Sometimes you just have to take time to get away from it all, but after a while, the novelty of travel fades and you need to return home.
After the Ohio game, I became a little restless seeing the same team and to prevent further frustration, the semester break had freed my mental chains restricting me to Portland games and I slowly expanded my understanding of Our Game.
After the first week of classes I wondered if life at home could be as exciting. The Pilots had swept Pepperdine and Santa Clara; hopefully a game against San Diego could build momentum and get the elusive first win in front of students. I realized I was experiencing a practical version of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Would my return to the "cave" go better than the main character in the allegory?
Making the walk across campus Thursday night, I was cautiously excited. Even though I had seen the Pilots in San Francisco, I had not seen the Pilots in home white since the Ohio game. At the time, both Seth and I were hopeful for this team: Seth looked to the future, I was still a little stunned by the AD jumping the Red Line and a bad encounter with the Noid. The feelings of excitement were spurred by the return of the costumed allies: the Telletubbies!
As tipoff came and through the first few minutes, I had a feeling of dread; would the USF game happen again? Watching the Toreros play like the Pilots of a few seasons back, hitting open superhoop after open superhoop, I knew that feeling of joy was slowly dying and the feeling of dread was setting the tone for the evening. Portland's plan was to stop freshman Johnny Dee and they limited him to 14 points, including three superhoops, but four other blue-jerseyed individuals were on the court and at least one of them was always open, due to the Dee double team.
San Diego's skill from behind the arc (14-19) brought back a painful time in my brief fandom. In 2009, Portland came back from Los Angeles sporting a shiny #25 ranking after blowing out UCLA, edging out Minnesota and getting blown out by future Final Four team West Virginia. Downtown colleague Portland State did not care about the ranking as they hit fifteen superhoops including five superhoops in the second half, fueling a comeback popping the awkward atmosphere created by the first national ranking in almost 50 years.
That Pilot team then made a trip to Moscow and lost by 30, also covered in a "My School" entry. That week was unlucky enough to be the subject of two entries: Bubble Friction and the "My School" Entry for Idaho, written, coincidentally by one of our editors, Travis.
One of the few bright spots for this team was Senior Eric Waterford. Last season Eric started at point guard for most of the season before being replaced by Tim Douglas. Eric had been struggling with turnovers and his shooting, but against San Diego, Eric had one of his best games I have been able to witness. In addition to four points, he added four steals and two rebounds and provided energy for the efforts to close the gap.
Seth mentioned Pilot Riot and the vulgar Southern Californian University Initialism. Upon hearing the initial suggestion midway through the second half, I knew it was a dumb idea, but since they outnumbered me, I knew they would perform the chant anyway. If I were in Socrates' allegory, I would have been dragged out of the Chiles Center as a casulty of trying to change the herd mentality. Part of me envies Pilot Riot for their pure passion and belief yelling the same unoriginal idea that every other fanbase yells because it's easy. But the experience outside the white womb on the bluff and through this site had brought wisdom that hard work and novel concepts overcome inertia and cliches. I have tried to educate some of the younger people on when to start chants and what works when but the sense cannot be taught, you have to learn it from experience.
By pure coincidence, this game happened to fall on my birthday and had I thought ahead, I would have made my way to the local watering hole, the Twilight Room, to grapple with the lessons of this game. After the game, fellow recapper Seth invited me to visit the T Room as the locals call it on that before USF returned to play Portland for the second time in ten days.
Socrates never wrote down his ideas and Plato tried his best to write as much as possible, just like many of us try our best to describe the efforts on the floor, despite not playing D-1 basketball. Plato also believed in the world of Forms and the world of being. Clearly, my perceptions of a ideal basketball experience for Portland have been altered by previous experience but every time we enter arenas, field houses or gyms we all have the ideal perception that our team could win, even in a guarantee game. As the game progresses, the experience shapes the perception accordingly, creating either feelings of satisfaction or feelings of loss. Is it really that bad to believe in the ideal ending for our team every game? Entering the last semester, I hoped Portland would show signs of turning around after San Francisco and they almost got the victory. Hopefully Alumni day would go better.
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.