Kip's Corner: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #7

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Continue Up-and-Down Ways; Split Weekend at Home
Following the one step forward, one step back, flow of the 2006-07 season, the Willamette University men’s basketball team split a pair of home games over the weekend. The Bearcats downed the Boxers of Pacific University, 66-62, on Friday, Jan. 5, only to fall to rival Lewis and Clark College on Saturday, Jan. 6, 76-66. The 1-1 weekend puts the Bearcats at 5-8 overall and 1-3 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette continues NWC play this weekend, heading to George Fox University on Friday, Jan. 12, before a Saturday home game against the Wildcats of Linfield College.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
Sophomore post Kyler McClary earned Honorable Mention NWC Player of the Week honors for his efforts this past weekend. McClary scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the two games, keying the Bearcat attack each night.

As a team, the Bearcats are ranked first in the NWC in free throw percentage at 75.3% and are third in the conference in field goal percentage, hitting 46.9% of their shots. Willamette leads the NWC in blocked shots (3.5 per game) and is first in defensive rebounds (26.9 per game).

Individually, Dan Nugent holds 11th place in the league in scoring with 15.3 points per game. He also ranks 10th in rebounding with 5.5 boards per game and is third in field goal percentage, converting 61.3% of his attempts (76 of 124). The NWC statistics also show Ian Mansfield third in rebounding at 8.5 rebounds per contest and Rob Andrus tied for fourth in free throw shooting at 84.8% (28 of 33). In addition, Michael Smith is fourth in the NWC in 3-point shooting, as he has connected on 43.6% of his attempts from behind the arc (17 of 39).

Projected Depth Chart this Week

Point Guard
Starter - Mike Plank
Back-up - C.J. Stuvland

Shooting Guard
Starter - Michael Smith
Back-up - Rob Andrus

Wing
Starter - Dan Nugent
Back-up - C.J. Stuvland

Post
Starter - Ian Mansfield
Back-up - Simon Currie

Post
Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Tain Cantrell

Welcome Back
Willamette will receive a much-needed boost to its season this weekend, with the return of two-time First Team All-NWC performer C.J. Stuvland to the Bearcats’ lineup. Stuvland is now eligible, and hopes to see plenty of action in his first game of the year at George Fox on Friday night. Stuvland and graduated First Team All-NWC selection John Olinger were key players in Willamette’s run to the NWC Tournament a year ago.

Saying Goodbye
While the Bearcats add Stuvland, they will be bidding farewell to another player, as senior point guard Mike Plank will play his final two games for the ‘Cats over the weekend. Plank, a senior from Stockton, Calif., earned his degree from Willamette in December, and will have exhausted his semesters of eligibility after Saturday night. A two-sport standout at Willamette, he earned All-NWC honors as a wide receiver in football (Second Team in 2005; H.M. in 2006). On the basketball court this season, Plank filled in admirably for the ‘Cats after captain Josh Erickson received a knee injury.

Scouting the Opponents
George Fox University is an NCAA Division III team that competes in the Northwest Conference. Head Coach Mark Sundquist's club is 6-6 on the season, including 2-2 in the NWC. The Bruins are currently led by Chris Parker with 16.3 points per game. He is followed closely by Phillip Heu-Weller with 16.0 points per game. Brent Satern adds 13.0 points per game for GFU. Willamette, which swept two games from the Bruins a year ago, has not lost in Newberg since the 2000-01 season (106-104 loss in two overtimes on Jan. 16, 2001).

Linfield College also competes in NCAA Division III and the NWC. Long-time Head Coach Larry Doty leads his team into Friday’s game at Lewis & Clark with a 5-8 overall record, 0-4 in the conference. The Wildcats recently lost to Whitman College on a buzzer-beater Saturday night (Jan. 6). Linfield is currently being paced by transfer Evan Temperly’s 19.2 points per game, which rank him fourth in the NWC in scoring. No other Wildcat is averaging in double figures, although former South Salem High standout Steve Taylor is providing 9.8 points per game. Willamette swept the Wildcats a year ago, winning 78-62 at Cone Field House on Jan. 14, 2006 and taking an 87-62 triumph at Linfield on Feb. 11, 2006.