Blue Ribbon preview

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Blue Ribbon preview

Post by DTLegend on Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:52 am

Here is the Blue Ribbon Preview via ESPN for all of those non-insiders

COACH AND PROGRAM

As victories against Oregon, Minnesota and UCLA arrived in succession early last season, fourth-year Portland coach Eric Reveno could feel his program progressing like clockwork. And ultimately, he got the validation of time.

Former sports information director Mauro Potestio, who has seen 885 straight Pilots home games, commended Reveno for engineering a season for the ages.

"He told me what a special year it was and compared it to some of the great years of the past," Reveno said. "It's one of those moments where you get an appreciation for some of the things we were able to accomplish."

The Pilots, who went 10 straight seasons without finishing above .500 before 19 victories in 2008-09, would've accomplished more than 21 wins and a second straight CIT postseason appearance if leading scorer Nik Raivio hadn't suffered a season-ending Achilles injury three games into the conference schedule.

"I'm proud of how we did last year, given losing Nick when we did," Reveno said.

PLAYERS

Of course, now there's much more to replace than Raivio (14.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg). Three other starters have moved on -- point guard T.J. Campbell (13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and forwards Robin Smeulders (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Ethan Niedermeyer (6.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg).

Campbell and Smeulders were All-WCC picks. Campbell, who made 89.9 percent of his free throws and 42.6 of his three-pointers, is playing in Australia for the Melbourne Tigers alongside former Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf.

"And Nik is in Belgium and Robin signed with the top team in Germany," Reveno said.

Despite the overseas exodus, the Pilots do have talent on deck. Shooting guard Jared Stohl (11.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg), a 6-1 senior, led the nation in three-point percentage (.478, 98-of-205) last season. Stohl shot 91.7 percent at the free-throw line, though he made only 36 trips there all season.

"His mid-range game and his penetration have improved," Reveno said. "I think even just his ability to get fouled while shooting threes can improve -- lifting a guy and getting a freebie. Getting him to the line and a little more versatile is going to be key for us."

Stohl was honorable mention all-conference last year, as was 6-8, 235-pound senior forward Luke Sikma (7.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg). The son of former NBA center Jack Sikma, Luke led the league in field-goal percentage (.563). A lot of those opportunities are stick-backs.

"It's funny he plays like an NBA All-Star's son in the way he rebounds," Reveno said. "He's got a knack for the ball that has nothing to do with teaching him how to block off or rebound or anything. He's just got a knack for finding the ball. He's the top returning rebounder [in the WCC]."

The frontcourt includes 6-9 senior Kramer Knutson (4.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg), a three-year starter who embraces dirty work.

"Kramer is just solid," Reveno said. "He's a guy in his fourth year and people are starting to say 'Boy, is he still playing?' because he was playing so much as a freshman. He's been a workhorse for us."

Reveno anticipates larger contributions from 6-10, 270-pound center Jasonn Hannibal (2.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg). His promising offseason included a trip to China with Athletes in Action.

"Jasonn has really come along," Reveno said. "He's from Canada and the lights are kind of coming on for him a little bit."

The other returning guards are 6-5 junior wing Nemanja Mitrovic (4.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and 6-1 junior point Eric Waterford (1.0 ppg, 0.4 rpg), who missed six weeks with a hand injury last season. Mitrovic made 19-of-54 three-pointers (.352) in 2009-10.

Waterford will get first crack at the point, although 6-1 sophomore Derrick Rodgers (3.7 ppg, 3.0 apg, Citrus [Calif.] College), a junior college transfer, and/or freshman Tim Douglas (20.2 ppg, 5.6 apg, Mayfair HS, Cerritos, Calif.) are popular picks to end up playing point guard. Replacing Campbell will be a chore.

"I'm curious to see Eric step forward," Reveno said. "That said, Derrick Rodgers is a sophomore and a JC transfer and mature physical kid who can run a team and get into the paint. Tim Douglas is small but quick, and he can shoot it a little bit. It's pretty wide open in terms of whether it'll be done by committee or -- I can see a lot guys getting minutes early.

"I like our point guards. With all due respect to T.J., I think we can be better defensively at that position and be more aggressive at that position -- even offensively. With T.J. we needed him on the floor so badly, especially after Nik got hurt, that we didn't challenge him a lot defensively."

Reveno compares the loss of Campbell with the sky's-falling vibe around Stanford when Brevin Knight left for the NBA in 1997.

"I guess some people might be disappointed that we're not replacing T.J. Campbell with another T.J. Campbell," Reveno said. "Brevin Knight left Stanford and everyone was 'How are you gonna replace Brevin Knight?' Well, we replaced him with a guard by the name of Art Lee and we went to the Final Four without Brevin Knight.

