By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University hosted Bearcat Hoop Alumni Weekend on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 to honor Willamette men's basketball players while celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 1993 NAIA Division II National Championship team. Former Bearcat Hoop athletes had a chance to connect with teammates, coaches and other alumni.
"We had a fantastic turnout both Friday and Saturday," Willamette Head Coach Kip Ioane said. "I was especially happy with getting 10 players from the 1993 team back on campus."
The schedule began with the Bearcat Hoop Alumni Golf Tournament at McNary Golf Club in Keizer, Oregon. Afterward, a social and awards presentation was held, followed by a dinner buffet at the golf course. The day concluded with a toast and roast ceremony to share Willamette basketball stories.
On Saturday, former Bearcats played together during Alumni Open Gym at the Sparks Center. Later, participants attended the Bearcat Hoop Celebration Dinner. Teams from throughout the decades of Willamette basketball were honored, along with Hall of Fame teams and players, school record holders, and members of the 1993 Championship team.
"It was such a special evening and a memorable weekend!," Former Head Coach Gordie James said. James coached the Bearcats for 22 seasons (1987-88 through 2008-09), including the 1992-93 championship team.
"There was a tribute to two incredible human beings -- Coach Bruce Henderson and 1992-93 team member R.J. Adelman -- who 'Forever will be Bearcats'," James said. "The stories flowed, games were re-lived, and performances were reminisced. The Hall of Famers in attendance were recognized - Erik Clarkson, Scott Baker, Russ Sovde, David Snyder, and Mike Ward. President Emeritus Dr. Jerry Hudson and Hall of Fame coach and athletic director Bill Trenbeath presented the 1993 National Championship Team. This team won the NWC title with a 14-0 mark and finished with a WU all-time best 29-4 record. Senior Mike Ward was the Conference and District II Player of the Year, and was named the NAIA National Tournament's MVP. Senior Brian Mahoney was First Team All-Conference and First Team All-District. The team was deep and strong in all phases of the game, but defense was the key.
A meritorious service award was presented to Gordon Kunke, class of 1947, who as a math teacher, basketball coach, principal, and superintendent of the Dallas (Ore.) School District, impacted the lives of thousands and thousands of students-athletes. Several former players were spotlighted as special teammates for their contributions both on and off the floor. The Ultimate Bearcat Hoop Teammate Award went to Lance Richards ('95).
who returned for the 2018 Bearcat Hoop Reunion: