Breaking Down Portland’s Non-Conference Schedule


The Portland Pilots are a trendy pick to outperform typical expectations, and possibly make a run at the top three of the WCC standings.

In order to make a statement to the rest of the conference that the Pilots are for real and make a case for a postseason tournament when that time comes, they must take care of business in the non-conference portion of their schedule. Last season, Portland shot themselves in the foot with losses to North Texas and Montana State. If the Pilots want to make themselves out as contenders in the WCC, this is a way to establish this.

With that being said, here is a look at the schools in Portland’s way to WCC respect in the non-conference slate.

Nov 8 Concordia-Irvine (Exhibition)

Last Season: 19-12 (6-8 GSAC).

The Pilots will play a warm-up game of sorts against the Concordia-Irvine, an NAIA school out of Irvine, Calif.

Nov 14 Concordia (Oregon)

Last Season: 22-10 (11-7 CCC). First Round of the NAIA DII National Championships.

The Pilots will officially tip-off the season against Concordia University in Portland, an NAIA school.

Jan 25, 2014; Boise, ID, USA; San Jose State Spartans guard Rashad Muhammad (0) during the second half against the Boise State Broncos at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State defeated San Jose State 76-55. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 16 At San Jose State

Last Season: 7-24 (1-17 Mountain West).

In their first game against a Division-I opponent, Portland will go up against the Spartans of San Jose State, who are fresh off a poor season which was followed by NCAA sanctions.

As you can tell by the statement above, the Spartans are struggling; there is no doubt about it. However, don’t chalk up this game as an easy win for the Pilots quite yet. The Spartans return their top three scorers from last season – Devante Wilson (8.4 PPG), Jaleel Williams (10.6 PPG) and the younger brother of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad Rashad Muhammad (13.2 PPG) – and bring two WCC transfers in the fold as well – former USF forward Frank Rogers and former Pepperdine guard Jordan Baker.

The Spartans have some talented players, and if they can handle all of the adversity they could surprise some people, specifically the Pilots when they play on Nov 16.

Nov 20 SIU Edwardsville

Last Season: 11-20 (7-9 Ohio Valley).

Like the San Jose Spartans, SIU Edwardsville is coming off a disappointing season. Also like the Spartans, the Cougars return just about everyone.

SIU Edwardsville brings back its top six leading scorers from last season, with Donivine Stewart leading the way with 12.2 points per game. Stewart was also the team’s leader in assists with 4.6 per game, while Keaton Jackson led the way on the glass with 5.0 rebounds per game. Other impactful returners include Kris Davis, Rozell Nunn, Maurice Wiltz and Michael Messer.

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

Nov 28 Murray State (Challenge in the Music City)

Last Season: 23-11 (13-3 Ohio Valley). CIT Champions.

In back-to-back games against teams from the Ohio Valley Conference, the Pilots will open up the Motor City Classic in Nashville, Tenn. with the Murray State Racers.

While Murray State is far removed from the Isaiah Caanan days, it is still a quality program and one of Portland’s biggest challenges on the season.

The Racers were the winners of the College Invitational Tournament (CIT) last season, and just like the Spartans and the Cougars early in the schedule, Murray State returns a lot of players. Four double-digit scorers are returning to the program in 2014-2015: Cameron Payne (16.8 PPG), Jarvis Williams (14.9 PPG), T.J. Sapp (13.3 PPG) and Jeffrey Moss (13.2 PPG). The overall leading scorer, Payne, was only a freshman last season and is expected to make even more strides as a sophomore. Murray State forward Williams will lead the Racers on the glass, as the senior forward was just shy of averaging a double-double last season with 14.9 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game.

This is a very underrated game on the Pilots schedule, and could be a huge difference maker when the Pilots are trying to make a case for a postseason tournament at the end of the season.

Feb 22, 2014; Wichita, KS, USA; Drake Bulldogs guard Jordan Daniels (12) brings the ball up court during an 83-54 loss to the against the Wichita State Shockers at Charles Koch Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 29 Drake (Challenge in the Music City)

Last Season: 15-16 (6-12 Missouri Valley).

The Pilots will take on former Gonzaga Assistant Coach Ray Giacoletti and his Drake Bulldogs in the second game of the Motor City Classic.

Unlike some of the team’s mentioned above on Portland’s schedule, Drake might struggle due to a lot of players leaving. The Bulldogs lose their leading scorer and distributor from last season Richard Carter (16.6 PPG and 3.8 APG) and their leading rebounder Seth VanDeest (5.0 RPG).

Despite the losses, the Bulldogs do have some returning firepower with 5-foot-9 guard Jordan Daniels (10.2 PPG) and senior guard Chris Caird (8.5 PPG) coming back.

Nov 30 Valparaiso (Challenge in the Music City)

Last Season: 18-16 (9-7 Horizon) CIT First Round.

Portland will conclude the Motor City Classic with another quality opponent: the Crusaders of Valparaiso.

Many expect the Crusaders to be in rebuilding mode, especially after losing LaVonte Dority (15.7 PPG and 2.4 APG). With Dority’s departure, expect sophomore forward Alec Peters (12.7 PPG and 4.8 RPG) to take on a bigger role, especially on the offensive end of the court. E. Victor Nickerson, a transfer from Charlotte, will provide and length to the Crusaders frontcourt.

