ON COLLEGE HOOPS / VON PAUL DANZER / PORTLAND TRIBUNE / UP Hoopsters gain self-confidence and achieve two close victories
Terry Porter knew there would be many educational moments this basketball season for his Portland Pilots squad, which includes four freshmen and six freshman players.
Last week the pilots experienced the best way to learn: lessons in winning.
Portland (10-15, 4-8 West Coast Conference) prevailed in extra time against Pepperdine in extra time and Loyola Marymount in two late free throws. Sure, the victories went to the only teams among the pilots in the WCC rating. But such tense victories can leave a lasting impression.
“At the beginning of the year we had sales from our young people in late game situations that we didn’t do well. And we learned from that,” said Terry Porter after Saturday’s 68:66 win against LMU. “We did a much better job in all of these games by running the track at both ends of the floor.”
Examples of the growth in this profit have been the game-winning game. The newcomer Marcus Shaver Jr. was able to drive to the basket, pull a foul and knock down two free throws with 2.3 seconds on the clock. In Thursday’s win against Pepperdine, Shaver scored seven out of 14 points in extra time in Portland.
The razor and colleague JoJo Walker also took turns keeping LMU’s top scorer, James Batemon, six points below his season average.
Freshman striker Tahirou Diabate hit a game high of 19 against Pepperdine and scored a blocked key shot late in both games – a kind of momentum shifting game that Diabate has consistently started.
The Mali-born 6-9 Diabate who appeared as a high school player in Japan has started the last 10 games. It was included on the grid at the start of the conference schedule to provide rim protection and rebound.
“He stuck to his work and learned and was very receptive to what everyone had to say to him. He is an example of our growth as a team,” said senior wing D’Marques Tyson. “At the beginning of the season he would have been worried about where he should be and not worried about protecting the rim. He recognizes that now and takes on his role and is a solid rim protector.”
For his part, Tyson has taken on a role as the bench’s goalscorer. In Saturday’s game against LMU, he made 6 of 8 3-pointers and scored 22 points.
Terry Porter calls Tyson the pilot version of Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson, who set Porter’s Trail Blazer on fire in the 1990 NBA Finals.
The two narrow victories are an emotional upswing for a pilots team that doubled their overall WCC victory last season, 4-8 in the conference.
“We started to play more as a team. That’s how we achieved these two wins,” said Redshirt student Franklin Porter, who scored 12 points in both wins last week, including eight of the last 16 minutes against LMU. “It only builds trust for the whole team. If we go down this route, we have a schedule that we think is more favorable and we’re just trying to get a higher starting value for the conference tournament.”
The pilots who visit Damon Stoudamire’s Pacific Tigers on Thursday in San Francisco and on Saturday and then play three of their last four at home have a lot to learn.
“Our boys are growing. We are making progress,” said Terry Porter. “We still have a long way to go to find the right path. But it’s great to have momentum, great to get these guys involved in what we’re trying to do.”
‘Boo Boo’ boom
Portland wasn’t the only one getting great pieces from newbies on Saturday. Portland State’s Holland “Boo Boo” Woods led the Vikings to a much-needed win over Eastern Washington at Lewis & Clark.
Woods hit all 10 of his shots from the ground (a program record for most field goals without a miss) en route to 29 points. The point guard also had nine assists and no turnovers as the power supply ended up with 22 assists and six turnovers to stop a three-game skid.
Portland State manager Barret Peery describes Woods, who finished second in the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year last season, as wise beyond his years.
“He’s been great all year round with his ability to handle the ball for us for longer minutes,” said Peery. “When he shoots the ball like that, he’s really hard to protect because he can make you come and go.”
The month of January was full of comings and goings for the Vikings, who were understaffed for most of the month due to illness, injury and suspension. Top scorer Deontae North has missed three games and was suspended indefinitely earlier this week.
Woods and Bryce Canda are the only Vikings to have started all 10 Big Sky games, and Peery used five different starting fives in those 10 games.
