Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #8

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Ride Momentum from Upset into Homestand:
The Willamette University men’s basketball team snapped a 10-game conference road losing streak over the weekend, upsetting NWC foe Lewis and Clark College in Portland on Saturday, 82-71. Kyler McClary scored 22 points, Cameron Mitchell had a 20 point 14 rebound performance, and Michael Smith added 18 points as Willamette improved to 3-3 in NWC play (5-10 overall). L&C fell to 9-5 overall, 3-3 in the NWC.

The Bearcats will look to carry their momentum into a homestand this weekend. Willamette will take on Pacific University and the University of Puget Sound at Cone Field House on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26, respectively.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
• With the bench down to just three players due to injuries and various other circumstances, Willamette received a huge spark from Cameron Mitchell’s play last weekend, as the sophomore recorded his fourth double-double of the season.
• Corey Costantino averaged 14.5 points per game last week in his new role as a starter.
• Mike Smith or Kyler McClary have now led the Bearcats in scoring in 12 out of the 15 games played this season. The duo has combined to average 37.6 points per game in conference play.

Statistically Speaking
• In conference play, WU is 2nd in the NWC in field goals percentage, converting 50.6% of its shots.
• WU is 3rd in scoring average in the NWC, with 79.0 points per contest
• WU is 1st in the NWC in 3-point shooting, hitting on 41.2% of its attempts from downtown.
• WU is 2nd in the NWC in blocked shots, getting 2.83 blocks per game.
• WU is 1st in the NWC in assists, averaging 16.33 assists per game.

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

Point Guard
Starter - Robbie Kunke
Back-up - Ricky Thompson

Shooting Guard
Starter - Michael Smith
Back-up - Corey Costantino

Wing
Starter - Corey Costantino
Back-up - Simon Currie

Post
Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Simon Currie

Post
Starter - Tain Cantrell
Back-up - Cameron Mitchell

A Quick Look at the NWC
Whitworth swept its road trip through Tacoma, Wash., over the weekend, defeating both Pacific Lutheran University and Puget Sound in hard fought contests. The Pirates also defeated Whitman College on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The sweep vaulted the Pirates to the top of the heap in the NWC at 6-1. UPS (5-1) is second, followed by Linfield and Pacific Lutheran at 4-2. The top three teams in the conference will advance to the NWC Tournament at the end of the regular season.

Shooting the Lights Out

While there have been many contributing factors to WU’s up and down season, conference shooting has not been one of them. Michael Smith (#3, 62.5%), Cameron Mitchell (#1, 66.7%) and Corey Costantino (#13, 51.2%) are among the league leaders in field goal percentage. Smith (#3, 57.1%), Costantino (#4, 53.8%) and McClary (#11, 45.0%) are among the best in 3-point accuracy.

In Good Company
Michael Smith’s ability to knock down the deep ball has been a key to Willamette’s attack this year, and his shooting percentage is putting him in the company with some of WU’s best shooters of the recent era. The following is a look at where Smith ranks in terms of makes per game with some of Bearcat Hoop’s better shooters.

Player (Year, 3’s Per Game, Total 3’s)
Nik Lubisich (2001, 4.44, 71), Lubisich led the nation in 3’s in 2001
Mike Smith (2008, 3.33, 20), Through 15 games, 10 games left to play
C.J. Stuvland (2006, 2.81, 45), First Team All-NWC
Nik Lubisich (2000, 2.42, 42), First Team All-NWC
John Olinger (2006, 1.94, 31), First Team All-NWC

In addition to Smith, the offensive has received a boost from true freshman point guard Robbie Kunke, who has excelled in getting the ball to the Bearcats’ primary weapons. Kunke ranks fourth in the NWC in assists. Here’s how Kunke stacks up against recent Bearcat distributors:

Name (Year, Assists Per Game, Total Assists)
Ryan Hepp (2002, 5.00, 80), First Team All-NWC
Robbie Kunke (2008, 4.83, 29), Through 15 games, 10 games left to play
John Olinger (2005, 4.44, 71), Second Team All-NWC
David Force (2004, 4.44, 71), First Team All-NWC
Kip Ioane (2000, 4.31, 69), NWC leader in Asst/TO ratio

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 back on their “glory days” at Willamette. This week’s edition features former Bearcat players Miles Sandgathe (‘04) and David Force (’04).

Sandgathe was the sixth man on the 2001-02 Willamette team that reached the NWC semifinals. He also was a starter and All-NWC pick on the 2002-03 NWC runner-up team. A relentless worker who played three positions, Sandgathe was a captain his final season in 2003-04, when the Bearcats finished tied for second in the NWC at 12-4 and went 17-8 overall. Miles is currently a land development manager in Southern California.

Force was a First Team All-NWC selection in 2003-04, after leading the Bearcats with 13.7 points per game, 5 rebounds per game and 3.88 assists per game. Force was also a key member of the 2002-03 NWC runner-up team and the 2001-02 semifinal team, as he played multiple positions off the bench. Recently engaged, Force works for Centex Homes in Southern California.

Scouting the Opponents
Pacific University is member of the Northwest Conference and competes in NCAA Division III. The Boxers of Head Coach Jason Lowery are 5-10 overall and 3-3 in the NWC this season. The Boxers have been paced on the year by Joe Van Domelen, with 13.3 points per game, and by Maurice Ross, with 12.5 points per game. Willamette and Pacific split two games a season ago, with each squad winning on its home court.

The University of Puget Sound also competes in the NWC and NCAA Division III. Head Coach Justin Lunt has led the Loggers to a 12-2 overall record and a 5-1 conference record so far this season. UPS is ranked #11 in the nation by D3hoops.com. The Loggers have been led by the trio of Jason Foster (17.3 points per game), Antwan Williams (16.9 points per game) and Robert Krauel (16.2 points per game). Puget Sound split with Willamette a year ago, with each team winning at home in high-scoring match-ups (UPS won 140-137 in three overtimes in Tacoma, Wash.; Willamette won 119-108 in Salem, Ore.).

Kyler McClary has scored in double digits in 14 of 15 games this season.

Kyler McClary has scored in double digits in 14 of 15 games this season.

Cameron Mitchell scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Lewis & Clark.

Cameron Mitchell scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Lewis & Clark.