A Saturday evening home basketball game usually has a special feel to it. The crowds are generally bigger, and it’s the weekend. Washburn men’s basketball coach Bob Chipman knows this as well as anybody.
Chipman is in his 38th and final season as the head coach at Washburn. Through the years, he has compiled an enormous amount of memories in his 802 career victories. From winning the 1986-87 NAIA national title to NCAA Division II runner-up in 2000-01 to coaching his son, Bobby, Chipman has lived his dream.
Along the way, his wife, Carol and daughter, Kelsey have been there with him, enjoying the ride.
“It was really a dream come true,” Chipman said. “I couldn’t have done it without my unbelievable family.”
Like most of Saturdays in the winter months, Chipman should expect family, friends and fans to fill up Lee Arena Saturday evening when Washburn, 14-6, takes on an old rival, Fort Hays State, 12-8, at 7 p.m. CT. The women’s game is at 5 p.m. Both games will be televised on WatchESPN and ESPN App.Washburn and Fort Hays are in the middle of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Conference standings. Washburn is 6-5 and Fort Hays is 6-6.
Despite a few years of interruption because the schools were in different leagues, this is a rivalry that dates back to their NAIA days when both schools were among the elite in the 1980s.
“They won national championships. We won one,” Chipman said. “It really was us and Hays in the early 80s. We had incredible games, statewide TV, packed houses. It was NAIA Division II basketball at its best.”
The rivalry still burns strong. Washburn, Fort Hays, Emporia State and Pittsburg State are the four teams from Kansas in the 14-team MIAA, which also has schools in Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
“Every conference game is important, but I do think there is a little bit extra pride on the line when you play other Kansas schools,” said Washburn senior forward Jeremy Lickteig. “First of all, there are going to be other in-state athletes that play for those schools. Second, there is a long-standing relationship of just good competition between ourselves and Fort Hays State, Pitt State and Emporia State. It means you got to bring it a little more because every game is going to be competitive.”
Even though Chipman announced his retirement before the start of this season, the fire still burns inside. Lickteig is one of only two seniors on the team.
“I think I am a young 65. I could have done this several more years,” Chipman said. “The worst fear I had was waking up one day thinking, ‘I don’t want to go to Fort Hays with this team.’ I didn’t want to have that feeling and I don’t.
“I am so excited about this team and how they finish. This group is young. If we add one or two more pieces, the sky is the limit next year. That is kind of exciting to lead a team like that.”
Beyond all the wins, national rankings and MIAA championships Chipman has compiled over the years, he is proud of the many players who got degrees and are productive in Topeka, throughout Kansas, and across the country.Chipman sees former players in the business community. His son, Bobby, is a lawyer. Lickteig is days away from hearing if he is accepted into medical school.
“I was coming into a program where there were players who were very successful and had definite plans to go on to graduate school and go on and have successful careers in business, engineering,” Lickteig said. “That was reassuring to me.
“The fact he encourages success in both academics and basketball is very reassuring. He has a concern for the present and the future of his players.”
In the present, Chipman wants the Ichabods to finish strong.
“I have always enjoyed the challenge and watching our guys respond to the challenge,” Chipman said. “Every day is a new experience. You so desperately want these guys to finish great.
However the season ends for Chipman, he is grateful for all the wonderful things that have come his way by coaching at Washburn.
“I am so lucky to have the assistant coaches I had and recruit the kind of players I love being around on a day-to-day basis,” Chipman said.
“It has been so easy to be totally involved and have so much love for the people I was around. I never looked elsewhere. It has been a good fit for me. My family grew up here. You can’t ask more than that.”
Two top 10 showdowns this Saturday
- Perhaps the most anticipated Division II regular-season game this season will take place 4 p.m. ET Saturday when No. 2 Fairmont State plays at No. 3 West Liberty. Fairmont State 21-0 and 15-0 in the Mountain East Conference. West Liberty is 20-1 and 14-1. West Liberty’s only loss was 86-81 at Fairmont State on Dec. 4.
- A weekend with some important conference showdowns start Thursday evening when No. 6 Hawaii Pacific travels to No. 4 California Baptist in a battle for first in the Pacwest Conference. California Baptist is 20-1 overall and 12-1 in the Pacwest. Hawaii Pacific, 19-1 overall, is just a ½ game back in conference at 11-1.
Basketball Showcase on ASN
- Texas A&M International women’s basketball team will play at Lubbock Christian, the defending national champions, at 7 p.m. ET Thursday. The men’s game follows at 9 p.m. and both games can be seen on the American Sports Network.
- On Saturday, Wingate women’s basketball team will play at undefeated Lincoln Memorial, which is 20-0 and ranked No. 5 in the WBCA top 25. The game earlier in the season was a classic. Lincoln Memorial won 84-83 in double overtime on Dec. 14. Wingate, 16-4, has won its last five games. The women’s game will be televised on ASN at noon ET followed by the men’s game at 2 p.m.