Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

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Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by cjacks14 on Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:06 am

Luckily my Dad shelled out for a ESPN Insider account so i got access to the Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview on the Pilots for this year. Looks like we get a pretty positive review. I'm liking the A grade for intangibles.

I dont think this has been posted yet (my apologies if it has).

Ps. if you want me to grab any of the other teams let me know.


Team preview: Portland

COACH AND PROGRAM

When you're coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons, it's easy to fly below the radar. But the Portland Pilots won't be sneaking up on anybody this season. In just three years, former Stanford assistant Eric Reveno has taken the program from the depths of the West Coast Conference standings and turned the Pilots into contenders, and the college basketball world has taken notice.
The Pilots will participate in the prestigious 76 Classic in Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend, with an opening-round draw of UCLA serving to underscore how far they've come in a relatively short time. Reveno, the WCC Coach of the Year and NABC District 9 Coach of the Year last season, guided Portland to 19 wins, the second-most in program history since it jumped to Division I in 1958, and its first postseason appearance since it won the 1996 WCC Tournament.
The Pilots' turnaround was triggered by a season-long stretch of lights-out shooting, especially from the perimeter. They led the conference and finished second in the na-tion with a .418 shooting percentage on three-pointers, led by the top two long-distance gunners in the WCC. And while repeating that success is far from guaranteed, Re-veno has a strategy in place to help his Pilots light it up from downtown again this year.

Portland Pilots

Last Season 19-13 (.594)
Conference Record 9-5 (3rd)
Starters Lost/Returning 0/5
Coach Eric Reveno (Stanford '89)
Record At School 37-58 (3 years)
Career Record 37-58 (3 years)
RPI Last 5 years 152-239-279-299-127

"I think the key to our perimeter shooting success will be improved interior play," Reveno said. "I think our reputation of being able to shoot the ball is well-known now, and it hurt us in games we lost. Teams did a real nice job of committing to defend the perimeter and we weren't able to make them pay inside. So we need to be able to establish some inside [presence], and if we're able to do that, we'll be able to have some perimeter success [again]."

PLAYERS

The Pilots welcome back nine upperclassmen, the most in the conference, including two first-team All-WCC picks and the conference newcomer of the year, and that ex-perience should help Reveno shore up a few weaknesses and strengthen their interior play.
"I'm challenging ourselves to do things better, or maybe some things differently, to try to improve, not just doing things the way we did them, not just going with what we're comfortable with," Reveno said. "I think because we're experienced we'll be able to handle that adjustment. We have to be tougher on the road and in big games.
"We've never been a soft team, but experienced, veteran teams find a way to win that tough one on the road. We were in second place last year and we go on the road to San Diego and Santa Clara and we lose them both, and they were winnable games. It's hard to pinpoint what it was, but we have to find a way to get over the hump."
The leader of the Pilots' high-octane offense should be 6-4 senior guard Nik Raivio (16.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), a first-team All-WCC pick who shot 46 percent from the floor, hit 49 three-pointers (.360), and finished fourth in the WCC in scoring and seventh in rebounding last year. Raivio, who played junior college ball as a freshman, blos-somed in his second D-I season, using smarts and tenacity to overcome his 200-pound frame and find surprising success on the boards.
"I tease him by telling him the only way he'll get to handle the ball on the break is if he gets a defensive rebound," Reveno said. "He's driven to win and be successful. We had a meeting with the seniors this year and talked to the guys about it being their team and taking ownership and how the schedule is going to be challenging. When we were done talking, he said, 'Are we playing Cal again?' He wanted to play Cal again because he didn't play well against them last year. He's driven to be the best he can be."

