COUNCIL BLUFFS — Unbeaten Iowa Western is riding a school-record 18-game winning streak, and its No. 5 national ranking is the highest midseason rating in Jim Morris’ 18 years in Council Bluffs.
Yet, the veteran coach, who has more than 450 career victories, is still finding it hard to sleep.
The Reivers (18-0) have been decimated by injuries. They’ve overcome them to keep winning so far. But Morris is concerned about his team’s lack of depth as it enters league play.
“At the beginning of the season, we were really deep,” he said. “We had a lot of depth, and I was feeling really good about that. Then, realistically, we’ve lost three starters.”
Now using a rotation of eight players, Iowa Western opens its Iowa Community College Athletic Conference season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Kanesville Arena against Southeastern (17-3).
Morris said because of the injuries, his team’s margin for error in games has grown thin. He believes the ICCAC, which features two other ranked teams in No. 13 Indian Hills (17-2) and No. 25 Marshalltown (14-2), is as good as it has been, top to bottom, in recent years.
The Reivers lost Rob Robinson, a transfer from NCAA Division I Illinois-Chicago, to an ACL tear prior to the opener. Six-foot-9 post Daouda Soumaoro, Iowa Western’s leading rebounder, went down with a season-ending knee injury for the second straight year. Then starting guard JeVon Lyle dislocated his wrist in a game a short time later and also won’t return.
That the Reivers have stayed undefeated in spite of the player losses is remarkable.
“They just found a way to win,” Morris said. “They don’t think that they’re supposed to lose. We’ve had some games where we might have been overmatched a little bit, but they competed at a high level and won those games. They’ve persevered.”
Devin Brooks, Dinjiyl Walker and BillyDee Williams are all averaging double figures for the Reivers. And Brooks, the point guard, also leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals.
But Iowa Western has only three healthy guards in its rotation. And the Reivers pulled the redshirt off 6-9 freshman Mike Hudson to back up classmate Tyrone Haughton in the post.
Despite the injuries, Morris said his team should have enough scoring to contend for the ICCAC title. But the Reivers will have to be able to make stops at the other end as well.
“We’re athletic and long, and we have the capabilities of defending,” he said. “I think we’ll make baskets, but we’ve have to be able to stop some people.”
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