With Comer ’24 still injured, who will step up for the Little Giants?

After Vinny Buccilla’s ’25 miraculous buzzer-beating three-pointer carried Wabash into overtime against Oberlin, the Little Giants are still holding on to the possibility of winning the NCAC. On Saturday, January 28, the team will continue fighting for the top spot in the conference at home against Kenyon College. Then, on February 1, Wabash will face-off for the second time this season against rivals DePauw, this time within the turreted walls of Chadwick Court.

Vinny Buccilla ’25 elevates over the defender for a tough layup against Wittenberg on January 18, 2023. Photo by Elijah Greene ’25.

The big question for these games will be how well the team can play without starting point guard Sam Comer ’24. Comer, who was injured in the first game against De-Pauw and has missed the last two, hasn’t returned to practice yet. While there is a small chance he will be ready to play by February 1, he has already been ruled out against Kenyon. 

Comer’s absence has affected the number of points that leading scorer Ahmoni Jones ’24 has been able to generate. Jones is at his best when he’s able to catch-and-shoot or post-up in the short corner. Comer, who leads the team in assists, is often the one who finds Jones with his excellent passing. 

In the two games Jones has played without Comer, his scoring from the field has decreased. Against Wittenberg, Jones scored 17 points with the help of eight from the charity stripe. But, he attempted far fewer shots from the field. 

Against Oberlin, Jones only managed to put up 11 points, with seven of those coming from free throws. From the floor, he shot 2-14 and went 0-5 from three. The Little Giants will need him to be back at his very best if they hope to defeat a strong opponent such as DePauw. 

“A main focus for us this year has been trying to keep Ahmoni offensively in a position where he’s had success,” said Brumett. “Last year, a high volume of his baskets came off assists from Davidson ’22 and Watson ’22. Now, Comer has emerged into that role after not really playing there last year.” 

The good news for Wabash is that Josh Whack ’26, the freshman guard who stepped up to replace Comer on the starting five, has proven that he is capable of making a difference. While he doesn’t make up for the loss in assists and rebounding, Whack puts up a similar number of points when given equal minutes.

“A main focus for us this year has been trying to keep Ahmoni offensively in a position where he’s had success.”

Coach Kyle Brumett

“Josh [Whack], even though he’s a young player, has some similarities with Sam [Comer] with the ball in his hands,” said Brumett. “Our other guys don’t have nearly as much experience playing with Josh as they do playing with Sam. So, this week we’ll watch the film to study, and in practice focus on executing our offense in a way that resembles the great success that we’ve had at different points throughout the year.” 

In the team’s previous matchup, the Little Giants were able to eke out a 71-67 win against Kenyon, who now sits at the bottom of the NCAC with an 0-9 record. The real challenge for Wabash was their own turnovers, 5-19 three point shooting and 16-25 free throw shooting. In the rematch, the team just needs to stay solid and not waste their possessions. Do that, and they should beat Kenyon easily. 

The rematch against DePauw, on the other hand, will be the harder of the two games for Wabash. DePauw is one of only two NCAC teams to have beaten the Little Giants. After losing Comer in the first half, the Wabash team fell victim to the Tiger’s 5-10 three-point shooting and 19 points from the free throw line in the second half. Despite being down a key player, the Little Giants kept the game within five as the final buzzer sounded. Now the team has had more time to prepare and more experience playing without Comer, the Little Giants are hopeful of winning the rematch.