He'll again get a significant boost from 5-9 senior guard T.J. Campbell (11.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.7 apg), who burst onto the scene after transferring from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College last year. Campbell earned the WCC Newcomer-of-the-Year Award and also was an All-WCC first-team pick after he hit 76 three-pointers and shot .531 from behind the arc. His .498 field-goal percentage was sixth best in the conference and tops among all guards, and he also finished second in the conference in assists.
"He shot the ball extraordinarily well, to the point where we maybe need to get him some more shots," said Reveno, who added that he won't push Campbell to force any-thing. "I think his opportunities for those shots are there. He's just got to take them. He's got good judgment -- he's just got to be more aware of taking what the defense is giving him."
The Pilots often turn to a three-guard attack with 6-1 junior Jared Stohl (11.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.6 apg) further stretching the defense. Stohl, an honorable mention all-conference pick last year, shot .456 (89-of-195) from beyond the arc while playing the fourth-most minutes on the team, despite coming off the bench in all but seven games.
"I consider him a starter, as cliché as it is to say we have six starters, but teams prepare for him like he's a starter," Reveno said. "But his playing time will be dictated by how well he does defensively, too. He's worked real hard in the weight room -- I don't know if you can tell, but he's gone from scrawny to skinny to wiry strong, all the way up the ladder. So he's getting to where he can hold his own and defend a little bit, mix it up, and he's able to get in there and box somebody out."
On the wing, 6-6 senior forward Ethan Niedermeyer (4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg) is yet another weapon in the Pilots' sharp-shooting arsenal. He averaged one three-pointer a game and shot 41 percent from behind the arc (27-of-66), and his role could increase this year if he's able to help the Pilots shore up their perimeter defense.
"He's going to have to provide that big wing defender, somebody who can match up against a big three-man and guard him, and also improve his rebounding numbers a bit," Reveno said. "Last year, Raivio played the three a lot because of his rebounding, but Ethan's capable of doing that."
Inside play was Portland's chief weakness last year, though the Pilots did get good minutes from 6-10 senior forward Robin Smeulders (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg), an honorable mention all-conference pick who did all of his damage inside, shooting 50 percent inside the arc. This year, Reveno needs Smeulders to step up his interior defense as well.
"We struggled defensively on the interior all the way to the end, and we've got to improve there," Reveno said. "All our posts are better off-the-ball defenders. We don't have great posts going against the big guys, so whether we'll have to do some things moving guys around and double-teaming, those are areas we'll have to look at. Robin has the ability to do that, and we need him with his size to give us a little more of a defensive presence."
The Pilots' other undersized big man is 6-9 junior forward Kramer Knutson (6.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), a 54-percent shooter who started all season, except for a four-game absence in late December after suffering a concussion. "He needs to be able to score with the post behind him and consistently finish with a jump-hook or a move over somebody at 6-8," Reveno said. "He doesn't need to dominate them, just give us some more of that interior scoring. He's great in transition scoring, he's great off the pick-and-roll, but being able to score over somebody will be his next rung of improvement."
Two other experienced big men should help out in the post this season; 6-8 junior forward Luke Sikma (6.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 apg) is coming off a season spent recovering from a summer knee injury that didn't fully heal until the WCC schedule began, but he finished strong and shot .513 from the floor on the year. Meanwhile, 6-10 junior center Jasonn Hannibal (1.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg) gives the Pilots size and back-to-the-basket potential.
In the backcourt, 6-3 sophomore guard B.J. Porter (2.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and 6-0 senior guard Taishi Ito (0.7 ppg, 0.4 rpg) will fight for most of the minutes backing up Campbell at the point, while 6-1 sophomore guard Eric Waterford (0.9 ppg, 0.5 rpg) also could find himself in the mix. The Pilots also return 6-5 sophomore guard Nemanja Mitrovic (1.0 ppg, 0.4 rpg), a smooth-shooting Canadian whose role was limited last year by the Pilots' depth in their three-point shooters. The lone newcomer is 6-2 fresh-man guard Cody Mivshek -- (13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 apg at Philips Exeter Academy in 2008-09) of Fossil Ridge, Colo., a two-time all-state pick who played prep ball in New Hampshire last year and was his team's MVP before walking on at Portland.

