I'll be honest here: Before Portland's game with the Lewis and Clark Pioneers, a Division III school on the other side of the city, I was hoping for a blowout win. It had been a rough stretch for the Pilots. They had lost four straight since opening the season with two wins. As it happened the Pilots won, but it was not an easy victory.
The crowd was small and somewhat subdued. This probably was due to the game being on a Tuesday night against a non-D1 opponent. The students' rapidly approaching finals and other midweek activities also contributed to the lack of atmosphere. For my part in the band this was actually a busy night as there was a women's game we played for before the men's game. Doubleheaders are hard on the band since there's more playing involved, but I do like the chance to see two games in one night.
Over the first 12 minutes the Pilots gradually built their lead to ten points. Lewis and Clark would use some timely scoring and take advantage of a spell of cold shooting by Portland to pull ahead by two with about four minutes in the first half. From there the teams went back and forth until the Pilots went into halftime leading 32-27. The half's top performer for Portland was Thomas van der Mars, a freshman center who had 9 points.
In the second half Portland would gradually pull away to win by 12, 76-64. The Pilots were able to use their size advantage against the Pioneers inside and got some three point shooting from Kevin Bailey, who shot 3-4 from long range.
Although this was not the kind of game I expected I still went away from it satisfied. It was good to see the freshmen perform well, especially van der Mars, who appears to have solidified a starting job. As cliched as it is to talk about European players being fundamentally sound, van der Mars, from the Netherlands, really is. He showed a nice shooting touch near the basket. His array of jumpers and layups is impressive for a freshman and I look forward to seeing him develop under coach Eric Reveno. Kevin Bailey, a highly touted recruit, showed the crowd his three point ability. If he can hit the superhoop consistently he'll be even more valuable to Portland, who desperately need someone, anyone, who can shoot. The game also gave Reveno a chance to experiment with his bench and try out guys who hadn't had as many minutes recently in a relatively low-pressure environment.
Portland may not win as many games this season as it has in recent years. It's important, then, to look beyond the score at the way the players are developing and improving as the season goes on. So far I like what I've seen and look forward to the rest of the season.
at PORTLAND 76, LEWIS AND CLARK 64 11/29/2011
PORTLAND 3-4 (0-0) -- T. van der Mars 7-9 5-6 19; T. Riley 3-9 0-0 7; D. Rodgers 2-5 0-0 4; R. Nicholas 4-9 2-2 11; N. Mitrovic 1-8 2-2 4; T. Douglas 1-4 2-2 5; K. Bailey 5-6 1-1 14; D. Cason 2-4 1-3 6; E. Waterford 0-0 0-0 0; R. Barker 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bailey 1-1 0-0 2; D. Carr 0-2 0-0 0; K. Thieleke 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 28-61 13-16 76.
Three-point goals: - , PORT 7-21 (N. Mitrovic 0-4; T. Riley 1-5; T. Douglas 1-3; R. Nicholas 1-1; K. Bailey 3-4; D. Carr 0-2; D. Cason 1-2); Rebounds: , PORT 38 (R. Nicholas 9); Assists: , PORT 15 (E. Waterford 4); Total Fouls -- , PORT 20; Fouled Out: -; PORT-None.