Yeah, that’s how we all felt when the WCC schedule was released
With the 2013-2014 academic year starting on the Bluff, it’s time to look back at the past couple of months and review the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Summer for the Portland Pilots.
Early Verbal Commitments: Early in the summer the Pilots received two verbal commitments. The first coming from 2014 PF Gabe Taylor of Valley Catholic High School followed by the verbal commitment of 2015 PG Jazz Johnson of Lake Oswego. Connor Letourneau had a nice write up on Taylor and his game here. Jim Beseda covered Johnson’s verbal in the Oregonian here. With as many as 10 scholarships opening up in the next two years, there are needs at every position and these two are the first pieces of the next generation of Portland Pilots.
Foreign Tour in Spain: In early August, the Pilots Men’s Basketball team (including all four newcomers) took a foreign trip to Spain. The Pilots played 5 games, including facing off against Senior National Teams from Angola (L 83-78) and Venezuala (L 75-72). Portland followed up the two close losses to Top 20 National Teams with three blowout wins over three different Gran Canaria teams. These foreign tours are a great way to build chemistry especially for a team that wants to “win now” and has multiple newcomers who will play significant minutes during the upcoming season.
Missing out on Recruits: Let me just say “bad” is a relative term and it truly is awesome and exciting for these kids that they are getting the chance to play Div I basketball. So congratulations to them for continuing their careers in places that they feel can provide the best situation. That being said, multiple Portland targets have opted to go in different directions. The Pilots got closest to PG Jadon Cohee (Seattle) and SG Gabe Vincent (UCSB). Like I previously said, with possibly 10 scholarships in the next two seasons, there are needs in every position. Recruiting is “win some/lose some” game and really the best way to get over a student-athlete choosing a different school is to get back on the recruiting trail and focus on getting better every day.
WCC Schedule: The Men’s Basketball WCC Schedule was released last week and to put it politely Portland got the short end of the stick. Columns from both CSNNW and Yahoo! agreed that Portland has the biggest bone to pick with the WCC. With the addition of Pacific, the WCC has gone back to having travel partners with Gonzaga and Portland being partners, which is an improvement in my opinion. But where Portland suffers is the fact that out of the first 9 games, 7 of them are at home. Having 7 of 9 at the Chiles Center to open conference schedule would seem like an opportunity for Portland to jump to the top of WCC standings but 5 of those 7 are played before students are back on campus following Winter Vacation. While teams like Gonzaga, BYU, and Saint Mary’s may have enough community support to make up for the lack of students, Portland does not. The biggest losers are the Portland student’s and the seniors on the team. The ball is now in the Portland Athletic Department’s court. This is a tough marketing situation, but with some creative problem solving there could be some sort of silver lining.
Follow David Thompson on Twitter @davidvthompson