and marketing meetings. One of the best parts of being a part of the league is the support they give us. They do a ton of study on best practices and other things, and they give us that feedback so we can provide a better product for our fans and become more successful franchises. It should be a very interesting trip (it’s my first), and I’m looking forward to what they have to say.
Now for my rant of the week – I was watching ESPN and they had NFL Live showing. I understand that football is extremely popular, but I can’t help but wonder if it is necessary for detailed analysis of third string rookie cornerbacks at this point of the year. Further, please, please stop moving the host and analysts to the “field” so we can be taught cover 2 techniques. Okay, we get it, you know the game. Do they think we are going to run out for a seven-on-seven game with these pointers? Okay, enough of me examining the greater controversies of the world – I have an early flight and need to go to bed. Hope you are all enjoying the blog and please let me know if you have any particular team topics you would like me to cover.
Tough Day at the Office
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 23, 2:20 p.m. ET
I have a confession to make: I belong to a country club. No, I never thought I would be the type to belong to a country club. In fact, I had previously believed that such things were the epitome of elitism. I had always wanted to rage against the machine (obviously while listening to Rage Against the Machine) – this is what happens when you spend a year in Argentina playing with a communist while being called “che” all the time. Yet, it seems that life has changed for me quite a bit in the last ten years. Now, I am sitting here in my club enjoying an ice cold diet coke and enjoying the fact that I sold out so completely and whole heartedly. My favorite commy Mariano and my University of Oregon brethren would be so disappointed in me.
This missive about golf, country clubs, and communism does have a point, although probably not a very good one. I am out here today to for “work.” I am meeting a potential sponsor out here to sell him on the Mad Ants. It seems that meetings can be somewhat easier to schedule if you make them on a golf course! I hope to sell him on the fact that I am much better at running a team than playing golf. Most importantly, I hope that we can show him that an investment with the Mad Ants is a good one. Here are the facts that I will try to drive home -- we led the league in attendance in our first year (in spite of a less stellar record), we set a D-League opening night attendance record, we had three players on our team with NBA experience, we are playing in the number one minor league town (thank you Street and Smith), our game production is on par with the very best, and the Mad Ants help provide Fort Wayne with national attention, whether it is in USA Today or GQ Magazine. No doubt, this team is great for Fort Wayne, and we want all the bedrock companies in this community to join us!
I don’t want to gloss over our mentions in GQ. It is a very good article about the D-League and the open tryout they held last year in Arlington, Texas. We are mentioned (it seems most articles name us – something about a team named the Mad Ants that always draws them in!) and there is a great picture of the Mad Ant on our opening night. If you get a chance, check it out.
Well, I need to get to “work” on the links. I hope all of you will have a fun and safe holiday weekend, and I will hit you up on Tuesday with news of my weekend. Try to contain your excitement!
My Visit to Ground Control
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 20, 4:00 p.m. ET
I’m just back from a couple of days of vacation in NYC, and I must say it was nice to get away. I went to NYC for the first time a few years ago for my second wedding anniversary, and I thought it was great. We (Julie and I) went back this last weekend for a little shopping, some sightseeing, and to see a show (Jersey Boys). The show was great, but I have to say running through Central Park was a highlight – what a great environment!
When one thinks of vacation, I couldn’t think of a better spot to visit than the D-League headquarters! Our NBA consultant/guru/psychologist Tommy Smith was also in NYC over the weekend for meetings, and he took Julie and me to see the offices and visit with the staff. It was a great visit, and it was very fun to see how the other side lives. By the way, they are living well. They have an office that is positively buzzing, and the pictures and posters around the walls are just awesome (sorry, but I’m watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother, and a character named Barney says that all the time). I could have spent hours just looking at all the history they have on the walls. No doubt, the league is good hands with the people running the office.
Okay, I’m going to enjoy the last day of my vacation, but I will “suit up” and be ready for a big week starting tomorrow.
Coach Jackson Returns!
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 16, 11:00 a.m. ET
Keeping with the 70s theme, here is Coach Jackson on 70s Night
Thursday was a great day for the Mad Ants. We officially made Jaren Jackson the head coach of the Mad Ants. This really was an easy decision for me, as he is incredibly qualified (sometimes I think I use the adjective “incredibly” too much, but it fits here) for this position based on his resume and how well he handled a tough transition when Coach Davison was named head coach of the Qatar national team. He is fantastic at communicating with his players and communicating his philosophies, and I think the team is in very good hands.
Jaren’s next steps will be to get out on the road and scout for us like crazy. We need to make sure we have a huge database of players, because we just don’t know who will be in the draft this fall. I think two areas that we will focus on in particular is big man play and shooters. I thought those were two of our biggest weaknesses last season, so it will get the lion’s share of his attention. He will be at the pre-draft camp in Orlando and numerous other summer leagues to evaluate who fits his system. I’ll be doing the same, and I hopefully won’t screw things up too badly!
In the end, I couldn’t be happier to have him on board. He is such a good fit in our offices and in Fort Wayne, I feel like we are definitely headed in the right direction.
On another note, I bet you didn’t think it would happen, did you? I bet you didn’t think that I would actually live up to my self-imposed writing deadlines? Well, I just want you all to know that I have woken up at 5 in the morning to make sure I get this submitted and ready for your greedy eyes. That is the renewed dedication I am bringing to my blogging! Hope this didn’t disappoint too much, and I will talk to you on Tuesday!
What a Great Season!
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 13, 10:00 a.m. ET
Check me out on 70s Night
The last time I blogged was in January, and I must admit a lot has happened in the interim. I must say that I am astounded at what a great year we had, and I am shocked how little “bad” we had this year, if I was pressed. I guess if I was actually pressed, I would say that the only bad that jumps to my mind is the fact that we did not win as many games as we would have liked. At 17-33, it was a tough year, but I think, with proper perspective, it was not a bad year. It is tough for a first year team to come out of the gates contending for the playoffs, and, with all of our young players, I think we struggled due to youth. In retrospect, I think we started with one legit veteran (Jeremy Richardson) and we needed at least one more, especially considering how often Jeremy was called up to the NBA.