Nov 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland State Vikings guard Tim Douglas (11) dribbles the ball through the UNLV Runnin

Dec 3 Portland State

Last Season: 17-15 (11-9 Big Sky). CIT First Round.

The Pilots will host their inner-city rivals the Portland State Vikings to the Chiles Center for a game ripe with intrigue and bragging rights on the line.

The Vikings will have two former Pilots on its roster in Dorian Cason and Tim Douglas. Cason is coming into the program as a newbie after spending a year in the Junior College ranks. Douglas was a huge contributor for Portland State last season, averaging 11.8 points and 3.1 assists. The Vikings leading scorer from last season, – DaShaun Wiggins (12.9 RPG) – returns, while the team’s leading rebounder from last season – Kyle Richardson (5.4 RPG) – has graduated.

The Vikings were a solid team last season and will most likely be solid again this season. However, the Vikings are not the type of the team that should knock off the Pilots.

Portland defeated the Vikings by 16 points last season and San Diego decimated Portland State by 22 points last season; PSU is no match for most of the teams in the WCC, including the Pilots.

With all of that being said, it is still a rivalry game, so the Pilots must take care of business in order to avoid embarrassment by losing to their cross-town rivals.

Mar 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Oregon State Beavers guard Langston Morris-Walker (13) shoots against Oregon Ducks forward Richard Amardi (13) during the first half in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 6 Oregon State

Last Season: 16-16 (8-10 Pac-12) CBI First Round.

In two straight games, the Pilots will take on an in-state rival. This time around, the Beavers of Oregon State will make the trek up to Portland to take on Eric Reveno and the Pilots.

Since the Pilots narrowly lost to the Beavers in Corvallis, Oregon State has made a lot of changes; most notably by making the switch from Craig Robinson to Wayne Tinkle, who left the University of Montana and accepted the Beavers offer to be the next head coach. It was a necessary change, but the Beavers  will struggle immensely in the transition year.

The Beavers entire starting lineup – Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, Eric Moreland and Hallice Cooke – is gone, which accounted for roughly 78 percent of the Beavers scoring and 62 percent of the teams rebounding from last season. With all the losses, Tinkle better hope his recruiting class, which consists of forward Cameron Walker, point guard Gary Payton II and shooting guard Chai Baker.

This is a very winnable game for the Pilots, who are much more experienced and frankly a better basketball team this season. A win against a Pac-12 program would be a nice notch on the Pilots belt as the WCC quickly approaches.

Dec 14 At Sacramento State

Last Season: 14-16 (10-10 Big Sky).

The Hornets will hope their improbable run in the Big Sky tournament last season – the Hornets reached the title game only to lose to North Dakota by three points – will translate into positive momentum and spill into this season.

That is entirely possible, as the Hornets return their top four leading scorers from last season – Mikh McKinney (16.6 PPG), Dylan Garrity (13.2 PPG), Cody Demps (8.0 PPG) and Zach Mills (6.5 PPG). Demps will likely lead the Hornets on the glass this season – averaged 4.2 rebounds last year – while McKinney will be the main distributor for Sacremento State in 2014-2015.

Dec 7, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; UNLV Rebels guard Kendall Smith (15) during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center. The Wildcats won 63-58. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 17 At UNLV

Last Season: 20-13 (10-8 Mountain West).

UNLV will be a hard team to judge in 2014-2015, due to the glut of incoming and outgoing players in the program.

The Rebels will be talented again, with former USF star Cody Doolin transferring into the program and a highly renowned recruiting class, led by highly sought after recruits Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan and Goodluck Okonoboh. However, Rebel fans will wonder what could have been if Bryce DeJean-Jones and Deville Smith did not decide to transfer and if Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith did not declare for the draft. For depth purposes, it would help the Rebel a ton if Jerome Seagears, a transfer from Rutgers, was granted immediate eligible; although this is not a certainty whatsoever.

Talent-wise, UNLV trumps Portland. However, with so many new pieces on the roster, chemistry might be an issue. If the Rebels are not firing on all cylinders, don’t be surprised to see the Pilots give them a real test.

Dec 20 Montana State

Last Season: 14-17 (9-11 Big Sky).

After travelling to Bozeman, Mont. and suffering a relatively embarrassing loss, the Bobcats will return the favor and take on the Pilots in Portland.

The Bobcats will likely struggle next season, as the team’s leading scorer Flavien Davis (12.5 PPG) and the team’s leading rebounder Paul Egwuonwu (6.7 RPG) have used up all of their eligibility. Marcus Colbert is the team’s best returning player, and averaged 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season.

Last seasons loss to Montana State was embarrassing for the Pilots, but losing to the Bobcats this season would be much worse. The Pilots should take care of business at home.

Dec 22 Lewis & Clark

Last Season: 17-9 (10-6 MWC)

Lewis & Clark, a Division III school in Portland, will be the Pilot’s final tune up game before WCC play starts.

Fun fact: Monica Lewinsky is an alumni of Lewis & Clark College. So there’s that.