Bods welcome 10 new players

Eric Smith

Taking a look at the 2009 roster for the Washburn men’s basketball team, is a trip through new names. That’s because the Bods only have five returners from last season.

The Ichabods lost nine of their 12 top players in minutes from last season including the entire starting lineup and their top eight scorers.

Those returning have just 15 games of starting experience from last year’s team and all together accounted for an average of 16.0 points per game. They include juniors Logan Stutz and Nate Daniels, sophomore William McNeill, sophomore Steve Feighny and redshirt freshman Todd Eils.

While coach Bob Chipman, in his 31st season as Washburn’s coach, understands the challenges ahead with such a new team, he said his returning players are the ones that are setting the examples.

“Returners know what to expect. They know what Washburn basketball is all about,” said Chipman, whose team is picked to finish fifth in the MIAA by the media and eighth by the coaches. “They know to come here and practice very hard every day. And they know that we like defensive-minded guys here with our program, and that we like to share the ball on offense. And you’d like them to do that every day to the best of their ability to show the new guys what this is all about.

“And then you also want them talking to them about it, ‘hey, we got to play hard here’ and ‘hey, we got to take care of the ball and share that ball better.'”

McNeill said he is ready to become a leader and show the other new guys how things work under coach Chipman.

“I think it’s real important with me, Nate and Logan being returners because we’ve got to let the other guys know what to do, what not to do, what coach approves of, and what’s the system like. “Since we’ve been here, we already know what it is,” said McNeill, “We just need to get them up to speed so we can be together as a team.”

And while the returning players are forced into leadership positions because of their experience, four out of five of the returners, Daniels is the lone exception, are in their second year.

“It’s almost a little unfair to them since most of them have only been in the program one year,” said Chipman. “It’s not like they’re four-year seniors. They’re trying to figure it out themselves.”

With all of the players leaving, Chipman did a lot of signing in the offseason including four freshmen and six transfers. Stutz said getting to know all the new faces has gone pretty well.

“I think it’s hard when you got a lot of new guys to blend but the team chemistry has been good on and off the court,” Stutz said.

Coach Chipman said the team has several new players to watch including junior forward De’Andre Washington.

“He was player of the year as a freshman in the Gulf South, then transferred to Pensacola,” said Chipman. “He and Virgil Philistin played at Pensacola. Both averaged about 11-12 points a game.

“Maurice Colter, is a little point guard, had a great year a Butler. With those three, just having recent success and good programs, you kind of look to them right away.”

Another player that Chipman said to keep an eye on is senior guard Nate Wallace, a 24-year-old product of Topeka High.

“Nate Wallace is a kid who’s coming back to get his degree, local kid. He’s a little older, just trying to finish up. He’s got the most basketball experience. But he’s been out of competitive basketball like this for three or four years.”

The top freshmen, Chipman said, include two Topekans in Bryce Simons and Bobby Chipman, as well as Sabetha-native Mitch Allen.

“We got a good group of freshmen. But freshmen are freshmen,” said Chipman. “Bryce is playing so hard. Bobby, my son, is doing a lot of things right. Mitch Allen, a tough kid. But all three are going to have some opportunities.”

The first chance of the season to see the Bods in live action was in their lone exhibition game against Division I UNLV Tuesday night in Las Vegas. The Bods lost 62-52 in a game that was close until the final few minutes. Freshman forward Bobby Chipman and senior guard Nate Wallace led the team with eight points each. Washburn’s first regular season game is against Peru State (Neb.) at 7 p.m. Monday in Lee Arena.

“We started out practice a couple of weeks ago and got a lot of new guys and a lot of talent,” said Stutz. “I think we’re really starting to come around and come together.”