Bearcats are Picked to Finish Sixth in NWC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's basketball team has been chosen to finish sixth in the Northwest Conference this season, according to votes by the NWC head coaches in the 2011-12 NWC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. Whitworth University was picked to repeat as NWC champion, which would give the Pirates three consecutive titles.

Whitworth, which went 28-1 overall last season and won the NWC with a 15-1 record, received six of nine first place votes and a total of 67 points in the Preseason Poll. Whitman College was listed second with three first place votes and 61 points. Last year, the Missionaries achieved a 19-8 record, including 11-5 in the NWC. Lewis & Clark College (18-8, 11-5 NWC) was third in the poll with 52 points.

The University of Puget Sound (10-15, 7-9 NWC) held fourth place with 42 points, and Pacific Lutheran University (15-10, 10-6 NWC) followed in fifth with 29 points. Willamette (7-18, 4-12 NWC) was sixth with 27 points, while George Fox University (8-17, 6-10 NWC) was seventh with 24 points and Linfield College (9-16, 5-11 NWC) was eighth with 21 points. Pacific University (4-12, 3-13 NWC) completed the poll in ninth place with 10 points.

Taylor Mounts (Sr., Wing/Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School), who was named Second Team All-NWC in 2010-11, returns to lead the Bearcats. Last year, he averaged 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He ranked third in the NWC in scoring and was second in rebounding. He enters his senior season with 866 career points and 375 career rebounds.

Ryan Meehan (Sr., Wing, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS/MSU-Billings) followed Mounts on Willamette's scoring chart last season, as he averaged 14.0 points per game. Meehan also ranked second on the team with 32 steals (1.3 avg.).

Also returning for WU is Terrell Malley (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS), who earned 12.9 points per game last year. Malley hit 55 of 71 free throws (77.5%).

Willamette must work to overcome the loss of point guard Robbie Kunke (Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) to graduation and Sean Dart (Jr., Post, Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) to injury.

Kunke led the NWC with 143 assists and 5.7 assist per game in 2010-11, while Dart ranked first in the conference and second in NCAA Division III with 66.7% field goal accuracy (112 of 168). Dart averaged 13.5 points per game and finished sixth in the NWC in rebounding with 7.1 boards per contest.

NWC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Whitworth (6), 67 points, 28-2 overall, 15-1 NWC in 2010-11
2. Whitman (3), 61 points, 19-8, 11-5 NWC
3. Lewis & Clark, 52 points, 18-8, 11-5 NWC
4. Puget Sound, 42 points, 10-15, 7-9 NWC
5. Pacific Lutheran, 29 points, 15-10, 10-6 NWC
6. Willamette, 27 points, 7-18, 4-12 NWC
7. George Fox, 24 points, 8-17, 6-10 NWC
8. Linfield, 21 points, 9-16, 5-11 NWC
9. Pacific, 10 points, 4-21, 3-13 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his/her own team.

Taylor Mounts led the Bearcats in scoring last season with 20.2 points per game.

Taylor Mounts led the Bearcats in scoring last season with 20.2 points per game.