Magic malady: Chipman looks to revive old Washburn mystique

In his first 26 years as Washburn University’s head basketball coach, Bob Chipman never had to deal with the pain of a losing season.

In the past two years, however, the Ichabods have finished with 10-16 and 8-19 records while struggling to stay out of last place in the MIAA. In an attempt to make sure those are the only two losing seasons in his highly successful career, Chipman has totally revamped the roster coming in to the 2007-08 season.

Only six players return from last year’s team, and they will be joined by two high school players, a redshirt freshman and six transfers. The lineup will likely change on a regular basis to start the season, as Chipman tries to find a strong mix of new and old players. Once that lineup is set, the key will be keeping players healthy, something the Bods have struggled with the last two years.

“Almost everyone is healthy for the start of this season,” said senior Brady Sisk. “My ankle’s healed, and hopefully it stays that way. Knock on wood.”

Superstition may be the only option Washburn hasn’t tried when looking for ways to stay healthy. Few teams in the country had more injury issues than the Ichabods during the past couple seasons. Senior Kyle Snyder may have the worst luck of all when it comes to time missed because of injury.

“Kyle Snyder’s had shoulder problems the last three years,” said Sisk. “He’s not practicing right now, but hopefully he’ll be able to play because he’s a really big asset to this team.”

Snyder, Washburn’s leading rebounder and starting forward, tried playing through the pain last season before finally deciding to sit out for the remainder of the season. The team is awaiting MRI results to see in what condition his shoulder is currently.

All the Bods can do now is hope Snyder and the rest of the team stay healthy enough to regain their position as one of the MIAA’s top teams.

“We want to improve from the last two years,” said junior Paul Byers. “Any step up is a great step up, so hopefully we can finish above .500.”

The combination of a healthy Snyder, Sisk and Byers will give Washburn an experienced frontcourt that has been around for the highs and lows of Ichabod basketball. Those three, who make up half of the team’s returnees, will be charged with the task of leading an otherwise young team once the season begins.

“Our main goal is to get better each day,” said Sisk. “We’ve done conditioning every day so we can get better and improve as a team.”

The Bods will once again have a chance to see where they stack up in comparison to Division I competition with preseason games Nov. 6 at UNLV and Nov. 13 at UMKC and a regular season matchup Nov. 15 at No. 4 Kansas.

“That’s every kid’s dream, to play in games like that at KU with all the fans there,” said Byers.

While it may be exciting to play in big school atmospheres like Allen Fieldhouse, Washburn is ready to focus on Division II games with postseason implications once late November rolls around.

“We want to keep getting better,” said Sisk. “We want to improve enough that we can win the conference and hopefully get back into the NCAA tournament.”