Monday, December 29, 2008

Vikings suffer first home loss of season

For just the second time in two seasons the women's basketball team stumbled at the Stott Center. The Vikings were defeated by Utah Valley University 102-92 in a overtime game.

The Vikings trailed for nearly the entire game and fell behind by eight points with just 1:30 to play before a three-point play by senior forward Kelsey Kahle cut the lead to just five.

Missed free throws by the Wolverines, offensive rebounds, and some timely shooting from freshman guard Eryn Jones gave the Vikings an opportunity to tie trailing 82-79 with under a minute to play.

After a busted play, sophomore post Courtney Cremer found herself with the ball at the top of the circle and launched a desperation three-pointer from well behind the men's arc. It was just her fourth attempt of the season but Cremer's prayer banked in (although judging from her reaction, it wasn't called).

A shot by the aforementioned Asumi Nakayama was off and the teams headed to overtime.

Despite blowing the lead in the waning moments of regulation the Wolverines regrouped and dominated the overtime period outscoring the Vikings 20-10. The victory improved Utah Valley's record to 4-7 and dropped Portland State to 8-4. Two of the Vikings losses have come in overtime.

It was Portland State's final tune-up before the Big Sky season play begins later this week, but the team looked anything but well-oiled in their non-conference finale. Point guard Claire Faucher struggled all game and finished with just five points on two for 10 shooting.

It was unclear if Sherri Murrell was experimenting with a different lineup, giving some of her starters some rest before the conference stretch run or reacting to lackluster performances from some of her starters but the head coach went with an unconventional strategy down the stretch. 10 Portland State players played more than 10 minutes.

With Faucher out of the game the Vikings would have struggled mightily were it not for the performance of Kahle. She finished the game with 30 points which included a 12 for 12 performance from the charity stripe. She also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

The Vikings certainly were lucky to find themselves even in the game after committing 13 costly turnovers and shooting 36 percent from the field and 27 percent from the three point arc.

Even more discouraging for Viking fans is the fact that this team, again, gave up more than 100 points to Utah State. The Vikings will likely face far more talented teams in Big Sky opponents Montana, Montana State and Northern Colorado.

In Monday's game the Vikings inability to get stops on the defensive end forced them into playing a fast-tempo shooting match with the Wolverines. Normally with Faucher at the helm this would seem like a winning idea. But the honorable mention All-American player was on the bench.

With inexperienced, and often tired-looking players, on the court, the Vikings looked like a team that still has some growing pains to experience.

Portland State will face Sacramento State and Northern Arizona this weekend.

PSU women trail Utah Valley at the half

With the men's squad out of town tonight, no good bowl games to watch I decided to watch the Vikings take on Utah Valley in the Stott Center.

The result so far: unimpressive.

Taking on a squad that they gave up 104 points to in a game last season in Orem, Utah, the Vikings have yet to play solid defense on two consecutive Wolverine possessions.

Utah Valley is in their final year of transitioning to become a full-fledged member of Division I. They seem to be making a good go of it. I know they have fielded competitive men's and women's basketball squads this season. This comes less than 10 years after serving as a junior college feeder school to BYU, Utah and Utah State.

Back to the game-

Attendance is pretty scarce. I am not going to bail out the students on this one. It seems weird sitting on press row and being able to hear every cheer, complaint and comment from either bench. I guess I have been attending to many men's games.

Freshman point guard Eryn Jones started her third consecutive game and has played well although I have not quite figured out the logic to head coach Sherri Murrell's rotation yet. She seems to be favoring her bench heavily and point guard Claire Faucher and wing Katia Hadj-Hamou have yet to look comfortable on the floor.

It has been interesting to watch the development of former walk-on Kate DePaepe
. After a solid career at Tualatin High and playing sparingly in nine games last season the southpaw is serving as one of the more consistent performers coming off the bench this year replacing some of the scholarship players that she played behind last season.

The Vikings have kept the game close thanks in large part to Kelsey Kahle's 14 points but have hindered their own ability to come back by missing several close-range layups. they have also committed dozens of turnovers. (I do not know the actual number but I do know they have been very careless with the ball)

I am not sure if it's the post-Christmas spirit kicking in but the dainty crowd is all over the referee's here. The zebra's aren't helping themselves either, missing a few painfully obvious calls.

One fashion note for you uniform heads... I know that this is small college women's basketball but Utah Vally looks more like a high-school team than any I have ever seen. Maybe it's the font on their jerseys... They are also all wearing some sort of black knee-pads. Not quite as big as the ones that Patrick Ewing used to wear but nonetheless interesting.

The Wolverines aslo feature a 5-4 point guard from Saitama, Japan. Reading from her bio she isn't some exchange student or someone who prepped in the United States, (a la Donotas Visockis) she is actually from Japan and led her team to the National Championship in high school.

