Kip's Corner 2008-09: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #3

By Kip Ioane

Willamette Garners First Win; Heads Back to California:
Willamette University dropped a 71-69 decision to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Friday, Nov. 28 in Claremont, Calif., but gained its first win of the season the following night with a victory over Pomona-Pitzer, 80-72. Cameron Mitchell’s 35-point, 12-rebound performance, along with Kyler McClary’s 13 points and 8 boards, propelled the Bearcats to the win. Willamette will head back to California this weekend to take on Menlo College in Atherton on Friday night (Dec. 5).

Weekend Recap
Despite leading by 10 points with just over seven minutes to play last Friday, WU was unable to hold off a late rally by the Stags. McClary posted 14 points, followed by Mitchell with 11 points and 11 rebounds Josh Erickson added 10 points. Saturday’s win over Pomona-Pitzer featured a breakout game by senior wing Nick Babij, who went 4 for 6 from the field and finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds.

Statistically Speaking
At the start of the current week, Willamette ranked third in rebounding margin in the NWC, outrebounding its opponents by close to four rebounds per game. Individually, Mitchell ranked first in the conference in rebounds with 12.5 per game and was second in scoring (22.5 avg.). Corey Costantino was ninth in the NWC in 3-point shooting percentage (44.4%), and Robbie Kunke was eighth in assists (3.5 avg.) and third in blocked shots (1.0 avg.).

Winning Down South
Willamette’s victory over Pomona-Pitzer marked not only the Bearcats’ first win over the Sagehens (Willamette had been 0-3 versus the ‘Hens in the past 5 years), but also snapped a California losing streak for the Bearcats. Willamette had not posted a win in the state since the 2006-07 season (an 85-72 win over California Lutheran). Until Saturday night, the Bearcats had dropped seven consecutive games in California.

In Division III, the Northwest Conference and the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Confernce are the only leagues west of the Rocky Mountains, and are often paired against each other in regular season and postseason matchups. This season in men’s hoops is no different, as the two leagues have faced off a number of times during the early portion of the schedule. Currently, Willamette is 1-1 against the SCIAC, and the NWC as a whole is 5-1 versus its California rivals.

NWC vs. Cascade
In addition to its yearly battles with the SCIAC, the NWC also engages frequently with the NAIA’s local league, the Cascade Conference. Willamette is currently 0-2 versus the Cascade, with home games against Corban College and Southern Oregon University still to come. The overall NWC is 4-8 versus the Cascade this season.

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

Point Guard
Starter - Robbie Kunke
Back-up - Josh Erickson

Shooting Guard
Starter - Corey Costantino
Back-up - Marcus Holmes

Starter - Nick Babij
Back-up - Robert Wood/Simon Currie

Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Simon Currie

Starter - Cameron Mitchell
Back-up - Tain Cantrell/Taylor Mounts

Scouting the Opponents
Menlo College is member of the NWC in football, but not in basketball. The Oaks and Head Coach Brandon Laird compete in the NAIA and were 0-3 on the season heading into a road game versus Notre Dame de Namur on Dec. 2. The Oaks have been led in scoring thus far by Kyle Adams and Julian Harris, with both averaging close to 10 points per game. WU last met the Oaks during the 2003-04 season at the Linfield College Holiday Classic. WU prevailed 86-70. The Bearcats last traveled to Atherton to open the 2002-03 season and defeated Menlo, 86-83.

Willamette will take on the Bendigo Braves from Australia in an exhibition game on Sunday, Dec. 7. The game will be played at Menlo College.

Corey Costantino has made 4 of 9 three-point attempts (44.4%) this season and is averaging 9.8 points per game.

Corey Costantino has made 4 of 9 three-point attempts (44.4%) this season and is averaging 9.8 points per game.