Ghost of the Season Present
Here we are one week away from Christmas, with only two games remaining before WCC season starts and the Pilots sit at 7-3 following a gut-wrenching loss in Las Vegas last night. Let me give you a Poker analogy. It’s almost as if Portland was sitting on a pair of Aces headed into the river, and UNLV was working on a flush draw. Portland wasn’t aggressive enough down the stretch allowing UNLV to hit their flush on the river. Bad beat, but Portland had their chances to walk away with the victory and they just couldn’t.
Check the message board and you can tell there’s a lot of frustration with this Portland team right now. Bailey is injured, Thomas can’t seem to find the consistency that made him so dangerous last year, Bobby is missing from 3, and this team as a whole can’t seem to close anything out.
But me being the constant optimist, there is hope. Alec is playing fantastic basketball. In last night’s game he led the team in points (24), assists (5), minutes (41), field goals (9), 3 pointers (2), and free throws (4 of 5). He and Riley Barker carried the team last night. Speaking of Barker, what a game from the senior who provided a spark scoring 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting in 39 minutes. Big time! Jason Todd is playing really well also. He may not fill up the box score, but his presence is apparent to anyone who is following the game.
Ghost of Seasons Past
This won’t be a huge section but I just wanted to point out a small stat. Portland is currently 7-3. I understand the schedule hasn’t been grueling but still 7-3 is a solid record. A lot of fans point to the 2008-2011 stretch as the glory years for Coach Reveno as his teams won over 60 games over the three seasons.
Through 10 games:
Portland 2008-2009 5-5
Portland 2009-2010 6-4
Portland 2010-2011 7-3
You may think that while that may be true our schedule was more difficult. Let me go through each of those 12 loses in order Portland State, Eastern Washington, BYU, Northern Colorado, Oregon, West Virginia, Portland State, Idaho, Washington, Kentucky, Washington State, and Washington. Look all I’m saying is just calm the hell down and keep your head up.
Ghost of the Season Future
Take a look at that list up above. In those three seasons, we lost to Big Sky opponents 4 times. Since then that number has risen. Actually since Pooh Jeter left in 2005, only in one season 2010-2011 has Portland not lost to a Big Sky opponent. Rough. Next up on the Pilots schedule is Big Sky member Montana State; a team that has handed Portland demoralizing loses in each of the past two seasons. For some reason the Pilots haven’t been able to put the Bobcats down.
Growing up in Montana I’m familiar with the Bobcats. I went to games in Bozeman, attended their team basketball camps, knew people who went on to play there so while this game might not look like much on paper, I always pay special attention to it.
The way I see it is that Portland is at a fork in the road. The past three weeks have been tough. They lose to Valpo, come back and in a win over Portland State they let the Vikings come back from a huge deficit to make it somewhat close down the stretch, they lose an overtime game to Oregon State after leading late, they squeak by Sacramento State, and finally lose a heart breaker to UNLV. Portland has two games before conference season, and no matter where the Pilots finish, I think we’ll be able to look back to this moment right now as the turning point.