I point this out because the player, Asumi Nakayama, is wearing the first pair of Asics basketball shoes I have ever seen. Besides being pretty unique they stick out like a sore thumb in contrast to the rest of hte players Nike's and Addidas'.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

PSU athletic department takes down the Vanguard

As we reported on our blog several weeks ago, the athletic department took on the Vanguard sports staff in a friendly game of roundball. The results were not good....

Not good if you root for the Vanguard I mean.

To be honest, the sports staff was without one of their finest players and took the court with a lineup of a couple of solid players that had never really played together.

We also featured one Vanguard vagabond, a former arts and culture editor, who admittedly had not strapped up his high-tops in three years.

The athletic department staff... well they certainly had their numbers. Beyond Torre Chisholm and Zack Wallace (pictured) the staff also brought assistant athletic trainer Duane Dewey, sports information bigman Ryan Borde and head equipment man Rick McReynolds to the game.

Their depth eventually took its toll on the beleaguered Vanguard staff. We couldn't hit a shot, couldn't play good defense and probably were doubled up in the rebound department.

The game certainly had its intense moments, (although it probably wasn't as bad as this) but all in all, sportsmanship and camaraderie were the key themes.

The athletic department also brought in a ringer- well kind of. Jeff Boone who is the student leader of the fan group "The Horde" also played. I play with Jeff on the same intramural team and was worried he might be a difference maker. He was.

We should have known there was trouble brewing when at the last moment Chisholm moved the game from the main gym in the Stott Center to the smaller and more dimly lit small gym downstairs and eliminated the main scoreboard one of the big-game elements he had promised us...

There will likely be a rematch at some point, so I don't want to give away the scouting report although I will give you one little tidbit.

Torre Chisholm= not half bad.

The man known in the Vanguard newsroom as "T-Chis" can scrap down low in the paint. This despite his affinity for wearing some unusually short shorts.

Certainly not as short as Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who sported these during Redskins' training camp, thankfully, but short nonetheless. I even heard one of his teammates wondering under the breath if the athletic director was just playing in his boxer shorts.

Anyhow be sure to stay tuned to the blog for more Portland State sports news...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gonzaga who? Vikings take down #7 ranked Bulldogs

Sad to admit this, and I feel like the current weather situation is one of the few excuses that would keep the sports staff at the Vanguard from doing their job, but we were not able to make it to Spokane for the huge game on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the Vikings earned their first victory over Gonzaga in 31 years and Portland State's biggest victory since joining the Division I ranks.

The Vikings battled the odds and made Gonzaga look ordinary on Tuesday night. Senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez looked as good as anybody that has ever played on The Kennel court and somehow head coach Ken Bone and co. motivated the troops to a huge victory.

Some Notes:
--The Vikings won without playing a perfect game. While Dominguez was terrific and Nelson, Waters and Murray were solid, Jamie Jones did not have his best game and continues to struggle against bigger opponents.

Kyle Coston was a non-factor as was his replacement Tyrell Mara. On the other side of the coin, Julius Thomas played great with a ton of energy and the performances of the four perimeter players was enough to overcome.

--Coming into the game and thus far this season much had been said about the depth of the Bulldogs and rightfully so. Gonzaga has at least six players on the roster that could play somewhere professionally and a couple with a good chance to end up in the league.

But somehow the Vikings mitigated that strength tonight. While I often question Bone's frequent substitution pattern, it looked terrific. The fresh bodies seemed to confuse Gonzaga or at least slow their powerful offense down.

-- Everyone is talking about how easy it would have been for Bone to ask Gonzaga coach Mark Few to reschedule the game or just cancel it based on the travel difficulties. But Bone knew that if they were to reschedule, it would likely be when Gonzaga school was in session, meaning that the Gonzaga students would be making their presence felt.

I don't think that the Vikings would have gotten blown out because of the crowd, but the game would have certainly had a different vibe.

--I know that the game was only televised on Fox Sports Northwest and there probably were not a lot of Portland State fans who even made time for the game, let alone your average Joe plumber...

But please, please, can we get some professional announcers to call games. Is it Fox Sports Northwest or Fox Sports Washington/Gonzaga.

Honestly, I can handle the homerism.

But what is hard to take is the constant mispronunciation of names: calling Jeremiah Dominguez Jr Dominguez, mistaking Tyrell Mara for Phil Nelson on occasion and there were surely other announcer goof-ups.

