Tonight vs. SMC

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Tonight vs. SMC

Post by Stonehouse on Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:25 am

Too lazy to write something new:

Can the Portland Pilots end their regular season with a bang and head into the WCC tournament with some nice momentum? Tune in at 7PM at the Chiles Center... or on Comcast SportsNet Ch. 37 if that's your thing.

The Pilots are coming off a very nice 64-58 win over Santa Clara on Saturday night while the Gaels are coming off a crushing loss at Gonzaga. With the win, the Zags clinched the top seed in the WCC, so the Gaels really have nothing to play for in terms of seeding, while the Pilots are still fighting with Loyola Marymount to avoid the ignominy of finishing in last place. (Though the Pilots are in the much stronger position... LMU would have to defeat San Diego at San Diego in order to pass UP.) Of course, a loss to UP would seriously dent St. Mary's at-large hopes, so in the grand scheme of things it's a good bet that St. Mary's will be playing with a ton of urgency tonight - they don't want to give the selection committee any excuse to not give them a bid into March Madness, and a loss to the Pilots would probably be a poison pill for the Gaels. Sigh... one day that won't be the case, but unfortunately for this year that's just the way it is. So Portland better embrace the spoiler role and go out there and go toe-to-toe with a team that is fighting for an NCAA berth. Still, I'm going to hope for a similar result to last year, when the Pilots beat the Gaels on a Monday night after they played a tough game up in Spokane.

Saint Mary's, who will likely lose their Top 25 ranking this week for the first time since before WCC play began, is loaded with talent, from freshman phenom Patty Mills at PG to the smooth Diamon Simpson at PF. Omar Samhan, their big center, has a bum shoulder but was able to play against both Santa Clara and Gonzaga over the past week. Todd Golden and Tron Smith are good scorers at the SG spot, while Ian O'Leary at SF torched the Pilots down in Moraga. They've got some other useful players off their bench too (Yusef Smith, Carlin Hughes, Lucas Walker), so they are pretty deep as well. No doubt about it, UP will have their work cut out for them.

Still, if they can play defense on Simpson the same way they did against John Bryant on Saturday, we could have a shot. I thought Luke Sikma was terrific against Santa Clara - not only did he hit the go-ahead three pointer in the final two minutes to give UP a lead it would never surrender, but he also was hitting the boards, making great passes, and playing excellent help defense on Bryant. He was easily the MVP of the game in my eyes, and if he can look for his shot a bit more (SHOOT THE BALL, LUKE! ... imagine me saying this like the ghost voice of Obi-Wan saying "Use the Force" when Luke is going in to destroy the Death Star) and play like he did on Saturday, he could have himself a very nice game. I also have been impressed with the play of Kramer Knutson, who I think has quietly improved a lot and is starting to become a good option on offense. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he could be a key for the Pilots with his good post defense and his new-found aggressiveness on offense. Jared Stohl single-handedly gave the Pilots a lead heading into halftime on Saturday, scoring eight points in about 45 seconds. The more we can get him open shots, the better, since he has proven all year long that he can knock them down. Nik Raivio is clealry not close to 100%, but hopefully he can play bit more than he did against Santa Clara, since he is really the only guy on the team who can penetrate with effectiveness. And what can you say about Ethan Niedermeyer? The guy had ice in his veins in the second half and was really our only offense for a good chunk of the second half. So nice to see him knocking down shots! And Robin Smeulders had a nice game too, leading the way with 12 points and pulling down 7 boards too.

So what do the Pilots need to do? On defense: limit Simpson as much as possible, hope that Mills' shot is off, don't let Golden get open looks, try to stay out of foul trouble, and put a body on O'Leary. On offense: get Stohl as many open looks as possible, have Sikma look for his shot more than usual, hope that Raivio's knee has improved, and hope that someone will step up the way Ethan did on Saturday. And in general, we'll need to rebound well and limit their second chance opportunities while giving several to ourselves. If we can do that, it will give us a fighting chance... heck, it helped keep us in the Gonzaga game for 30 minutes a week ago. If we can do a lot of that, I think we can at least stay within striking distance.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/pilots/

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Re: Tonight vs. SMC

Post by PilotDrummer on Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:36 pm

Tonight could be interesting - hopefully the momentum of the SCU game (and even from the GU game) can spur the guys into action against the Gaels.

I'll try not to drop any drums/cymbals/cowbells during free throws...but I make no promises.

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Re: Tonight vs. SMC

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:48 pm

Well, you know what would be funny to yell at tonight's opponent...nah, better not.... Very Happy

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Re: Tonight vs. SMC

Post by PilotDrummer on Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:16 pm

PurplePrideTrumpet wrote:Well, you know what would be funny to yell at tonight's opponent...nah, better not.... Very Happy

I had ERASED that from my memory until now.

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