Game #8-802: Eastern Washington Eagles at Portland State VikingsFebruary 25, 2012 10:05 pm
Author's Note: For the sake of the deadline, I am prioritizing the only game I attended in person. Other stories you might be able to read include a tribute to LMU's radio-play-by-play man, Jeff Lampe, a year after Mauro, the dealing with the ninth member of the WCC, the fun of a Senior day from an undergrad perspective, the community feeling and the alienation the Regionals can provide and struggling with omens and hubris. If I can't get them in before the epilogue, look at the comments for a link.
After a week of senior days ended in frustration, I decided to make the jaunt downtown to visit the neighbors: Portland State. As Seth mentioned in his St. Mary's-Portland
recap, I have spent quite a bit of time enjoying University of Portland Athletic events. After four years of effort, I had felt a little worn out by Our Game and college athletics in general.
Like any good scientist, I had to test which variables were causes behind the exhaustion: the physical experiences or the location. To rule out the location, I made another Trimet trip to start a new chapter of life below the Red Line. This game I was alone because Seth was attending a fundraiser for a Portland Women's Soccer alumna.
Upon entering the Stott Center, I was met by the PSU Pacific Islander's club promoting their Luau. Once getting into my seat, I realized this game had greater importance than I thought: Portland State and Eastern Washington were not only fighting for the 3 seed in the Big Sky tournament but also for pride in the second annual Dam Cup, named for the four dams seperating Portland and Cheney.
Luckily, my new chapter had some old components like the pep band. While Portland has a combination of students and alumni, Portland State offers the Power Pep Band, who started with the "Cee-Lo Song." Fellow recapper Seth later pointed out that song is new to the arsenal and could become an interesting tool if only a sufficient number of students could participate.
While waiting for my phone to charge (thanks again, nameless photographer for allowing me to use the surge protector) I happened to spot Greg Crawford, a new acquaintance that fellow recapper Seth has pointed out to me repeatedly noted as a member of the Sports Radio era before the z became mandatory. I had seen him over the last few years at the Chiles Center and had been lucky to interact with him a few times, even if Mr. Crawford was frustrated about the output by the players and student supporters this season.
However, this was the first time we had met outside the Chiles Center. On that night, he asked why I was there and I initially answered I wanted to enjoy basketball outside the Pilots and to do something productive on a Saturday night (even though I should have finished recaps) but looking back I knew I was not willing to accept my undergraduate basketball experience was complete. At the time, I had not decided to visit the NCAA regional so I had two games left and I wanted to embrace the remaining fun out of Our Game without choking on the bone like Neil Perry did at Welton Academy.
Before games, I check-in from the arena and examine my Twitter feed to get a feel for the day's events and to see insights from other recappers, like Seth on Portland State's chances. This time I realized I had picked up a new follower, unusual since I only have tweeted about games and life below the Red Line. Clearly this game was important if Brendan Loy, fellow recapper and Golden Ticket winner, decided to follow me. Northern Colorado, one of Brendan's Sub-Red Line schools, needed an Eastern Washington win to keep their conference tournament hopes alive. Little did he know, but I now had a reason to care about this game. I have made a few trips to the Stott Center and consider Portland State a sibling school under the Red Line. However, this night was for recovery and to simply enjoy 40 minutes that had Championship Fortnight implications. Though I have enjoyed the play of the Vikings, I was willing to KeepHopeAlive for another fan of the game.
At player intros, senior forward Chehales Tapscott showed he was a good local product out of Hillsboro that followed the the pillars of humility and thankfulness. After his name was read in the overzealous manner of the PA guy, Tapscott celebrated with his teammates but also jogged over to the press table and gave a fistbump to Mr. Crawford, showing that at least one player respects his elders even if they are not connected to the team.
Though Tapscott was able to respect Mr. Crawford, the youth in my section either don't do much with the Internet or do not understand journalism at a live event. As Mr. Crawford was updating his blog and looking up the other scores around the nation, the kids next to me thought he was merely surfing Google. Since the game was at 17-15 in favor of Eastern Washington at the Under 12 Media Timeout, I think the kids were merely saying the darndest things.
The rest of the half provided plenty of teachable moments for the youth team coaches in attendance in my section as both teams were able to block shots, strip the ball, turn the new possessions into points, and how to stay humble by not forcing alley-oops where lay-ups would suffice.
Halftime allowed the Portland State athletes to celebrate their domination of Eastern Washington in the Second Dam Cup, at the time, ceding only two points to Eastern Washington through the various Big Sky Matchups. With their celebration came the departure of several Viking athletes who thought the game was in hand and could start enjoying their Saturday night. Having attended more Big Sky basketball games this season, I know a thing or two about assuming the result before the final whistle.
But holding the Eagles scoreless over the last five minutes to build a five-point lead could have justified some of the early departures. Tapscott continued to dominate the game by drawing fouls from Cliff Ederaine and Jordan Hickert early in the second half. When Hickert fouled out with 13:34 to go, I knew Brendan might be getting more concerned. By the Under 8 Media Timeout, the Vikings lead by 8 thanks to a Michael Harthun superhoop and a driving lay-up after Tapscott poked the ball free.