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Savvy Purdue Fort Wayne sets sights on March Madness, and bigger things

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Indianapolis – Consider Jon Coffman’s coaching dynamics at Purdue Fort Wayne this season.

  • The starting lineup is 3 graduate students, 5th grade and 4th grade. In total, I have played 26 seasons of college basketball. AARP is a college basketball team.

  • His leading scorer, Jared Godfrey, is an Eagle Scout. His second scorer, Bobby Planutis, is working on his third degree. Another forward, Ra Kpedi, is doing an internship as an equity analyst at Fort Wayne Bank. He once had to shuffle his practice for the Certified Financial Analyst exam. Coffman said, “How cool is it that he shows up at practice in a suit?”

  • He has four 1,000-point career scorers on his team and is on track to land a fifth soon.

  • His two top scorers, Godfrey and Planutis, have solid gold medals at the free throw line. Planutis has made 64 free throws in the last two years. he missed two. Godfrey was sidelined this season after hitting his 37 tries, his first in his league play for Horizon.

  • Transport portal eruptions did not pass through Fort Wayne. Coffman’s roster comes back largely unscathed from last year’s Horizon League regular season co-champions. “They love the game, they love our place, they love Fort Wayne, and that’s why they’re staying,” Coffman said. “Our Eagle scout, he has his eight power fives in the top 25 and that gave him an offer to go. I gave up on his NIL.”

Put it all together and what do you have?

With a record of 12 wins and 7 losses so far, the veteran team is prepared to make amends. The Mastodons — are there any more nicknames across Division I? — in the semi-finals of the Horizon League tournament last March when the Northern he faced Kentucky. That meant his NCAA Tournament, the first of the program, never took place. The bittersweet memory of last week, when Purdue Fort Wayne beat his IUPUI the other day at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, home of last spring’s Horizon Tournament, was fresh.

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“We still have a chip on our shoulder,” Godfrey said. I feel like I have left things unfinished with this team, just walking here on game day practice this morning and I felt something.Last time here We didn’t handle business when we were there.”

Coffman is in his ninth season with Purdue Fort Wayne and has made his program compelling with a freewheeling offense that translates to professional basketball and an atmosphere that fosters cohesion and connection with Fort Wayne’s business community. I’m here. He believes the combination will help future recruits for players on and off the court. So most will remain.

John Concher did so and became the school’s career leading scorer. “John came to us. We were the only ones I proposed to him,” Coffman said. “And the next thing we know, he’s starting for the Memphis Grizzlies.”

So did Max Landis. “When people called him while he was in my office, he stayed. He ended up being Summit his league’s Player of the Year.”

Godfrey looked like a front-runner for the bigger fish via the transfer portal, despite being the conference champion and top grad scorer. It was,” said Godfrey. “But at the end of the day, I’ve built a great network at Fort Wayne. Basketball has treated me. You don’t have to play. It was a pretty quick decision for me.”

Jared Godfrey hits a free throw against Oakland.

Coffman therefore continues to slack offense. In the final tally, Mastodon is in the top 16 nationally for his 3-point attempts and successes.

And he continues to hone his connections with the city’s business shakers and movers. Instead of giving coffee, you’re going to receive coffee, and it worked.They recognize the power of Fort Wayne.”

And he continues the idea of ​​team building. “I don’t know if it’s silly, but we invest in their life skills. This summer we did ballroom dancing. We do our dining etiquette. Guys.” To Cedar Point (amusement park) We are having golf lessons with my buddies Bobby said, “The coach is corny sometimes, but he cares.”

“Those people live in our office. Half of them are our staff, and it feels like the way we talk to them and hang out.”

But will that get them where they want to go in March? Purdue-Fort Wayne was the only Division I in Indiana never to have qualified for the NCAA Tournament before Southern Indiana University was promoted this season. It was school. To get there in 2023, Mastodon will have to fight in the Horizon League. They are now tied for sixth, two games behind Purdue-Fort Wayne in the first four-way tie. But Mastodon has already beaten his two previous teams. It’s like a league where anything can happen.

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And when experience has a lot to do with it, they become a threat.

“They are calm,” Coffman said. “I can talk to them in a different way. When I sit down and watch the video, it feels different again.”

A 28.8 shooting percentage is reflected in a 57-43 loss to Northern Kentucky last March. “We have to be able to compete and have a chance to win those games when the threes aren’t falling,” Coffman said. “They’re on the burn, how do you beat the ugly when you need to?

“This group is back with a mission. Doesn’t mean I’ve never been to that NCAA Tournament or Bust.

The old folks of Fort Wayne have dreams for the future.

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