Bearcats are Ready to Continue Up-Tempo Pace in 2010-11

Willamette Opens Season Tonight at Western Washington

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's basketball team is ready to bring its up-tempo style onto the court in Head Coach Kip Ioane's second season leading the Bearcats. Last year, Willamette went 9-16 overall, 6-10 in the Northwest Conference. The Bearcats finished the season strong, winning six of their last nine games.

Ioane's commitment to a fast-paced game helped the Bearcats average 82.6 points per game in 2009-10. The team scored 80 or more points 11 times in 25 games, including seven games with more than 90 points.

Leading the Bearcats this season will be four returning starters. The list includes senior guards Robbie Kunke (Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) and Marcus Holmes (Seattle, WA/Garfield HS), plus junior wing Ryan Meehan (Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) and junior wing/post Taylor Mounts (Kailua, HI/Iolani School).

Three of the returning starters -- Mounts, Meehan and Holmes -- averaged in double figures for scoring last year, while Kunke led the NWC in assists. Mounts produced 14.2 points per game, while Meehan contributed 11.0 points per contest. Holmes chipped in 10.4 points per game. Kunke recorded 138 assists in 22 games, an average of 6.3 assists per night.

Mounts shot 85.3% at the free throw line (81 of 95) to rank second in the NWC in free throw percentage. He also provided the Bearcats with 6.7 rebounds per game, good for sixth in the conference. He ranked second on the team with 20 blocked shots and achieved 16 steals.

Meehan became a key player for the Bearcats during NWC action. He averaged 13.5 points per conference game, while shooting a team-high 57.1% from the field (80 of 140). He scored in double figures in 13 of 16 NWC games, including a season-high 25 points in a 105-93 win at Linfield College on Feb. 6, 2010.

Adding depth to the offense was Holmes, who reached double figures in scoring 15 times during the season. He earned 20 points against crosstown rival Corban University on Dec. 11, 2009, helping WU defeat the Warriors, 78-74. Holmes finished the year ranked second on the team in assists with 60 (2.4 avg.) and steals with 28 (1.1 avg.).

Kunke's ability to find open teammates and provide quality passes allowed him to finish his third season at WU with 380 career assists. He also has registered 426 career points and 207 career rebounds. His career averages at Willamette include 6.0 points and 5.4 assists per game.

The one starter not returning will be difficult to replace. Cameron Mitchell (Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS) graduated this past spring after leading the Northwest Conference with 21.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game during the 2009-10 season. He was named First Team All-NWC in 2008-09 and 2009-10, he was chosen First Team All-West Region by during his senior season. In 2009-10, he also was one of 10 finalists for the Jostens Trophy, given to the top NCAA Division III men's basketball player each season based on athletics, academics and community service.

Mitchell scored in double figures in all 25 games as a senior this past season. He shot 57.9% from the field to rank second in the NWC. In his three years at Willamette, Mitchell scored 1,200 points and grabbed 791 rebounds. Including his freshman year at the University of Redlands, he earned 1,342 points and 959 rebounds as a collegiate player.

Rather than attempting to replace Mitchell's exceptional contributions with only one player, the Bearcats will rely on their combined skills to offset the loss of such a talented scorer and rebounder. While the four returning starters will be very important to completing the team approach, they won't be alone in their efforts. Terrell Malley (So., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) will lead several returning players who saw action off the bench last season. Several newcomers also will help the Bearcats.

Last year, Malley played in all 25 games with four starts. He was a key player off the bench, as his speed and quickness helped him average 10.7 points per game. He was strong on fast breaks and even at 5'10" was one of the team's top players at taking the ball to the basket. Malley will return to action after recovering from an injury received while playing running back for the Bearcat football team this fall.

Other returning players who saw action in 10 or more games last season are Cody Pastorino (So., G, Glenn, CA/Willows HS), Oliver Hughes (So., Wing, Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial HS), and Leo Abello (So., G, Anchorage, AK/East Anchorage HS).

Willamette's list of newcomers is topped by sophomore post Sean Dart (Bend, OR/Mountain View HS), who transferred to WU following one year at Eastern Oregon University. Dart will provide the Bearcats with an inside presence and will combine with Mounts to lead Willamette's inside scoring and rebounding efforts.

Cory Lowe (Fr., Post, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) joins the team after playing four years of football at Willamette. Lowe is enrolled in graduate school at Willamette, where he was named First Team All-NWC in football as a senior in 2009-10. Lowe will provide important depth in the paint this season.

Several first-year student-athletes will add to Willamette's overall depth. The Bearcat roster features a total of five true freshmen, plus Trevor Bos (Fr., Lakewood, CA/St. John Bosco HS), who missed last season due to injury. Also competing with the basketball team for the first time is Cole Douglas (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Bellarmine Prep), a former WU football player who is in his senior year academically.

Willamette opens the 2010-11 season tonight (Nov. 16) at Western Washington University. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (PST) in Bellingham, Wash. The Bearcats will play at Concordia University in Portland, Ore., at 5:30 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, Nov. 18.

The Bearcats will play their home opener on Saturday, Nov. 20 against Northwest Christian University. Game time at Cone Field House is set for 7 p.m. (PST) following the women's basketball game between WU and Northwest Christian at 5 p.m. Willamette will dedicate Gordie James Court in honor of former Head Coach Gordie James during halftime of the men's game.

Marcus Holmes averaged 11.0 points per game as a junior in 2009-10.

Marcus Holmes averaged 11.0 points per game as a junior in 2009-10.