Kip's Corner: Inside Bearcat Hoop

Last Week:
WU split two games during their opening weekend of action in the Northwest Conference. Friday’s 82-44 blowout of Pacific Lutheran gave Head Coach Gordie James his 300th career victory, but was also marred by the loss of senior captain Harold Sublett, Jr. to yet another injury. CJ Stuvland (17 points) and Todd Lewis (16 points, 7 rebounds) provided the spark WU needed to put the Lutes away early in the contest.

Saturday evening, WU dropped a 79-73 decision to #6 Puget Sound. Just the 2nd conference loss at home in two years for the Bearcats, the game was characterized by a number of missed opportunities for Willamette. Drew Miller, starting in place of Sublett, scored a career-high 24 points, but it was not enough as the Bearcats fell into a 4-way tie for 2nd in the NWC at 1-1 in league play.

This Week:
Willamette plays 3 games in 5 days this week, and started the difficult stretch on the right foot with a 76-55 win over Lewis & Clark on Tuesday night. WU placed 4 players in double figures, and now have won 5 out of the last 6 games from their Portland-based rivals. The Bearcats now travel to rival Linfield College on Friday, and end the week at the always dangerous, Pacific University Saturday evening. WU will most likely be without Sublett for the week, but hope for continued quality performances from Miller, Henry Greeley, and Michael Plank in his place.

About the Opponents:
Linfield Wildcats (5-6, 1-1)
One of WU’s biggest rivals, the Wildcats and Coach Larry Doty have been a difficult team to figure during the 04-05 campaign. Lead by Blake Shelton (17.5 ppg) and Sam Kreiger (15.7 ppg), the Wildcats, like WU itself, have played in spurts of impressive action, followed by periods of puzzling performances. The Bearcats have won 3 out of the last 4 meetings with the Wildcats.

Pacific Boxers (1-8, 0-1)
The Boxers remain a difficult team to contend with at home, despite their sub par record to date. Coach Ken Schumann’s team nearly pulled off an upset of #6 UPS on Friday night, and have been paced on the season by guards Branden Kawazoe (11 ppg) and Brad Krichevsky (10 ppg). Pacific has dropped 3 out of the last 4 meetings with the Bearcats.

A Closer Look at the Bearcats
-In addition to his impressive offensive performance, guard Drew Miller (with some help from Michael Plank) turned in an equally impressive defensive performance Saturday night vs. All-NWC guard Jeremy Cross of UPS. Coming into the game averaging around 24 ppg, Cross finished with just 6 points before fouling out of Saturday’s game.

-Unheralded post Jacob Baran played a career high 23 minutes vs. UPS Saturday, and was perhaps the Bearcats most impressive performer. Despite not taking a shot from the field, Baran grabbed 8 rebounds, dished out 3 assists, and helped starter Todd Lewis contain UPS post Zach McVey and Aubrey Shelton.

-WU has now defeated the Lutes of PLU three consecutive times.

-WU is the NWC leader in both Assists (16 per game), and Assist to Turnover Ratio (+1.1). The Bearcats are currently second in the NWC in Scoring Defense (70.5 points allowed), Free Throw Percentage (70.7%), and Rebounding Margin (+.7)