Kip's Corner 2008-09: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #6

By Kip Ioane

Bearcats Split Pair at Home, Hit the Road for Two This Weekend:
The Willamette University men’s basketball team overcame an agonizing one-point loss to the Whitworth University Pirates, 69-68 on Friday, Jan. 9, to rebound with an 84-70 Northwest Conference win over Whitman College on Saturday, Jan. 10. Both games were played at Cone Field House.

Willamette is 7-4 overall, 3-1 in the NWC and tied for second in the league with Whitworth and Lewis and Clark College. The Bearcats will play at Pacific University this Friday (Jan. 16), followed by a date with the Pioneers of Lewis and Clark in Portland on Saturday (Jan. 17). Each game will tipoff at 8 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the Bearcat women’s program.

Weekend Recap
Willamette’s battle with Whitworth followed a familiar script with the Pirates, as the knock-down, drag-out contest was not decided until the final possession of the game. Kyler McClary paced the Bearcats with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Marcus Holmes (14 points) and Josh Erickson (10 points, 7 assists) came off the Bearcat bench and fueled a second-half rally.

The win over Whitman featured Cameron Mitchell returning to form, as he scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Nick Babij scored a career-high 17 points, Robbie Kunke (10) and Erickson (6) combined for 16 assists. Holmes and Scott Schoettgen each added eight points off the bench.

Statistically Speaking
Willamette currently ranks second in the NWC in rebounding margin, outrebounding its opponents by an average of 3.9 boards per game. The Bearcats are third in the NWC in field goal percentage (45.5%) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6%). Willamette continues to lead the NWC in attendance.

Individually speaking, Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding (11.3 avg.) and is third in scoring, averaging 19.5 points per game. Kyler McClary is 10th in the conference in scoring (14.8 avg.) and is eighth in rebounding (5.9 avg.). Robbie Kunke is third in assists (5.27 avg.), and Marcus Holmes is the leading 3-point shooter in the conference, making 55.0% of his attempts. Josh Erickson is third in the NWC in assists-to-turnover ratio (+2.62).

Race for the Crown
Here is a look at the standings in the NWC as of Jan. 15. Remember that starting this year, the top four teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the NWC Tournament, with the winner of the tourney receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament:

NWC Standings (Jan. 15)

Puget Sound, 4-0 NWC, 11-2 Overall
Whitworth, 3-1 NWC, 11-2 Overall
Lewis & Clark, 3-1 NWC, 9-4 Overall
Willamette, 3-1 NWC, 7-4 Overall
Whitman, 2-2 NWC, 6-7 Overall
Linfield, 2-2 NWC, 4-9 Overall
Pacific (Ore.), 1-3 NWC, 6-6 Overall
Pacific Lutheran, 0-3 NWC, 6-6 Overall
George Fox, 0-5 NWC, 4-10 Overall

Bench Mob
Over the course of the conference season, Willamette has received stellar play from its bench. Josh Erickson, Marcus Holmes and Scott Schoettgen have all scored in double figures in a game off the bench, while Tain Cantrell and Ricky Thompson have been standouts defensively.

This past weekend, Holmes and Erickson combined to score 36 points and dish out 16 assists off the bench. Holmes scored 22 points, including a career-high 14 against Whitworth. Erickson earned 10 points against Whitworth, while recording seven assists, then earned four points and six assists against Whitman.

Catch the ‘Cats
For all the fans of the Bearcats who cannot get to the games in person, Mike Allegre will be providing a live Internet webcast of every men’s and women’s basketball game during the conference season. Follow the link below to access the Bearcat in action:

Projected Depth Chart this Week

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/Scott Schoettgen

Starter - Kyler McClary
Back-up - Scott Schoettgen/Nick Lange

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

Scouting the Opponents
Pacific University is member of the Northwest Conference and competes in NCAA Division III. Head Coach Jason Lowery and the Boxers are coming off a Tuesday night victory (Jan. 13) over George Fox University and are 6-6 on the season, 1-3 in the NWC. The Boxers are led in scoring by Garold Howe with 18.3 points per game. Pacific split with Willamette a year ago, as each team claimed victory on its home court.

Lewis & Clark College participates in the NWC and is an NCAA Division III institution. The Pioneers, under the guidance of Head Coach Bob Gaillard, begin the weekend at 9-4 overall (3-1 in the conference). Lewis & Clark’s leading scorers, Josh Kollasch (14.2 avg.) and Tyson Papenfuss (13.9 avg.), have combined for slightly more than 28 points per game. Willamette swept L&C a year ago, winning 82-71 in Portland and 82-77 in Salem.

Robbie Kunke earned 10 assists in WU's victory over Whitman. It was his second double-digit assist total of the season.

Robbie Kunke earned 10 assists in WU's victory over Whitman. It was his second double-digit assist total of the season.

Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding and is third in scoring.

Cameron Mitchell leads the NWC in rebounding and is third in scoring.