"Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing." - Eric Hoffer
Over the last few seasons, Portland has been exciting and beaten opponents through superhoops, skillful passes, and veteran teamwork. Since 11 of the team's 13 players are underclassmen or have less than two years of experience in college, those times might not happen in the near future.
Walking across campus toward the Chiles Center through a hazy Portland winter, passing classrooms occupied by small groups of students, reminded me the student section might not be full. As UP approaches Finals Week, I hoped the young team would be able to fight through turnovers and large runs and succeed in its last test while students are on campus.
During warmups, I noticed a red arrow-like shape enter the arena with US Bank written across its chest. Of course, it was Mascot Night!
This year's Mascot Night featured the U. S. Bank "check," Bullwinkle, representing the local Family Fun place of the same name, Churtle the Tortoise, Domino's resurrected Noid, a Duracell Battery, a banana representing Jamba Juice, Portland's own Wally Pilot and the homegrown Teletubbies.
The initial excitement from seeing the mascots was diminished after I encountered the resurrected Domino's Pizza villain right before tip-off as the Pep Band played the Victory March. While the Noid might have wanted to dance and interacted with someone, but I had to play along and ignore the efforts of the spunky rabbit-eared individual.
The remaining excitement was sapped by the news that the Teletubbies were relieved of their free-throw distracting duties. Apparently people at the Washington State game complained they were, of all things, distractions.
The first half featured plenty of back-and-forth play, but over the last few minutes, turnovers led to runs by Portland and Ohio, resulting in a three-point Bobcat lead, after a Tanner Riley superhoop trimmed the lead in half.
Halftime meant the Mascot game! Originally, the Red Teletubby said he did not want to play. 90 seconds in, the Po-analog decided to join the game.
Halfway through, Dipsy got a breakaway dunk thanks to a good pass by the Jamba Juice banana. The side with the Tinky Winky (Purple), Laa-Laa (Yellow), the banana and Wally went on a 9-0 run, featuring five points from Laa-Laa (only super hoop and dunx) and Winky (Dunx x2) to win 9-2.
The second half saw Ohio hold onto their three-point lead, extending it to as much as 18 as DJ Cooper, a key player in their first-round upset over Georgetown, compiled his first career triple-double.
The coaching staff has preached that this non-conference schedule will pay dividends in conference play and over the next few years. In the wake of the AD jumping the Red Line, I hope Coach Reveno and his staff will be there when this team cashes in those dividends.
Luckily, Ballz are always happy and patient.
OHIO 72, at PORTLAND 54 12/10/2011
OHIO 7-1 (0-0) -- D. Cooper 6-15 2-3 14; N. Kellogg 2-7 2-2 8; J. Smith 5-6 1-1 11; R. Keely 2-4 1-3 5; R. Johnson 4-7 1-2 10; I. Baltic 3-7 0-0 6; W. Offutt 4-8 2-4 12; T. Hall 2-6 0-0 4; S. Taylor 0-4 2-2 2; T. Goard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 11-17 72. PORTLAND 3-7 (0-0) -- K. Bailey 4-10 4-4 13; T. van der Mars 2-8 0-2 4; T. Douglas 2-5 3-3 8; R. Nicholas 5-7 3-4 13; T. Riley 4-10 0-0 10; D. Cason 0-6 0-0 0; D. Rodgers 0-2 0-0 0; N. Mitrovic 1-3 1-3 4; J. Bailey 1-1 0-0 2; D. Carr 0-0 0-0 0; E. Waterford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 11-16 54.
Three-point goals: OHIO 5-20 (W. Offutt 2-3; I. Baltic 0-1; D. Cooper 0-3; T. Hall 0-2; R. Johnson 1-3; N. Kellogg 2-6; S. Taylor 0-2), PORT 5-19 (N. Mitrovic 1-2; T. Riley 2-7; T. Douglas 1-2; D. Rodgers 0-1; K. Bailey 1-5; D. Cason 0-2); Rebounds: OHIO 40 (D. Cooper 10), PORT 26 (R. Nicholas 6); Assists: OHIO 18 (D. Cooper 10), PORT 13 (K. Bailey 5); Total Fouls -- OHIO 17, PORT 14; Fouled Out: OHIO-None; PORT-R. Nicholas.