Kip's Corner: BEARCATS GAIN REGION GROUND IN CALIFORNIA

Despite losing a hotly contested double overtime battle against The Master’s College on December 30th, Willamette University’s Men’s Basketball team enjoyed a successful trip to Southern California, posting consecutive blow out wins against a pair of Division III West Region Opponents.

Behind a 9-11 3-point shooting performance in the first half, WU cruised to an 81-61 win at Whittier, followed by a 71-33 trampling of Cal Tech. WU now gears back up for the conference season, starting with a critical weekend in Washington. The Bearcats battle Whitworth College in Spokane, WA at 8 pm on Friday, followed by a trip to Walla Walla, WA and a Saturday date with Whitman College. Willamette is 2-0 in NWC play.

BREAKING DOWN THE BEARCATS

WU continues its resurgence defensively, ranking 2nd in Points Allowed (68) and first in both FG% Allowed and 3-PT FG% Allowed. WU is also the league leader in Rebounding Margin and Defensive Rebounds.

Offensively, sparked by John Olinger and CJ Stuvland, WU is #2 in FG% and #3 in Scoring Margin.

Individually, aside from Olinger’s impressive season to date, Stuvland is averaging 16.1 ppg while shooting 40.4% from behind the arc. Jason Luchterhand is shooting 60.7% from the floor, and Ian Mansfield is #6 in rebounding at 6.7 per game.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART THIS WEEK

PG Josh Erickson Drew Miller
SG John Olinger Robbie Andrus
W CJ Stuvland David Fife
P Ian Mansfield Jacob Baran
P Jason Luchterhand Brennan Garrelts

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Captain John Olinger was named Honorable Mention Player of the Week in the NWC, following 32 and 33 point outbursts in California. On the season, Olinger is currently #2 in the NWC in scoring at 19.3 points per game, while also ranking among the conference leaders in 10 other categories. Olinger was also named the Statesman Journal newspaper’s Athlete of the Week.

RIVALRY RENEWED
Whitworth and Willamette have enjoyed an intense rivalry over the past few seasons, with each team securing wins on each other’s home floors (snapping long win streaks in the process) and meeting twice in the NWC tournament (both Whitworth wins). The Pirates and Bearcats meet for the first time this season on Friday, followed by a Salem encounter on February 3rd.

TOUGH TO DO
In the past 10 years, WU has managed to sweep the Whitworth/Whitman trip only once. During the 2001-2002 season, led by 1st team All-NWC picks Ryan Hepp and Marques Johnson, WU defeated both Whitman and Whitworth on the road. That team, however, eventually lost to Whitworth in the semifinals of the NWC tournament (in Salem).


SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS

Whitworth and Coach Jim Hayford are currently 7-3 on the season, and 1-1 in conference play. The Pirates are lead by Lance Pecht (16.6) and Jon Young (14.9) in the scoring department, and lean heavily on PG Bryan Williams, a 3-year starter. Whitworth swept the Bearcats a year ago (both games being decided in overtime).

Whitman College stands at 5-4 on the year, 1-1 in the NWC. Coach Skip Molitor’s team is being paced by Matt Kelly’s 19.4 ppg (tops in the NWC) and Erik Kofler’s 15.5. The Missionaries split with the Bearcats a year ago, with each team winning on the other’s home floor.