Nov 18, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) dribbles the ball around Portland Pilots guard Kevin Bailey (00) during the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Michigan State won 82-67. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

David Thompson's Portland Pilot Column: #3

If you missed my immediate reaction piece after the Pepperdine game last Saturday, it’s because I was on a mini-vacation to Glenwood Springs, Colorado with my new bride. So to recap, Portland has played 7 WCC games with an overall record of 3-4 with wins over Pacific, Gonzaga, and at LMU and losses to San Francisco, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, and at Pepperdine. For all of the losses, I have been on some sort of vacation and for two of the three wins (Pacific is the anomaly) I have been watching from the comfort of my own home. What this means is that I and I alone am to blame for the losses thus far in conference schedule. I just need to stop taking vacations and be more focused on the team. Good news is that I have no vacations planned until around Valentine ’s Day so by my calculation we are due for a six-game win streak… or something like that.

So while I was up in the mountains, I was still able to catch the Portland at Pepperdine game. My frustrations with the Pilots were drowned with the beer of the local brewery as I watched the game on my IPhone while trying to not totally ignore my wife. She is extremely patient with me when it comes to Portland Hoops and knows my priorities when college basketball is concerned. She puts up with my fandom of the Pilots, I put up with her obsession with Jimmy Eat World, Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera (trust me, I don’t get it either).

Anyway, my point is WCC accessibility has been fantastic this year. Whether it’s through ESPN, Root sports, BYU tv, theW.tv, or the individual schools providing video feeds, this season, more so than others, has been so fantastic for fans. We are very lucky to have all that converge, so thank you WCC!

Where We Came From

Overall Record: (11-8, 2-3) 6th in the WCC standings, 6th in latest West Coast Convo Power Rankings

Last week: 1-1 (71-57 Win at LMU, 65-76 Loss at Pepperdine)

 

Portland took their first road trip of the WCC season and ended up splitting games with LMU and Pepperdine. The Pilots looked strong as they took care of business against the Lions but the Waves proved too strong in the second half and Portland eventually loss the game. Portland never was able to establish their pace in the second half as Pepperdine scored 46 second half points and ran away with an eleven point win.

 

Where Are We Going

Portland returns to the Chiles Center to take on BYU on Thursday, and San Diego on Saturday. The Pilots will need to have a solid team performance in all aspects of the game. Their defense failed them in the loss to Pepperdine and if they don’t commit at that end of the floor Thursday’s game could get ugly.

 

Checking In

Preseason I made 5 Bold Predictions for the Portland Pilots. Those predictions were:

Portland would be 10 games over .500 at some point this season

Portland will get 2 wins over the WCC Big Three (Gonzaga, BYU, Saint Mary’s)

Bryce Pressley will be the Pilots most important player and will make the All-WCC team

Portland will be top 3 in 3 point% in the WCC

Portland will play in the semi-finals of the WCC tournament

 

At this point, the first prediction is pretty unlikely. Portland would need to go 8-3 over their final 11 games and while not impossible that would be a crazy good finish considering their opponents and how often they will be on the road.

Portland is in a decent position to accomplish the second prediction as they beat Gonzaga two weeks ago and still have 4 games against the big three (Home and away with BYU, at Saint Mary’s, and at Gonzaga). Portland has shown that they have the talent to get a big ‘W’ but again it will take a team effort for this to be accomplished.

As for Bryce making All-WCC, that may not happen, but he has really shown what he can do this season. Pressley has scored in double digits 4 times this season, and in those 4 games they are undefeated. In the other 15 games they are 7-8. Pressley has also stepped up as the defensive stopper, but he may be a year away from really establishing himself as an All-WCC caliber player.

Portland has improved in 3 point %. Currently they are shooting 40% and rank 4th in the WCC just 0.4% behind Gonzaga at third. Look at last weekend for proof at the impact 3 point shooting has as they shot 50% in their win and 35% in their loss.

Just like Ellie Goulding says, “anything can happen” especially when it comes to WCC tournament. If the tournament started today, Portland would be 6th and would miss the “play-in game”. This would be huge. Portland needs to stay in the top 6 if they really want make any sort of run in the WCC Tournament. I’m still holding out hope that Portland can string together some great performances but we’ll have to wait until March to really find out.

 

Twitter Update

I have 46 followers. 46…

 

EDITORS NOTE: Follow @davidvthompson on twitter. You will not regret it. 

Tags: Basketball College Basketball Portland Portland Pilots WCC West Coast Conference

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