It may have taken a late fadeaway shot by Ahmoni Jones ’24 and a tough defensive play to seal the victory, but Wabash emerged lifting the NCAC trophy on February 24, 2023, in Wooster, Ohio. And as the team stormed the court to celebrate, they finished the goal they had set out to achieve. They didn’t do it the easy way, but the Wabash basketball team did what everybody said they couldn’t: win a second consecutive basketball championship.
“I am very proud with the overall results of this season,” said Head Basketball Coach Kyle Brumett. “We had a lot of question marks going into the season and how we would fill the shoes of Jack Davidson ’22, Tyler Watson ’22 and Kellen Schreiber ’22. All had important roles on arguably the best team in Wabash history, or at least in the last 40 years. My staff and I were confident that we had built the program in the right way and that we would continue to be good, but we needed to prove it.”
Winning the NCAC tournament was the goal for the team from the beginning. As far back as November, Brumett was confident the team could lift the trophy.
“A lot of guys doubted us coming into this year,” said Jones, who led the team in scoring. “But we were the type of team that was going to give it our all each and every day. At the end of the day, we made the most of every opportunity. And when it came down to it, we handled our business, especially in the NCAC tournament.”
“We wanted a championship,” added Jones. “In practice during the week of the championship, Coach [Brumett] brought in the ring that we won the year before to remind us what we were playing for. And that just made us more motivated and got our fire hotter. After losing to Wooster at the end of the regular season we were about bouncing back and proving we could win.”
Early in the season, many expected Wabash to struggle offensively and rely on defense to win games. Instead, the team was second in the NCAC in scoring, averaging 77.5 ppg and leading the conference in field goal percentage.
“I think our offense was successful because we were able to score in many different ways,” said Sam Comer ’24. “We had a lot of different types of players who could exploit opponents’ defenses in different ways. Teams struggled to scout us and take everything away due to the many different weapons that we had. We trusted and recognized one another’s abilities which allowed us to share the ball so well.”
“We trusted the coaches to run an offense that was going to be effective, and we were unselfish in the sense that we did not care who was taking the shots,” added Comer. “Winning was always the priority with this group. Our ability to score in many ways combined with our unselfish group made for yet another year of powerful offense for Wabash basketball.”
The team ended their season in the first round of the NCAA DIII tournament with a 90-83 loss to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The team’s record for the 2022-23 season was 21-8.
Next season, the team will return with its full roster, graduating no seniors this year. Other programs will graduate their best players, but the Little Giants will look to repeat their success of these last two years.
“Next year we want to win the NCAC and host the conference tournament,” Brumett said. “We want to be the first Wabash team since ’81-’82 to go to three NCAA tournaments in a row.”
Brumett also believes that Wabash has the chance to host a round of the national tournament next year, if the Little Giants get there.
“We really want to host the NCAA tournament,” said Brumett. “The goals are lofty, but we think we have committed guys who can make those things happen. You either step forward, or you take steps back. There is no staying the same; 2023-24 will be exciting, but it will not be the same as the last two years. We need to work hard to make it better.”