Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #3

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Drop Two Games in California; Look to Rebound Versus Cavaliers:
Willamette University’s men’s basketball team lost twice over the weekend in somewhat sunny California, falling by three points each night to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) members the University of La Verne, 84-81, and Whittier College, 80-77. Willamette fell to 2-4 overall. Both games were NCAA Division III West Region contests, dropping the Bearcats to 0-2 in the Region. La Verne improved to 3-2 over, while Whittier upped its record to 3-1.

Willamette returns to Oregon this weekend to battle NAIA opponent Concordia University in Portland on Saturday, Dec. 8. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. (PST).

Breaking Down the Bearcats
Both of Willamette’s losses last week could be attributed to two things: field goal percentage defense and offensive free throw percentage. Willamette gave up over 50% shooting in each defeat. The Bearcats also contributed to their own downfall by missing a combined 17 free throw attempts (29 of 46, 63.0%) over the weekend. Willamette entered the weekend ranked second in the NWC in free throw shooting at 78.8% (52 of 66).

Senior Michael Smith and junior Tain Cantrell had big nights on Friday against the Leopards of La Verne, as Smith scored 22 points and Cantrell scored 14 points. Juniors Kyler McClary and Corey Costantino paced the WU attack on Saturday, with McClary contributing a career-high 24 points and Costantino adding 16 points in the loss to the Poets.

The season-long turnover issue also continued to haunt the ‘Cats, as WU lost the ball 13 times versus La Verne and 11 times against Whittier. Even so, the turnover numbers were lower than the average of 17.5 in WU’s first four games. Willamette also forced La Verne into 16 turnovers and caused Whittier to commit 11 turnovers.

On the positive side of things, WU was very aggressive on the glass, pulling down 32 rebounds against La Verne and 42 boards against Whittier. Willamette averaged 14.0 offensive rebounds per game over the weekend.

Statistics Check
As a team, the Bearcats are currently #3 in the NWC in free throw percentage, hitting on 72.3% of their attempts from the charity stripe (81 of 112). Willamette is now #4 in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to convert at a 43.9% clip. WU is sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense, allowing only 30.3% shooting from behind the arc (37 of 122). The Bearcats are #2 in the NWC in rebounding margin (+5.3 per contest).

Individually, sophomore Cameron Mitchell is off to an impressive start and leads the NWC in rebounding with 8.8 per game. McClary is #9 in scoring, with 15.7 points per game, and is #10 in rebounding, with 6.5 boards per contest. Smith is shooting 94.1% from the free throw line (16 of 17), good for the top spot in the league.

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

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

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

Starter - Kyler McClary (Jr.)
Back-up - Nick Babij (Jr.) or Sean Spang (Fr.)

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

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

Opportunity Lost
In three out of the four Willamette losses this season, the Bearcats have been unable to close out opponents they were leading at halftime:

Nov. 17 �"
Halftime: Willamette 48, Eastern Oregon 46
Final: Eastern Oregon 95, Willamette 88
Nov. 24 �"
Halftime: Willamette 39, Oregon Tech 34
Final: Oregon Tech 74, Willamette 63
Nov. 30 �"
Halftime: Willamette 40, La Verne 33
Final: La Verne 84, Willamette 81

Conference Clashes
While NCAA Division I conferences enjoy highly-anticipated and televised conference battles (i.e., the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series), the Bearcats and their fellow NWC members have taken on a large number of teams from the NAIACascade Conference, and the NCAA Division III SCIAC. Here is a breakdown those battles prior to this week:

NWC vs. Cascade: NWC leads, 10-7; Willamette is 2-2 vs. the Cascade
NWC vs. SCIAC: Series is tied, 3-3; Willamette is 0-2 vs. the SCIAC

Where are they Now?
Kip’s Corner will be looking up Bearcat Hoop alumni every week, giving an insight into their whereabouts, as well as a look at on their “glory days.” This week’s edition features former Bearcats B.J. Dobrkovsky (’03) and Jason Downey (’00).

B.J. Dobrkovsky was a co-captain of the 2001-03 editions of Bearcat Hoop. A two-sport athlete at Willamette (he also played baseball), Dobrkovsky was a key figure on teams that advanced to the semifinals of the NWC tournament three times (2000, 2002, 2003) and reached the NWC championship game in 2000 and 2003. Dobrkovsky is currently the head boys’ basketball coach at Sprague High School in Salem, Ore. He lives in Salem, with his wife, Aubrey.

Jason Downey, a financial advisor at Smith Barney, was a First Team All-NWC selection during the 1999-00 season and was a Little All-America pick at the post position. He was an important player on the 1999-00 squad, as he helped the Bearcats reach the NWC Tournament championship via back-to-back road victories over Lewis and Clark and Linfield. Jason and his wife, Melissa, also own and operate “The Wedding Cottage” in the Beaverton area.

Scouting the Opponents
Concordia University competes in the Cascade Conference and is a member of NAIA Division II. The Cavaliers, led by Head Coach Brad Barbarick in his 14th year, are 34 on the season, after losing to Linfield College, 76-64, on Tuesday, Dec. 4. The Cavs have been paced on the season by the efforts of Desmond Meray, with 14.7 points per game, Cody Aker, averaging 13.3 points per game, and Ryan Johnson, contributing 13.1 points per contest.

The Bearcats and the Cavaliers also played each other last season, with Willamette prevailing 96-93 at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore. The Bearcats have won their last two meetings with the Cavaliers.