--Portland State looked ultra sharp in their green jerseys. The Vikings got all new basketball jerseys this year and have white, black and green to choose from. I have been waiting for the squad to bust the green's out as it seems like the school's main color has been bypassed by Glanville's preference for black. I could not find a picture of the green jersey's but they are similar in shade and style to Michigan State which you can see here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto

Tough to say anything about the weather that hasn't been said already but Snowmageddon 2008/Arctic Blast/ The End of the World... seems to be here to stay and it is sure having a dramatic impact on the Rose City sports scene.

Editor-in-chief- Nathan Hellman and I were planning on making the six hour drive to Spokane tomorrow to watch the Vikings take on Gonzaga in what should be a very entertaining ball game. But given this, it doesn't look promising that we, or the basketball team, will make it.

Hopefully the squad travels safely if they do decide to go, and if they don't, lets all hope that the game can be rescheduled.

Meanwhile, the Vikings kicked off their Big Sky season on Saturday in front of just 415 at the Stott Center on Saturday. The squad seemed to handle Montana with some ease although there are still some causes for concern with this squad.

The dynamic perimeter trio of Jeremiah Dominguez, Andre Murray and Phil Nelson have yet to click together for an entire game.

Murray has been the clubs most consistent player averaging better than 11 points per game. Dominguez and Nelson have both battled a slow start.

Dominguez missed several games with a finger injury but seems recovered. Nelson played his best game against Montana. But Nelson still does not seem completely comfortable within the framework of Ken Bone's roll-the-ball-out offense and Dominguez seems a bit hesitant to take over games the same way he did so frequently for the Vikings last season.

The Vikings are also getting little or no production from either of their power forwards, Kyle Coston and Tyrell Mara. Both have struggled, forcing shots, making errant passes and failing to provide a strong rebounding prescence that the Vikings desperately need.

Unfortunately, with their lack of size and depth, Bone is forced to continue playing one of the two.

Stay posted to the blog. If the weather clears up, which looks highly unlikely at this point, we may still try to brave the elements and head for Spokane. If not we will be watching the game on FSN Northwest (if it happens) and listening to the homer call. Don't forget that Craig Ehlo handles the commentary.

Yes, that Craig Ehlo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowling with the Blazers: A Comparative Analysis

While Friday is a big day in the Big Sky Conference with Montana taking on Richmond for the FCS National Championship, this weekend also marks the beginning of the 20ish days of the college football postseason.

We all know that the bowls suck, everybody wants a playoff and that there are too many teams.

We also all think we can correctly predict the winners of each game, silently hoping that our predictions will give verification to the hours we spent each Saturday this fall glued to the television.

But let's be serious: Who here really knows if Florida Atlantic has what it takes to knock off Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl? (Quite the ironic title in this one, as it looks like the Motor City may be no more in a few months.)

The 68 bowl teams have been broken down into several categories based (loosely) on the players of everybody's favorite team in the Rose City- the Portland Trail Blazers. Have at it.

The Ike Diogu Bowl Teams

Diogu, like most of these bowl-bound teams, has no business playing in the big leagues. He might have had his time and place--he thrived while in college at Arizona State-- but looks outclassed and out of place on the court.

Sure he has his loyal fan following just like these teams but the group is small and even the faithful know that the result of their game does not matter.

Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
The best part of this matchup is that it takes place on the same night as the Holiday Bowl, widely regarded as one of the best bowl games outside of the BCS contests. How bad does it feel to be a Michigan Wolverine fan and have to watch not only Michigan State play in a bowl game, but also Central and Western Michigan go bowling while you sit in frigid Ann Arbor. Ouch.

Humanitarian Bowl- Maryland vs. Nevada
Outside of ESPN Sportscenter anchor Scott Van Pelt, I don't think there will be too many people in Boise to see this instant classic take place on the smurf turf. The Humanitarian bowl also goes down on Dec. 30, the same day as the aforementioned Texas and Holiday Bowls.

The Joel Przybilla Bowls
The White Gorilla, as Blazers fans know him, is certainly not one of the most attractive players in the league and his talents are limited to dunking the ball and playing solid defense.

But despite his limitations, Przybilla is an important piece of the Blazers rotation and fills in nicely when Greg Oden is struggling or is in the locker room replacing his dentures.

These bowl games should be just as watchable as the Prz'. You wouldn't want to reschedule your wedding to watch these games but if they help you get out of some obligatory time with the family, take advantage.

Eagle Bank Bowl- Wake Forest vs. Navy
Despite having matched up earlier this season, these two squads will face each other again in D.C. to open the Bowl Season. Both teams are disciplined and run the ball effectively.

Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
Despite the fact that the Beavers got throttled in the Civil War and the likelihood that PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Year Jacquizz Rodgers could miss the game, Oregon State coach Mike Riley always seems to get the Beavers ready to play in Bowl Games.

