Dart is on Target for Willamette Basketball

Leads Nation in Field Goal Percentage

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University sophomore post Sean Dart (Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) keeps getting open and continues to score. Sometimes he is open underneath the basket and scores on an easy layup. At other times, he battles to get a rebound and scores on the put-back. Occasionally, he shoots a jump shot.

Most of his shots go through the basket for the Bearcats. As a result, Dart is leading the nation in NCAA Division III in field goal percentage at 70.7% for the season. He has made 65 of 92 shots. Dart's #1 ranking was released this week by the NCAA along with this year's first national statistical report, through games played on Dec. 12.

Dart, who played his freshman season at Eastern Oregon University, has been a quality addition to the Willamette men's basketball team this year.

He has scored in double figures in all nine games, including a career-high 31 points against Northwest Christian University on Nov. 20. He is tied for 22nd in NCAA Division III with four double-doubles, after reaching double figures in rebounds four times. His season high off the glass is 13 rebounds against Corban University on Nov. 26.

"Sean has grasped his role in our offense very quickly, and has done a great job of finding the spots on the floor where he can be effective from," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "He just has a natural touch around the rim that allows him to convert against size and length inside, and he is such a tremendous worker that he keeps possessions alive for us with his rebounding."

Against Concordia University (Ore.) on Nov. 18, he went 9 for 9 on field goals, helping Willamette rally from an 11-point halftime deficit to claim an 89-88 win. In the rematch with Concordia on Dec. 10, Dart hit 10 of 12 field goals, as the Bearcats battled back from a 10-point margin with 4:52 left to win 86-84. His combined field goal shooting in the two games was 19 of 21 for 90.5%.

Dart has started every game and has provided Coach Ioane with consistent play, especially on the boards, and in the paint on offense. He doesn't play every minute -- he's averaging a solid 27.4 minutes per game -- but he always gives the team a boost whenever he enters the game.

In addition to Dart, two other Bearcats are ranked in the top 50 of individual statistical categories in Division III. Senior guard Robbie Kunke (Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) is tied for 19th in assists per game (5.9), with 53 assists in WU's nine games. Marcus Holmes (Sr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) is ranked 39th in free throw percentage at 90.3% (28 of 31) and is 44th in 3-point percentage at 44.6% (25 of 56).

Kunke contributed a season-high 10 assists versus Northwest Christian on Nov. 20. He scored 19 points against Corban two days later and grabbed nine rebounds against Concordia on Dec. 10. Holmes tallied 23 points against George Fox University on Nov. 30, after earning 21 points against Western Oregon University on Nov. 27. He was 6 of 7 on 3-pointers versus in the first meeting with Concordia and hit 5 of 7 trifectas versus Western Oregon.

"A lot of what we do is predicated on Robbie's ability to make others better," Ioane noted. "I ask him to make quick decisions and put balls in tight windows to get people baskets and he excels at it.

"Marcus' numbers are a direct result of the time he put in this offseason working on his game," Ioane said. "His ability to stretch defenses is vital to opening up opportunities for the rest of our team"

Willamette is listed 32nd in Division III in scoring offense. The Bearcats have accumulated 747 points so far this season for an average of 83.0 points per game. WU is 3-6 on the season, but three losses are to teams from NCAA Division I (University of Oregon) and NCAA Division III (Western Washington, Western Oregon).

"As a team, we want to be known as an attacking, aggressive group...our scoring average is a direct reflection of that mindset," Ioane said.

The NCAA ranked all 403 teams in the team statistical categories., such as scoring offense. A total of 500 players were ranked in each individual category.

Up next for Dart and the rest of the Bearcats is the Mary Hardin-Baylor Tournament in Belton, Texas, on Dec. 29-30. WU will open the tournament against Texas Lutheran University on Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m. (CST)/3:30 p.m. (PST). The Bearcats will take on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m. (CST)/5:30 p.m. (PST).

Sean Dart is shooting 70.7% for the Bearcats this season.

Sean Dart is shooting 70.7% for the Bearcats this season.