I’ve been feeling unusually nostalgic this week. I guess going back and reading old emails will do that to you. Four years ago, I was in my last semester at the University of Portland, and looking back at my life at that time through those emails is pretty awesome. Reliving the accomplishments of the final stages of my senior project, but also the empty feeling that came first with the waiting list letter, and then later with the rejection letter for the teaching program I had applied for. Despite what I thought at the time, I was extremely naïve, and I really had no clue what I was doing in life. Four years later, I’ve lived some awesome adventures in some crazy places, learning and experiencing things I never would have dreamed of just four years ago.
But looking through all of those emails took me back to the spring of 2010, and the feeling of excitement and promise that surrounded the Portland Pilots basketball program. That team was extremely strong, experienced, and deep. Nik Ravio, TJ Campbell, and Jared Stohl. Robin Smeulders, Kramer Knutson, with Luke Sikma. But those guys were all Seniors and Juniors, which meant that the Pilot recruiting class of 2010 would have to have an identity, a leader. Enter Ryan Nicholas.
The two games this week mark the last two home games for the recruiting class of 2010, a group that is has been led by Nicholas. I remember distinctly hearing about this under-the-radar kid that was recruited out of Gonzaga Prep. At the time, I wasn’t sure what he could turn into, but expectations to continue the progress that had been made in the first four seasons of Coach Rev’s tenure were high. While the four seasons weren’t as successful as Ryan, or any Portland fan, had probably hoped, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on Ryan’s part. You can look at his stats, 1139 points, 780 rebounds, 87 games started and it still doesn’t tell the story of the impact he has had. His personality has shaped this current team. He endured two seasons where there wasn’t much winning, and he’s been rewarded with solid results this season including wins against Gonzaga and BYU. Thanks Ryan for your tenure in Purple.
As for the other Seniors:
Tanner Riley was a little of an enigma. His freshman season he came in right away was named to the Athletes in Action All-Tournament team to start the season. But he didn’t perform on a consistent basis and has seen his playing time dwindle. He has had some fantastic games over his four years, and he has always been a tough player. Thanks Tanner, we’ll always have Portland State.
If you would have asked me if Korey Thieleke would be a contributor for this team before his junior year, I would have said no way. He was too erratic, and out of control. Offensively he still is extremely limited in the half court, but his impact on the defensive end and in transition is unmistakable. Always fun to watch play. Thanks Korey.
John Bailey has been the man behind the scenes. He has a career total of 249 minutes, 43 points, and 48 rebounds. The thing is, he is always spoken highly of by his teammates and those associated with the program. There is always a need for this type of guy so for that, Thank You John.
Where we came From
Overall Record: (13-11, 5-7) 6th in the WCC standings, 6th in latest West Coast Convo Power Rankings
Last week: 0-1 with a 66-71 Loss at Gonzaga.
What a tale of two halves that game was. Portland completed an improbable comeback, but they forgot that the game is actually 40 minutes, not 35. I think it still was a confidence building game as Portland again proved that they have the ability to win every night in the WCC. The only issue is, there’s about 6-8 teams in the WCC who can claim the same thing.
Where we are headed
Portland Hosts LMU Thursday, and Pepperdine Saturday
At this point in the season, winning is extremely important. Portland wants to remain in the top 6 seeds in the WCC so that they can avoid a Thursday game in the Tournament. The final home stand of the year (I still have a bone to pick with whoever did the scheduling this year) will pit the Pilots against a struggling LMU squad and the 5th place Waves of Pepperdine. The Pepperdine matinee is probably the game that the Pilots are more focused on, but Portland can’t lose focus on the task at hand. I know I sound like a broken record, but Portland needs to feed their big men, focus on defense, and take advantage of the transition game.
What a Crazy week in the WCC Championship Belt saga. Pacific came in as the undisputed Champion, only to be dethroned by Pepperdine, who were dethroned two days later by Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s will take on San Diego Thursday with the Belt on the Line.