People don't just wear 00. It takes a special kind of player to don one of the least frequently worn numbers in college basketball. For Portland freshman guard Kevin Bailey, perhaps it is a metaphor -- it could be about the respect he gets as a player, his college experience, his patience on the fast break or the limits to his potential.
Bailey was a relatively lightly regarded three-star recruit coming out of Clovis East High School in Clovis, Calif. He is a special kind of athlete for a program as modest as the Pilots'. Rare is the West Coast Conference athlete who can get forearm-deep into the rim, as Bailey did on a missed fast-break dunk against Washington State's Marcus Capers on Sunday night. Bailey's status as a freshman at Portland shows through when he plays. His never-ending energy shows when he takes the point of the Pilots' 1-2-1-1 press.
But it also shows through in his 2-for-9 shooting performance against the Cougars. His judgment is not at the same level as his abilities, and his abilities are not at the same level as his potential. This was most exemplified when Bailey ended up taking the bait from Washington State, ending up with multiple offensive fouls and turnovers on fast breaks.
Despite his natural ability, Bailey has been coming off the bench for the Pilots so far this season, with fellow freshman guard David Carr starting in his place. Carr has an underdeveloped frame compared to Bailey, but his outside shooting is far more advanced. But despite Bailey's faults, his athleticism makes his ceiling as high or higher than any other player in the West Coast Conference. Being paired with head coach Eric Reveno -- highly regarded for his ability to develop players -- and going to a program where he can receive playing time from the moment he set foot on campus collectively means that Bailey has an opportunity to develop unlike any other Pilots player. His fast-break mindset, already-decent shot and defensive mentality make him the future of the Portland program.
The Pilots have the potential to develop a formidable program in the forthcoming years. Apart from senior shooting guard Nemanja "No-Shave" Mitrovic, Portland's entire core is composed of freshmen and sophomores. As the rest of the team develops, Bailey's growth is what matters most to the future of the team. Reveno is forced to be reliant on Bailey and the rest of his team's youngsters, and their development is going to be what defines the program's future success.
As important as Bailey's potential is, it's still just potential at this point, and potential wasn't enough for the Pilots to beat their major-conference foe despite it being a home game. The Cougars' length and size was too much for the Pilots to handle, and Portland could never close the point deficit to anything smaller than eight points. Washington State exploited Portland's NCAA-worst assist-to-turnover ratio, as the Pilots had 11 dishes and gave the ball up 20 times. Portland didn't quite pull the Red Line Upset at the Chiles Center, but the long-term potential of the program shone through with the performance of Bailey.
WASHINGTON STATE 83, at PORTLAND 73 11/20/2011
WASHINGTON STATE 2-1 (0-0) -- R. Moore 2-6 2-4 6; B. Motum 6-9 1-2 13; M. Capers 2-3 2-2 6; C. Enquist 2-2 4-5 8; F. Aden 7-14 6-7 21; D. Lacy 3-5 4-6 11; M. Ladd 3-8 1-1 8; D. Shelton 2-2 4-6 8; W. DiIorio 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 28-50 24-34 83. PORTLAND 2-2 (0-0) -- T. Douglas 2-4 4-5 8; N. Mitrovic 4-12 1-2 11; D. Rodgers 4-6 2-4 10; R. Nicholas 4-10 2-3 11; R. Barker 0-2 2-3 2; D. Carr 3-6 0-0 7; T. van der Mars 5-6 0-1 10; K. Bailey 2-9 9-10 14; D. Cason 0-3 0-0 0; T. Riley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 20-28 73.
Three-point goals: WSU 3-9 (F. Aden 1-2; M. Ladd 1-4; D. Lacy 1-3), PORT 5-21 (N. Mitrovic 2-8; T. Riley 0-1; R. Nicholas 1-3; K. Bailey 1-3; D. Carr 1-4; D. Cason 0-2); Rebounds: WSU 28 (R. Moore 6), PORT 37 (R. Nicholas 7); Assists: WSU 16 (R. Moore 8), PORT 11 (T. Douglas 4); Total Fouls -- WSU 25, PORT 25; Fouled Out: WSU-R. Moore; PORT-None.