Yet, that is really the only bad that comes to my mind. In the end, I am extremely pleased with the product and the players we had wearing Mad Ants uniforms, and I ultimately look at the action on the court as a huge positive. Earl Calloway introduced himself to the NBA as a top prospect with a phenomenal season and became the first MVP of the Mad Ants. Jeremy Richardson gave us our first call up to the NBA and also was the MVP of the D-League All Star game while wearing a Mad Ants jersey. Ron Howard came out of nowhere to become a starter in the league. Rod Wilmont continued to show what an explosive scorer he could be in the NBA, and Corey Minnifield demonstrated that he is as skilled offensively as any player in the league. Finally, I don’t think anyone brought the crowd to the feet more than the high flying Eric Smith.
Here is a quick recap of some of our positives:
As you can see, our real success story was the reaction that we received from Fort Wayne. Setting a D-League record for opening night attendance (although we only held that record for about a week – enjoy the record while you have it Iowa!) was an unbelievable start to our season. We followed that by leading the league in attendance in our first season is beyond our wildest expectations and shows that we could not have made a better decision in where we set up shop! I have said this ad nauseum, but the entire Mad Ants organization could not be more thankful to the town of Fort Wayne for our reception – thank you, thank you, thank you!
You would think that a great first season would afford us a little rest, but that is just not the case. No rest for the wicked – or Mad, as the case may be! We are busy with renewals and getting more people on board with the Mad Ants. We have a big bandwagon, and we need more people on it, so get your season tickets today if you don’t have them, or tell your friends to call the Mad Ants office for season tickets today!
Alright, this is a long blog to get started again, but I will have some more for you this Friday. Take care, and thanks for reading!
A Great Win!
Posted by Jeff Potter on January 20, 9:09 p.m. ET
Today, the Mad Ants returned for a home game for the first time in two weeks, and we came away with a monster win against one of the best teams in the league, the LA D-Fenders. We came back from an early deficit, and I thought the guys really battled and came away with a well-deserved win. Walker Russell won the game with a pull up 20 foot jumper from the top of the key. He was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, and he showed why he is such a true professional.
Walker’s story is an interesting one for us this season. He was originally a starter for the team before pulling his hammy, and he was essentially “Wally Pipp’ed” out of the starting point guard spot by Earl Calloway’s surprising and strong play. To Walker’s credit, he kept his head up, remained extremely professional, and is now reaping the rewards of his hard work and professionalism. That was a big time shot he made today, and he should be feeling great today.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about the D-League Showcase that I attended in Boise, Idaho. First of all, Boise was a great town to visit. It has a great downtown, and it also has a really pretty river and mountains behind it. Also, the entire Idaho Stampede organization should be commended for putting on such a great event. It was an unbelievable amount of work, and it couldn’t have gone off any better.
It was interesting to see the way the players reacted to being seen by so many scouts. I thought, for the most part, team play went out the window. There were some exceptions, and two teams that stood out were the Idaho Stampede and the LA D-Fenders. I thought they really played together well, and it obviously shows in their records.
Of special note, we had a young lady out on the court today for a TV theme song trivia contest who was truly amazing. Her name is Emily Berry, and the entire arena was shocked and amazed by her “Rain Man”-like knowledge of theme shows like Seinfeld and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The way she conjured up those hard to remember shows had the crowd on its feet. If the first President Bush was still in office, Emily Berry would be named one of the thousand points of light. Indeed, Emily Berry is a true American hero.
Alright, that is it for me. Hope all is well and drop me a line if you have any questions or possible topics.
The Latest from the Mad Ants
Posted by Jeff Potter on January 5, 3:44 p.m. ET
We are now 14 games into our season, and it feels like it is flying by. Of those 14 games, we have had 11 at home, so we are almost done with half our home schedule already. It certainly was not optimal to have so many home dates in December, but I think we did very well, and I certainly thank Fort Wayne for making it a successful start. Right now, we are sitting at the top of the attendance standings, with Sioux Falls and Rio Grande Valley (RGV) right behind us. I hope that we can continue this and lead the league in attendance this year!
On the court, there has been some good, and, unfortunately, some bad. We had a very tough loss on Christmas day to Sioux Falls and another one a few days later to RGV, but we bounced back with two very good wins against Sioux Falls at home. We started to play much better defense (a real problem in many of our losses), and I really credit the coaching staff for making some moves to improve that area of the team. Ron Howard and Nate Gerwig stepped into the starting lineup and provided the defensive spark we needed, as we held Sioux Falls under 100 on back to back nights.
It was also great to see guys step up on the offensive end. Sammy Mejia has been fantastic, garnering player of the week honors and showing why he was a second round pick in the draft for the Pistons. Corey Minnifield has been an absolute beast in the post, as well. Corey is so clever in the way he scores – he has a fantastic array of spins, fakes, and jukes that always seems to get him an uncontested shot. Finally, Earl Calloway has continued to impress as a rookie playing one of the toughest positions to learn at the pro level – point guard.
As I mentioned, we had a nice two game run, but we need to keep it up, as two games does not make a season. Tonight against Albuquerque will be tough test, but if the guys play like they have the past couple of games, they will have a great shot to head to Colorado with a win.
I was also able to go see one of our own in action against the Pacers. It was fantastic to see Jeremy Richardson in an NBA uniform, and I hope that we will see him stick with the Memphis Grizzlies. He is an NBA talent, and that is where he belongs, no matter how that affects us.
I know that many people are wondering what is happening with Cheick Samb. It looks like he is healing nicely from his mouth injury, but is still a couple of weeks away. From everything that I hear, we should expect to see Cheick back in a Mad Ants uniform after he is completely healed.
Okay, that is the update from here. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family, and I hope to see you out to more Mad Ants games in the future!
The First Weeks
Posted by Jeff Potter on December 12, 8:10 a.m. ET
What an interesting, tiring, fun, exhilarating, nauseating first few weeks I have had. I am not afraid to tell you that it is really tough to put on a basketball game at this level. The planning and build up for the first two games was incredibly intense, and, in the end, I think we did a nice job.
The first night started off fantastic. The line to get in to see our game was long, fans were lining up as soon as the doors opened, and we had a ton of excitement. Alicia Harrison – our game ops director – had the entire pre-game presentation set up perfectly. First, we honored all military in the audience. Next, an incredible choir named the Voices of Unity came out with a color guard and sang the national anthem. They were spectacular. If anyone who reads this can get them to perform for a function, I highly recommend them.
I then had the honor of walking out to mid court with Carl Bennett, the founding father of professional basketball in Fort Wayne. Carl was the original GM and head coach of the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, and he is a virtual treasure trove of information about basketball and the NBA. In fact, the NBA was created at Carl’s kitchen table! Carl came out to perform an honorary jump ball and was rewarded with a signed basketball by the entire Mad Ants team. I think it was perfect way to honor Carl, and I was happy that I could play a small part in that.
Then came the player introductions, and we tried to go all out for this. We darkened the arena, and we then introduced the crowd to The Mad Ant. He jumped around and triggered fireworks on both ends of the arena. We then introduced the entire roster, and we ended it with more pyro. It went off without a hitch and was a great way to get our season started.
The most incredible thing that I saw was the crowd. The place was packed! We set a D-League attendance record of approximately 7,300 people at our first game. What a great tribute to Fort Wayne that they would come and support this team in such great numbers. Of course, Iowa went and broke our record the following week, but it was nice to set the pace, even if for a week! I just want to say thank you to all who attended for making it such a great night.
The team had a rough start to the season. They lost the first two games, but bounced back for three great wins before losing to Iowa in a stinker last Sunday. Iowa was on fire, and we certainly ran into a buzz saw. They clearly did not want to lose to us for a third straight time, and they played a great game.
We have a very balanced team, led by what I believe to be the best player in the league, Jeremy Richardson. Jeremy is a special talent, and he is going to have a long career in the NBA. He can do so many things on the court – shoot, shoot off the dribble, rebound, defend. What makes it even easier to root for is him is that he is such a humble, kind, respectful person. It has been a delight to get to know him and watch him develop. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch Jeremy play before the NBA scoops him up.
Now, we are headed into a very fun week. Tomorrow, we face the Dakota Wizards in what will be Pistons Night in Fort Wayne at 7 pm at the Coliseum. We will have the entire Pistons entertainment crew in Fort Wayne to help us present our game. What makes this so great is that we are essentially bringing a Pistons game to Fort Wayne. This should be a lot of fun.
The timing of Pistons’ Night is especially great when you consider that it is Chiekh Samb’s first game with the Mad Ants. The Pistons assigned Chiekh to us on Monday, and he was very impressive yesterday in practice. He is a very long 7’1 center who tries to block everything and grab every rebound. Chiekh also has a really nice shooting touch, as well. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts to a new player working into the rotation. My guess is that he is going to mesh very well with our guys.
The following night – Friday, December 14 – we face the Wizards again at 7:30 pm. This is a great two nights of hoops for Fort Wayne, and I hope that we see a lot of people out for both games.
Two Days Away
Posted by Jeff Potter on November 21, 10:52 p.m. ET
There are a lot of things I can’t believe in my life. I can’t believe I have a kid. I can’t believe I am married to such a great woman. I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged in a month. And, I can’t believe that I am two days away from our first game.
As we approach the first game, there are certainly a lot of emotions -- nervousness, anxiety, nausea, excitement, uncertainty, and more nausea. I guess my main concern is whether we have covered all the bases. Have we thought of everything that could occur? Do we have all the contingencies covered in case the worst case scenarios happens? I can only say that we have all worked as hard as we can, and that, if something does happen or if we make a mistake, we will learn from it and get better.
If we have any success over the following months, it has to do with the people who work in our office. We have an unbelievable crew and there is no way we could put this team together in such a short time without them. Alicia Harrison, Sarah Wladecki, Heidi Busch, Jeff Johnson, Melissa Majikes, Lindsey Clifford, Lisa Paul, Kyle Thoms, and Garrett Martz have been as good a staff as I could have possibly hoped to assemble, and they make things so easy for me. In fact, any success we have is truly because of what they do and have done. I feel like these people are my family, and I so appreciative to have them.
The basketball staff certainly needs to be recognized as well. Jaren Jackson has been such a wonderful addition. He is a guy who just “gets” what this level of basketball is about. He understands the struggles that these players are going through and what it takes to push through the barriers and attain their basketball dream. He is a dream to work with, and it will be fun to watch his career take off.
Kent Davison is infectious in the very best ways. His energy, his passion, his enthusiasm – this is a man who loves to be around the game and lights up our offices. I think all of our fans are going to enjoy watching him stalk the sidelines like a panther. Kent is a great coach, and he has some very good young talent to work with.
The team we have put together are ten hungry, skilled players. These guys want to get better and make the big league they are so close to making. Perhaps even more important, not only are these fine players, these are very fine young men. Indeed, I think this is a team that all of Fort Wayne can rally around and be proud.
Well, first games on Friday, folks. This is the real deal. We are going to do our very best to make this a fun and entertaining evening for you. Now it is your part – you’ve got to fill the stands! I look forward to seeing you on Friday, and, if you are a blog reader, please say hello to me at the game.
Remembering Old Times
Posted by Jeff Potter on October 20, 9:48 p.m. ET
I am sitting here on a Saturday, having not received any hate mail for by failure to blog yesterday (further evidence that no one is reading this blog. If a person blogs and no one reads it, is it really a blog?), and I am watching a really funny movie. I highly recommend Hot Fuzz to everyone. It is an English comedy that is smart, sarcastic, and rather brilliant (note the cheeky Brit-style compliment). Check it out – I think you will like it.
I was also thinking about what to blog about, as well as the beauty of this type of medium. You can be as random as you want to be, and I think I will try to see how random I can be tonight. Consider this my homage to the old, inane Larry King column in USA Today.
As I was sitting here, I was thinking of a newspaper that I used to read while I was living and playing in Russia. It was somewhat like a blog, where these two expats living in Moscow wrote some brilliant – and often controversial – stuff about the life and times of expats in Russia. The newspaper is called The Exile, and it really helped me get through some very weird and sometimes tough times in Russia. These guys were a couple of true cowboys, and they basically said anything and everything they wanted. I always thought they perfectly articulated just how decadent and wild life in Russia was when I was there. Goodness, could I tell you stories about my time in Russia…
I am surprised just how little I follow the Oregon Ducks anymore. I think it has to do with the fact that I can’t stay up for any of those games. The other thing going against the Ducks is the fact that they are playing the Washington Huskies – the team I grew up loving as a youngster. Indeed, I am truly torn.
