Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #6

By Kip Ioane

WU Splits First Homestand of the Season:
It was a little good and a little bad over the weekend for Head Coach Gordie James’ Bearcats, as the Willamette University men’s basketball team opened Northwest Conference play by splitting a pair of games at home. On Friday, Jan. 4, Willamette played as well as it has all season to down the Missionaries of Whitman College, 86-71. On Saturday, Jan. 5, in a back-and-forth tilt that has come to epitomize recent battles with Whitworth University, the Bearcats fell in overtime 72-65.

Willamette, now 3-8 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC, will finish its three-game homestand on Friday, Jan. 11 with a game against George Fox University. The Bearcats will travel to Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Jan. 12, to battle Pacific Lutheran University.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
• Friday’s game was a break-out performance for senior post Ian Mansfield, as the Century High School product contributed a career-high 23 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists.
• On Saturday, fellow senior Mike Smith tied a career-high by pouring in 22 points (including six 3-pointers) to pace the Bearcats’ attack.
• Junior post Kyler McClary continued his strong play, scoring a combined 30 points (13 vs. Whitman, 17 vs. Whitworth) and pulling down 13 rebounds over the course of the two games.
• In the win against Whitman, Willamette dished out 20 assists and committed just seven turnovers.

Statistically Speaking
• WU remains in second place in the NWC in rebounding margin with +2.5 rebounds per game.
• WU is third in the NWC in blocked shots with 2.18 per game.
• WU is fourth in the conference in assists with 14.82 per contest.
• Corey Costantino (52.0% from 3-point range) and Mike Smith (47.6% on threes) continue to shoot the deep ball extremely well, ranking second and fifth, respectively, in the NWC in three-point percentage.

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.)

Wing
Starter - Kyler McClary (Jr.)
Back-up - Corey Costantino (Jr.) or Simon Currie (Jr.)

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

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

NWC is Off and Running
The NWC kicked off conference play this past weekend, and the league remained as unpredictable as ever. Linfield College and Pacific Lutheran, picked fifth and eighth, respectively, in the NWC Preseason Poll, got off to hot starts, finishing 2-0 over the weekend. The Wildcats defeated Whitman and Whitworth in McMinnville, while the Lutes won at George Fox and pulled off one of the early upsets of the season, defeating Lewis and Clark College (picked #1) last Saturday.

Where Are They Now?
Kip’s Corner will be looking at Bearcat Hoop alumni every week, giving an insight into their whereabouts, as well as a look back on their “glory days”. This week’s edition features former Bearcats Brad Nelson (’99) and Mike Hayter (’97).

Nelson was a fixture in the Bearcats’ line-up from his freshman season through his senior year. He was a two-year captain and was named Honorable Mention All-NWC his senior season. He also was a finalist for the Josten’s Trophy, given annually to the NCAA Division III player who best epitomizes success on and off the court. Nelson, a cousin of current Bearcat Kyler McClary, is a newlywed and lives in Eugene, Ore.

Hayter is one of the all-time best shooters in the Bearcat Hoop era. An All-NWC pick from Billings, Mont., Hayter left the WU program with several 3-point shooting marks on Willamette’s Top 10. He remains the Bearcats’ all-time leader with 397 career 3-point attempts and ranks second with 172 career 3-pointers made. Hayter currently is a manager of the Santa Fe Red’s Grill franchises in Bozeman and Billings, Mont.

Scouting the Opponents
George Fox is member of the NWC and is an NCAA Division III institution. The Bruins begin the weekend 4-7 overall and 0-2 in the NWC for Head Coach Mark Sundquist. GFU has been paced by Evan Atwater and Brent Satern, each averaging 14.1 points per game. The Bearcats and the Bruins split last season’s series, each winning on its home court. GFU was victorious, 72-52, in Newberg, Ore., while WU won 84-79 at Cone Field House.

Pacific Lutheran also competes in the NWC and is a member of NCAA Division III. Head Coach Steve Dickerson’s team enters the weekend at 6-5 overall and is 2-1 following a double-overtime loss to UPS, 125-116, on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The Lutes have been led by Scott Dressler, with 23.0 points per game. Scott McDaniels has added 20.0 points per contest. WU and PLU split two games a season ago, as the Lutes won 90-84 in Tacoma, Wash., and Willamette claimed a 90-67 win in Salem, Ore.

Kyler McClary leads Willamette in scoring with 15.2 points per game.

Kyler McClary leads Willamette in scoring with 15.2 points per game.