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: A-
BENCH/DEPTH: B+
FRONTCOURT: C
INTANGIBLES: A

The Pilots are getting plenty of preseason buzz, at least from the group of people whose opinions matter most -- WCC coaches.
Pointing to Portland's experience and backcourt strength, rival coaches are expecting the Pilots to contend in the WCC this year, and if they can stay healthy and make enough improvements inside to take the pressure off their long-range shooters, they will challenge Gonzaga for the conference championship.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:51 am

WOW! Thank you cjacks! That was a great read and good analysis from Rev.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:41 pm

I wouldn't mind seeing what ESPN has to say about Washington State. There are many mixed reviews on them and where they will end up this year. I'd appreciate it greatly!

SP11

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by PilotNut on Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:48 pm

Thanks, Cjacks! A solid review of where we stand... did I mention how excited I am for the season to start?

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:06 pm

Thanks a lot for this. I thought it was an accurate overview of the program. The author obviously did a good amount of research.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by DaTruRochin on Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:26 pm

Seeing any of the other WCC overviews would be interesting too if it isn't too much trouble...

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by cjacks14 on Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:28 am

i think the gonzaga one is for free on espn.com but i'll post them all soon.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by cjacks14 on Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:21 am

I've created PDFs of all the other teams previews.

Download them here LINK

They are in a compressed folder. If there are any issues i'll re-upload them somewhere else.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:23 am

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

PORTLAND/GONZAGA

BACKCOURT: A-/B+
BENCH/DEPTH: B+/B
FRONTCOURT: C/B-
INTANGIBLES: A/A-

We have higher scores in 3/4 categories Smile And I have confidence in our frontcourt vs. Gonzaga (or anybody).

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by Stonehouse on Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:12 am

I'm surprised they rate Gonzaga's front court higher than ours... Sacre has played in only a handful of games and hasn't ever made an impact and Foster isn't anything other than a shot blocker. I know people are high on the Harris guy from Germany (and he's no 18 year old freshman... I think he's at least 21), but all the rest of their big men are untested freshmen (Poling, Dower, Olynyk) and at the rumor mill says that Dower is likely redshirting.

So I don't know... perhaps they are including the Sudanese-Canadian duo of Bol Kong and Manny Arop as forwards, and if so then maybe I can see it since Arop is rated relatively high by recruiting services and Kong did open some eyes a few years ago when playing against some D1 teams.

But still... I'd take Kramer of Sacre straight up (better defense and more experience), I'd take Smeulders over Foster (way better scoring), and I'd take Sikma over any of the freshmen... even Harris, since Sikma's a proven commodity with a high ceiling and Harris is an unproven commodity with a high ceiling.

Am I crazy? Tell me I'm not crazy.

What makes Gonzaga good is Matt Bouldin... I used to question him, but that guy is really, really, really good. Steven Gray can shoot and Demetri Goodsen has great speed and is good defensively, but it's all about Bouldin.

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Re: Blue Ribbon Yearbook Preview: Pilots

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:45 am

Stonehouse wrote:Am I crazy? Tell me I'm not crazy.

Stoney: YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!

Our frontcourt is BY FAR the veteran corps of the WCC and they are skilled, to boot. No other team has 5 upperclassman bigs and no other team has more than 50% of it's bigs as upperclassmen (to our 83%).

I'd definitely take our guys over the others (though I'm biased). I think that Luke's stock will rise this year!

On a different note, I was reading San Diego's report (thanks again cjacks!) and Grier was talking about the team before last season and worrying about how they'd do with the pressure:
I think for the first time there were expectations of the program, having essentially that whole group
back, and a concern of mine in the off-season and going into the year was how this group would deal
with that -- how they would approach their workouts and [handle] the attention.
While I know we are not immune to the pressure, I feel like NONE of our guys are the type to let it go to their heads. In my opinion, we have a humble, hard-working bunch of guys who are gonna leave it all on the floor every day, whether they are David or Goliath. I don't think Rev would tolerate any slacking, gloating or other nonsense. Nor do I think anyone on the team would allow such behavior from this hypothetical teammate. I am proud to be a fan of a talented AND classy team!

GO PILOTS! cheers

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