By comparison, the Idaho team that hit the PSU a week ago have been using the same five starters all season, according to Peery.
“January was a turbulent, crazy month. We’re just hoping for a nice, smooth February and trying to keep things as normal as possible,” said Peery.
Senior striker Brandon Hollins returned to the starting line-up last weekend after suffering from pneumonia for a few weeks.
Hollins leads the conference in Field Goal Percentage (.588).
“He was a tremendous energetic guy to us,” said Peery. “He’s a rebounder, a defender and can hit the ball on the edge.”
Having too few players means adjusting the pressure on the field and the steady pace that Peery introduced this season. Despite some gunfights in the conference, the Vikings finished fourth in the nation that week (88.3 points per game).
The Vikings face a challenging week of games in the Montana schools.
The first is a Thursday visit to the Grizzlies, who are 11-0 in the conference game. Montana’s closest Big Sky game was a 92-89 win over PSU on January 13 in a highly competitive game at Lewis & Clark.
On Saturday afternoon, the Vikings will be shooting for a second win against Montana State, which starts the week half a game before the power supply in the conference standings.
• Jefferson High Grade Victor Sanders had 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Idaho’s 97-88 win over PSU last week. It was the last game in Portland for Sanders, who finished second in his career in Idaho. … Columbia Christian The senior Arkadiy Mkrtychyan, also senior, had 11 points and seven rebounds for Idaho.
The Warner Pacific men’s basketball team was named Team of the Week for the Cascade Collegiate Conference after winning last weekend against Northwest Christian and Corban.
The Knights, who have won five of their last six and ranked 15th in the latest NAIA Division II coaching poll, start an important weekend with second place in the CCC 12-4 against Eastern Oregon. The climbers visit Warner Pacific’s CC Perry Gym on Friday at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Saturday visit to the first place College of Idaho (15-1 and # 7 nationally).
Coach Jared Valentine points out that better defense is the key to the Knights’ recent success – and that “D” will be key to avenging losses to EOU and C of I.
“I’m starting to be a little pleased with our defense work,” says Valentine. “I don’t know we fully understood the defensive execution in the first half of the conference.”
One thing the knights know is rebounding. Senior De’Jon Bowman, a 6-6 year old from Las Vegas, won a school record of 24 boards (and scored 21 points) when he won at Northwest Christian. It averages 9.7 rebounds.
After this week, WPC will end the regular season with street games against Northwest and Evergreen State.
Second place is important as it provides the opportunity to play at home in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the conference tournament.
Valentine expects the CCC to include four teams in the national tournament. A second place would mean a higher rank and better seed for this competition.
In the neighborhood
• After disappointing losses in Idaho and east Washington, Portland State women return to Lewis & Clark to entertain Montana at 7pm on Thursday and Montana State at 1pm on Saturday. A season high of 31 sales condemned the Vikings in their seven-point loss in east Washington. With 5-5 (11-10 in total) the power supply is in eighth place in the Big Sky.
• The Portland Pilots women (5-18, 1-11 WCC) will be in San Francisco on Thursday at 7:00 pm and Pacific on Saturday at 2:00 pm.
• With four games remaining, the Lewis & Clark women are fourth of four playoff spots in the Northwest Conference. The Pioneers (11-10 total) are 6-6 in the conference and one game in front of Puget Sound and Linfield. You will host Pacific Lutheran on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and visit Linfield on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The last two regular season games will be played at George Fox and the following weekend against Puget Sound.
• The men’s Concordia basketball team is still shooting its first victory at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, hosting Saint Martin’s on Thursday at 7:30 pm and Seattle Pacific on Saturday at 7:30 pm. Of the Cavaliers’ 14 GNAC losses, six are by five points or less (and two of the last three are by one point).
• The Concordia women (6-8 GNAC) host the Alaska Schools Thursday and Saturday at 5:15 pm.
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