Inside Bearcat Hoop

Last Week:
Willamette split a pair of important West Region games in California, defeating Claremont 57-56 on Friday, only to drop a heartbreaking 77-73 overtime decision to SCIAC champion Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday night. John Olinger earned NWC Player of the Week Honorable Mention as he poured in game highs of 17 and 22 points during the trip. Willamette currently stands at 2-2 overall, and is 1-1 in the NCAA DIII West Region.

This Week:
The Bearcats move out of DIII competition this weekend, hosting the John Lewis Classic at Cone Fieldhouse. Willamette will welcome NAIA powers Western Baptist on Friday night, and Southern Oregon on Saturday. Willamette last held the John Lewis during the 2002-2003 campaign, and was 2-0 in its games.

A Look at the Opponents:
-Western Baptist, Friday night’s opponent, is currently on a rampage. At 7-0, the Warriors are averaging an impressive 105.2 pts per game, while holding their opponent to just above 70. Western Baptist is lead by Eric Fiegi, one of the best post players in all of Oregon, regardless of level (Fiegi is currently averaging 25.6 ppg). Familiar foes Jeff Dunn (20 ppg) and Matt Larson (10 ppg) provide support for the Warriors (both players previously battled Willamette as Linfield Wildcats before transferring). Willamette defeated Western Baptist 112-100 last season.

-Southern Oregon, Saturday night’s opponent, was a preseason Top 25 team in the NAIA polls (#16), but are off to a sluggish start. At 0-3, SOU has lost all three games by a combined 5 points. The Raiders are led by another highly active post, center Shea Washington, who currently is posting 20 ppg, and wing Brad Coen follows at 14.7. Willamette has defeated the Raiders in 3 straight meetings.

A Look at the Bearcats:
-Willamette experienced a reversal of sorts in California, as the team started each game in less than stellar fashion. Trailing 16-3 to Pomona-Pitzer, and 13-4 to Claremont, put the ‘Cats in the exact opposite position as the opening weekend in Idaho, where Willamette jumped on Albertson 11-2 and Concordia 15-4.

-The Bearcats return to Cone Fieldhouse for the first time this season, hoping to restart the magic of its home floor advantage. Willamette is 29-3 at home the last three seasons.

-Willamette has defeated both Western Baptist and Southern Oregon in the past 3 meetings between the schools

-Wing John Olinger not only lead Willamette in scoring over the weekend, but also played in all 45 minutes of Saturday’s overtime loss at Pomona.

-Coach Gordie James is just 2 victories shy of 300 for his career at Willamette.