Kip's Corner 2008-09: Bearcat Hoop Internet Release #11

By Kip Ioane

WU Sweeps Homestand to Remain Alive in Playoff Chase:
Coming off a weekend sweep of Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College, the Willamette University men’s basketball team finds itself one game out of the NWC Tournament with two games left to play. At 11-10 overall, and 7-7 in the NWC, WU is chasing both Linfield College (8-6 NWC) and Lewis & Clark (9-5 NWC) for the final two berth into the four-team tournament.

Willamette will travel to George Fox University on Friday, Feb. 20 to take on the Bruins, before returning home to host the University of Puget Sound, ranked #6 in NCAA Division III, at Cone Field House in the regular season finale on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Stats, Stats and More Stats
Willamette in the Northwest Conference statistics through games on Feb. 14:

Category, Statistic, Ranking
Points Per Game, 74.3, 5th
Opp. Points Per Game, 75.4, 5th
Field Goal Percentage, 44.6%, 5th
Opp. Field Goal Percentage, 44.8%, 4th
3-Point Percentage, 35.9%, 4th
Rebounds Per Game, 38.0, 3rd
Rebound Margin, +2.0, 4th
Assists, 14.76, 5th
Turnovers, 14.5, 3rd
Assist-to-Turnover Ratio, +1.02, 4th

Individual Bearcats in the NWC statistics through games on Feb. 14:

Player, Statistic, Ranking
Cam Mitchell, Scoring (16.8), 3rd
Kyler McClary, Scoring (16.5), 6th
Cam Mitchell, Rebounding (11.5), 1st
Kyler McClary, Rebounding (5.4), 10th
Robbie Kunke, Assists (4.29), 5th
Josh Erickson, Assists (3.33), 8th
Josh Erickson, Ast/TO Ratio (+2.06), 3rd
Kyler McClary, Minutes Played (32.81), 3rd

Race for the Crown
Here is a look at the standings in the Northwest Conference heading into games on Friday, Feb. 20. Remember, the top four teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the NWC Tournament, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Puget Sound, 14-0 NWC, 21-2 Overall
Whitworth, 11-4 NWC, 19-5 Overall
Lewis & Clark, 9-5 NWC, 15-8 Overall
Linfield, 8-6 NWC, 10-13 Overall
Willamette, 7-7 NWC, 11-10 Overall
Whitman, 5-10 NWC, 9-15 Overall
George Fox, 4-10 NWC, 8-15 Overall
Pacific (Ore.), 3-11 NWC, 9-14 Overall
Pacific Lutheran, 3-11 NWC, 9-14 Overall

It’s Scenario Time!
While it would be much easier on the Bearcat Hoop program and its fans to have the ‘Cats wrap up a playoff berth before the final week of the season, the difficult nature of the NWC makes that a daunting task. That being said, here is a look at what needs to happen for Willamette to make the NWC Tournament: The Annual Kip’s Corner Scenarios edition!).

Scenario 1: WU wins out, L&C loses twice, and Linfield wins twice
Willamette finishes at 9-7, as does Lewis & Clark, with Linfield finishing at 10-6. WU would then win the #4 seed based on its sweep of Lewis & Clark. The Bearcats would travel to Tacoma for a date with Puget Sound on Thursday, Feb. 26.

Scenario 2: WU wins out, L&C wins twice, and Linfield loses once
Willamette and Linfield would be 9-7, while Lewis & Clark would finish 11-5. L&C would take second place on a tie-breaker with Whitworth (the Pioneers would be 2-0 vs. the Pirates). Willamette would finish fourth over Linfield, based on WU’s season sweep of the second place Pios. Linfield, which split its season series with Lewis & Clark, would be left out.

Scenario 3: WU wins out, L&C loses twice, and Linfield loses once
Willamette, L&C, and Linfield would all finish at 9-7. Willamette would be 3-1 in head-to-head games with the other two teams, while Linfield would be 2-2, and Lewis & Clark would be 1-3. Willamette would finish third and head to Spokane to play Whitworth on Thursday. Linfield would finish fourth and L&C would be left out.

Scenario 4: WU splits, L&C wins out, and Linfield loses twice
WU would finish at 8-8, as would Linfield. Lewis & Clark would be 11-5 and finish second, ahead of Whitworth. Willamette would finish fourth over Linfield, based on WU’s season sweep of the second place Pios. Linfield split its season series with Lewis & Clark.

