Game Time: 5:00 p.m. PST
After a disappointing loss at home to Montana State, the Portland Pilots finish off their non-conference schedule with two games against very solid teams in Bradley (5-5) and Princeton (8-1). Portland will square off against the Braves of Bradley Friday with a 5 PM tip-off from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The Pilots will take on Princeton on Saturday with an 8 PM tip-off. WCC member Pacific will take on Princeton on Friday, and then swap and go up against Bradley Saturday.
After starting the season with 4 wins in the span of 1 week, the Braves have stumbled over the past month, dropping 5 of 6 including the past 3 games to IUPUI, Milwaukee and IP-Fort Wayne. Bradley has 3 players, Walt Lemon Jr. (16.9), Tyshon Pickett (14.5) and Omari Grier (12.6), averaging double digit points, and a fourth (Auston Barnes) at 9.7. This team has struggled from deep shooting 26% from deep this season.
Princeton on the other hand comes in with only one loss, that coming at Butler in the second game of the season. The Tigers boast wins over Rice, George Mason, Rutgers and Penn State. They are extremely balanced with 5 guys averaging double digit points, and 7 guys averaging more than 20 minutes a game. They also average over 10 3’s a game, which for Portland could spell disaster unless they pressure the perimeter better than they have.
Keys for the Pilots
When Portland is at their best, they are pushing the pace and getting easy buckets. This all starts on the defensive end. Portland needs to force the issue a little when it comes to defense. Against Montana State the guards were continuously getting beat off the dribble, and however stagnant their defense was, their offense struggled even more. Portland’s bench totaled 8 points in 49 minutes. These are big games for Portland. They are the last two contests before WCC season begins and grabbing two wins could really propel Portland heading into their WCC opener against San Francisco next Saturday.
X Factor for Portland – Anyone other than Kevin Bailey, Ryan Nicholas, and Thomas van der Mars
Thus far this season, Portland has been led offensively by Bailey, Nicholas, and van der Mars. Other than that, Alec Wintering has had solid games, as has Bryce Pressely, Bobby Sharp and Voldy Gerun, but that “next man up” has been inconsistent. The Pilots will need some consistent contributions for them to compete with both Bradley and Princeton
I’m curious what the rotations will end up being. These are the games where Reveno is finalizing what we should see come WCC season
Can Portland build and maintain a lead? It’s been an issue this season thus far.