March 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Pilots huddle against the Loyola Marymount Lions during the second half of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Pilots vs. San Jose State Spartans Game Preview


Portland Pilots (3-3) vs. San Jose State Spartans (2-4) from the Chiles Center on the University of Portland Campus

Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.

Live Audio/Video: PilotsVideo.com
Radio:
910 AM and PortlandPilots.com

Projected Starting 5

Alec Wintering PG Isaac Thronton (FR)
Bryce Pressley SG Jalen James (FR)
Kevin Bailey SF Devante Wilson (JR)
Ryan Nicholas PF Jaleel Williams (JR)
Thomas van der Mars C Chris Cunningham (SR)

 

There is a frustrating truth that all sports fan’s experience at some point or another, and that frustration occurs when your team loses a game that they should have won. After two nice victories over Idaho and Columbia, the Portland Pilots were poised for a weekend sweep leading North Texas 43-20 with just under 17 minutes to play. In the previous two games Portland had built similar leads and maintained those leads through the final buzzer, but on Saturday, a combination of stagnant offense, missed free throws, and some unlucky bounces doomed the Pilots as they dropped a double-overtime slop-fest to the Mean Green. I had every intention of writing a “Weekend Recap” on Sunday, while I waited to board my flight home from Portland but the frustration was too much. So as we head into a battle with San Jose State, the North Texas Incident is now water under the bridge.

The Opponent:

This team loves the deep ball. San Jose St. is currently attempting 28 threes a game, only four teams in the country attempt more. More than half of their 338 shot attempts have been from beyond the arc. The Spartans are led by Freshman Rashad Muhammad who is averaging 15.3 points per game. The younger brother of former UCLA and current Minnesota Timberwolves guard Shabazz Muhammad has reached double digit points in each of San Jose St.’s six games.

Keys for Portland

Thomas van der Mars had a huge weekend for the Pilots. He scored 50 points over the three game round robin. Not only did he produce on the offensive end, he provided a big spark for Portland with his energy and rebounding. He should be the most skilled big man on the floor tonight and really has a chance to take advantage of a great match-up offensively. On the defensive end Portland must cover the shooter. During Saturday’s loss to North Texas the Pilots were caught flat footed on a few key possessions and they really paid for it down the stretch. If San Jose St is hitting their shots, this could be a tough game for Portland. Look for the Pilots to pressure the ball and take away open three’s.

X-Factor Matchup

Portland on ball defense vs. San Jose St. shot selection. Portland’s defense this season has been decent especially when the Pilot’s rotations are on time. Portland has had some trouble staying in front of the ball handler at times, with a few defensive rotations and offensive passes, there is the opportunity for open shots. The biggest question in this game is if the Portland guards can do a solid job of 1 on 1 defense, so the help doesn’t have to come. If San Jose St. can beat Portland off the dribble and force help defense, the question then becomes will they be patient and unselfish enough to find the open man. Making buckets can be contagious and Portland is in for a long night if the Spartans find the open man in the first 8 minutes.

Quick Shots

What will the rotations for Portland look like? I’ve been a tad confused over the past couple of games on the substitution pattern, but it could have been a result of three games in three nights. We’ll see tonight.

Can Alec Wintering knock down an open shot? This weekend Wintering had a case of Taishi Ito-it is: a curious case when a point guard won’t take a shot outside of 8 ft no matter how open they are. Seriously, on Saturday if Alec had the choice he probably would have declined his free throws.

Can anyone make a three? Portland shot 3-16 in the first half from three against North Texas. They proceeded to shoot 0-2 from deep in the second half. Is there anyone out there who can make a shot? Bueller???? Bueller?????

Tags: Basketball College Basketball Featured Kevin Bailey Popular Portland Portland Pilots Ryan Nicholas Thomas Van Der Mars University Of Portland WCC West Coast Conference