Trojans Have Playmaker in Uju

Uju+Chibuogwu+looks+to+drive+past+a+Lower+Columbia+defender.

John Yeager

Uju Chibuogwu looks to drive past a Lower Columbia defender.

Nathan Oberg, Staff Writer

The EvCC Women’s Basketball team began their 2016-17 campaign with a forgettable 1-7 start, including three losses within four points and a 43-point thrashing at the hands of Spokane.

Insert Uju Chibuogwu, then a 5’11 freshman forward, who was academically ineligible the first five games of the season. When asked about the impact Chibuogwu had when she returned, Women’s head coach Chet Hovde said, “ We started to gel as a team… she’s a team leader.” Upon her return, the Lady Trojans found their form, winning 4 out of their next 5 and riding a late season, 6-game winning streak to secure a spot in the NWAC tournament.

Chibuogwu’s shortened but dominant 2016 tenure included averaging nearly 19 points and ten rebounds a game, both top-10 stats in the Northwest Athletic Conference.

Now a sophomore and team captain, Chibuogwu looks to build off of last year’s success by working on several aspects of her game.

“I worked a lot with my old AAU coach this summer…she’s Trained Division I and II athletes before. I also worked on my dribbling a lot” Chibuogwu said. Her workouts included stop-and-go scrimmages where formal and informal plays are run to improve court awareness.

“If I were put into a position where I was dribbling more or running point (guard) I’d be able to manage,” Chibuogwu said when asked about her focus on improving dribbling.

Chibuogwu’s focus on academics has also seasoned considerably since the 2016-17 season concluded. “This year I’m more responsible when it comes to academics. I’m putting my classes first. If I have a test before practice, I will voluntarily stay and miss some practice time.” Chibuogwu said. Uju has also utilized EvCC’s Trio program that helps students who struggle academically. “I was on the fence about the program, but meeting with my advisor made me more comfortable with the idea, and I was able to utilize all they had to offer,” Chibuogwu said.  Uju’s academic eligibility will be imperative to a successful 2017-18 season as the Lady Trojans are reloaded with an athletic, fast-paced backcourt that will be difficult to contain. “We intend to run a lot of full court press and use our athleticism and speed to disrupt teams all game long.” Coach Hovde said.

Although Chibuogwu’s team leadership ability was on display last season with late-game heroics and high-scoring outings, Chibuogwu’s role with the Lady Trojans will be much more defined this year as a sophomore.

“There’s a huge difference as a team captain this year. Last year I wasn’t very vocal at times. Now I am more engaged and talkative on the court.” Chibuogwu said.

She concluded, “I want anybody on our team to have the ability to take on that leadership role if I foul out or if I’m not on the court.”