"I'm not saying that's going to happen. But people fall in love with someone like T.J. Campbell or Brevin Knight that elevates a program and takes on so much of the team personality that you want to find exactly that. We'll be different, but I think the skill set of our point guards is what we need in terms of being able to defend, get out on the break, run a team and hit an open jumper."

Three other freshmen who could get time are 6-7, 230-pound Ryan Nicholas (23.0 ppg, Gonzaga Prep, Spokane, Wash.), 6-3 wing Tanner Riley (18.0 ppg, Mount Si HS, North Bend, Wash.) and athletic 6-4 wing Korey Thieleke (19.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, West HS, Bakersfield, Calif.).

Nicholas was first-team all-state and scored a game-high 21 points in the WIBCA 3A-4A All-Star game, and he apparently lives to get better.

"I called him in the spring and he described to me an individual workout that he does for basketball skills that was as meticulous and as organized and focused as any kid's workout that I've ever heard of," Reveno said. "He's just a really intense, focused kid. He watches his diet.

"He's going to be able to contribute because he plays so hard. I don't want to overhype it, but he plays as hard as almost anyone I've seen all the time. You can just see him banging against Luke Sikma in practice every day and just being an asset there and coming in and doing some good things on the court."

Reveno loosely compares Riley to Raivio.

"Tanner, I think, has the ability to have an impact early," Reveno said. "He reminds me of Nik Raivio in the sense that & he's hard to characterize as a player, but that's what he is -- a player. He's going to make plays.

"He'll bring it up on the break, I think. He'll score in transition. We need someone to help us create off the dribble from the wing spot."

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

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

A rugged schedule includes home games with Kentucky, Saint Louis and Utah, and road games with Washington and Washington State.

"I either need to choose to be excited or afraid, and I choose to be excited," Reveno said. "Our guys are excited. It's funny just watching their response when you tell them you're playing Kentucky."

The Pilots will host Kentucky in the Rose Garden on November 19, and the Wildcats are replacing five first-round draft picks, including point guard John Wall.

Of course, Kentucky signed premier point guard Brandon Knight. If Portland's new point guards are half as good as him, Reveno and Potestio could be in for a special night in November -- and a third straight successful season.

"As a program," Reveno said, "I feel we're right in line to be building what we're trying do."

Portland Pilots
Last Season 21-11 (.656)
Conference Record 10-4 (3rd)
Starters Lost/Returning 4/1
Coach Eric Reveno (Stanford '89)
Record At School 58-69 (4 years)
Career Record 58-69 (4 years)
RPI Last 5 years 239-279-299-127-84

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by DTLegend on Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:55 am

It's interesting to look at the RPI for the past five years. What happens this year is huge in building a successful program. Every team has rebuilding years, the good teams however are still competitive in those rebuilding years.

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:59 pm

Like Reveno, I am excited. I want to see how both the returning and new guys come along over the course of the season.

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:31 pm

Just for some perspective:
We are in a rebuilding year, having lost 5 seniors and 3-4 major contributors and YET our Blue Ribbon grades range from B to A-. We've come a long ways and I hope it continues!

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by up7587 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:14 pm

This just struck me as funny:
"Jasonn has really come along," Reveno said. "He's from Canada and the lights are kind of coming on for him a little bit."
I guess it is darker up there in Canada, at least during the winter months. Smile

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:04 pm

Rush the Court (@rushthecourt) has been doing a countdown for a couple weeks, and here we are:

#100 Portland Sr J. Stohl (12/2) will be expected to lead this young Pilot team that started strongly but lost momentum late in the year.

Still cool to be in the top 100.

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by DTLegend on Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:33 am

PurplePrideTrumpet wrote:Rush the Court (@rushthecourt) has been doing a countdown for a couple weeks, and here we are:

#100 Portland Sr J. Stohl (12/2) will be expected to lead this young Pilot team that started strongly but lost momentum late in the year.

Still cool to be in the top 100.

Being considered in the top 100 or even 150 shows major props to what Rev has done with the Program over the past 4 1/2 years. I remember him tweeting a while ago how another coach complimented Rev in turning Portland into a desirable job. If we can sustain a decent record through the season with a couple well timed wins, that could be huge for recruiting and progressing the program. I can't wait.

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by Woodless! on Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:23 am

So it would seem to me that there exists a bit of a discrepancy between the Blue Ribbon grades and the Rush the Court ranking...

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Re: Blue Ribbon preview

Post by DTLegend on Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:30 am

You think so? If you look at other teams, like Kentucky, they are in the top 10 and have grades of A, B+,B+,A respectively. Looking at our grades ( B,B, A-, B+) 100 seems like a pretty accurate prediction. Interesting that Rush the Court has Santa Clara at 235 and the coaches of the WCC say they will finish ahead of Portland. Either way having 4 WCC teams picked in the top 100 is a big step forward for the conference. Adding a consistent BYU team will just add to the competitiveness of the conference. The conference as a whole is getting stronger.

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