Men’s basketball rebounds after tough loss

Tochi+Oti%2C+16

Hannah Bashevkin

Tochi Oti, ’16

After a wildly successful season last year, the Whitman men’s basketball team is motivated, geared up, and ready to put in work for another winning season.

Statistically, last season was the team’s most successful season since their start in ’08-’09. In fact, they were one game away from making the DIII national tournament.

This year, the team will have a few obstacles to overcome. Senior Jackson Clough, who tore his Achilles recently during practice, won’t be able to play this season. That said, he still very much considers himself a part of the team.

“I went from trying to put the ball in the cup to leading the team through yoga and cooking team meals,” Clough said. “But I know that if any of my other teammates went down they would do the exact same thing. I feel lucky to get one more run at it with these guys.”

Sophomore Tim Howell reflected on the loss of Clough on the court.

“[He is] an overall figure of toughness. I really look up to him from a player standpoint and as a person. I respect the hell out of him … He’s still one of our leaders and it’s great to still have that leadership from him,” Howell said.

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Eric Bridgeland saw the injury as a major blow to the team, but also a source of inspiration.

“[It’s] a lightning bolt to all in our program. Jackson is loved and respected by all involved with us as an outstanding person and leader.”

Despite the unfortunate injury, the team has their sights set very high. The team is poised for yet another highly successful season. They have a talented first-year class, and the returners are excited to have another run for a title.

“I feel very confident with this new team we have,” said Howell. “We got seven freshmen who are really great ball players. We have an array of great shooters, some defensive specialists, and a lot of good guard play across the board and good inside presence.”

Clough remains incredibly positive about the prospects for the season.

“The team is looking really strong. We have a core group of returners and some amazing freshmen that are bringing great energy to the floor … I have a ton of respect for all of the new guys. They all show energy and

Tochi Oti, '16
Tochi Oti, ’16. Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.

effort that I wish I had had when I was a freshman. Really excited to have them,” he said.

Coach Bridgeland agrees with Clough.

“This is the finest freshmen class we’ve had. They each are getting better daily – so much fun to see,” Bridgeland said.

The team has been enjoying a fantastic culture, with everyone being very close to one another.

“We loved last year,” Coach Bridgeland said. “Our culture had never, and continuing into this season, been better.”

When asked what sets the program apart, Howell reflected on what makes this team unique.

“The level of competition [sets us apart]. We’re very tough. We are very hard on each other … we push each other a lot. We all want to get better and see each other get better. And we’re very close. After every play you’ll see, (if you come to the games), we huddle. That translates off the court, too … we’re like brothers. [If] any one of us goes down or something happens, we’re there for one another. It’s more than a game, it’s a brotherhood that we share,” he said.

Clough shared similar sentiments.

“Easy is not a word I would associate with our culture, but the adversity we navigate always makes us closer as brothers,” he said.

The team has been and will continue to be very fun to watch.

The next home game will be this coming Saturday, Nov. 21, against California Institute of Technology.