It’s the drought season for college basketball fans. The time when we are left scouring Twitter for any tid-bits on the latest recruiting targets or any news at all about the teams we love. Because of that, I thought I’d put together a Pilot Log to act as an oasis until more news is available. Enjoy!
Last weekend I took a trip to Las Vegas and as I looked out the window of my hotel and watched the surprisingly beautiful sunset over Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area I couldn’t help but to divert my eyes due to some sort of angelic glow. The said glow came from The Orleans Hotel and Casino, and as my eyes grew wide, and a smirk crept on to my face, I just couldn’t help but think ahead to March. I couldn’t help but fantasize about Portland standing there mid-court, with confetti all around, posing for a picture with the championship banner and their index fingers extended. Most people come to Las Vegas with fantasies of winning exuberant amounts of money but at that moment my fantasy was shaded purple rather than green.
I may be getting a little ahead of myself as we’re still a couple of months away from the first game of the 2014-2015 season. Speaking of that season, I’ve learned a little about the Pilot’s non-conference schedule and can confirm that the following:
|Concordia-Irvine (Exh.) (NAIA)
|Portland – Chiles Center
|Concordia (Ore.) (NAIA)
|Portland – Chiles Center
|San Jose State
|San Jose, Calif
|Portland – Chiles Center
11/30Challenge in Music CityMurray State
ValparaisoNashville, Tenn.5:30 PM
11:00 AM12/3Portland StatePortland – Chiles Center7:00 PM12/6Oregon StatePortland – Chiles Center7:00 PM12/14Sacramento StateSacramento, Calif.5:00 PM12/17UNLVLas Vegas, Nev.TBA12/20Montana StatePortland – Chiles Center7:00 PM12/22Lewis and Clark (DIV III)Portland – Chiles Center2:00 PM
Home games are in Bold, and all times are subject to change.
A few thoughts on the schedule:
With no disrespect to UNLV, Portland has had a college basketball juggernaut on the schedule the previous 4 seasons (Kentucky 2010-2012, Michigan State 2013). It has been fun to see the Pilots take on these classic programs but they failed to truly threaten the opponent in any of those games. Hopefully trading in one of those games for a game like SIU-Edwardsville will end up providing Portland with a bunch of confidence heading into the Challenge in Music City.
Mar 7, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Murray State Racers guard T.J. Sapp (22) drives to the basket against Eastern Kentucky Colonels forward Eric Stutz (42) during the second half in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference basketball tournament at Nashville Memorial Auditorium. Eastern Kentucky won 86-83. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of the Challenge in Music City, Portland had placed themselves in field that is both challenging and winnable. All three teams – Murray State, Drake and Valparaiso – are more recognizable names to college basketball fans than Portland. All three have also had more recent success. This could be a big opportunity to expose the program to an area of the country that normally wouldn’t know the difference between Portland and Portland State.
Finally, while UNLV may be the best opponent on the non-conference schedule, I’m most looking forward to the back-to-back games against Oregon opponents. The Pilots first face off against Portland State on December 3, followed by Oregon State on December 6. In a perfect world, Portland would play Portland State, Oregon State, and the University of Oregon each and every year, but scheduling is difficult and I understand that, so two out of three isn’t bad. Portland State has given the Pilots fits over the years beating Portland (see 2009), but Portland has handled the Vikings the past two years. It’s always a fun rivalry game to see. As far as the Oregon State game, I really believe that the bragging rights won in this game could have a big impact on recruiting and program perception moving forward.
On the recruiting front, the biggest story involving Portland has been Drew Eubanks, the 6’10” big man from Troutdale, Ore. Eubanks came into the summer somewhat under the radar, but has exploded in the recruiting scene picking up offers from all the usual suspects in the PNW. He is reportedly down to his final three schools which are Portland, Oregon State, and depending on the report either Washington or Gonzaga. Remember when I talked about how big that Oregon State game could be, well this is one of the reasons. Rumors are that Eubanks will make his decision before the Pilots and Beavers face off, but I have a feeling that new Oregon State Coach Wayne Tinkle wants to make a statement in this game, and the same should be said for coach Reveno.
Eubanks, who also has the intention of playing collegiate baseball, has the opportunity to be the biggest recruiting win in Reveno’s tenure and it seems like the Portland coaching staff understands what he could mean to this program. You may have noticed that Portland released a video documenting their successes in development of big men during the peak of recruiting season and it’s just another tool that this staff has used in trying to get the attention of recruits.
As far as why the staff wants Eubanks so bad, it’s easy to see really. This season, Portland’s front court will rely on three seniors in Thomas van der Mars, Riley Barker, and Voldy Gerun. Their depth is filled with two freshmen in Gabe Taylor and Philipp Hartwich. Eubanks would be able to come in and contribute early and often for the Pilots, who have clearly put a focus on local recruiting over the past couple of years (see Jason Todd, D’Marques Tyson, Taylor, Max Livingston, and 2015 verbal Jazz Johnson).
Like I’ve said before, Eubanks plans to make his decision sooner rather than later, so we won’t have to wait long before we know where his head is at.
Nov 18, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Portland Pilots guard Bryce Pressley (1) shoots the ball around Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) during the first half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
I just saw this on twitter yesterday but it turns out that Pilots Bryce Pressley and Alec Wintering are taking part in a Global Sports Academy trip through Europe where they will play 5 games over 7 days. Wintering and Pressley are 2 of the 11 members of the team which also includes John Golden (Dartmouth), Bryant Ackerman (Elmhurst College), Javier Duren (Yale), Chris Lee (Northwoods (Fla.) University), Joseph Lococo (West Liberty), Shonn Miller (Cornell), Zach Monaghan (Minnesota State-Mankato), Matt Townsend (Yale), and Clay Wilson (Princeton). It should be fun to see how they perform.