Pitt came on strong to close the season. Both squa
ds are physical and play with a chip on their shoulder- just like Przybilla. He's not from El Paso is he?

The Rudy Fernandez Bowls
Heading into the season anticipation was high for Fernandez and while he hasn't exactly dissapointed there have surely been moments of frustration for Blazers fans.

As brilliant as the Spaniard has been with his breathtaking alley-oops and streaky shooting from beyond the arc, he needs to develop one skill just like all the bowl bound squads in this division: consistency.

Chik-fil-a Bowl- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Two good squads that struggled for moments but also had moments in the spotlight. Georgia Tech seems to be on their way up as one of the best teams in the ACC while LSU will most certainly be back in the National Title picture next season.

Holiday Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
This one won't be pretty to watch, given the Ducks penchant for wearing hideous jersey combinations and the Cowboys' orange tradition that seems unavoidable at this point, but it should be good football.

The Ducks are coming into their own and barring a mental setback should run over Oklahoma State the same way they ran over Oregon State. The Cowboys three losses came to Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech, not a bad trio of defeats.

Las Vegas Bowl- BYU vs. Arizona
I know, BYU is a bit overrated and Arizona stinks but these two teams have a brief history of intensity: they play each other often and they recruit the same kids from the same area.

Both teams should get up for this game despite some struggles this season. BYU could struggle to contain the speed and athleticism of Arizona but the Wildcats will likely shoot themselves in the foot at some point during the game.

The Brandon Roy Bowls

You probably saw these coming, but BRoy is playing out of his mind lately and seems poised to solidify himself as an NBA All-Star again this season. He offers can't miss basketball every time he steps on the court and these three bowl games should be identified likewise.

Rose Bowl- USC vs. Penn State
Classic uniforms, great defenses, best bowl atmosphere in college football.

Poinsettia Bowl- Boise State vs. TCU
Not exactly a sleeper pick, but should be quality football and two better teams than you might think.

National Championship- Oklahoma vs. Florida
Watch Tebow run wild one last time before he starts wearing a much higher number and only running the ball on third and short.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Andy Schantz: Third Team All-American

After a stellar senior season, inside linebacker Andy Schantz was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team on Wednesday. The recognition cemented Schantz as one of the top 10 linebackers in the nation and one of the finest in Portland State history.

Schantz, who came to Portland State after transferring from San Diego State, started and served as a Portland State captain in every game this season. He finished the season with 115 tackles, 31 more than the next closest player. His 15 tackles for loss also led the Vikings this season.

When the Big Sky All-Conference teams were released several weeks ago and Schantz's name did not find its way onto the first team, there were a few surprised people in Portland. He finished the season averaging 10.5 tackles per game, good for second place in the conference.

Schantz was unquestionably the leader of the entire Vikings' team on and off the field. He rarely made the highlight play, but made all the plays a middle linebacker is supposed to. While KJ McCrae and Ryan Pedersen often stole the spotlight, it was Schantz who anchored the defense.

Yet, Schantz was ousted from the first team by Sacramento State senior linebacker Cyrus Mulitalo who had a fine year but his 96 tackles ranks clearly behind Schantz.

Schantz was joined on the All-American teams by Northern Arizona cornerback K.J. Gerrard, punter/kicker Robbie Dehaze (from Sherwood), Montana seniors Colin Dow and Colt Anderson, Eastern Washington senior defensive end Greg Peach, Weber State junior running back Trevyn Smith and sophomore quarterback Cameron Higgins.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vanguard takes on the PSU Athletic Department- Who ya got?

I hesitated to announce this to anyone, and although this blog's readership could be aptly described as scarce, here goes.

This Friday the Vanguard staff will be taking on the Portland State Athletic Department staff in a friendly game of basketball at the Stott Center.

The game, brought up by Vanguard editor-in-chief Nathan Hellman, yours truly and athletic director Torre Chisholm, will pit two teams with similar resumes against each other on Friday afternoon in the main gym of the Stott.

As per our request, Chisholm is said to have arranged the operation of the scoreboard for the game and at last check was still working on securing an announcer to call the action over the public address system.

I hesitate to talk any trash before the game partly because the Vanguard doesn't exactly have an all-star basketball lineup. Good writers we may be but outside of Hellman and former editor-in-chief David Holley who will hopefully be suiting up, we could be hardpressed for athletes.

The athletic department? They might be no better. We all know that Chisholm's is pretty skilled at improving the Vikings image, raising money and winning conference championships but the man who spends some of his spare time playing online video games may struggle on the big stage.

We may check in with a scouting report of the two squads later in the week but remember this. Both of these entities have come a long way towards improving themselves over the past 10 years.

