Kip's Corner: WILLAMETTE SWEEPS HOMESTAND TO MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE IN NWC; BEARCATS FACE PIONEERS TONIGHT

After upsetting #7 UPS on Friday, and defeating George Fox on Saturday, Willamette University’s Men’s Basketball team stands a top the Northwest Conference, tied with UPS at 7-1 in league play (by virtue of their 77-68 win over Puget Sound, the Bearcats lead the Loggers).

Behind 5 players in double figures (led by Drew Miller’s 18) WU led the entire contest on Friday, and held off the Loggers down the stretch to give a loud crowd of almost 1500 fans the victory.

Saturday, Willamette battled back a spirited effort from the Bruins of George Fox, using CJ Stuvland’s 24 points (including 6 of 7 from the 3-point line) in route to an 86-77 win. Willamette hosts red hot Lewis and Clark (winners of 3 straight) on Tuesday in Salem, followed by a Saturday trip to PLU in Tacoma.

BREAKING DOWN THE BEARCATS
Coach Gordie James team continued its defensive resurgence over the weekend, holding juggernaut UPS 30 points under their season average. WU leads the NWC in FG and 3 pt. FG% defense, and allows the fewest points per game in the league (67.7).

Offensively, WU is #1 in FG% and #1 from behind the 3-point line (numbers helped largely by 61% and 54% shooting over the weekend). The Bearcats are currently #2 in scoring margin and hand out the most assists in the NWC at 16.8 apg.
Individually, WU’s John Olinger is second in the NWC in scoring, one spot behind Whitman’s Matt Kelly at 18.6 points per game. In fact, Olinger is ranked in the top 15 in all but two statistical categories including 1st in free throw percentage (.866), 2nd in steals (2.29 pg), third in assist to turnover ratio (1.88) and 14th in rebounding.

CJ Stuvland averages 14.7, while Drew Miller leads the NWC in accuracy from behind the arc, hitting 55% of his attempts.

Both Ian Mansfield and Jason Luchterhand rank amongst the league leaders in rebounding, while freshman David Fife and sophomore Josh Erickson are amongst the league’s best in assists.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART THIS WEEK

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

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Senior Jacob Baran started for Jason Luchterhand, and played a pivotal role in Friday’s upset of UPS, scoring 12 points and pulling down 9 rebounds.

Junior CJ Stuvland averaged 19 points per game over the weekend, including a team leading 24 versus George Fox Saturday.

John Olinger scored 31 points over the weekend.

Drew Miller scored a team high 18 points versus UPS.

David Fife scored 10 points off the bench versus George Fox.

Ian Mansfield scored 10 points and had 5 rebounds versus UPS.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY
WU is not unfamiliar with an upset of a nationally ranked Logger team. Willamette is one of only two NWC teams (G.Fox) that has defeated the Loggers in NWC play during the last 3 seasons. WU’s other victory came in the 2003-2004 campaign, also at Cone Fieldhouse.

IMPROVED OPPOSITION:
Willamette faces two teams in the upcoming week that it easily handled in two previous encounters. However, both LC and PLU have vastly improved since the early portion of the year, when Willamette defeated both by an average of 21 points.

LEWIS AND CLARK has since evened its conference mark at 4-4, and has displayed an impressive offensive attack, lead by guards Thomas Tillery and Ryan Wells. Coach Bob Gailard’s teams have enjoyed a hotly contested rivalry with Willamette, and each team has enjoyed success versus the other. WU is currently on a 3 game winning streak in the series.

PACIFIC LUTHERAN stands at just 1-8 (3-14 overall) on the year, but just two weekends ago up ended perennially conference contender Whitworth in Tacoma. Coach Dave Harshman’s team has been lead on the year by the scoring of Drew Cardwell and Josh Dressler. The Bearcats have defeated the Lutes in 5 consecutive contests.