Willamette is Tied for Seventh in NWC Preseason Poll

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's basketball team tied for seventh place in the Northwest Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Bearcats concluded last season with a 12-11 overall record, including 8-8 (5th place) in the NWC.

Whitworth University is the early favorite to capture the NWC crown. Whitworth received eight first place votes after finishing 12-4 in the NWC last season. The University of Puget Sound received the final first place vote. The Loggers went undefeated in conference a year ago.

Linfield College and Lewis & Clark College are predicted to finish third and fourth. Both teams finished 10-6 in conference during the 2008-09 season.

Pacific University is expected to improve on their 3-13 conference finish last season. Pacific and Whitman College are tied for fifth in the poll with 37 points apiece.

Willamette and George Fox University tied for seventh in the poll with 25 points apiece. Pacific Lutheran University received 22 points in the poll and is predicted to finish in ninth place.

The Bearcats will get an early start this season in an exhibition game against NCAA Division I opponent Boise State University on Nov. 3 in Boise, Idaho. Willamette will open their regular season schedule at home on Nov. 20 against Menlo College.

The men's team will participate in the Southern Oregon Tournament and the Lee Fulmer Tournament before taking on another Division I opponent, Portland State University. WU opens NWC play on Jan. 2 at home against Whitworth University.

Willamette returns two starters from last year's squad in Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. Redlands) and Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS). Mitchell, who was chosen First Team All-Northwest Conference, averaged 16.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Kunke contributed 103 assists (4.5 per game) while playing point guard last season.

NWC Men's Basketball Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Whitworth (8), 88 points, 23-6 overall, 12-4 NWC in 2008-09
2. Puget Sound (1), 63 points, 25-4 overall, 16-0 NWC
3. Linfield, 63 points, 12-14 overall, 10-6 NWC
4. Lewis & Clark, 54 points, 16-10 overall, 10-6 NWC
5. Pacific, 37 points, 9-16 overall, 3-13 NWC
6. Whitman, 37 points, 9-16 overall, 5-11 NWC
7. George Fox, 25 points, 8-17 overall, 4-12 NWC
8. Willamette, 25 points, 12-11 overall, 8-8 NWC
9. Pacific Lutheran, 22 points, 7-15 overall, 4-12 NWC

Cameron Mitchell led the NWC with 11.8 rebounds per game and was selected First Team All-Conference last season.

Cameron Mitchell led the NWC with 11.8 rebounds per game and was selected First Team All-Conference last season.