I am also surprised on just how bad this blog is. I think I will end this for tonight. Here are some things that are coming up soon with the team that I will be talking about – draft, mascot announcement, training camp. Folks, we are getting close. Get ready!
The Season Is Quickly Approaching
Posted by Jeff Potter on October 17, 11:53 a.m. ET
I am back in the house with another blog. You may have noticed the blogs have not been as frequent, but I promise that I have not been twiddling my thumbs and reading Perez Hilton all day long. No, I only read Perez Hilton half the day (I’m so happy that train wreck Lohan is out of rehab. I was getting bored of Britney). The other half of the day I am trying to get this team ready for the opening day, which is a little over a month away. Wow, did I just say that? There goes any sleep for me tonight.
In reality, we are in a very good position right now, with the team meeting all season ticket and corporate partnership goals. I think that this team is in line for a very good first season, which will lead to many great seasons to follow. It will also be a very entertaining season, as we have some great acts lined up!
This past weekend was a very fun weekend. We had our open tryouts at Indiana Tech, and we had a great turnout. The Fort Wayne International Airport was our sponsor for the event, and we could not have asked for a better partner. Thank you FWA for a great event!
We had approximately 70 players come to the tryout, and I was very impressed with the level of talent. No doubt, these guys could play in this league. A lot of times, especially the way this league is set up, very good players slip through the cracks. That is where the open tryouts come in. It allows these guys to show Coach D, Coach Jackson, and myself that they can really play. We could possibly see more than one from the tryouts at our training camp.
For all of you who like watching a great coach, I think you will truly enjoy watching Coach D. Here is a guy who knows his hoops, and he is a tremendous communicator. He is a LOUD communicator, but a great one, indeed! It was great to watch him and Coach Jackson in action, and there is no doubt in my mind that I made great hires.
Faithful Five, I would like to recommend a great show to you all. It is called Friday Night Lights, and I absolutely love it. I don’t think I have seen a show which captures the ins and outs of high school sports better. More than that, the characters are done so well, it just sucks you in. You are really missing out if you are missing that show. Also, don’t forget to watch 30 Rock. If you miss it, you will miss the funniest man on TV right now, Alec Baldwin. That guy is a stud!
Okay, that is it from here. Hope all is well, and I will blog again on Friday. If I do not, you are all allowed to fill my email inbox with hate mail!
Posted by Jeff Potter on September 27, 8:03 a.m. ET
As I sit here in the early morning waiting for Sydney to wake up so I can get a few minutes of play with her before I have to get to work, I realized that we are less than two months away from the opening tip off. This is quite a sobering thought. I mean, what was always just kind of a concept will be real in less than two months! When I told you I would write about some of the happenings of our office in this blog, I am not sure I always lived up to that claim. However, today I think I will.
With less than two months away, it really hits me like a slap in the face. My mind starts to racing to all the different things we need to get done. Are all our printing needs set up? Is our entertainment lined up for the games? Do we have enough merchandise ordered? Do we have enough interns for the games? Folks, let me tell you, this is just scratching the surface. There are a lot of things to be done, but, at the very least, I think we have everything covered. Luckily, our staff is so great that it helps take some of the burden off my shoulders.
Well, I hear Syd stirring, so, I am going to get some quick play time in with her. Next blog will be something a little more fun. For instance, I don’t know if I have properly commented on all things pop culture recently. I am sure that you will all be waiting with baited breath for that entry!
The Expansion Draft
Posted by Jeff Potter on September 15, 9:10 p.m. ET
A little late with these comments, but I thought I would discuss our expansion draft from last week. For us, it really could not have gone any better. In our first five picks, we were able to get the first five guys we had on our board. I am sure that every team identified players and needs differently and that was why we were able to do this. Our philosophy was to identify players in the early rounds who had not signed to play overseas. For example, Jeremy Richardson – while having signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Heat – had not signed with any overseas team, while a player like Roger Powell had in Italy. While Jeremy has signed with another team, it is with an NBA club, and, should he not make the squad, he would probably be inclined to come to the D-League because he is so close to making the League. As talented as his, we thought it was worth the shot. In the end, I think we were pretty comfortable with the players we selected, and we are hopeful we will get at least four of these players signed and to our training camp.
We are getting closer and closer to the season people, and I am getting quite anxious to start seeing some players in here. The next step in terms of players for the team is the open tryout in the middle of October. If you think you are good enough, this is the time to show it. Work on your games, and I’ll look forward to seeing you at Indiana Tech. Until next time!
The Early Bird Special is About to Fly Away!
Posted by Jeff Potter on August 29, 3:48 p.m. ET
I would not be a good friend to all five of my readers if I didn’t tell you that you are running out of time. You guys just can’t wait any longer. You must move quickly if you don’t want to miss it.
Miss what you ask? Well, my friends, you are about to miss the early bird special. The early bird special allows you to buy tickets at close to a 20% discount. What a steal! There is not a better deal out there for the type of product we are putting out in the community. This is the NBA, folks! These players are NBA ready! What are you waiting for! Call us before Friday, August 31, or you will watch the early bird fly away!
Now, let’s move on to the personal stuff that I love to share. This past weekend Julie (my wife), Sydney (my cool daughter), and I (me) were in Chicago for the triathlon. This was my third year, but my second year doing the international distance (1 mile swim, 26 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run). This year I was quite worried about my time, because I wasn’t able to train as much as I did last year. It seems that this team and that kid really cut into my training schedule. In the end, however, I was pleased with my time. I finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes. It was ten minutes slower than last year, but it was a solid time.
I was most proud of Julie. She did the triathlon 6 months after she gave birth – what a stud! I was like a kid at Christmas as she was approaching the swim start. She did the sprint triathlon (.5 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and 3 mile run), and she put in a great time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. Again, I have to give my girl super props!
All the Important Things
Posted by Jeff Potter on August 16, 1:07 p.m. ET
As I sit here watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance, I am really struggling. First, my mom is sitting next to me sobbing. She has gotten really into this show and is not pleased that the young stud, Neil, is gone. She is having a tough time dealing with this, and quite frankly so am I. Why am I struggling with Neil’s departure? Let’s just say that I have my reasons. Although it is hard to say goodbye, I couldn’t be happier because this is clearly the greatest finale of any show, ever. Needless to say, I am a huge fan. In fact, this tremendous show has me thinking of the good things in life.
