The Webster University’s men’s basketball team is off to a 9-5 start, which is the best start to a season since team’s 10-4 start in the 2010-11 season. But the team will have its first big test Thursday night, hosting first place Spalding University.
It does not get any easier after Thursday night, as Webster will then have to travel to MacMurray Saturday, for an afternoon game. Forward Hunter Ward said the team feels good about going into this week’s games against Spalding and MacMurray.
“We are feeling very confident right now. We’re gelling as a team, and we’re only going to progress the rest of the season,” Ward said. “I love how we really have ten, eleven, twelve guys that can really all play.”
Spalding is 10-5 overall and is undefeated in conference play with a record of 8-0 and winners of eleven straight games. In Webster’s 10’-11’ season, the team went on to finish its season with a record of 20-7, along with its first ever SLIAC tournament championship.
Currently, Webster is tied for second with MacMurray College, both teams with a 6-1 conference record. Webster and MacMurray are trailing the reigning SLIAC champion, Spalding University.
Senior Center Jarrod Huskey said the team’s depth gives the Gorloks an advantage over other teams.
“It’s great, there is no one else that has that in the conference. If you go eight, nine, or ten guys deep, you’re going to have an advantage over most opponents,” Huskey said.
With that depth, Ward said he thinks the team has the ability to rotate in and out big men forwards without losing a step in production.
“You have Aaron Griffin (junior center), and Kevin Miller (sophmore center), are the starting big men, but it helps a lot when you can rotate them in and out with guys who are 6-foot-6, like Jarrod Huskey,” Ward said.
Along with height and depth, Ward said guard play has also contributed to the Gorloks’s early success. Ahmad Smith, Hollis Edwards and Jonathan Odjo are the main three-man rotation Head Coach Chris Bunch uses in the team’s guard play.
According to the SLIAC’s official stat sheet, Webster is first in the conference in steals, averaging 12.6 steals a game. A large part of that comes from the guard play and Webster’s suffocating defense.
Miller has averaged 14.4 points -per-game, shooting .532 from the field and averaging 8.3 rebounds per game so far this season. Griffin has averaged 6.8 points-per-game, shooting .588 from the field and averaging 5.8 rebounds per game. Huskey has averaged 6.4 points-per-game, shooting .654 from the field and averaging 4.7 rebounds a game. These stats show there is consistency in the forward play for Webster.
According to the SLIAC’s official stat sheet, Webster only allows an average of 59.9 points-per-game from opponents in conference play, which is first in the conference.
Webster’s defense is also first in the conference in only allowing opponents to shoot 35 percent from the field. Webster plays Spalding at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 in Webster’s Grant Gymnasium.