It seemed as though Portland had a good chance at a win Thursday when it faced San Diego. The Pilots had won their past two WCC home games. The students would finally be back from break, giving the chance for a good atmosphere in the Chiles Center. San Diego's record was similar to the Pilots' -- 6-11 and 5-13, respectively. It seemed as if Portland could get another win in a difficult season.
The final score, however, was San Diego 82, Portland 63. Looking at the box score, you might wonder how something like this could happen. The Pilots shot 43 percent from the field, not great but not terrible. They outrebounded San Diego 34-22. They had eight steals and six blocks, the same as the Toreros. The game was relatively even except for one area: San Diego's superhoop shooting was 14-for-19, an astonishing 74 percent rate.
Even worse than the number of shots the Toreros made was the timing. Whenever Portland drew within three or four points, San Diego would go down and score three more to extend the lead. By the time Portland adjusted its defense to keep the USD shooters covered, it was too late to make up the deficit. Sometimes a team runs into an opponent that's having a huge night, but it's a loss all the same.
What bothered me about Friday night was not the game itself. Even when the team has a bad game the students can have a good one. For the past two season, the student support for Pilot games has been, in a word, lukewarm. Most games, the students can fill the section about 60 percent full and completely fill the first three or four rows. The people in the front rows stand, but most everyone behind them sits. Friday night was no different. There were about a half-dozen or so guys trying to get chants going, but nobody else really picked them up. They did the best they could. Then there was the student group known as Pilot Riot. As far as I know, this group gets together at someone's house before games for standard college pregame activities, shows up in the front row about three minutes before tipoff and occasionally pays attention to the game. They finally did start a chant in the second half, when the game was slipping away from the Pilots. Some young scholar discovered he could substitute new words for "USD," as in "You," "Suck," and you can probably figure out the third one. Hilarious, just brilliant. To top it off, the students who spent the game sitting started leaving in the final couple of minutes.
None of this is what I would call acceptable from a student section. To the students reading this, there are just a few simple rules: Show up as early as you can. Support the team from beginning to end, regardless of the score. Come up with something better than variations on "You suck!" to chant. You may not be playing the game, but you can make your gym a tough place to visit. The results on the court are out of your control, but the way you support your team is something you are entirely responsible for.
The more you put into this, the better the feeling when your team wins. Trust me. The investment will pay off.
SAN DIEGO 82, at PORTLAND 63 01/19/2012
SAN DIEGO 7-11 (2-4) -- J. Dee 4-8 3-3 14; K. Rancifer 6-10 0-0 15; S. Fajemisin 1-3 0-0 2; C. Anderson 4-6 2-4 11; D. Kramer 4-7 0-0 11; C. Manresa 3-6 1-3 7; D. Norris 3-5 6-7 14; J. Sinis 2-3 0-0 6; C. Miles 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 28-51 12-17 82. PORTLAND 5-14 (2-4) -- K. Bailey 6-11 9-10 22; T. van der Mars 4-8 0-1 8; R. Nicholas 4-9 1-2 10; N. Mitrovic 3-10 0-0 6; T. Douglas 2-5 2-3 6; D. Cason 1-3 2-2 4; D. Rodgers 0-1 1-2 1; E. Waterford 2-2 0-0 4; D. Carr 1-4 0-0 2; J. Bailey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 15-20 63.
Three-point goals: USD 14-19 (D. Norris 2-3; K. Rancifer 3-4; D. Kramer 3-3; C. Anderson 1-1; J. Dee 3-5; J. Sinis 2-3), PORT 2-12 (N. Mitrovic 0-5; R. Nicholas 1-1; K. Bailey 1-5; D. Carr 0-1); Rebounds: USD 22 (S. Fajemisin 7), PORT 34 (R. Nicholas 13); Assists: USD 23 (D. Norris 5), PORT 11 (T. Douglas 3); Total Fouls -- USD 18, PORT 19; Fouled Out: USD-None; PORT-None.