All-Decade Team: Men’s Basketball

Chris Marshall

In the early 1990s, Washburn began a dominating run in the MIAA that included nine conference championships in 15 years and annual spots in the NCAA tournament. By the mid-2000s Bob Chipman and the Ichabods solidified their spot as the MIAA’s premier men’s basketball program, as well as one of the best in the nation.

WU opened the new millennium with four conference titles in five years, including a berth in the national championship in 2000-01. The first season of the decade was also the team’s finest, as the Ichabods won the regular season and postseason conference titles and finished the year ranked No. 5 nationally.

The wins kept coming, along with coach of the year honors for Chipman and multiple awards for his players. At times, WU seemed unbeatable, especially at home. From 1997-2005, the Ichabods went 110-12 at Lee Arena, by far the best mark in the conference.

Suddenly in 2006, the team was faced with a massive rebuilding project and Chipman endured his first losing season. The Ichabods won just four games in the MIAA in back to back seasons and didn’t qualify for postseason play. As the new decade begins, WU still hasn’t matched the incredible standards set by teams in the early 2000s, but the program is headed in the right direction, with back to back MIAA semifinal finishes and winning records each of the last two seasons.

There has never been a shortage of players stepping up to fill the leadership role, even when the squad finished 8-19 in 2007, but the all-decade team is composed entirely of players from 2000-05, not just because of their individual accolades, but because of the staggering number of wins those teams racked up against Emporia State and any other team that tried to get in their way.

Ewan Auguste, C 1997-01 — Auguste’s time as a player only included one season in the 2000s, but he is as worthy as anyone for a spot on the all-decade squad. Before graduating in 2001, and later returning as an assistant coach, the center from the West Indies carried the Ichabods to a national runner-up finish in the NCAA tournament in his senior season. He averaged double figures scoring in all four years at WU, putting him in the top five of the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,636 points. In addition to ranking No. 3 on the all-time rebounding list, Auguste hauled in several All-American honors, paving the way for talented big men at WU through the next decade.

Other honors – 2000-01: MIAA MVP, South Central region 1st team, “Basketball Times” 1st team All-American, NABC 1st team All-American, “Division II Bulletin” 1st-team All-American, Elite Eight all-tournament team, team MVP. All-time: Only player in WU history to score more than 1,000 points, block 100 shots and record 100 steals in a career, 5th in scoring with 1,636 points, 3rd in rebounds with 888, 6th in steals with 114, 1st in blocks with 100.

Ryan Murphy, F 1999-03 — As Auguste’s frontcourt teammate, “Murph” made teams pay if they tried to double team WU’s All-American center. The 2001 team came within nine points of a national title before falling to Kentucky Wesleyan, and after Auguste left, Murphy took over the scoring load and brought the Bods back to the NCAA tournament in his senior year. He won 20-plus games in all four years at WU and ranks in the top 10 of several statistical categories.

Other honors – 2000-01: 2nd team all-MIAA, Elite Eight all-tournament team, 2001-02: 2nd team all-MIAA, 2002-03: 1st team all-MIAA, South Central region 2nd team, team MVP, All-time: 3rd in scoring with 1,654 points, 4th in rebounds with 738, 6th in blocks with 66,  one of two players in the decade to score 1,000 points and grabbed 500 rebounds.

Shannon Kruger, G 1998-02 — Kruger did his damage from the backcourt on some of WU’s all-time greatest teams. While setting up Murphy and Auguste, Kruger racked up 341 assists, second all-time for an Ichabod. When he kept the ball, he was equally dangerous and set an all-time record at WU with 242 career 3-pointers.

Other honors – 2001-02: Team MVP, honorable mention all-MIAA. All-time: Only player ever at WU with 1,000 points, 100 steals and 300 assists, 16th in scoring with 1,014 points, 3rd in steals with 140.

Travis Robbins, F 2003-05 — Expectations at WU had never been higher for a player or a team than Robbins and the 2004-05 Ichabods. Robbins scored 25 points at Purdue and 14 points at No. 1 Kansas in preseason exhibition games, and WU came within nine points of beating both Division I schools on the road. That was just the beginning for a team that went and 24-8 with a trip to the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in nine years. Robbins lived up to his billing as a preseason All-American, scoring 633 points in 33 games, but WU was upset in the first round and hasn’t returned to the Big Dance since.

Other honors – 2003-04: 2nd team all-MIAA, 2004-05: Preseason All-American, MIAA MVP, 1st team All-American, 1st team all-region, South Central region co-Player of the Year, team MVP. All-time: 15th in scoring with 1,050 points, 7th for points per game in a career with 16.4, 3rd in blocks with 76.

Jeremy Cunningham, G 2002-04 — It’s hard to choose between a handful of point guards who led the Ichabod offense in the 2000s. Andrew Meile (sixth all-time in assists and seventh all-time in steals) and Jerad Head (point guard who fed the ball to Robbins and wasn’t afraid to dive head first into the crowd) are equally deserving, but Cunningham gets the nod for what he did in two years at WU. He doesn’t rank among the school’s all-time greats but in his two seasons with the Bods, he helped the team win 51 games, including a 30-6 mark in the MIAA.

Other honors – 2003-04: 1st team all-MIAA, 1st team NABC all-region, team MVP, one of eight players to score in double figures in WU’s highest scoring game all-time, a 129-68 win against Lock Haven in 2003.