WU men on four-game roll

Eric Smith

The Washburn men’s basketball team is rolling, having won four in a row. However, 7 p.m. tomorrow in Lee Arena they will take on the Bronchos of Central Oklahoma.

Nearly two and a half years ago the Ichabods ended their 2004-2005 season with a loss to Central Oklahoma in a postseason game in Commerce, Texas. Not only did it end the season, it ended a four-game winning streak against the Bronchos that dated back to the beginning of the decade. Washburn ended up going 24-8 that year, which was its last winning season. Coincidentally, the Bods haven’t beaten Central Oklahoma since then, losing in each of the last three games.

The Tuesday night match-up puts the 4-1 Washburn squad up against a 6-1 Central Oklahoma team, which is coming off of four wins within the past week.

“It’s a big game for us,” said senior forward Brady Sisk. “We’ve played some NAIA teams here lately, and it’ll be our first real test of a solid Division II program. They’ve gotten the better of us in the last three times we’ve played.

“We’re preparing every day. We’re really focused on them. We want to make sure we get this win at home and solidify that feeling of that first good victory so we can move on to conference play.”

In the last three head-to-head games against UCO, the Ichabods have lost by an average of 15 points. The last time they beat the Bronchos was at the beginning of the 2004-2005 season when Washburn won 101-94.

“Central Oklahoma is a good team,” said junior forward Paul Byers. “Haven’t beaten them in a couple of years. Feeling good about the game coming up. Got four straight wins under our belt. They all felt good. As a team, we feel pretty good going into next week’s game. We’d like to try to break the losing streak against them.”

Washburn’s first three games, two exhibition and one regular season, were all against Division I opponents (UNLV, UMKC and KU). And in each one, the Ichabod basketball team failed to pull out the win. But since then they have taken care of their opponents very easily, winning four in a row for the first time since late in the 2004-05 season.

“After getting beat by Division I teams like them, you don’t know where you are at your own level,” said Byers. “So the four wins meant a lot. It feels good to come back and get some wins under your belt and get your spirits and confidence back up.”

During the season, the Washburn men’s basketball team has started the same five for all five games with Byers, Darnell Kimble, Andrew Meile, James Williams and Mario Scott. The leading scorers for the Ichabods so far this season are Sisk and Kimble, who are each averaging 11 points per game, and Williams, who is averaging 10.8 points per game.

“We feel really good about how we’re playing right now,” said Sisk. “Those four wins have really boosted our confidence. We’re really happy the way we’ve progressed from day one, and we keep getting better everyday. Hopefully we can keep building off these wins, head into Christmas break feeling good about our team and then make a run during conference play.”

After the game on Tuesday the men’s basketball team has one final game before winter break. It will be 7 p.m. Dec. 12 versus Baker University at Lee Arena.

“If we can get those two wins, we’d have a little six game winning streak going into Christmas break. That’d be great,” said Sisk. “But first and foremost, we’re really focused on the game against Central Oklahoma. We just want to take care of them and finish off this first semester with a good record going into next year.”