Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #4

By Kip Ioane

WU Heads to Humboldt State for DeBeni Tournament:
Head Coach Gordie James and the Bearcats will travel to Arcata, Calif., this weekend to participate in the Lawrence DeBeni Memorial Tournament at Humboldt State University. The Bearcats will take on the Lumberjacks of Humboldt State on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. (PST), followed by a game with Chico State at 5:30 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, Dec. 22. Both opponents are members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and play at the NCAA Division II level. Willamette competes in NCAA Division III.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
Willamette is coming off its most disappointing loss of the season, a 69-55 defeat at Concordia University (Ore.) on Saturday Dec. 8. Following its worst half of the season, WU trailed 43-13 in Portland. Despite winning the second half with the Cavaliers 42-26, the Bearcats couldn’t keep from falling to 2-5 overall on the season.

Kyler McClary (Sr., Post) and Robbie Kunke (Fr., PG) were the only Bearcats to reach double figures, as McClary lead the team with 12 points, and Kunke added 11 points and 5 assists.

Statistically, Willamette continues to rank second in the Northwest Conference in rebounding margin (+3.9) and blocked shots (2.1 avg.). Individually, McClary is 10th in the NWC in scoring with 15.1 points per game and is 12th in rebounding with 6.1 boards per contest. Sophomore post Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding with 8.0 boards per game and is tied for third in field goal percentage at 56.8% (25 of 44). Senior wing Mike Smith is the NWC’s leading free throw shooter at 94.1% (16 of 17).

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

Point Guard
Starter - Robbie Kunke (Fr.)
Back-up - Ricky Thompson (Fr.)

Shooting Guard
Starter - Mike Smith (Sr.)
Back-up - Corey Costantino (Jr.)

Starter - Kyler McClary (Jr.)
Back-up - Sean Spang (So./Fr. elig.)

Starter - Ian Mansfield (Sr.)
Back-up - Simon Currie (Jr.)

Starter - Tain Cantrell (Jr.)
Back-up - Cameron Mitchell (So.)

Stepping Up
The Bearcats, who play at the NCAA Division III level, will be stepping up in class to take on the Humboldt State Lumberjacks and the Chico State Wildcats over the weekend. Both of WU’s opponents offer athletic scholarships and compete in NCA Division II. The following details how the ‘Cats have faired in their most recent encounters with Division II opponents:

Dec. 19, 2006 - @ Western Oregon, 94-57 L
Dec. 10, 20056 - @ Northwest Nazarene
Nov. 19, 2005 - @ CSU-Pueblo, 63-56 L

Where Are They Now?
This week’s edition of our Alumni Search brings us to Jimmy Watts (’99) and Shawn Gahr (’00).

Watts, who was a center for Bearcat Hoop from 1995-96 through 1998-99, doubled as a standout decathlete at Willamette, winning back-to-back NCAA National titles in the event. Watts, in addition to his professional track career, also went on to play in the International Basketball League (IBL) for the Portland Chinooks. Watts, who is married, teaches physical education and is a basketball coach at Lakeridge High School in Oregon.

Gahr, was a co-captain of Bearcat Hoop from 1997-98 through 1999-00 and was the starting point guard for three seasons at Willamette. Gahr helped the 1999-00 edition of the Bearcats win the NWC tournament title. He was chosen for The Wall Street Journal Business Student of the Year Award in 2000. He lives in Seattle, Wash., and works for Imperium Renewables.

Scouting the Opponents
Humboldt State University is member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association and is an NCAA Division II institution. The Lumberjacks, led by Head Coach Tom Wood, are currently 5-2 on the season. Devin Peal has provided HSU with 18 points and seven rebounds per game.

Chico State University also competes in the CCAA and NCAA Division II. Head Coach Prescott Smith’s Wildcats are 3-4 on the season. Darroll Phillips, with 17 points per game, and Mike Martin, with 12 points per contest, have paced Chico State’s attack so far this season.