What are those good things, you ask? First, I must say that my daughter is a big one. Look, I am not trying to create a sappy moment in this blog. My faithful five know that I simply do not do “sappy” stuff. With that said, I have to say, my kid is really great. In fact, Syd could be (is) the greatest person ever to walk this earth. Because you are all my friends, let me fill you in on her future path. Syd will go to Stanford where she will be both an Academic All American (an award for the smart kids) and an All American (an award for the athletic kids) in volleyball. She will be pre-med at Stanford and will go on to be a successful heart surgeon. Isn’t it nice to have your life planned for you?
Another good thing that I am thinking about is one of the greatest inventions ever. Some of you might think I am referring to electricity, television, or the wheel. If you think that, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog. Besides, any dope could have come up with those things. No, man’s greatest invention is clearly Glad Press and Seal. Do you know about this stuff? I used to struggle with Saran wrap and wonder why anyone would ever use this stuff. It never worked. Now, we don’t need to waste our time trying to get the Saran wrap to not stick to itself. Glad Press and Seal now sticks right on whatever surface you want. It truly is a miracle. Kudos, Glad, and kudos again!
Good Things Happening with the Ants!
Posted by Jeff Potter on August 12, 5:27 p.m. ET
I got a call the other day from Kyle the Intern, and he noted that I have not blogged in a bit. I usually think Kyle the Intern is a bit of a spaz, but it turns out he was right. I haven’t blogged in a little bit, and I thought I would drop this one like it’s hot!
The team was out at the Glenbrook Mall with a booth this past weekend, and I think it went very well. We were able to speak to a lot of different people about any questions they have about the league, the team, and season tickets. I think these little things like sitting in the mall and being available for such questions are very important, as this community needs to understand that we are here for them, and we are going to be around for a long time.
By the way, the early bird special is around only for a short time longer. Do not miss this opportunity to save on season tickets!
Further, in terms of visibility for the team, I hope that everyone is enjoying our commercials and our billboards. The Asher Agency has done a great job of plastering our logo and team name all over town. I hope that everyone knows who and what the Mad Ants are about now. Here is my question – does anyone know why we would put “Follow the Pheromones” on the billboards? That is a great Ant fact.
We had Dan Reed, D-League President, in town this week, and I was able to have some very good discussions with him regarding the direction of this league. This is a league that is growing incredibly fast, and the goal is to get to 30 D-League teams for the 30 NBA teams. This league is the fastest growing league in the States, and it is the second best basketball in the world. This is going to be GREAT basketball. I hope that this town is as excited as we are about the level of play that is going to be seen at the Coliseum!
Finally, I would like to turn this blog into TRL for a second as I give a shout out to Jodie and Kevin FeeFoffell and their new little shorty, Charlie FeeFoffell. Just remember, Kevin, keep him away from my little Sydney. By the way, to all five of my loyal readers, Sydney continues to be empirically the best looking baby in the world!
Hope that you are all having a great day and shoot me an email when you get a chance!
Ant Fact of the Week
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 25, 8:45 p.m. ET
Here we are with another Ant Fact of the Week! This is clearly the most interesting part of everyone’s day, and I will not hesitate to drop a little knowledge on you like it is hot. Here is what Wikipedia – that bastion of knowledge – has said that Ants do to their enemies. Other D-League teams beware:
Don’t mess with Ants – we’ll getcha! Now, I know that Wikipedia is not good enough for college professors, but it looks good to me. What do those academic snobs know anyway?
Pistons Sign Center Cheik Samb, Will Send Him to Mad Ants
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 23, 9:46 p.m. ET
I thought we had some great news recently in the form of an NBA signing. The Detroit Pistons signed seven foot one center Cheik Samb to a two year contract with the intention of sending him down to play for the Mad Ants. This is exactly what we were hoping for as a franchise. Samb is a young player who is raw, but he has some real skills and potential. Both Coach Davison and I really thought he had a lot of upside when we saw him play in Las Vegas. Coach Davison is the perfect coach for him, and the Pistons recognize this. That is why getting Coach was such a great score for this franchise. Read more about Chiek Samb at the following links:
I think Mad Ants and Pistons fans will really enjoy learning about Samb and watching him mature as a player.
Okay, okay, I won’t act like I have not been derelict in my blogging duties. I know I have been a real slacker. Yet, I do not know if you people know this, but a blog is a tough responsibility. You have to actually blog on a consistent basis! Well, I hope that I have had at least something remotely interesting to say with this blog. More than anything, I hope that the show Age of Love has given me the inspiration to write an interesting blog for you. Have you been watching Age of Love? Well, if you have not, you have been missing out. This is one of the most important sociological experiments of all time. I would also be remiss if I did not tell you that I am rooting for a “cougar” to win (a faithful fan will know what I am talking about). Any show that includes quotes from Oscar Wilde and Bill Shakespeare at the beginning of it can call me a fan! Honestly, this is such a great show. The fight around the campfire last night was priceless. You must watch it.
I am going to keep this short and sweet. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and I will be back soon with the Ant Fact of the Week! I am sure that you are all giggly with excitement!
Ant Fact of the Week
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 3, 8:49 p.m. ET
I thought one of things I would do in this blog – besides comparing and contrasting English judges of talent – would be to widen everyone’s horizons by teaching everyone a little bit about ants. So, without further ado, here is the very first Ant Fact of the Week!
Did you know that the legs of the ant are extremely strong, thus they can run very quickly? If a man could run as fast for his size as an ant can, he could run as fast as a racehorse. Also, did you know that ants can lift 20 times their own body weight? No, they do not need HGH to attain such super strength. They are all natural baby! (http://www.lingolex.com/ants.htm).
Who knew that ants were such studs? Who would not want to be an ant?
NBA Draft Impressions
Posted by Jeff Potter on July 1, 7:05 p.m. ET
I am back with another blog, and – like Us Magazine – it is completely Paris-free! I was able to watch some of the draft before having to play some Apples and Apples on my couples play date (kind of a fun game, check it out), and I am now prepared to give you my impressions of the draft.