For the Vanguard its been increased coverage of Portland State events and improving writing quality and for the athletic department its been upgrading facilities, bringing in Jerry Glanville and preparing to remake the Stott Center and PGE Park.

Two up-and-coming "squads" face off in the Stott Center... This one should be good.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Montana- The Cream is Rising

As most of you probably watched on ESPN2 Friday night, the Montana Grizzlies knocked off James Madison to earn a spot in the FCS Championship next weekend.

The Grizzlies managed to force four turnovers from the Dukes and got efficient and timely performances from junior running back Chase Reynolds and senior Cole Bergquist.

Reynolds had 123 yards and two touchdowns and Bergquist threw for three scores. Their performances were impressive enough, but the story of the game was the dominant play of the Grizzlies offensive line and defense. The big guys up front pounded the Dukes all night long and while Montana's defense gave up a few yards they tackled well and kept James Madison out of the end zone most of the night.

Portland State fans will recall that the Vikings played the Grizzlies pretty tough back in November. The Vikings had a bit of momentum after stopping Montana before they converted a fake field goal for a first down towards the end of the third quarter.

I for one think that that game was a great indicator of the progress that Glanville is making and although the result was disappointing for the team and fans alike, the fact that the Vikings competed fairly well with a squad that is going to play for the national title has to be promising.

Montana will play the winner of the Northern Iowa vs. Richmond game next Friday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jason Quick takes heat for honesty

As most of you know, Portland is a pretty small and tight sports media market. But recent comments on Blazers center Greg Oden by The Oregonian's Jason Quick, who covers the Blazers, have drawn the ire of Blazer fans and some local and national media.

Quick's comments, which can be heard here, have really upset some of the Rose City faithful and caused some strong reaction on national blogs like The Big Lead and Deadspin, as well as dominate the local, and obviously slow, sports media scene. Even Kornheiser and Wilbon brought the story up today on Pardon the Interruption.

I do not know Jason Quick, although his work is has been praised by everyone I know who consistently label him as "the best NBA beat writer in the nation".

What fans do not realize in situations like this, is that Jason Quick does not work for the Portland Trail Blazers. Although this market is small, and friendly it does not mean that there is only going to be one voice about every issue.

Sometimes it is tough to separate all of the media entities here. You have Mike Barrett being interviewed on Canzano's radio show, Dwight Jaynes doing post-game shows for Comcast, and Quick doing his thing every gameday on the 1080 the fan show.

Sometimes, especially when the Blazers are doing well on and off the court, the voices all sound unified and I think that confuses fans who might assume that all the media want the same thing the average Blazer fan does.

Jason Quick, just like Canzano, should not write or say what Blazer fans want to hear. He should be honest, ethical and fair.

In this incident, he might have chosen his words more carefully but what he said was honest and even the most die-hard Blazer fans know it.

Watch Oden on the court. He plays without passion and enthusiasm. When he does get an opportunity to dunk the ball, which is about the only good thing he is doing on offense right now, he takes his frustration out on the rim.

I do not know what the future holds for Oden.

But my suspicion is, at some point he will receive much harsher criticism than Quick's recent comments. If the Blazers continue to improve Oden will be spotlighted by national media either for the good or for the bad.

If he fizzles out with an injury or other problems the criticism will only get worse. Do you think Sam Bowie goes anywhere without people reminding him about his shortcomings?

I applaud Quick for giving an honest answer about a difficult subject. Furthermore Blazer fans should be grateful to have someone covering the team that does a good job reporting because if there was ever a need for someone to keep the organization accountable, it would be Jason Quick who would do it first.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

PSU leads 63-51 with 7:57 to play

It certainly hasn't been pretty, but the Vikings have managed to extend their seven point lead a bit more and a patient offense mixed with Lewis and Clark's inability beyond the arc (29 percent) I think that Portland State should avoid the upset here.

Seniors Mickey Polis and Andre Murray have taken control of the game for the Vikings with 14 points apiece. Jamie Jones, despite a mediocre shooting performance from the field--fifty percent, which is low for him--now has 12 points and eight rebounds.

PSU leads at halftime 37-30

After a dismal start that saw the Vikings trail by as many as eight points early on, Portland State has regained their focus and lead the Pioneers by seven heading into halftime.

Were it not for the performance of two backups, senior Mickey Polis and junior Julius Thomas, the first half could have been a disaster for the Vikings. Through the first twenty minutes the squad has 10 turnovers and has struggled to make consistent shots or defend the ball well.

Thomas, filling in for the struggling Jamie Jones has eight points and five rebounds but it was three three-pointers from Polis that gave the Vikings the lead at 17-16.

If Viking fans were worried about the team looking a little sluggish, they were right. Despite boasting a height advantage at nearly every position, the squad has struggled to score in the paint. Worse yet, the Pioneers quickness and versatility on offense is posing problems for the Viking defense.

