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 Pilot Column: The Past, Present and Future of Pilot Basketball


I’m back! I’m sure all of you regular readers or more accurately my regular reader (Mom) may have noticed that I missed the last couple of game previews and recaps. That is because I went and got married and despite the fact that Portland is currently 1-3 in the WCC (all at home by the way), I’m a happier man today than I was before my trip. But soon this very literal “honeymoon” period will fade and the reality of what just happened will hit me. I’m of course still talking about Portland Pilot basketball, not my lovely wife and our very young marriage.

So as I transition into married life, this blog will transition as well. The site editor has taken over the previews and recaps which frees me up to write about whatever the hell I want I guess. Basically my focus will be not so much on the recaps, but thoughts and observations from the games, as well as more in depth news and notes on recruiting, injuries, specific stats, etc. From now until the conference tournament the Portland section of West Coast Convo will be made up of a weekly column that I will hope to post Tuesday or Wednesday, and an immediate reaction recap that will be posted within an hour of the final buzzer for each game. So keep coming back. I really want to make this a fun place for fans to come and celebrate, enjoy, and at times commiserate together. Don’t be afraid to participate by commenting on the column or reaction, or tweeting me directly @davidvthompson. I literally have 38 followers so I will for sure retweet/respond to your tweet.

Where we came from:

Overall Record: (9-7, 1-3) 8th in the WCC

Last two weeks: Overtime Loss at home to San Fransisco (81-87), Home loss to Santa Clara (68-76), Win over Pacific (72-64), Loss at home to Saint Mary’s (63-72)

I wrote a haiku to sum up the first four games. It goes like this:

Two loses, One shot

Brief Glimmer of Hope with win

Spoke too soon, this sucks

 

 

This reminds me of my glory days in high school when I was a member of the academic team. We used the phrase “WUB” to refocus after missing a question or losing a match. “WUB” stood for Water under the bridge and it was a reminder to us all that the previous performance was out of our control and to refocus for the next question/match. This is what Portland needs to do at this point. They had been doing a great job of this, but that tying three by Chris Adams seemed to break the Pilots and the frustration carried into overtime, and then into the Santa Clara game. They responded against Pacific but Saint Mary’s proved too much for Portland down the stretch and they pulled away late. Now the Pilots must not look behind them but rather in front as their early season goals are still in reach, but the path that leads them there takes them away from the friendly confines of the Chiles Center.

Where we are going:

Up next for Portland is #22 Gonzaga tomorrow night at the Chiles Center. When Portland is at their best, they push the tempo, van der Mars is hitting his shots down low, and Pressley and Bailey add an outside presence. I honestly believe that Portland has a chance in this game but they will need to defend the three. Wintering will for sure have his hands full, as will the help defenders.

On the bright side:

For those who haven’t seen yet, 2014 Portland Commit Jason Todd has been tearing it up for Jackson High School out of Mill Creek, WA. The reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Washington led his team to the MaxPrep Holiday Classic over the holiday and was named the MVP in the process. This was a tournament that featured highly ranked Kameron Chatman and DJ Wilson who have both signed with Michigan. Todd went head to head with Chatman in the semifinals and held the 49th best prospect (according to ESPN) to 12 points. The versatile 6-5 senior projects as a small forward at the next level, and I could easily see him playing a lot of minutes early for Portland. Not only did Todd lead his team to the championship and garner MVP honors along the way, Joel Francisco of ESPN labeled Todd the “most college ready” player of the tournament saying “Todd is a high-IQ wing-type who has a nice-looking frame and the athleticism to match. His ball skills are solid and he affects the game with rebounding, passing and a feathery shooting touch to the stripe.”

When Senior Ryan Nicholas moves onto greener pastures, Portland will lose a lot more than the numbers that he puts up. Nicholas has been a strong leader during some very trying times on the Bluff, and really without his leadership those trying times could have been a lot worse. Todd certainly is putting up impressive numbers, but it’s the intangibles, the leadership, the toughness, the winning attitude, that really get me excited about the future.

 

For more on Todd, there is a great article and video located here: http://www.maxpreps.com/news/BTWRli9L_U64UGAfsPfI5g/mitchmash–who-are-these-washington-guys-anyway-.htm

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