Game #9-177: Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners vs. Portland PilotsDecember 17, 2012 10:00 pm
Las Vegas, NV
Monday's game between Portland and Cal State-Bakersfield was part of the Las Vegas Classic. That's what I found out from consulting the Pilots' website. If I didn't follow Pilot basketball so closely I would have thought it was just another non-conference game. There were no special announcements, no tournament logos on the court, no mention of tournament sponsors. The part of the tournament that looks like a tournament will be semifinal games December 22 and consolation and championship games on the 23rd in--wait for it--Las Vegas. This is one of the new type of early-season tournaments, with prearranged games at campus sites before more at a neutral site.
There used to be an actual tournament in Portland every December. Starting in 1960 the Far West Classic brought eight teams together for three days of elimination games in Memorial Coliseum. Oregon and Oregon State were always in the field, which also included many of the top college teams. Perhaps the biggest visitor of all was Michigan State in 1978, who won the Classic on their way to a bigger tournament win in March of 1979. I went to a few games in the days of the eight-team event but I can't remember much about them. What I remember is the four-team, two-day version that started in 1991. For a young sports fan like me seeing that much basketball over winter break was an eagerly anticipated treat. When I started reading the Mid-Majority I recognized some of the teams being talked about because they had played in the Classic: St. Josephs, La Salle, Bradley, UNC-Wilmington, George Washington (funny how many A-10 teams were there), Bradley. I even got John Chaney to autograph my program when Temple was here (if only I had any clue where it was now). To take a brief diversion above the Red Line, I even got to see a Civil War matchup several times when Oregon and Oregon State ended up facing each other on the second night of the tournament. Unfortunately budget problems ended the Classic after 1996. Oregon in recent years has tried to imitate it by having women's/men's doubleheaders, and has brought teams like Illinois, Kansas, and Duke to Portland, but it's not the same. I don't know that the Classic as I knew it will ever come back.
Moving to the present day, a team I hadn't heard of until reading the Mid-Majority was Cal State-Bakersfield. I think this is understandable since they didn't become a full member of Division I until the 2010-11 season. As an independent they've had a difficult time, with single-win totals each season until 2011-2012, when they won 16 games. To the relief of Rod Barnes and his team, the days of scheduling anyone with an open date are numbered, however. The Roadrunners will join the WAC in the fall of 2013 in one of the more extreme conference makeovers in all the activity of recent years.
The Roadrunners and Pilots each came into the game with 4-6 records. This would be an important game for the Pilots. After a stretch of tough opponents this was the first of several games that would be very winnable to close out the non-conference schedule. The post players would have to use their size and athleticism to make easy shots. On defense they would need to keep CSUB into outside shots and rebound well. As the first half unfolded they executed the game plan as they drew it up. Kevin Bailey and Ryan Nicholas were able to dominate in the paint at both ends and held CSUB to 27% FG shooting for the half as the Pilots took a 29-22 lead at the break. The half also featured the best reaction to a call I've seen out of Portland coach Eric Reveno as after a foul call he didn't agree with he appeared be either doing a very spastic version of the Twist, trying to get a hornet out of his jacket, or suffering from the shakes after drinking a six pack of Red Bull.
Following a spirited halftime game by the kids the Pilots went out looking to extend the lead and gradually did. The Roadrunners began to press which led to some offensive struggles until Portland figured out how to break it. Nicholas (21 points) and Bailey (18) continued to show off their array of moves in the post and sophomore center Thomas van der Mars had a strong game. He's begun to assert himself and be more physical instead of just relying on skill and it's paying off. Portland's aggressiveness also translated to 40 free throws. Clearly the area to work on was superhoop shooting, as a 1-10 team performance will not get it done against better teams. Overall, however, all the things the Pilots did well added up to a comfortable 69-51 win to get them to 5-6.
Portland never really pulled away until the final minutes. mainly because Tyrone White, formerly of Portland's Jefferson High, began to heat up from superhoop territory. He's a very versatile player who's able to shoot or drive past and around defenders to get to the basket.
The game featured one of the most bizarre endings I've seen at a basketball game. With 19 seconds left the Roadrunners missed their final shot and as Nicholas was grabbing the rebound a CSUB player grabbed the back of hes jersey and pulled hard, so hard there was no way is was anything but intentional. Nicholas was unhappy but his teammates surrounded him immediately and nothing further happened. After conferring briefly the officials correctly called a flagrant foul 1. Coach Barnes wanted the referee to review the video. He did, very quickly, but Barnes was still unhappy about the call for some reason. As the Pilots inbounded and dribbled out the clock the CSUB team stood on the court by its bench as the game ended. The Las Vegas Classic continues for both teams Wednesday as the Roadrunners visit Colorado State and the Pilots host North Florida before the games that are actually in Las Vegas.
PORTLAND 69, CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 51
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD 4-7 (0-0) -- T. White 8-17 2-3 23; S. Carter 5-11 5-7 15; A. Young 2-5 2-7 6; J. Maynor 1-6 0-0 3; B. Barnes 0-9 4-6 4; B. Williams 0-1 0-0 0; E. Kinney 0-1 0-0 0; C. Hall 0-1 0-0 0; J. Omogun 0-1 0-0 0; M. Ratto 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-52 13-23 51.
PORTLAND 5-6 (0-0) -- R. Nicholas 8-13 5-7 21; K. Bailey 4-11 10-12 18; T. van der Mars 3-5 6-10 12; D. Carr 2-5 3-8 8; K. Thieleke 1-4 0-0 2; B. Pressley 1-4 0-0 2; R. Barker 1-1 0-0 2; D. Rodgers 1-3 0-0 2; O. Reinfelds 0-0 0-0 0; T. Riley 0-1 2-3 2. Totals 21-47 26-40 69.
Three-point goals: CSB 6-18 (B. Barnes 0-3; A. Young 0-1; T. White 5-11; J. Maynor 1-2; C. Hall 0-1), PORT 1-10 (T. Riley 0-1; K. Thieleke 0-1; R. Nicholas 0-1; K. Bailey 0-2; D. Carr 1-3; B. Pressley 0-2); Rebounds: CSB 25 (T. White 8), PORT 37 (R. Nicholas 9); Assists: CSB 6 (B. Williams 4), PORT 8 (K. Thieleke 2); Total Fouls -- CSB 27, PORT 19; Fouled Out: CSB-None; PORT-None.