Juniors Kyle Coston and Tyrell Mara are a combined one for eight shooting with three turnovers between them. Phil Nelson looks out of sync on offense and Jones' struggles in the paint have kept the Pioneers close.

Thankfully, Coston and Mara have done a good job containing Lewis and Clark's leading scorer heading into the game, holding the senior to just two points. The Pioneers are bombing the ball from deep with mixed results: think air ball, three pointer, air ball...

Despite the ragged start, I expect head coach Ken Bone to whip the troops into shape for twenty minutes of solid basketball.

Notes: Not sure what makes me more sad: Seeing former Viking point guard Brian Curtis participating in the halftime halfcourt shot for a free pizza, and bragging that he made it, or watching former Viking wide receiver Reggie Joseph mop the floor down during the break in front of athletic director Torre Chisholm and offensive coordinator Mouse Davis. Talk about awkward...

Funniest moment of the first half: after a solid colision that saw Pioneer guard James Hollins level the tiny Mickey Polis, one of the spandex clad student section tracksters shouted out, "You should try out for the football team... Maybe they would win a game... Maybe."

The reference was not lost on yours truly. The Pioneers are awful in football after reinstating their program three or four years ago.

Portland State vs. Lewis and Clark- Pregame

For the first time in eight games, the Portland State Vikings may finally have an opponent that they carry a height advantage against.

The Vikings head into tonight's game with a win loss record of 6-1, one of their best starts in school history. But in every game, Portland State has had to rely on their quickness and perimeter game as the squad is vertically, and often physically, overmatched inside. But not tonight.

Of course, the Vikings had to descend to the ranks of Lewis & Clark, a Division III team, to do so.

This game should be an easy win for the Vikings. Although the Pioneers were a decent squad last season, and boast a 4-1 record of their own, Portland State should have enough talent to simply overwhelm the Pioneers.

However, the same thing could have been said for this matchup last season. If you recall that game, Lewis and Clark gave Portland State everything they could handle and more. In the end, the Vikings escaped the Rose Garden with just a one-point victory.

Lewis and Clark is led by senior wing Tyson Papenfuss, a solid player with all-around skills. The Clackamas product comes into the game averaging 18.6 points per game.

Viking fans are hoping that the combination of finals week, playing an inferior opponent and the looming game at Seattle this Sunday will not distract the team too much.

Notes: While the Vikings warm up at one end of the court, the injured duo of senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez and junior Paul Guede are shooting at the other end. In my opinion, and based on what I have heard, Dominguez looked well enough to play tonight but was kept out so that he would be fresh for the Washington game.

Transfer Donatas Visockis, the only player with any legitimate height, is nowhere to be found. He was ruled ineligible earlier this week and will miss the entire season.

Check back later.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Live Blog: Portland State at Oregon State- End of Game 58-24 Beavers

So the second half treated the Vikings a tad better than their six-point first-half output, however, when you slapped the two less-than-stellar 20-minute performances together the result is far from a masterpiece.

Portland State was outplayed, outschemed and outhustled in Corvallis Sunday afternoon. But you can hardly point the finger at the Beavers and blame them for the 58-24 beating the Vikings endured atop Ralph Miller Court inside Gill Coliseum.

It was the Vikings who deserve the blame for this one.

Lets hope head coach Sheri Murrell makes it clear in the post-game address to her squad that the Vikings, not the Beavers, are the reason Portland State scored a meager six points before halftime.

Lets hope Murrell tells her team they were the reason the Vikings chucked up low-percentage shot after low-percentage shot throughout the game.

And let hope Murrell explains that while the Beavers' defense was fierce, the Vikings could have done a much better job penetrating and attacking the basket.

The fundamentals were simply nonexistent for Portland State as the Vikings suffered easily their worst defeat of the season to the Beavers Sunday afternoon. It was completely unexpected that a team that had played Syracuse tough in a narrow road loss only a few weeks ago would have trouble executing the basics, such as moving the ball and dribbling through traffic without turning it over. But it happened.

The fact of the matter is the Vikings were the team that beat Portland State Sunday--and it happened at the hands of turnovers, poor shot selection and a complete lack of offensive cohesiveness.

Live Blog: Portland State at Oregon State- Second Half 46-18 Beavers

Portland State has scored 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. At this point, that is about all you can ask for from the Vikings.

Only once has a Viking attacked that basket--as Kelly Marchant penetrated inside the key and proceeded to miss a layup--and Portland State continues to threw up low-percentage shots to finish off possessions that consist of a mere pass or two.

