KIP'S CORNER: Bearcats Face NAIA and DI Foes This Weekend

Bearcat Assistant Coach Kip Ioane writes a weekly column about Bearcat Hoop. Here is this week's edition.

Last Week:
Willamette split two contests while hosting the John Lewis Classic at Cone Fieldhouse. The Bearcats dropped an 89-78 decision to NAIA #3 Western Baptist on Friday night, but came back to defeat #16 Southern Oregon (61-57) on Saturday night.

Willamette received an outstanding individual weekend from junior guard CJ Stuvland. His 40-point weekend earned him All-Tournament honors.

This Week:
The Bearcats take on two unfamiliar foes this week, hosting NAIA Cascade College of Portland, followed by a trip to Flagstaff, AZ to battle NCAA DI foe Northern Arizona. The Bearcats and Cascade have not played in recent years, and the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona have never before been on the WU schedule.

A Look at the Opponents:

-Cascade College will be coming off Tuesday’s triple overtime loss at NWC member Lewis and Clark. The Thunderbirds (members of the Cascade Conference), are 4-6 entering Friday night’s game. The Thunderbirds have played a daunting schedule that already has included Western Baptist (NAIA #3), Western Oregon (NCAA DII) and UC-Riverside (NCAA DI). Statistically, the T-birds are paced by Jered Alsup’s 20.1 ppg, followed by Malik Edwards at 16 ppg, and Josh Garrett at 14 points per game.

-Northern Arizona is a member of the Big Sky Conference, and following Tuesday’s loss at Texas Tech, stand at 4-4 on the season. The Lumberjacks have been paced thus far by a balanced scoring attack. Five players average at or above 10 ppg, with guard DeJuan Stevens leading the way at 14.3 points per game.

NAU has already dipped into the DIII waters this season, defeating Willamette rival Lewis and Clark 93-81 earlier this month. NAU typically plays its home games in the Walk-Up Skydome, but has scheduled this game with WU for the Rolle Activity Center.

A Look at the Bearcats:
-WU is now 30-4 at home in the past 4 seasons, with Friday’s loss against Western Baptist being the first non-NWC loss at home for the Bearcats since December of 2000 (vs. Southern Oregon).

-WU has now defeated the Raiders of SOU 4 consecutive times.

-Willamette pulled the upset of Southern without the services of team captain Harold Sublett, Jr. Sublett, following a 15 pt, 5 reb, 5 assist game vs. Western Baptist, was held out of Saturday’s game with an injury. He is expected back this week at full strength.

-In Sublett’s place, junior wing Henry Greeley filled in admirably, accounting for 15 points vs. Southern.

-Willamette’s step up to DI vs. NAU marks the 4th time in 5 seasons the Bearcats have played a “big-time” opponent. Previous opponents included Portland State (’01), Oregon State (’04), and the University of Oregon’s Elite 8 team (’02) that included 3 future NBA first round picks in Fred Jones, Luke Ridnour, and Luke Jackson.

-WU’s 3 losses on the season have come at the hands of #19 Albertson College of Idaho (NAIA), #3 Western Baptist (NAIA), and NCAA DIII tournament participant Pomona-Pitzer of California. WU’s remaining schedule includes 2 battles with current #4 Puget Sound (NCAA DIII), as well as the home-home series with rivals Linfield, Lewis and Clark, and Whitworth.

-CJ Stuvland earned Honorable Mention NWC Player of the Week honors, joining John Olinger as Bearcats recognized by the NWC this season.