Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #10

By Kip Ioane

Washington Sweep Vaults Bearcats into Tie for Third Place:
In any given season, there are bound to be tremendous highs and difficult lows. Head Coach Gordie James and his Bearcats experienced a historic high in the State of Washington this past weekend, as Willamette University swept Whitman College, 78-66, and Whitworth University, 82-74. The wins vaulted the Bearcats into a tie with Linfield College for third place in the Northwest Conference at 6-4.

With six conference games remaining, the Bearcats are firmly in the running for one of three spots into the NWC Tournament. The Bearcats play at George Fox University on Friday, Feb. 8, followed by an important home contest with Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Feb. 9 in Salem, Ore.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
• Senior wing Michael Smith was awarded NWC Player of the Week honors for his efforts over the weekend (Feb. 1-2). The senior from Talent, Ore., averaged 20.5 points per game and converted on 54.5% of his shots. During his stellar senior campaign, he has averaged 16.9 points per game, while shooting 84.2% (64 of 76) at the free throw line.
• Sophomore post Cameron Mitchell had a career game against Whitworth on Saturday, posting a 27-point, 16-rebound performance. It was Mitchell’s seventh double-double of the season.
• Junior post Kyler McClary also had a strong weekend, as he scored 18 points against Whitman and tallied 16 points against Whitworth.
• Freshman point guard Robbie Kunke had an excellent weekend distributing the basketball on offense. He collected 19 assists to committed just six turnovers in the two games. He recorded a career-high 10 assists against Whitman.

Statistically Speaking
• WU is #1 in the NWC in field goal percentage during conference game, as the Bearcats have converted 50.7% of their shots.
• WU is #1 in the NWC in 3-point shooting, hitting 42.8% of its attempts from behind the arc.
• WU is #1 in the NWC in assists, averaging 16.6 assists per game.
• WU is #3 in the NWC in blocked shots, as the Bearcats have blocked 2.3 per conference game.
• WU is #3 in the NWC in rebounding margin at +3.7 per game.
• WU is #4 in the NWC in scoring average with 77.1 points per contest

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

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

Shooting Guard
Starter - Michael Smith
Back-up - Nick Babij

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
The top of the NWC had a tough go of it last Saturday (Feb. 2), as both league leaders (Puget Sound and Whitworth) fell on their home floors. UPS was upset by George Fox, 78-77, in Tacoma, Wash. Including Willamette’s win over Whitworth in Spokane, Wash., both the Loggers (9-2) and the Pirates (8-2) have two league losses. Willamette and Linfield are currently tied for third at 6-4, with Pacific Lutheran one-half game back at 6-5.

Monkey Off the Back
Willamette’s win at Whitworth was its first against the Pirates in the last 10 games of the series. The Pirates 9-game winning streak dated back to a Bearcat win in Spokane during the 2003-04 campaign. In addition, Willamette’s sweep of its annual Eastern Washington road trip was its first since the 2001-02 season.

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 David Snyder (‘95) and Jason Thompson (’95).

Snyder was a central figure during the most successful stretch in Bearcat Hoop history, as Willamette won NWC championships from 1992-93 through 1994-95 (and won the NAIA National Championship in 1992-93). Snyder, who is still #3 all-time in Bearcat history with 1.63 steals per game, lives in Bellevue, Wash. He is a law associate with Foster Pepper PLLC.

Thompson joined with classmate Snyder as a key performer as the Bearcats won at least 20 games for three consecutive seasons. Thompson, who holds the Willamette single season steals record at 2.27 per game, resides in Beaverton, Ore. He works in management with Hollywood Entertainment.

Scouting the Opponents
George Fox University is member of the Northwest Conference and competes in NCAA Division III. The Bruins of Head Coach Mark Sundquist enter the weekend with a 6-13 overall record (2-8 in the NWC), but are coming off a huge win at league leader UPS last Saturday. The Bruins rely on the backcourt duo of Brent Satern and Evan Atwater, who both average 15.2 points per game. Earlier this season, Willamette rallied for a 73-71 overtime victory over the Bruins on January 11 in Salem.

Pacific Lutheran University also plays in the NWC and is a member of NCAA Division III. Head Coach Steve Dickerson has guided the Lutes to a 10-9 record this season (6-5 in the NWC). PLU lost on Tuesday (Feb. 5) to Puget Sound, 98-97 in overtime. The Lutes, who defeated the Bearcats 106-88 in Tacoma earlier in the season, have been led by the potent tandem of Josh Dressler (20.2 points per game) and Scott McDaniels (18.8 points per game).

Cameron Mitchell recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 27 points and 16 rebounds against Whitman.

Cameron Mitchell recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 27 points and 16 rebounds against Whitman.