All and all, Oregon State is dominating the Vikings in every facet of the game. But, more costly for Portland State is the fact that the vast majority of its shortfalls have been self-inflicted, as the combination of no ball movement, poor shot selection and a handful of turnovers has spelled the Vikings demise.

Live Blog: Portland State at Oregon State- Halftime 29-6 Beavers

It's unknown at this time what Portland State's all-time low scoring output for a half is, but Vanguard beat writer Doug Cornett and I are quite sure that the Vikings' six points in the first 20 minutes against Oregon State this afternoon is one of the worst performances ever.

Name one of the key tenets of solid basketball, and I will tell you how Portland State has violated it in some way.

How about take a high-percentage shot whenever possible. Well, thus far the Vikings have opted to settle for off-balance three-pointers and fade-away jumpers instead of moving the ball around in hopes of finding an open shooter.

One other reason Portland State has been forced to chuck up poor shots is the Beavers swarming defense. Seemingly every time the Vikings have brought the ball up the floor they have been unable to penetrate inside the three-point line because the Oregon State defense has been defended the ball with such energy and intensity.

Another tenet of solid basketball is never turn the ball over. However, Portland State has failed to adhere to that one as well. On countless occasions the Vikings have been called for traveling, with most of the infractions coming when a player has made her first move after just catching the ball or attempting a pump fake.

For the most part, Oregon State by has shown little reason for the Vikings to be intimidated on the offensive end. Sure the Beavers have outscored Portland State, however, this has been accomplished without much consistency or effectiveness when running the offense.

The bottom line is the Beavers have benefited more from Portland State's sloppy play than their own excellence on offense.

Live Blog: Portland State at Oregon State- First Half 17-4 Beavers

Here at a mostly empty Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, the action has been pretty even in the first couple minutes.

A quick eye test reveals that Portland State is outsized by taller, lengthier Beavers club. And while that size advantage has helped Oregon State some in the early going, the Vikings are crashing the boards with intensity and have kept the score close. This will be something to watch as the game wears on this afternoon.

One observation from beat writer Doug Cornett is that the Vikings appear to be a bit unsettled and scared of this athletic Oregon State squad. Already Portland State has misfired on a couple passes, taken low-percentage shots and failed to find any semblance of rhythm when running the offense.

With almost 10 minutes left in the first half, Portland State has scored just two buckets and appear to be at the mercy of the Beavers' active, ball-hawking defense.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Vikings defeat Redhawks: Part II

A full week in between games against Seattle University did not change the result much. After defeating the Redhawks last Saturday in the third place game at the Great Alaska Shootout, the Vikings earned their second consecutive victory, 73-68.

In a hotly contested game, Portland State struggled without point guard Jeremiah Dominguez. Senior guard Andre Murray was the leading scorer for the Vikings with 19 points on a seven for 11 shooting performance.

Seattle, in the midst of their first season of a transition to become a Division I athletics program, presented a scrapping challenge to Portland State who looked sluggish after a one week layoff. Junior wing Phil Nelson was held scoreless for the first time this season but 20 second chance points helped the Vikings overcome Nelson's shooting woes.

Seattle led much of the first half before a Portland State run closed the opening stanza. But the second half looked like more of the same, with the Redhawks holding a slim lead. Hillsboro High School graduate Chris Gweth poured in 14 second half points.

But the game swung after a Dominic Waters steal led to a two on one fastbreak with Waters feeding Murray for a thunderous alley-oop dunk.

Portland State will face local-foe Lewis & Clark on Tuesday night at the Stott Center. Last season the Pioneers, a Division III school, nearly defeated Portland State in a non-conference game played at the Rose Garden.

Random notes:
Junior Kyle Coston was at the center of several intense moments during the game against Seattle. The first came halfway through the first half when Coston connected with a Redhawks player's face after swinging an elbow. He drew a personal foul but the foul caught the attention of Seattle who seemed to play extra close attention to Coston during the rest of the game.

In the second half, Coston got engtangled with Leigh Swanson and the two collided as they got up off the floor. Swanson may or may not have helped Coston back to the floor but the junior southpaw sold the collision for all it was worth and Swanson was handed with an intentional foul.

Murray's dunk was not just one of the highlights of the game, but may have been one of the most impressive plays in the history of the Stott Center. On press row, it was tough for the writers to not fall victim to some level of being a fan as the 6-4, and typically grounded, Murray soared above the rim and two Redhawks for the highlight.

After letting the new uniforms that the Vikings have been wearing sink in for a little bit, I have decided that I think they are pretty sharp. If you haven't seen them check them out here.

One thing that would make the team look even sharper, is if the team would all wear the same shoe. Today they were all decked out in the Nike Hyperdunk.

