Portland Pilots (3-3) vs. Portland State Vikings (4-2)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Tip-off: 7:05 p.m.
Location: Portland, Ore.
Arena: Stott Center (1,500)
Live Video: WatchBigSky.com
Radio: 910 AM
Ask any University of Portland alum what the most common reaction is when telling someone that you went to the University of Portland, and they will answer “Oh Portland State, that’s cool.” Even broadcasters get it wrong as was the case on the Big Ten network earlier this season when the University of Portland as referred to as Portland State multiple times by the broadcast team as the Pilots took on Michigan State. I generally understand the confusion and in terms of the basketball teams it can be difficult to separate the teams, as a number of former Pilot basketball players have transferred to their cross-town rival, including the Vikings current leading scorer Tim Douglas, who suited up for Portland from 2010-2012. Combine both school’s need to distinguish themselves, the multiple transfers between the schools, and a few big games over the years (remember the Vikings were the team that knocked the Pilots out of the Top 25 in 2009) and you have the most relevant rivalry for the University of Portland.
Portland State has been solid this season posting 4 wins (all at home) and only dropping games at UNLV and at a very solid Boise State team. They are led in scoring by former Pilot Tim Douglas who averages just under 15 points per game. In general however the Vikings are a well-rounded team with 4 players averaging in double digits.
Keys for the Pilots
Over the past 5 games, Thomas van der Mars has really asserted himself as a go-to guy for the Pilots. The junior has been a huge spark with his inside game for a Pilot team that has gone 4-1 over those 5 games. Portland will look to establish van der Mars again early as it opens up the guards, and frees up Ryan Nicholas to do what he does best. Portland has also been very solid in taking care of the ball, a big issue for the Pilots over the past 3 seasons. I know I sound like a broken record but if Portland can continue to take care of the ball they will have an excellent chance of winning this game.
Tim Douglas vs. Alec Wintering
This should be fun. Tim Douglas was a fantastic player for Portland. He had a few turnover issues, but he remains one of my favorite players over the past 5 seasons. His first season on the bluff he was taking over for the beloved TJ Campbell and hopes were extremely high for Douglas. Thus far in his freshman campaign, Alec Wintering has done a fantastic job of running the Pilot offense. Hopes again are high on the Bluff for Wintering and his tenure. It will be fun to see theses two guards battle. I think Douglas feels he has something to prove, and Wintering wants to show how he stacks up against the former Pilot
For some reason the Pilots have struggled against the Vikings over the years. I want to see if Portland can take control of this game early and build on their 33-17 overall series lead.
Who will be the first man off the bench for Portland? Always interesting tell into what the coaching staff is wanting to do. If it is Bobby Sharp, look for the junior to shoot early and often.
What will Voldy Gerun do tonight? The junior has shown a few flashes of becoming an offensive threat. He hasn’t been consistent with his play, but if he can string together some solid performances in December, his confidence should be at an all-time high come conference play.