Ichabods win fourth straight

Matt Lazzo / Washburn Review

Despite the winter snow storms taking control of Washburn University, Lee Arena seems to be the hot spot for the men’s basketball team.  

The new year has been kind to the Ichabods.  Winners of four straight, Washburn looks to extend its win streak Wednesday night against Northwest Missouri State University. The Ichabods won five of  six games in the month of January, securing them sole possession of third place in the MIAA conference standings.  The Ichabods have a stellar average margin of victory in January of 16 points a game.

“Except for a 15 minute stretch at Southern that cost us, we really have played well since Christmas,” said sophomore Bobby Chipman.

Ichabod players were not shy about stating what was holding them back in the first half of the season.  They cited a lack of effort and consistency on the defensive end needed to change.  Confident in their team’s ability to overcome difficulty, the necessary changes were made.  Ichabod opponents were held to 38 percent on field goals throughout the win streak. In two of their wins, the Ichabods held to less than 56 points for the first time since November.

“Our game intensity has really picked up as a team,” said Chipman. “Defensively we have been able to play well on the road and that has been key.”

Conversely, Washburn has displayed a level of offensive prowess that is necessary to be a championship team.  The Ichabods have scored over 80 points in half of their games this season and over 90 points twice.  

Jeff Reid, freshman guard,  continues to be a great contributor, displaying unlimited range with his outside shooting.  Reid started in 12 games for Washburn, averaging 12 points a game and shooting 46 percent from behind the arc.  His contributions go further than what he adds to the scoreboard.  Having a true outside threat opens the lane for slashing guards and the Ichabod post players.  

“Having a lights out shooter takes a lot of pressure off our post men,” said senior forward, Logan Stutz. “Jeff opens up a lot for our offense, especially driving lanes and spacing.”

Stutz in particular who is benefitting from Reid’s presence. In his best season at Washburn, Stutz has been the catalyst of the Ichabod offense.  Stutz was most recently named MIAA men’s basketball player of the week and the only MIAA men’s player to take the honor twice this season.  

While the Ichabod workhorse is leading the team in scoring with 21 points per  game, he leads the nation with a 72 percent field goal percentage.  Stutz also exhibits an uncanny ability to keep crucial possessions alive by grabbing 45 offensive rebounds on the year.  The senior demonstrates a work ethic that is needed to go deep in the postseason.

“Working hard in practices has always been important to me and has helped as we get later in the season,” said Stutz. “The team has as much to do with it as me because of how hard they have been playing in practice and games as well.”

There is no room for Washburn to become stagnant with its recent rise up the MIAA standings.  Three teams sit at just one game behind the Ichabods, with two others staying close at two games back.  The Ichabods have games against Fort Hays State University, second in the MIAA,  and MIAA frontrunner Missouri Southern State University.  

With ten games remaining on the schedule, Washburn sits three games out of first and still has an outside shot of catching the MSSU Lions.  The Ichabods seem to possess a typical characteristic of teams that do well as the postseason draws nearer.  They have the ability to overcome adversity and are getting stronger as the season rolls along.

“We think about what we can control and taking one game at a time while playing as hard as we can is what we can control right now,” said Chipman.  “We learned from the first half of the season that if we worry about what we can control then we can play with anyone in the conference.”