However, there were three different variations of the same shoe on the court. Some green and black, some black on black and some were white with black. Figure it out fellas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Swept away in Seattle

After a promising season, the Vikings volleyball season has ended after a 3-0 sweep at the hands of a talented and physical Washington team.

Check out for the story.

Huskies dominate first two sets

I ran into Portland State athletic director Torre Chisholm, a man with a bit of volleyball experience, in the media room before the match. He told me that the key for the Vikings would be to keep it close and try to put some pressure on the home squad.

Well after two sets, the Vikings definitely are not following Chisholm's advice. Washington completely controlled Portland State in the first set, 25-11 and just wrapped up set two, 25-15.

The Huskies look focused, motivated, well coached and very talented. You can imagine the size advantage that they have going against the Vikings, particularly some of the smaller Portland State players like Marija Vojnovic.

During that first set annihilation, the Huskies overpowered the Vikings with strong serving and a .500 hitting percentage. Set two, Portland State was able to combat the attack slightly, limiting the Huskies to a hitting percentage of .179.

The Vikings are not helping their own cause either, hitting .062 for the match and making uncharacteristic mistakes with the spotlight on.

For the most part, it has looked as if only two Portland State players are even close to being on the same level as this talented and large Washington team: junior setter Nique Fradella and senior libero Jalen Pendon-Thomas.

High Drama at Hec Ed Pavillion

I know its only volleyball and this match--Santa Clara against Kansas State--does not involve Portland State but this is intense.

The Broncos took the first two sets but Kansas State has battled back. In the fifth and deciding game it looks like Santa Clara will take the game, they are up 14-12. But both teams are battling back and forth. The pressure of single elimination is something that teams do not have to battle against every day.

Santa Clara just took it, 15-13 to advance to face either PSU or Washington tomorrow.

About the Huskies

While I had a few minutes before the game, and seeing as how Kansas State just took game three, only delaying the start of the Portland State game to likely 4:30 or so, I thought I would give a little scouting report on the Huskies.

I was surprised to see that the Huskies only feature six players on their 14 person roster from the state of Washington. Four of those are freshmen and will likely not see too much time today. Junior defensive specialist Megan McAfee played her high school volleyball at West Linn High school and is the only Oregonian on the Washington team.

The Huskies finished in second place in the solid PAC-10 Conference to Stanford, despite winning 13 of their last 14 games. The one loss came of course to the Cardinal. That loss, on October 31, was the Huskies last. Washington was picked to finish fifth in the PAC-10.

If I were to list all the talented players on their roster... let's just say it would take a while. Their big three are senior middle Jessica Swarbrick, junior libero Tamari Miyashiro and sophomore outside hitter Becky Perry.

Of course, you could say that Portland State has their share of talented players on the roster as well.

As good as the Huskies are and have been, if Portland State does not allow the magnitude of the game to disrupt them they could easily hang with the Huskies.

With that said, it may be tough for head coach Michael Seemann to keep the troops focused today. There are already more fans here than I have ever seen at the Stott Center for a game, the Husky Band is getting ready to play, and oh yeah, this is the Vikings first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Bank of America Arena

Well its certainly not Omaha, and that can be a good or bad thing, but the Vanguard is here in Seattle at Bank of America Arena on the campus of the University of Washington.

It could be a good day to be a Husky. Earlier today the entire nation reported that USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be the new head coach of the Husky football team. Good hire, we say. Sarkisian is the total opposite of Ty Willingham.

Outside of the Oregon schools, Washington probably holds the fondest spot in my heart. My father went here, I grew up in nearby Puyallup, and this is still a pretty unique school.

In waiting for the Portland State game to start in about an hour I did a bit of walking around the arena. It's certainly not overwhelmingly gigantic but very nice and professional.

Comparing the two schools competing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament would be like comparing a whale to a shrimp. The Huskies won a National Championship in 2005 and have been a national powerhouse for the last seven years.

Viking fans are hoping that the difference in the two squads stops at the facilities and successful history.

One thing that will likely work against the Vikings during this game is the fact that Washington was upset in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, played at this very arena, by BYU.

Sometimes teams playing as heavy favorites that have the stinging taste of upset in their mouth are less likely to struggle in the same situations.

Nevertheless, the game will go on and win or lose this is a big step in the right direction for this program and for Portland State.

Currently the Santa Clara Broncos are having their way against Big VII foe Kansas State. Santa Clara has taken the first two sets.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

HI, Howdy and Hello

Well months of hard work by our online editor Melinda Bardon and the Vanguard sports blog has finally come to pass.
We (and I mostly mean I) chose the name Stumptown Sports Hook as the name for the location where you will find daily posts on the Portland sports scene. We will specifically focus on the Portland State Vikings.

Anyhow check back frequently... We'd love to see more of you.