Game #9-075: Portland State at Portland PilotsNovember 21, 2012 10:00 pm
To the casual observer it might appear Portland-Portland State could be the big rivalry for bragging rights in the Rose City. I wish it was this way. I wish there was a purple half and a green half of Portland, and a city full of loyal fans would eagerly await each matchup. I wish Portland's Chiles Center and Portland State's Stott Center were packed for these games.
Unfortunately none of this is close to happening, not before I arrived at UP in 1999, nor at anytime since. The athletic departments try to play up the cross-town nature of the game but haven't been able to sustain much special interest in it. One factor is that neither program has enjoyed a period of sustained success. Prior to last season the Pilots had campaigns of 19, 21, and 20 wins. PSU did go to back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2008 and 2009 but has stalled due to a coaching change and an APR ban. It should be noted, however, that under current coach Tyler Geving Viking basketball has achieved a perfect APR score and did return to the Big Sky tournament last season.
I did not approach tonight's game, then, as a must-win for the Pilots because they had to beat the other school in the city. Instead I was looking for improvement over the first three games, blowout losses on the road to Ohio (somewhat understandable) and Montana State (not as understandable), with a home win over Idaho State in which the offense struggled mightily sandwiched between the two.
While there are questions over how good the Pilots can be this season there are many more surrounding Portland State. Chehales Tapscott and Charles Odum, the two biggest contributors of 2011-12, both graduated. I was interested to see which returning players would step up and thought with their high-scoring offense (second-best O-PPP in the Big Sky last season) they could be competitive. They did return some solid players such as guards Dre Winston and Michael Harthun, and forward Renado Parker. The defense, however (7th in the Big Sky) would have to improve.
As it turned out neither the offense nor the defense was very effective for PSU tonight. The Pilots seemed to have completely turned around their attitude on offense. Earlier this season they looked tentative and afraid to make mistakes. Tonight, guards David Carr and Tanner Riley would drive down the lane instead of pulling up and shooting or passing around the perimeter. This led to some easy baskets for them and for the teammates they found with their passes.
The Pilot big men also were more assertive tonight. They have had a habit of pump faking or putting the ball on the floor instead of going strong to the basket. There was almost none of that and their direct approach produced more easy points.
The last element, one that has been missed the most the first three games, was the outside shooting. Tanner Riley found his shooting touch tonight, with four #superhoops
in the first half. Portland used its good shooting to eventually build a 29-14 lead 10 minutes into the first half. By halftime the lead had grown to 21 points, Portland leading 51-30. Not only did Portland build a large lead, they didn't lose focus and kept it at 21 points for the 81-60 final score. When you shoot 52% from the field you're going to score a good number of points. Of course, it's easy to shoot so well when your offense gets players easy shots, as the Pilots did all night. As for taking care of the ball, a constant issue last season and into the first weeks of this one, Portland had 10 turnovers, a step in the right direction.
I thought the Pilots would have a good chance at win tonight but I was caught totally by surprise with how easy this win was. I didn't think PSU would be as unsettled as it was. Winston, Harthun, and Parker all scored in double figures, but PSU shot 36% from the field and committed 15 turnovers.
The Pilots showed much more energy as a whole tonight at both ends of the floor. A complete game's worth of effort will be needed for Portland to continue to win. One player who stood out as giving a complete effort tonight was Korey Thieleke. The junior guard is athletic and quick, and can drive or shoot, as well as defend. He scored just 9 points, but his efficiency rating of 17 was second on the team to Riley's 24. Thieleke's stat line reflected the many facets of his game: 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and just a single turnover. He strikes me as a slightly smaller version of his teammate Kevin Bailey, who had three #omgdunx
and an #omgblox. Thieleke's minutes were limited in his first two seasons but his improved play will be very welcome for a team that's looking to improve significantly on their seven wins in 2011-12. While this game was a huge step in the right direction, a very challenging road game with New Mexico in the Pit awaits on Sunday. Coach Eric Reveno often stresses the importance of getting better every day. The Pilots definitely did that tonight. If they can keep doing it this season will be a fun one to watch. at PORTLAND 81, PORTLAND STATE 60
PORTLAND STATE 1-2 (0-0) -- M. Harthun 4-7 3-3 11; D. Winston Jr. 4-12 5-8 13; R. Parker 3-8 4-4 10; G. Winston 3-8 0-0 8; L. McMullan 3-10 1-1 7; A. Moore 1-6 4-4 6; M. Harvey 0-1 0-0 0; L. Prosser 1-1 0-0 2; M. Hall 1-2 0-0 2; B. Cataldo 0-0 1-2 1; M. Whitmore 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 18-22 60.
PORTLAND 2-2 (0-0) -- R. Nicholas 3-11 4-6 10; K. Bailey 6-11 2-4 14; K. Thieleke 4-5 0-0 9; T. Riley 8-8 3-3 23; T. van der Mars 3-4 0-1 6; D. Rodgers 1-2 2-2 4; D. Carr 2-6 0-0 4; R. Barker 2-3 3-4 7; O. Reinfelds 1-3 0-2 2; J. Bailey 1-6 0-0 2; B. Pressley 0-1 0-0 0; J. Ehlers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-60 14-22 81.
Three-point goals: POST 2-15 (M. Harthun 0-1; L. McMullan 0-4; D. Winston 0-3; G. Winston 2-5; M. Whitmore 0-1; M. Hall 0-1), PORT 5-10 (T. Riley 4-4; D. Rodgers 0-1; K. Thieleke 1-1; R. Nicholas 0-1; D. Carr 0-2; B. Pressley 0-1); Rebounds: POST 28 (D. Winston 7), PORT 36 (R. Nicholas 9); Assists: POST 12 (G. Winston 3), PORT 22 (D. Rodgers 4); Total Fouls -- POST 20, PORT 18; Fouled Out: POST-None; PORT-None.