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Post by PilotNut Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:22 pm


Portland basketball: After offseason of work, Pilots ready for a season of it, too
By Jim Beseda, The Oregonian
October 14, 2009, 3:40PM

Junior forward Luke Sikma and the rest of the Portland men's basketball team didn't have much of an off-season.

Even in the days of Chuck Taylor All-Stars and two-hand set shots, players didn't bid one another farewell after the final game of a season and then reintroduce themselves on the first official day of practice for the next season. They often worked out and haunted the gyms on their own in the offseason, playing shirts and skins scrimmages and maybe even running the team's plays -- all on their own, at least officially.

But in recent years, the pressure to get together with teammates during the offseason and run pseudo-practices, at times with the coaches present, has become immense. And as young men and women are prone to tell parents, "Everybody's doing it" ... so "everybody" has to.

In the Pilots' case this "offseason," they had a two-week break in June after returning from a four-game tour of Australia, and another three-week respite in August after everyone on the team attended summer school. At that point, Sikma went home to Bellevue, Wash., and tried to relax.

Even during those breaks, he found it difficult to go more than a day or two without grabbing a basketball a putting up some shots.

"After being here two years, it's become a way of life," Sikma said. "I don't want to say you feel guilty if you're not doing something basketball related, but something feels a little off if all you do is lay around all day."

The Pilots have their first "official" practice of the 2009-10 season at 5 p.m. Friday at the Chiles Center. It's actually the continuation of a program that started when the fall semester began the last week of August.

As have most of the college programs in the country, the Pilots have spent the past six weeks working out on their own in open gyms and in the weight room, as well as getting together with the coaches for the allowable two hours a week.

It's almost as if the basketball season never ends.

"We've really tried to instill that mind-set here," Pilots coach Eric Reveno said. "One of the three main goals that I talk to players about when I recruit them is they'll graduate here knowing that they did everything the can to be the best they can be."

Reveno, in his fourth season on The Bluff, tells his players that the off-season is the time to "be a little selfish," and challenges them to push themselves to work on individual skills.

"It really is a 12-month program. You really dig yourself a hole if you take big breaks. Even with skill development, if you're trying to improve your left hand, if you take two months off and then work really hard for a month, your body doesn't learn that way."

What changes on Friday is that the selfishness phase ends and the talk turns to team concepts and team goals.

"The intensity gets bumped up a level," senior guard Nik Raivio said. "No more open gyms. The coaches are on you. And this is it. For five of us who are seniors, this is our last go-around.

"I'll never have another September, ever, in college basketball, and I think that's starting to sink in for a lot of us, and especially for me, in particular."

Expectations are high for the Pilots, who return 12 of 13 players from a team that went 19-13 last season, finished third in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga and Saint Mary's, and landed a berth in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).

Most of the preseason publications have picked Portland to finish second to Gonzaga in the conference race and give the Pilots a realistic chance at qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.

"I think every team in the league is always trying to knock Gonzaga off, but we're not necessarily concerned with that," Sikma said. "I mean, that's always in the back of your mind, but we just want to focus on ourselves and make sure we play to the level that we all know we're capable of. We know that if we do that, it will equate to a lot of wins and a successful season."

The Pilots have scheduled two exhibition games at the Chiles Center against Concordia on Oct. 29 and Linfield on Nov. 7, and then open the regular season on Nov. 14 against Eastern Washington in Cheney, Wash. The WCC opener is Jan. 9 at home against Gonzaga, the conference tournament is March 5-8 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

"We've got everyone back, so there are a lot of known quantities, which is pretty cool," said Reveno, who is 37-58 in three seasons with the Pilots. "You know what the pieces are. But how are you going to put them in position and do things to help make them better and not just rely on the fact that they're 12 months older?"

"It's interesting to me how I feel like I'm still worrying the same amount and I have the same level of anxiety or concern. The nice thing is I'm worrying about the higher-level details now and the things that need fine tuned. The big blocks are in place. That I would agree with."

Notes: The Pilots lost John Hegarty, the 7-foot, 320-pound center from New Bedford, Mass., who was granted his release in May shortly before the team left for Australia and is pursuing a professional career in France. Hegarty appeared in seven games last season as a freshman and had 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in 54 minutes off the bench. ... Junior guard Jared Stohl was ranked sixth among the nation's top 50 shooters by FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman. Portland senior guard T.J. Campbell also made the list at No. 31. Stohl, who ranked second in team scoring last season, is the nation's top returning three-point shooter at 45.6 percent (89 of 195). In two seasons, Stohl has connected on 147 of 336 shots (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc and needs 65 three-pointers to break the all-time school record set by Casey Frandsen from 200-04. ... Raivio is 109 points away from becoming the 31st player in school history to score 1,000 career points.

Pilots at a glance

2008-09 record: 19-13, 9-5 West Coast Conference

Coach: Eric Reveno, fourth season (37-58)

Key returners: Top scorers, Nik Raivio (16.0 ppg), Jared Stohl (11.2 ppg), T.J. Campbell (11.1 ppg); top rebounders, Raivio (6.5 rpg), Robin Smeulders (5.9 rpg), Luke Sikma (5.7 rpg); assists leader, T. J. Campbell (4.7 apg).

Key dates: Season opener, Nov. 14 at Eastern Washington; home opener, Nov. 17 vs. Seattle; WCC opener, Jan. 9 vs. Gonzaga.

- Jim Beseda

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Post by DaTruRochin Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:23 pm

PilotNut wrote:LINK

Notes: The Pilots lost John Hegarty, the 7-foot, 320-pound center from New Bedford, Mass., who was granted his release in May shortly before the team left for Australia and is pursuing a professional career in France.

Very interesting route... I guess it gives me another reason to brush up on my french at: http://www.lnb.fr/

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Post by MesaPilot1 Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:42 pm

Thanks for the find Pilotnut, I would also like to thank you in advance for your follow-thru on the PN t-shirt Cheers!. Your tireless work on the site, and picking up the ball on the shirt's is much apreciated.

Hip, Hip , Horray!!! One adda boy for PilotNut!



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Post by 75Zag Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:44 pm

Pilots are my pick to do great things this year. But then I am a season ticket holder, so I am biased. Bulldogs have a lot of mystery players from Germany or Canada or wherever. Maybe they dominate the league, but maybe not.


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