Men’s Basketball Falters, Shows Promise for the Future
Photo from Willamette Athletics Website
The Bearcat men’s Basketball team finished up their season with an overall record of 5-19, and a conference record of 1-15. Although the season did not go the way the Bearcats had hoped, there are several highlights to look at, and an interesting playstyle which made for fun basketball to watch.
In his fourth season at Willamette, Jack Boydell (‘23) joined the 1,000 point club, an achievement that shows not only on court performance, but also durability. He reached this goal despite suffering a wrist sprain in the first half of the season. As he went up to contest a shot, his legs were taken out from under him, forcing him to land full extension onto his wrist. “That’s just one of those things you gotta deal with, I’m gonna keep playing,” he stated in an interview. Even more impressive is that he did this with one more year of eligibility, meaning Bearcat fans have another season where they get to watch his talent on the court!
The team was hit hard by injury this season. Jonathon Watts (grad. MBA) was expected to be the leading scorer this season, but dealt with a stubborn knee injury. Daniel Plumer (‘23) also went down in the middle of the season with a back injury, forcing some young guys to step up. Mitch Lind (‘26), averaged 16.2 minutes per game and shot 38.1% from the field, and Terry Sherman (‘25), averaged 13.5 minutes per game and shot 44.1% from the field. Each were key contributors to help mitigate this unfortunate situation. Levi Basurto (‘26) was a presence in the post for the Bearcats as well, averaging 14.6 minutes per game and shooting 39.8% from the field. Men that are not expected to play and are able to step up in a time of need are an underrated aspect of a team.
The team was undersized compared to others in the Northwest Conference. Head coach Kip Ioane explained that, “being undersized to most teams, we have to run a fast offense. As of right now we are in the top 10 in the nation in terms of pace.” The Bearcats played to their strength, which is speed, and executed a fast offense. Their goal was to beat the defense in transition, and tire out often larger defenders. Offense was not so much the problem as the defense was. Ioane explained that “offense isn’t our issue as of now. It’s our defense that we need to fix up.” Again, due to being undersized in most games, they mixed man to man defense with zone, and tried to get other teams out of their comfort zone by adding pressure when needed, depending on the game flow. Boydell spoke about how, “A lot of teams in the conference try to pull up to halfcourt and run their sets so we try to get them out of that.” This fast paced offensive style and creativity on defense made for a fun game to watch, regardless of the score.
The Achilles heel for the Bearcats seemed to be falling off in the second half of the game. Many games were tight going into the second half but would slip away towards the end. While the Bearcats will not be competing in the conference tournament this year, they are able to hang onto their hat after beating Linfield in McMinnville on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 98-95 in overtime.