BEARCAT HOOP NEWS AND NOTES

LAST WEEK

Willamette split two games, defeating the Bruins of George Fox University (75-67), and losing at the buzzer on the road at Lewis and Clark College (61-58). The Bearcats currently stand in 2nd place in the NWC, two games behind conference leading Puget Sound. WU is 14-7 overall, 9-3 in NWC action.

THIS WEEK

Willamette travels to the University of Puget Sound on Friday night in Tacoma, WA, then travels across town to tangle with Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday night. Both games tip at 8 pm, and are part of doubleheader action with the women’s teams.

DO OR DIE

With its second heartbreaking loss in a week (the other being a 58-57 defeat by Whitworth), Bearcat Hoop stands on the edge of post season elimination. With 4 games remaining to be played, the ‘Cats are now 2 full games behind UPS in the race for the NWC crown. In order to win the NWC (and the NCAA tourney bid attached to that title), the Bearcats must first and foremost defeat the Loggers on their home floor Friday night (a difficult task, despite the fact WU handed the Loggers their only conference loss of the season). Next, Willamette must win its final three games (at PLU, and at home against Pacific and Linfield), and hope UPS drops one of their final three games (at home vs. Lewis and Clark, and on the road against PLU and Linfield). In essence, every game is a playoff game for Willamette from this point on.

ABOUT THE BEARCATS

Willamette forward Miles Sandgathe was named Honorable Mention Player of the Week in the NWC, following his 26 pt, 6 rebound, 3 assist performance over the weekend. It is the first time Sandgathe has been honorable mention this season. David Force (2), John Olinger (1) and Brennan Garrelts (1) have also garnered the same honor this season.

After battling early season injury problems, Willamette is now 8-2 with its projected starting line-up (Force, John Olinger, Harold Sublett, Jr., Miles Sandgathe, Brennan Garrelts) in place.

If the season ended today, WU would finish in 2nd place for the 3rd consecutive season. However, without the NWC post season tournament, the Bearcats would be finished playing for the year (unlike the previous two seasons of semi-final and championship game action). Willamette has yet to earn a bid to the NCAA DIII tournament, despite the recent string of success (including the 2000 NWC tourney title…the only year the tourney champion was not awarded an automatic bid to the NCAA’s) WU continues to lead the NWC in one defensive category: total points allowed per game (64.3).

Willamette, courtesy of a raucous 1800 fans last Saturday night, now leads the NWC in home attendance, averaging 1225 fans a game in Cone Fieldhouse. The Bearcats in Salem are now 16-1 the past two seasons.

ABOUT PUGET SOUND

Head Coach Eric Bridgeland’s Loggers enter Friday’s game at 19-2 (11-1) overall. Currently on a 7 game win streak, the Loggers have been a juggernaut all season long. Averaging 103.5 points per game, winning by an average margin of 14.7 points per game, and forcing an astounding 25.4 turnovers per game, UPS has rarely been challenged. Player of the Year candidate Matt Glynn, along with sharp shooting Curtis Medved and Chase Curtiss, pose a dynamic threat to WU’s championship hopes. In their first meeting this year, WU handled the Logger press, played outstanding man-to-man defense, and capitalized on numerous free throw opportunities. The Bearcats lead most of the game in Salem en route to a 91-83 victory.

ABOUT PACIFIC LUTHERAN

The Lutes of PLU enter this weekend at 5-16 (2-10). Head Coach Dave Harshman’s squad has been an inconsistent team to date, but possess a number of talented players that could turn the tables on anyone in the NWC. Sudon DeSuze, Jonathan Anderson and Drew Cardwell lead the Lute attack, and played reasonably well in the Lutes early season loss to the Bearcats in Salem. Willamette must avoid a letdown in Puyallup, as PLU has shown the ability to play with anyone at home.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Willamette pts. rebs. Assts.
1. David Force 14.7 5.1 3.7
2. John Olinger 12.1 2.7
3. Harold Sublett, Jr. 8.9 5.5 2.1
4. Miles Sandgathe 11.4 5.6 1.4
5. Brennan Garrelts 7.1 4.2

UPS

1. Jermey Cross 10.0 4.9 2.7
2. Chase Curtiss 12.4 3.9 1.6
3. Matt Glynn 21.2 4.4
4. Aubrey Shelton 9.5 4.3
5. Zach McVey 9.2

PLU

1. Hayzen Hyland 4.0 2.2
2. Drew Cardwell 9.0 4.2 1.6
3. Jonathan Anderson 11.0
4. Sudon DeSuze 11.0 5.6 1.6
5. Jake Lipscomb 4.2 4.5 2.0