Washburn University guard Jerad Head might have been the grittiest of all the Ichabods on Sunday night, but every WU player seemed determined to show everyone in Allen Fieldhouse that the Division Two Ichabods were for real Sunday night.
Despite the motivation, Washburn eventually fell, 79-70, to top-ranked Kansas University.
After getting accidentally bumped off the court by Wayne Simien late in the first half, Head went flying into the stands and drilled his right hip against a wooden riser. The injury forced him out of the game, but after a short trip to the locker room Head returned.
However, the Topeka Hayden graduate could not go any further. He again limped off the court and returned to the locker area.
Head's toughness was contagious Sunday. The Ichabods scrapped and hustled their way into giving Kansas a game all the way to the end.
"I can't find much fault with our effort, loose balls, everyone flying around," said Washburn coach Bob Chipman, whose team lost to Purdue, 81-72, but said his team definitely was more excited about its effort in Sunday's in-state showdown.
"But that's about as good as we can play, and we got a few breaks," added Chipman, whose squad led by nine after the first seven minutes and then cut a 13-point KU second-half advantage to seven with just under three minutes to go.
"They missed some shots that they would normally make. They missed a lot of dunks and a bunch of free throws that kept us around. But I'm proud of our guys."
Chipman, who when not facing the Jayhawks freely admits he's fond of this season's KU squad, said top-ranked Kansas is as good as advertised.
He especially was impressed by one loose-ball scrum that had just about every player from both teams sprawling.
"Three or four guys on each team diving after the basketball," said Chipman, whose team opens the regular season at home tonight against Missouri-St. Louis. "That's the neat thing about KU, and that's probably why they'll win it all because they'll do that. They have the best players in the country diving after loose balls against Washburn. That kind of shows what they're all about."