Scenario 5: WU wins out, L&C loses twice and Linfield loses twice
Willamette would finish at 9-7, Lewis & Clark would be 9-7 and Linfield would be 8-8. WU would be the #3 seed based on it sweep of L&C. The ‘Cats would go to Whitworth for a semifinal game. L&C would finish in fourth and go to Tacoma to play Puget Sound. Linfield would be left out.

Any other combination of wins between WU, Lewis & Clark, and Linfield would result in Willamette being eliminated from post season contention.

Student-Athlete of the Week
Junior post Cameron Mitchell was selected NWC Student-Athlete of the Week following last weekend’s games. Mitchell averaged 16.0 points and 16.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 65.0% (13 of 20) in a pair of wins. Mitchell also blocked six shots and recorded three steals during the week. The 'Cats defeated Pacific University, 81-71, and held off Lewis & Clark, 60-58.

Senior Sendoff
The following Bearcats will be playing their final regular season games for Willamette this weekend:

#14 - Nick Babij - Ontario, Ore.
A prime example of dedication and commitment, Babij has molded himself from a junior player into the Bearcats’ best perimeter defender as the starter at the #3 spot (wing). Babij has been accepted into numerous graduate schools to continue his education, and the Chemistry major will make his choice following the season.

#24 - Josh Erickson - Keizer, Ore.
A comeback story for the ages, Erickson played the entire season after suffering through three different anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries during his Willamette career. Among the league leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, Erickson has one year left at Willamette’s Atkinson’s School of Management.

#30 - Corey Costantino - Ashland, Ore.
“Chaos Cos” has been a starter in WU’s backcourt for the past two seasons. One of the team’s most athletic and intense players, Costantino has averaged 9.1 points per game this season. He also is one of the top science students at Willamette and will have his choice of graduate schools after the season.

#42 - Kyler McClary - Hillsboro, Ore.
A returning Second Team All-NWC pick from a year ago, McClary has maintained a high level of performance throughout his senior year. Graduating in the spring, Kyler will leave as one of the top scorers in WU history, having surpassed the 1,000-point mark earlier this season.

#50 - Simon Currie - Bend, Ore.
A source of inspiration for this year’s Bearcat Hoop squad, Currie, a team captain, was lost for the season with a foot injury in late December. One of the team’s hardest workers, Currie has maintained a strong presence throughout the season despite his injury. He will graduate this spring and has a wedding planned for July.

#54 - Tain Cantrell - Beaverton, Ore.
Willamette’s first substitute off the bench, Cantrell has adapted readily to his new role after starting all of last season. Cantrell is WU’s best post defender and has been a consistent shot challenger and rebounder for the ‘Cats this year. He will graduate in the spring.

As always, Bearcat Hoop will miss the Class of 2009. Willamette’s coaches are confident this year’s seniors will enter the next stage of their lives prepared to “get after it and stay after it.”

Catch the ‘Cats
For all the fans of the Bearcats who cannot get to the games in person, Full Access Sports provides a live internet webcast of all the Willamette men’s and women’s basketball games during the conference season. Mike Allegre brings you all of the play-by-play action. Follow the link below to access Bearcat Hoop!

/www.willamette.edu/athletics/bsn/webcast/

Scouting the Opponents
George Fox University is a member of the Northwest Conference and competes in NCAA Division III. The Bruins and Head Coach Mark Sundquist are 8-15 overall and 4-10 in the NWC. George Fox, which defeated the Bearcats, 75-70, at Cone Field House on Jan. 23, has three players averaging in double figures. They are junior post Alex Stockner (14.9), junor point guard/wing Jack Martin (12.7) and junior wing Evan Atwater (12.0).

University of Puget Sound is competes in the NWC and NCAA Division III. Head Coach Justin Lunt has the Loggers ranked #6 in NCAA Division III with a 21-2 overall record and an undefeated record in the NWC (14-0) entering the final weekend of the regular season. Puget Sound is led by Jason Foster, Robert Krauel and Antwan Williams. Foster is providing 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while Krauel is averaging 13.6 points and 5.9 boards per night. Williams adds 12.7 points, 5.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game.

Kyler McClary has scored 1,062 career points. He will play in his final two regular season games this weekend.

Kyler McClary has scored 1,062 career points. He will play in his final two regular season games this weekend.

Robbie Kunke ranks fifth in the NWC with 4.29 assists per game.

Robbie Kunke ranks fifth in the NWC with 4.29 assists per game.

Corey Costantino has scored 9.1 points per game this season.

Corey Costantino has scored 9.1 points per game this season.

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

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