Game #9-221: Texas-Pan American Broncs at Portland PilotsDecember 29, 2012 10:00 pm
One of the reasons to watch sports is that every so often you get a surprised by a result. Sometimes it's a pleasant surprise, sometimes it isn't. For Portland fans last night's 56-52 loss to Texas-Pan American was definitely a surprise in the latter category. UTPA was 6-8 going into the game and had only one win against the RPI top 150. They also were smaller than the Pilots and didn't have the best offense. It seemed like a pretty clear game plan: Get the ball inside as much as possible and play the solid defense that they're capable of.
Unfortunately if that was the plan the Pilots didn't seem to follow it that closely. Ryan Nicholas had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Thomas van der Mars added 9 boards as well. In fact Portland outrebounded the Broncs by an overwhelming 44-22 margin, with 23 offensive rebounds. I don't recall seeing a team gain more offensive than defensive rebounds, but it's not hard to figure out that lots of rebounds means lots of missed Pilot shots. They shot 22-64 (34%) actually, and that won't win many games against anybody. All too often these were outside shots (3-16 three-point FGs), or contested, low-percentage attempts.
Whether it was a lack of basketball during their Christmas break or looking ahead to the conference season next week the Pilots didn't play very well as a team last night. As much as I love what Eric Reveno has done he's not an offensive-minded coach, and it shows in games like last night's when the Pilot offense is downright excruciating to watch. When they struggle they pass the ball around the perimeter for most of the shot clock, waiting for someone to step up and attack.
I love how Ryan Nicholas competes on every possession but he can't do it by himself, and his natural position is not out by the three point arc. Thomas van der Mars is a technically skilled player but he has to get aggressive and go hard to the basket without hesitation. Guards like David Carr and Derrick Rodgers are good at driving to the basket but they don't do it very often. I love Kevin Bailey's athleticism but he sometimes tries to do too much and puts up shots that are too difficult. On the plus side, school's still out, so the team can focus on basketball for the next week before starting WCC play at San Diego.
The Broncs deserve a lot of credit for how they stuck to their plan. They must have known they would be at a distinct rebound advantage and would have to get the ball to their best scorers in high-percentage spots. The fact that their best players were guards who could shoot from outside worked in their favor and that's who they relied on. Brandon Provost made five superhoops as part of a 20-point effort. UTPA didn't panic because they had the ball so little. They just waited patiently until they had the ball, then got it to the guys they wanted to have it. Last night they illustrated that when a team follows a plan and plays to its strengths it can succeed.
TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN 56, at PORTLAND 52
TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN 7-8 (0-0) -- B. Provost 7-13 1-2 20; A. Urbanus 2-6 5-7 10; J. Delgado 1-2 4-4 6; J. Leathers 1-5 0-0 2; L. Toivonen 1-3 0-0 2; R. Cabrera 4-5 2-2 11; S. Hines 0-2 0-0 0; J. Dantzler 1-2 0-0 3; D. Nash 0-1 0-0 0; H. Johnson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-41 12-15 56.
PORTLAND 7-8 (0-0) -- K. Thieleke 1-4 0-0 2; R. Nicholas 6-16 1-2 15; K. Bailey 3-14 2-2 8; D. Rodgers 6-8 0-1 13; R. Barker 1-2 2-2 4; D. Carr 0-5 0-0 0; T. van der Mars 3-8 0-0 6; B. Pressley 1-3 0-0 2; T. Riley 1-4 0-0 2; J. Bailey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-64 5-7 52.
Three-point goals: UTPA 8-17 (B. Provost 5-9; A. Urbanus 1-3; R. Cabrera 1-1; J. Dantzler 1-2; D. Nash 0-1; L. Toivonen 0-1), PORT 3-16 (T. Riley 0-1; D. Rodgers 1-1; R. Nicholas 2-6; K. Bailey 0-4; D. Carr 0-3; B. Pressley 0-1); Rebounds: UTPA 17 (B. Provost 4), PORT 39 (R. Nicholas 12); Assists: UTPA 6 (A. Urbanus 4), PORT 7 (D. Carr 2); Total Fouls -- UTPA 13, PORT 16; Fouled Out: UTPA-None; PORT-None.