Kip's Corner: Inside Willamette University Men's Basketball

Midseason Recap:
WU currently stands at 3-6, after navigating a preconference schedule that included the #1 team in NAIA (Western Baptist), a Division I opponent (Northern Arizona), and a NCAA DIII tournament team (Pomona Pitzer). WU is currently on a three game skid, and has lost 4 out of its last 5 games. Starting wing (and team captain) Harold Sublett, Jr. has missed 3 out of the last 4 games due to injury, and the Bearcats have played 6 of their 9 games on the road.

However, reason for optimism is all-around the Bearcats, as they prepare for this weekends NWC opening homestand against Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Puget Sound (currently #6 in the Top 25 poll). Sublett appears to be fully recovered from his injury woes, the ‘Cats have lost only 1 conference home game the past 2 seasons, and the team received some much needed rest and rehab during the holiday break. Leading scorer CJ Stuvland, and co-captain John Olinger will look to help lead the season rally now that the conference portion of the schedule has begun.

A Look at the Opponents:

-Pacific Lutheran University is currently 2-7 on the season, but has posted a 2-2 record in the NCAA DIII West Region. The Lutes and Coach Dave Harshman have been paced all season by Sudon DeSuse (12 ppg), Michael Torbenson (11 ppg), and Kurt Oliver (10 ppg). WU swept both games from the Lutes a year ago.

-The University of Puget Sound enters this weekend’s conference play at 6-2 on the season, with both losses coming at the hands of DII schools (Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University). The Loggers are the defending champions of the NWC, and are coming off a season in which they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament. UPS has been led so far this season by Jeremy Cross’s 24 ppg, but have 7 players averaging 9 points or more per game. The high scoring Loggers lost 91-83 at WU last season, the only blemish on their conference mark for the entire season.

A Look at the Bearcats:

-WU has lost only one conference game at home the past two seasons (a one-point defeat to Whitworth a year ago).

-WU finished 2nd in the NWC to the Loggers a year ago.

-Reserve Drew Miller matched his career high of 14 points on Dec. 21st in WU’s 65-60 loss to Warner Pacific. Interestingly, Miller’s other 14-point game came against UPS a year ago.

-The Bearcats are three games below .500 for the first time since the 2000-2001 team finished 10-14.

-Head Coach Gordie James is one win away from his 300th career win at Willamette.