In the end, I thought the draft was only marginally interesting because I think it pretty much went as expected. For example, Oden was a no-brainer for the first pick of the draft, and Durant was even a bigger no brainer after Oden was chosen.
It was a bit of a surprise for me to see Ray Allen get traded from the Sonics. My surprise notwithstanding, I think it was a very shrewd and smart move. Even with the addition of Durant, it was not as if the Sonics would be close to challenging for a championship in the foreseeable future. I think it was a great decision by Sam Presti to take a step back and start to reload.
Also reloading was the Blazers, I thought they had a tremendous day. It had to be tough moving a scorer like Zach Randolph, but they recognized – like the Sonics – that there was no point in waiting to hand over the team to their young superstar. I also thought they were able to get some real value in the second round with Josh McRoberts and Taurean Green. In fact, I was a little surprised to see how far both those players fell. McRoberts was a projected lottery pick last year, and I was pretty impressed with Green in Orlando.
Indeed, I thought it was a good day for the Northwest, now I can only hope that the Sonics will remain in Seattle so Sonics fans can enjoy the ride.
Alright, I have talked enough hoops in my blog of late. Now, it is time to tackle some of the tougher questions of our times. For instance, who is the best English judge on reality television? I know that the popular sentiment is to anoint Simon Cowell as the best judge. I think we all know that he is much better than that hack on America’s Got Talent who is doing his best to be exactly like Simon. I love Sharon Osborne, but I would rather see her with a stumbling Ozzy on The Osbornes, and she just does not measure up to Simon. Yet, before rushing to judgment, I think you will all be surprised to learn that Simon – in my opinion – is not the best English talent judge. No, the best English judge out there is Nigel Lythgoe from So You Think You Can Dance.
He is the best English judge because – unlike Simon – his criticism has a point. For example, Nigel can criticize a dancer and give a technical explanation for what went wrong with the dance. Simon cannot – or at least he does not – do that. Thus, it comes off as Nigel is not doing mean for mean’s sake. While that can be fun on occasion, it wears thin after a while, and that is why I think Nigel comes out on top.
First, it must be noted that this is one of the best shows on television. The kids are such great dancers, the choreographers are fantastic, and the judges are tough as nails, but fun. Moreover, the dancers on the show do not feel entitled like the singers on American Idol. If you have not watched it, sit down and prepare to be entertained!
Well, that was an interesting discussion. I am sure that my inbox will now be flooded by emails from 13 year old kids wanting to talk about how good Benji was from last season. I really have to be careful, as many more blogs like this will irreparably damage my street credibility (oops, I think it is completely gone now that I didn’t just say “street cred”)!
NBA Draft and Open House
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 26, 10:07 p.m. ET
The next few weeks should be very fun for the team. First, we are going to have an open house coming up very soon (more details will follow in the coming weeks). At this open house, fans can come over to our offices, hang out, eat a little food, meet the coach, meet the staff, meet NBA officials, get some gear, ask some questions, buy some tickets, and help me with blogs. If you didn’t get that, there is a lot to do! This is going to be such a great opportunity for fans to get an inside look at our team and how we function. Don’t pass it up! I truly invite everyone to come out and join us.
It is NBA draft time, and I will be paying particular attention to it this year in comparison to years past. We could have the possibility of getting many of the players drafted in our league, and we need to pay attention where they go. Obviously, we are not going to see Durant or Oden in our league (Blazers must take Oden, right? They can’t pass on a bona fide center, can they?), but we could see players who have unbelievable talent and potential (high draft choices), but are not quite ready for a lot of minutes. In spite of my need to watch it live, I will be forced to Tivo the draft, though, as my wife has me going on a play date with some of her friend’s husbands. Doesn’t she understand that it’s my job to watch the draft?! Oh well, at least I can play some Balderdash.
After the draft (mid July), Kent Davison and I will then be headed off for Las Vegas and Utah to watch the NBA Summer Leagues and to continue to scout players. It should be a very fun to see a lot of the players that we did not see at Orlando playing in this camp. I’ll give updates as we go on that scouting trip.
Alright, this is a good start on my promise of more blogging. If you have any topics, shoot me a note and let me know about it!
We Are Now the Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 24, 6:02 p.m. ET
Well, hello, strangers, how are you doing? I forgot that a key to blogging is that you actually have to blog! My mom gave me a stern talking to about this, and I promise that I will be better. I may have said this earlier, but this time I really mean it.
So, what’s new in the life of the team? First, we are no longer the Fort Wayne NBA D-League Professional Basketball Team. Quite a mouthful, huh? No, we are now officially the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. As the kids say, holla!
On Monday I announced over the airwaves of Indiana’s NewsCenter that we would be the Mad Ants, and we also revealed the logo. First, I have to thank Indiana’s NewsCenter and Majic 95.1 for being such great partners in this promotion. They made sure all of Fort Wayne knew where and when to vote, and it went a long way in letting us know what Fort Wayne wanted the team name to be. Make no mistake, Mad Ants was the clear winner in the Name the Team promotion. Fire was second, with Coyotes and Lightning left in the dust.
I couldn’t agree more with the team name. This is not something generic that will be forgotten five minutes after you hear the name. No, this is truly a name that sparks conversation! Beyond that, this is a name that is distinctly Fort Wayne. Inspired by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, this is a name that all of Fort Wayne will recognize and rally around.
What really gets me excited is the logo and posters. It is such a cool, stylized, edgy logo, and nothing like the cartoony logos that are sometime used for teams. This is a logo that will look fantastic on all types of gear. To that point, don’t worry, we are going to have lots of Mad Ants gear to purchase.
Also, the posters that you will see all over Fort Wayne and the internet are dynamic and really give a better impression of what we are going to do mascot wise with the Mad Ants. It shows a big Mad Ant in silhouette spinning a ball or going to rack for a nasty dunk. We will release what our mascot looks like in the not too distant future. He is tough, and he is fierce (that is very Tyra Banks of me to use that word)!
The guy behind the logo and the posters cannot get enough credit. His name is Jeff Dollens and works at Excell Color Graphis, LLC in Fort Wayne. Jeff completely blew me away when he brought in his Mad Ants designs. I could not be more pleased with the logo and the way in which Jeff has thrown himself into this project. You can tell that Jeff – a former basketball player at St. Francis University – is extremely passionate about this project, and we are clearly the beneficiary of this passion.
