Kip's Corner 2008-09: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #4

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Sweep Northern California Trip; Prepare for Home Opener

Head Coach Gordie James’ team returns from the Bay Area riding a two-game winning streak, as the Bearcats defeated Menlo College, 92-79, on Dec. 5 in Atherton, Calif. Willamette also garnered an 89-74 exhibition win over the Bendigo Braves (a club team from Australia) on Dec. 7, giving the Bearcats some momentum heading into Friday night’s home opener (Dec. 12) versus Salem rival Corban College. Tipoff in Cone Field House is set for 7:30 pm. (PST).

Weekend Recap

Willamette led most of the way versus the Menlo Oaks. The Bearcats were paced by Kyler McClary’s 22 points. Cameron Mitchell added yet another double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Marcus Holmes came off the bench to add 13 points. The Bearcats also made some strides defensively, limiting the Oaks to just 41% shooting (13 of 31) in the first half, including just 1-5 from 3-point range.

Statistically Speaking

Willamette currently ranks second in the NWC in rebounding margin, as the ‘Cats are outrebounding their opponents by 4.8 rebounds per game. Individually, Mitchell ranks first in the conference in rebounding (12.0 avg.) and is second in scoring with 21.8 points per game. Marcus Holmes is second in free throw shooting at 88.9%, Corey Costantino is seventh in 3-point shooting at 45.5% and Robbie Kunke is second in assists with 4.4 assists per game. Kunke also is fifth in blocked shots per game (1.0 avg.).

Battle of Salem

Despite each institution playing in Salem, Ore., scheduling conflicts have prevented Willamette and Corban College from playing one another on a yearly basis. In fact, the two schools have not played since an Dec. 4, 2004, when Corban (then known as Western Baptist) won 89-78 at Cone Field House.


In NCAA Division III, the Northwest Conference and the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) are the only leagues west of the Rocky Mountains, and are often paired against each other in regular season and postseason match-ups. Men’s hoops is no different this season, as the two leagues have faced off a number of times during the early portion of the schedule. Willamette is 1-1 against the SCIAC, and the NWC as a whole is 5-3 versus its California rivals.

NWC vs. Cascade

In addition to its yearly battles with the SCIAC, the NWC also engages frequently with NAIA’s local league, the Cascade Conference. Willamette is currently 0-2 versus the Cascade, with home games against Cascade members Corban College and Southern Oregon University still to come. As the week began, the NWC was 6-10 versus the Cascade Conference so far this season

Projected Depth Chart for this Weekend

Point Guard
Starter - Robbie Kunke
Back-up - Josh Erickson/Grant Leslie

Shooting Guard
Starter - Corey Costantino
Back-up - Marcus Holmes/Ricky Thompson

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

Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Simon Currie/Scott Schoettgen

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

Scouting the Opponents

Corban College is member of the Cascade Conference and competes in the NAIA. Head Coach Justin Sherwood had led the Warriors to a 3-5 record on the season. Corban is led in scoring by Clay Martin with 17.1 points per game. The Warriors have five players averaging at least 10 points per game.

Remembering Bruce

Willamette’s family suffered a terrible loss this week, as Head Women’s Basketball Coach Bruce Henderson passed away at the age of 47 from a heart-related incident. A former assistant with Head Coach Gordie James and assistant Wally Wing for the men’s team from 1990-94, Bruce was one of the truly great people one could ever know. He will be missed dearly by everyone involved with Willamette Athletics, and those of us lucky enough to call him friend will never forget his smile, laugh, and absolutely uncontainable optimism.

The men’s team will wear “BH” on their jerseys for the remainder of this season in honor of Coach Henderson.

Kyler McClary scored 22 points and was 7 of 10 on field goals against Menlo.

Kyler McClary scored 22 points and was 7 of 10 on field goals against Menlo.

Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding with 12.0 rebounds per game.

Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding with 12.0 rebounds per game.

Marcus Holmes scored 13 points in WU's victory over Menlo.

Marcus Holmes scored 13 points in WU's victory over Menlo.