Kip's Corner 2007-08: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #11

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Use Buzzer Beater to Push into Third Place in NWC Standings:
Freshman point guard Robbie Kunke’s last second layup gave Willamette University a hard-fought 82-81 win over visiting Linfield College on Tuesday, Feb. 12, in Salem, Ore. The win vaulted the Bearcats into third place in the Northwest Conference standings.

Head Coach Gordie James led Willamette to a 2-1 record over a five-day stretch. The Bearcats fell 58-57 to George Fox University, then avenged an earlier defeat to Pacific Lutheran University with an 80-71 win at Cone Field House. WU completed the three-game homestand by edging Linfield on Kunke’s buzzer beater. The Bearcats enter their final home game of the season on Saturday night (Feb. 16) against Lewis and Clark College just one-half game ahead of the Pioneers for the third and final playoff spot in the NWC.

Breaking Down the Bearcats
• Junior post Kyler McClary was nominated for NWC Player of the Week honors after scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against George Fox, followed by 19 points and five boards against PLU. He registered 22 points and eight rebounds versus Linfield on Tuesday, putting him in position for a possible repeat nomination this week.
• Junior wing Corey Costantino scored 44 points during the three-game homestand, including 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting in the win over Linfield. He also provided the game-winning assist against the Wildcats.
• Junior wing Nick Babij (injury) and senior post Ian Mansfield (academics) returned to the court during the week, as each gave strong efforts off the bench in their first action in a month.
• Junior wing/post Simon Currie sparked the win versus Pacific Lutheran, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds off the bench.

Statistically Speaking
• WU is #1 in the NWC in field goal percentage during conference game, converting on exactly 50.0% of their shots (350 of 700).
• WU is #1 in the NWC in assists, averaging 16.46 per game.
• WU is #1 in the NWC in 3-point shooting, hitting on 40.2% of their attempts from downtown.
• WU is #2 in the NWC in field goal percentage defense, holding conference foes to 43.8% shooting.
• WU is #2 in the NWC in blocked shots, getting 2.46 blocks per game.
• WU is #3 in the NWC in rebounding margin at +3.2 per game.
• WU is #4 in the NWC in points per game, averaging 76.2 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

Starter - Corey Costantino
Back-up - Simon Currie

Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Ian Mansfield

Starter - Tain Cantrell
Back-up - Cameron Mitchell

Just Like They Drew it Up (Or Not)
Junior wing Corey Costantino didn’t exactly follow the game plan on Tuesday…and it’s probably best that he didn’t. With 6.7 seconds left on the clock and the Bearcats down by one point to Linfield, Costantino received an in-bounds pass and drove the length of the floor. Willamette had intended to use a time-out after reaching half-court. Instead, Costantino split a double-team and found a wide open Robbie Kunke for the game winning layup as time expired.

In-the-Paint Wars
Much of the credit for Willamette’s last two victories must go to junior post Tain Cantrell and sophomore post Cameron Mitchell. WU’s two inside posts were able to battle standout PLU inside player Scott McDaniels and Linfield’s stellar freshman K.C. Wiser to a standstill in the paint over the course of both games. McDaniels and Wiser normally combine to average 36 points per gmae, but Cantrell and Mitchell surrendered only 14 total points to the two talented players.

A Quick Peak at the NWC
To a man, coaches in the NWC will often be quoted as saying “there are no easy games in this league.” No season has proven that statement correct more so than this one. The University of Puget Sound continues to lead the league at 9-3, but was recently upset by George Fox and Linfield. Whitworth is in second place at 8-4, but was swept on its most recent road trip through Oregon at Lewis and Clark and Pacific.

Willamette, Lewis and Clark, PLU, Linfield, and Pacific are began the current weekend within one game of the third and final playoff spot. In all, seven of the league’s nine teams entered the weekend in postseason contention, while the eighth place team, George Fox, may have played better than anyone else in recent games. The Bruins recently defeated UPS, Willamette and Linfield in consecutive games.

The Home Stretch
Here is a look at each contender’s record prior to Friday, Feb. 15, plus remaining schedule, and number of games versus teams still alive for the NWC Tournament.

Puget Sound (9-3)
@ Whitman, @ Whitworth, vs. Linfield, vs. WU, 3 games vs. contenders
Whitworth (8-4)
vs. PLU, vs. UPS, vs. Whitman, @ George Fox, 2 games vs. contenders
Willamette (8-5)
vs. Lewis and Clark, @ Pacific, @ UPS, 3 games vs. contenders
Lewis and Clark (7-5)
vs. George Fox, @ Willamette, @UPS, @Linfield, 3 games vs. contenders
Linfield (7-6)
vs. Pacific, @PLU, vs. Lewis Clark, 3 games vs. contenders
Pacific Lutheran (6-6)
@Whitworth, @Whitman, vs. Linfield, vs. Pacific, 3 games vs. contenders
Pacific (6-6)
@Linfield, @ George Fox, vs. Willamette, @PLU 3

Scouting the Opponent
Lewis and Clark College is a member of the Northwest Conference and is an NCAA Division III institution. Head Coach Bob Gailard has led his team to a 13-7 record on the season, including 7-5 in the NWC. The Pioneers, who fell to the Bearcats 82-71 on Jan. 19, have been led by Mark Robinowitz, with 13.0 points per game, and by Tyson Pappenfuss, with 11.9 points per game. The Pioneers began the weekend one-half game behind Willamette in the race for the third and final playoff spot in the NWC.

Head Coach Gordie James and the Bearcats host Lewis & Clark at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 in a battle for 3rd place in the Northwest Conference.

Head Coach Gordie James and the Bearcats host Lewis & Clark at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 in a battle for 3rd place in the Northwest Conference.

Corey Costantino assisted Robbie Kunke on the winning layup against Linfield.

Corey Costantino assisted Robbie Kunke on the winning layup against Linfield.