Okay, this is a decent sized blog, and I will keep them coming more often! Thank you for your patience!
Orlando Pre-draft Camp
Posted by Jeff Potter on June 2, 3:00 p.m. ET
Well, I said that I would blog from Orlando each day, but I got to our hotel so late each day, I just decided that I would recap it when I went home. The pre-draft camp is very interesting, as the faces you see are a veritable who’s who in the basketball world. As Kent Davison, John Zeglis, and I were walking up for the Wednesday afternoon session, we were able to meet Rod Thorn, who couldn’t be any more of a gentleman. We walked in to the Milk House Gym to see all the greats I grew up watching – Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, Alex English to name a few. Watching Jerry West – the Logo – walking around was also surreal. Then, after having sat down for maybe 5 minutes, Michael Jordan walks in and sits two rows behind us. Tough to stay cool when the greatest ever walks in. Needless to say, I felt unworthy!
I think this camp is much more important for the D-League teams, as none of the solid first rounder players played in the count. Those guys – Oden, Durant, Hawes, Noah – merely come in to run some drills and take physicals. Of the 62 players in camp, I bet the vast majority will play in the D-League. I would say the best player I saw playing at the camp was Taurean Green, and he is considered to be a borderline first rounder. His shot was fantastic and his poise was exceptional. I thought he showed he could truly lead a team at the point.
Overall, I was impressed with the play of the bigs and the point guards. Regarding the big men, I thought you had a lot to choose from – shot blockers, rebounders, scorers, and a few do everything guys. As far as the point guards, I thought I saw six to seven really solid point guards. I thought these guys all showed they could lead a team, had great vision, and their shots were solid.
I didn’t think the 2/3 positions were as deep as the other two spots. There were some good players, but not as deep as the other spots. Overall, I think it was a fantastic experience to watch those players and see how these camps work.
Blogging on the Road in Tahoe
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 27, 10:00 p.m. ET
Well, I am sitting in a hotel in Tahoe watching over my three month old daughter, Sydney, while my wife is with friends living it up and dancing at a wedding. I have become completely domesticated! I must admit, though, there really is no place I’d rather be. With that said, I thought this would be a good time to write a quick blog.
First, I would like to express my gratitude to all the service men and women who have fought for this country on this Memorial Day weekend. I can’t even fathom the sacrifices that you have gone through, and I simply want to say thank you for your service.
Second, I can’t tell you how excited we are to have Kent Davison joining our organization as our first coach. This guy is a winner, and you are going to see the most exciting brand of basketball you can find. Kent is not the type of coach who will have his point guard looking at the bench for a play every time we get the ball. Kent is going to have the guys running and putting up points. There truly is no better brand of ball than that.
Another fantastic element to Kent’s joining the team is the fact that he will be in the community 12 months out of the year. This is vital, as we wanted a coach who wants to be a part of Fort Wayne, not someone who will be out of town as soon as the season ends.
Most importantly, Kent will heed the charge of our owners to do whatever he can do to help this community become the best it can be. With his passion and energy, he is going to be a wonderful addition to the team and to Fort Wayne.
I am very excited to be heading down to Orlando for the pre-draft camp. Many of the players who will be in the D-League next season will be attending that camp, and I am excited to look at some players who may fit what we are trying to do as a team. I’ll be giving nightly blurbs on the camp and what players I think have distinguished them from the others.
Okay, that it is for today, as I think the tapping of the keys is causing Syd to stir. Hope you all have a long, restful weekend, and I will be back with another blog in a day or two.
Name the Team Promotion Up and Running
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 19, 10:00 p.m. ET
The Name the Team promotion is up and running, and I encourage you and all your friends (you know who you are!) to go to the website and vote. The added bonus is that all people in the Majic 95.1 listening area (the Fort Wayne area) will have the chance to win a trip to go and see Mickey in Orlando. No, I do not mean Mickey Rourke, I mean Mickey Mouse. Besides that great prize, we are throwing in a four pack of season tickets. Get your entry in for the prize and let your opinion be heard!
The promo will last until June 6, 2007, and we will announce the winning name shortly thereafter on the networks of Indiana’s NewsCenter. I would like to take this moment to thank our great partners in this promotion. I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with the people of Majic 95.1 and Indiana’s NewsCenter. They have been fantastic through this whole process, and I hope that we continue to have such a close working relationship in the future.
Now, it seems that the faithful fifteen who read this blog seem to like it when I wax poetic on all things pop culture. Well, I have a lot on my mind in that arena, and I am going to spend the rest of this blog talking about that.
For example, I need to discuss how pleased I am that Ian Ziering was voted off Dancing with the Stars. First Ian, your name is pronounced EE-an, not EYE-an. Second, after this guy got a ten for doing a silly Elvis impersonation, he proceeded to give a 3 minute soliloquy as if he had just won an Oscar. Steve Sanders wouldn’t have stood for that nonsense. Good riddance he’s gone!
Finally, I – like all Americans – am trying to recover from a travesty of justice. No, I am not speaking about Paris getting sent to the clink. I am talking about Melinda Doolittle being sent home from American Idol and Jordin Sparks moving on to the final two. I will never forgive Jordin for the way she butchered Bon Jovi week, and she should not have survived. Why does Blake get a free pass on this blog? Two reasons: he’s from Seattle, and he is a wicked beat boxer!
Until next time!
Nothing "Minor" About This League
Posted by Jeff Potter on May 10, 12:09 p.m. ET
I apologize for the long delay in my blog comments, but I was doing something novel – working!!! (You should try it sometime, Engebretson!) In fact, we have been really busy the past week, and I am really excited about the reception we have been getting in town.
A friend and colleague from the NBA, Tommy Smith, and I were having an interesting discussion today. I think people have the habit of calling the D-League “minor league basketball.” Yet, Tommy and I both believe that description does not properly capture what this league is. This is the best basketball in the world outside the NBA. To label it “minor league” really doesn’t do the league justice - especially considering the fact that so many NBA players are actually playing in the league. By calling it a minor league, it lumps it with lesser basketball, hockey, and baseball leagues which cannot put that type of talent on their respective playing fields. Indeed, Tommy and I both believe there is nothing “minor” about a league which is backed by and so closely affiliated with the NBA.
