Northwest Conference Releases Preseason Poll for Men's Basketball

Bearcats are Ready to Start the 2012-13 Season

By John Lind, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE -- The Northwest Conference has released its preseason poll for the upcoming men's basketball season, predicting a ninth-place finish for Willamette University. Defending champion Whitworth University was picked to remain at the top of the conference standings.

The poll was the result of voting by the NWC head coaches. The Whitworth Pirates received seven first place votes to lead all NWC teams with 70 points. Whitworth won last year's conference title with a 26-4 record, including 15-1 in the NWC. The Pirates currently hold a #14 national ranking in the D3hoops.com Preseason Poll.

Following Whitworth in the poll was Whitman College (18-8, 11-5 NWC) in second place with 54 points. The Missionaries, who gave Whitworth its only NWC defeat last season, took the other two first place votes.

Lewis & Clark College (14-2, 9-7 NWC) held third place with 51 points after securing a spot in last year's NWC Tournament. The Pioneers hop to improve with the return of First Team All-NWC guard James Hollins.

Following L&C in the poll was the University of Puget Sound (20-7, 11-5 NWC) in fourth with 44 points. Pacific Lutheran University (12-13, 9-7 NWC) was fifth with 32 points.

Rounding out the poll, were George Fox University (11-14, 8-8 NWC) in sixth with 24 points, Linfield College (5-20, 3-13 NWC) in seventh with 22 points, Pacific University (9-17, 3-13 NWC) in eighth with 20 points and Willamette (5-20, 3-13 NWC) in ninth with 13 points.

The Bearcats, who went 3-3 in the final six games of 2011-12, look to continue to improve. Willamette graduated two starters:  Taylor Mounts, who earned Honorable Mention All-NWC honors with 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, and Ryan Meehan, who averaged 11.8 points. WU returns three starters, plus eight non-starters who played in at least 20 games.

Leading the Bearcats will be Terrell Malley (Sr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS). Malley garnered Honorable Mention All-NWC accolades last season. He averaged 12.2 points per game and finished second on the team with 40 assists and 28 steals.

Malley is a two-sport athlete who played football for the Bearcats this fall. He rushed 33 times for 286 yards (8.4 avg.) and two touchdowns, and caught 39 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns.

Sean Dart (Sr., Post , Bend, OR/Mountain View HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) will be a key player for the Bearcats in the front court and will serve as the team's captain. Last season, Dart started 17 games, averaged 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and shot 60.4% from the floor.

Willamette will be bolstered by the arrival of transfer Elliot Babcock-Krenk (Sr, Wing, Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS/Humboldt State Univ.). Prior to sitting out last season, Babcock-Krenk started 25 games for Humboldt State University in NCAA Division II during the 2010-11 season. He averaged 6.1 points per game by shooting 41.1% from the field.

Trevor Bos (Jr., G, Lakewood, CA/St. John Bosco HS) returns as the guard position, where he will battle for a starting position. Bos started 23 of 25 games last season, averaging 5.3 points per game and leading the team with 3.1 assists per game.

Willamette should also see solid contributions from Avery Manu (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Highland HS) at wing and from Kyle McNally (So., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) in the post.

Kip Ioane begins his fourth year as head coach of the Bearcats. He has been at Willamette in some capacity since 1997-98. He played for the Bearcats for four seasons, and served as an assistant coach from 2001-02 through 2008-09, prior to accepting the head coaching position for the 2009-10 season.

Willamette will co-host and take part in the NWC Tipoff Classic this coming weekend, Nov. 16-17. The Bearcats will take on the University of La Verne (Calif.) on Friday, Nov. 16 at Lewis & Clark College at 5 p.m. (PST), before L&C faces the University of California-Santa Cruz at 7 p.m.

The Bearcats will host two games at Cone Field House on the second day of the tournament. In the first game, Lewis & Clark will play Colorado College at 5 p.m. (PST). Willamette will battle Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) in the second game at 7 p.m.

After an out-of-conference schedule that takes them as far as Billings, Mont., the Bearcats will kick off Northwest Conference play at Linfield College on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. (PST).

2012-3 NWC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
(1st place votes in parentheses)

1. Whitworth (7), 70 points, 26-4 overall, 15-1 NWC in 2011-12
2. Whitman (2), 54 points, 18-8, 11-5 NWC
3. Lewis & Clark, 51 points, 14-12, 9-7 NWC
4. Puget Sound, 44 points, 20-7, 11-5 NWC
5. Pacific Lutheran, 32 points, 12-13, 9-7 NWC
6. George Fox, 24 points, 11-14, 8-8 NWC
7. Linfield, 22 points, 5-20, 3-13 NWC
8. Pacific, 20 points, 9-17, 3-13 NWC
9. Willamette, 13 points, 5-20, 3-13 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Terrell Malley earned Honorable Mention All-NWC honors last season after averaging 12.2 points per game.

Terrell Malley earned Honorable Mention All-NWC honors last season after averaging 12.2 points per game.