PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

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PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by Stonehouse on Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:40 pm

OK, so some of you may have noticed my absence from Pilot Nation lately... it wasn’t because I had suddenly lost my love for the Pilots. It was just a little posting hiatus to help give myself some distance between the end of the season (DaTruRochin and I went on an epic road trip to lovely Stockton, CA to watch the final game) and what I’m about to post now… a three-part, in-depth look at the 2008-09 season, our roster, and what we can expect going forward into the 2009-10 season, which will likely be the most highly anticipated season of Pilot basketball in many, many years.

So without further ado… here’s a look back on the 2008-09 season.

* * *

19-13.
First winning season in 13 years.

No matter what anyone else ever says about this season, those two sentences will always define 2008-09. After years of wallowing in mediocrity (at best) or misery (more often), the Pilots finally made a true step forward. We can nitpick things like not playing well on the road or poor free throw shooting or whatever, but the nut graph of this year will always be 19-13. Through all their hard work, the players and coaches delivered us a winning team. I will forever be grateful and will always remember this year with fond memories.

The tough, smooth TJ Campbell single-handedly elevating the whole team’s level of play. Nik Raivio’s competitiveness: always attacking, fighting for rebounds, wanting to win so badly. The sweet-shooting Jared Stohl, and being shocked when he missed one. The unsung dirty work of Kramer Knutson in the paint, battling on every possession against guys who were usually bigger and more experienced. Robin Smeulders showcasing his skill in the post while also playing with such emotion and fire (sometimes too much fire… I think he may have set a single-season record for technical fouls).

And, of course, the fun moments: Downing Washington. Beating Nevada. Rolling St. Mary’s. Stohl’s school-record 9 threes against San Francisco. Crushing Pepperdine in Las Vegas. 12-2 at the Chiles Center.

And the wistful what-ifs: what could have been had Ethan not went down with injury early in the year (I am pretty confident we could have picked up wins against Eastern Washington, Northern Colorado, and Oregon). Had that happened, we definitely would have been mentioned in bubble talk well into the season. And if it weren’t for TJ’s foul trouble we could have made it into the WCC Finals too. Oh well.

But more than anything else, the best part of this season was the feeling of actually being a good team. Expecting to win. Being excited to talk about the Pilots. Old friends who started following the team again. Gaining respect and well-wishes from fans of other conference teams. It just felt good to finally be good, and the progress the team made was – in a word – impressive.

Yet for all the countless reasons that this was easily the best and most enjoyable year of Pilot basketball since the mid 90s, I’ll admit to being disappointed at the end of the season.

We lost four of our last five games. Sure there was a massive blowout of Pepperdine sandwiched in the middle, but the thing that bugged me about our last four losses (@San Diego, @Santa Clara, vs. SMC in Vegas, @Pacific) was our inability to play well down the stretch. In all of those games, UP had opportunities and couldn’t get it done. All of them were difficult games against quality opponents and three of them were true road games, but still... it definitely leaves me wanting more yet also unsure of what this team’s ceiling is. It’s great to be a winner, but like Rev was saying at the end of the year… it's time to get greedy. And to really take the next step, we’ve got to beat good teams on the road.

A big part of beating teams on the road is mental toughness. I knew this year’s Pilots had developed a ton in this area after the first game of the year when they battled back to beat Washington in the waning minutes. Right there, I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time… closing out a game. But it seemed like we lost some of that edge as the season progressed, most noticeably in our abysmal free throw shooting in the final few weeks. There is no excuse for it, and bad FT shooting cost us (in my opinion anyway) two or three games. I was disappointed in seeing that happen to our guys, and I just have to hope it’s one of those things that improves with experience.

I don’t mean to take away from the success of this season, because when you step back from it and look at it as a whole, it was a wild success and surpassed the most optimistic outlooks of pretty much everyone. In the thick of it, though, I found myself wishing we could have done more at the end. So if I feel that way, imagine how the players and coaches feel… there is definitely a lot of unfinished business left. This year was a tremendous step forward and will hopefully be looked back on as the season that got it all started for the Pilots. But as fun as it was, it has to be looked at as just the beginning.

Still… what a ride! And what a ray of much-needed sunshine in the lives of all long-suffering Pilot fans. Reveno deserves every coaching award he wins, and I couldn’t be more proud of how our players have developed. Bigger things are coming.

* * *

Coming soon…

2008-2009: The Players

2009-2010: What’s Next

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by PilotNut on Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:50 pm

Great review of the year! No one expected the success that the guys delivered... they have tasted success, and hopefully that only grows in the coming years. I would like to see team have a bit more of an "edge" or swagger...

There was just a general change in the atmosphere of the team and Chiles Center this year; like you said, we all need to (gladly) get used to being the favored team!

I will save any comments about next year until you post part III. Smile

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by up7587 on Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:11 pm

I have been formulating thoughts for next year, but they haven't congealed yet. I await your efforts with anticipation. Plus, you've given Mesa something to read. Cool

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by MesaPilot1 on Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:19 pm

You are correct!!!...up7587. Mesa is Very Happy

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:37 pm

the nut graph of this year will always be 19-13.

That's...a new phrase to me. Smile

You sound like one of those bloggers Buzz Bissinger warned us about..Suspect So keep up the good work!

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by mattywizz on Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:08 pm

PurplePrideTrumpet wrote:You sound like one of those bloggers Buzz Bissinger warned us about..Suspect So keep up the good work!

More than you know!

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by Geezaldinho on Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:22 pm

Stoney's just showing off his newspaper lingo.

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by Rob's Jacket on Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:41 am

Purplegeezer wrote:Stoney's just showing off his newspaper lingo.

I need to figure out a way to get that phrase in one of my articles . . .

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by onetouchfutbol on Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:22 pm

Purplegeezer wrote:Stoney's just showing off his newspaper lingo.

I'm okay with it. Journalism is becoming a lost art. It's much easier to just write a blog with a Black Butte Porter, Pliny, or beer of choice in hand and when in doubt blame a senseless post on the malt beverage...at least that's what I do.

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by Geezaldinho on Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:21 pm

athleticjames wrote:
Purplegeezer wrote:Stoney's just showing off his newspaper lingo.

I'm okay with it. Journalism is becoming a lost art. It's much easier to just write a blog with a Black Butte Porter, Pliny, or beer of choice in hand and when in doubt blame a senseless post on the malt beverage...at least that's what I do.

Or a post with a Pliny, Black Butte, AND a beer of choice, of course...

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:02 pm

Did I miss parts 2 and 3 to this mini-series? I was looking forward to them and I haven't seen them.

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by Stonehouse on Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:09 pm

Oh no!!!!!

Was wondering when someone was going to call me out on that. Life got in the way... aka I'm lazy as all get out. But you've inspired me! Maybe this week? Hmmm... Smile

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by DaTruRochin on Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:12 pm

Hun-gry Ti-gers... Hun-gry Ti-gers...

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Re: PART 1 - 2008-2009: The Season

Post by MesaPilot1 on Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:30 am

Here's how sharp I am up7587.... I thought it was a new post by Stonehouse until I was part way through. I guess all I need is someone to repost previous threads once in a while and Ill be content.

Good job, eagarly anticipate the next one.

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