Now, with that said, where does the league fall? Two ways of describing the league is to consider this major league basketball for mid-level cities, or simply consider it an extension of the NBA. I’d love to hear what you guys think about this. Drop me a note and let me know!
Oh, and by the way, my irrational fascination with Sanjaya has not waned. I make this promise to the city of Fort Wayne – I will do my best to bring Sanjaya to town to sing at one of our games! And, no, that is not a threat, it is a promise.
How ‘bout the Warriors?!
Posted by Jeff Potter on April 30, 2:39 p.m. ET
Wow! How ‘bout the Warriors?! Is it possible that Baron Davis – when healthy – is the best point guard in the league? I’m not sure about that (apologies Steve Nash, who tore Oregon up twice during my career), but he has to be top 3 doesn’t he? He has been an absolute beast this series and nothing showed that more than the steal and dunk at the end of the third quarter last night. Dallas could be in a whole lot trouble. Could be? Sorry, they are in a whole lot of trouble.
A lot of interest from readers in regards to how the game should be presented. Specifically, a few people have made comments on whether music or anything should be played during games. What are your thoughts?
No More Sanjaya
Posted by Jeff Potter on April 25, 1:54 p.m. ET
As promised, this blog will not be merely about the team, sports, or basketball. In fact, many have emailed me asking for my informed and incredibly valuable opinion on all the pop culture issues of the world. I believe that it is high time I tackle the most important issue of the day – Sanjaya Malakar.
I was indeed part of the movement to keep Sanjaya on American Idol. I know that it risked putting this country in dire straits, but I couldn’t help but try to keep that monster talent on the air. More than anything, it kept the show interesting, as he was the only person of the remaining contestants I found remotely interesting. Indeed, it was a tough day last week when Sanjaya was voted off (don’t get me started on my conspiracy theories!). More than anything, the show was incredibly boring last night without Sanjaya putting his “special” spin to some of the classics. I truly miss my Seattle brother!
As for my comments on Britney (which I have received requests for), there just isn’t much to comment on right now. My only question is whether her hair is growing back under those wigs, or is she still shaving her head.
Folks, I really hope to hear from you. If you have any comments, concerns, opinions, or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This One's for Corey
Posted by Jeff Potter on April 24, 9:02 a.m. ET
Well, it seems that at least one person is reading this blog, and he has chastised me regarding my inattention to it. Well, Corey, here it is -- enjoy!
First, we have had a nice start with the team in regards to ticket sales and corporate sponsorship. We have had a lot of calls for season tickets and our premium tickets are close to being sold out. We have had a similar warm reaction from local businesses in regards to corporate partnerships. While it has been a nice start, we still have a long way to go.
Second, we are working on our name the team contest and have submitted a number of names to the NBA for approval. A rough sketch of how it will work is that the NBA will check to make sure there are no intellectual property issues with the names and then send us back 4-5 names for the contest. We will then put those on the website for fans to vote on what their favorite is. We will make an announcement to let everyone know when the contest will start and will hopefully have a couple of fun surprises to go with it.
The NBA playoffs have started, and I am very intrigued by the Warriors-Mavs series. I think the Mavs could be in for a little bit of trouble. I watched game 1, and the Warriors showed no fear going into Dallas. I am curious who Dallas will have match up with Baron Davis. When that guy is healthy, he is a load. I think they have to put Seattle’s finest, Jason Terry, on him to have any hope of slowing him down. JT is an absolute stud, and I know he will rise to the occasion. Stay tuned for more inept analysis of playoff games in my next blog entry!
Things Are Moving Fast
Posted by Jeff Potter on April 15, 11:25 a.m. ET
Well, we are a few days in and things are moving fast. The phones are ringing off the hook, we are getting tons of emails, and I could not be more pleased with the buzz that is going through Fort Wayne for its D-League team. Our staff is working extremely hard, and we hope that we can keep entrenching ourselves in this community.
The best part of this so far is that it is incredibly fun. I have spent my entire life in basketball, and it definitely feels like I am back home. I have spoken with so many people about tickets or sponsorships, but the conversations always seem to turn to basketball. For someone who loves the game and all that comes with it, it does not get any better than that.
Looking at the D-League, it is exciting to watch the number of players moving up. One player – Will Conroy – who was just called up and signed by the Clippers for the rest of the season is the epitome of what the D-League is supposed to be. Will is a player from my hometown, Seattle, who was not a top recruit coming out of high school (his teammate was NBA Rookie of the Year lock Brandon Roy). Will walked on to the University of Washington where he became the starting point guard and team leader on some great teams. While teammates Nate Robinson (Knicks) and Roy (Blazers) were eventually first round draft picks in the NBA, Will, in spite of a stellar career, went undrafted and signed with the D-League. Will, again, showed his mettle in the D-League, worked his tail off, and has now been signed for the rest of the season by the Clippers.
Like I said, Will is what this league is all about. Will’s a guy who was not high on scouts’ lists for whatever reason, but keeps working, plugging away, and has eventually reached his dream of playing in the NBA. Oh, and by the way, the guy can really play. Folks, this is what you are going to see this coming season. These are the players that you can relate to and the stories you can get behind. That’s why this league will be so fun to watch!
Bringing the D-League to Fort Wayne
Posted by Jeff Potter on April 10, 3:00 p.m. ET
I can’t express how happy and excited I am to be a part of the group bringing professional basketball back to Fort Wayne. What’s best is that the quality of basketball is so outstanding. I have played all over the world, and I can tell you that the fans of the Fort Wayne D-League are going to see some of the best basketball available.
Indeed, this is an opportunity for the people of Fort Wayne to see some of the best young players on the planet. You will see players who are just on the cusp of making it to the NBA, and you will see NBA players (on your home court!) working to do just what the league implies – develop into stars in the NBA!
Folks, I am definitely new to this blog-thing, but I am going to try to keep it updated with accounts of the daily ins and outs of not just running a professional sports franchise, but starting one as well. If all two of you who read this blog (thanks Mom and Dad!) are really lucky, I will even discuss some of the pressing issues of the day – fashion, politics, Britney Spears. I aim to please!
Most importantly, I hope that all of Fort Wayne is as excited as we are about being a part of the NBA family.