Kip's Corner: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #10

By Kip Ioane

Willamette on Three-Game Win Streak; Bearcats Face Difficult Road Trip
The Willamette Bearcats have thrust themselves back into the NWC Tournament discussion, courtesy of a three-game winning streak. Included in the Bearcats’ run of success was a 119-108 upset of 13th-ranked the University of Puget Sound at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 26, followed by a 90-67 dismantling of Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Jan. 27. Willamette stands at 9-10 overall, 5-5 in NWC play, and heads into this weekend’s road games at Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College with renewed optimism and motivation.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
Junior post Ian Mansfield was nominated for NWC Player of the Week honors for his efforts over the weekend. Mansfield averaged 15.5 points and 6.0 rebounds during the two games, as he earned an NWC nomination for the third time this season.

Freshman Dan Nugent added 32 points over the weekend (21 vs. UPS; 11 vs. PLU) and senior Rob Andrus scored in double figures for the sixth and seventh times since the beginning of January. Sophomore Corey Costantino scored 26 points over the weekend.

As a team, the Bearcats rank first in free throw percentage (75.1%) and second in field goal percentage (48.5%) in the Northwest Conference. Willamette also ranks first in blocked shots (4.1 per game) and second in assists (15.2 per game).

Individually, Nugent is ninth in the league in scoring with 16.0 points per game. He also leads the NWC in blocked shots (1.8 per game), is third in field goal percentage at 59.1% and is 11th in rebounding, with 5.5 boards per contest. Mansfield holds third place in the NWC in rebounding with 7.8 rebounds per game, while and Andrus ranks second in the conference in free throws at 84.4%. In addition, Michael Smith is fourth in the NWC in 3-point percentage, connecting on 43.1% of his attempts from behind the arc.

Projected Depth Chart this Week

Point Guard
Starter - C.J. Stuvland
Back-up - Corey Costantino

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

Starter - Dan Nugent
Back-up - Corey Costantino

Starter - Ian Mansfield
Back-up - Simon Currie

Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Tain Cantrell

Postseason Outlook
The Bearcats’ wins over the weekend pushed them back into the race for NWC Tournament berths. Whitworth leads the NWC at 8-2, with UPS and Lewis & Clark College tied for second place at7-3. George Fox University is fourth at 6-4. WU stands tied with Pacific at 5-5, one game behind the Bruins.

The top three teams in the league will earn a spot in the conference tournament, with the #3 seed playing at the #2 seed in the first round. The winner of the first-round match-up will battle the #1 seed for the right to represent the NWC in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Reunion Weekend
Willamette Assistant Coach Wally Wing organized a surprise for Head Coach Gordie James on Saturday, Jan. 27, as Wing brought back nine members of James’ first group of Bearcats from the 1987-88 team. That group of ‘Cats was the last team to go undefeated (10-0) in the NWC (then called the NCIC). In addition to winning the conference championship, the 1987-88 Bearcats placed a total of four players on the All-NCIC first and second teams.

The following is a quick look at where the 1987-88 Willamette Bearcats are now:

Chris Roche
Head boys’ basketball coach at Wilsonville High School, Wilsonville, Oregon
Mike Shepard
Research and Marketing for “The Jordan Line” at Nike, Inc., Beaverton, Oregon
Rich Ash
Owns a GPS consulting and distributing business, Corvallis, Oregon
Todd Simis
Head football coach at Capital High School, Boise, Idaho
Ted Harris
Real estate broker, Beaverton, Oregon
Russ Sovde
Consulting system engineer for Internet Security, Seattle, Washington
Dan Yates
Senior consultant with R.V. Kuhns & Associates, Inc., Portland, Oregon
Erik Clarkson
Special forces: FBI, CIA, SWAT, Tacoma, Washington
Sean Mooney
Owns and operates a fitness club, Salt Lake City, Utah
Scott Marshall
Associate professor of management at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
Brad Simmons
Teacher at Gervais High School, Salem, Oregon

Scouting the Opponents
Pacific University is a member of the Northwest Conference and competes in NCAA Division III. Head Coach Jason Lowery, in his second year at Pacific, has guided the Boxers to a 9-9 start, 5-5 in the NWC, including a 62-66 loss to the Bearcats on Jan. 5. Pacific is led statistically by Donn Harrison-Davis, Joe Van Domelen, and Ross Bartlett. The trio combines for 41 of Pacific’s 69.7 points per game.

Lewis and Clark College also competes in the Northwest Conference and NCAA Division III. Long-time Head Coach Bob Gaillard and the Pioneers are tied for second place in the NWC with a 7-3 record. L&C is 12-6 overall. The Pioneers, who defeated Willamette 76-66 on Jan. 6 in Salem, have four players averaging in double figures, led by Mark Robinowitz with 14.2 points per game. The Pioneers and the Bearcats have enjoyed a storied rivalry over the years. Lewis & Clark’s win on Jan. 6 snapped Willamette’s four-game winning streak in the series.