Thursday, February 26, 2009

Does UCONN not have anybody working in media relations?

By now most of you have seen this video of UCONN men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun fielding a difficult question from a writer after the Huskies game last Saturday.

What we were wondering is why someone in media relations didn't either, A: redirect the question and encourage the writer to ask it at a more 'appropriate' time, or B: attempt to calm down Calhoun before he went off and brought a ton of attention to his fat salary and egotistical attitude.

My thoughts about the situation are mainly with the writer. Many have said that because he is a freelance conservative writer that semi-snuck into the game by using a photographer's media credential, the writer, Ken Krayeske, is to blame.

The fact is that writers, regardless of what their publication or motive is, do not get all the access to coaches to ask them questions like the kind that Krayeske was asking. They are often told that coaches are only available after practice or after games and neither of those situations are ideal for asking difficult questions.

I certainly do disagree with Krayeske's badgering of Calhoun with a follow-up question, but Calhoun, or a media relations person for UCONN should have been able to give him a more appropriate answer.

The topic of the question and Calhoun's financial issue has little to do with the situation. Many writers would love to use postgame interviews for questions about things not necessarily pertinent to the game that was just played.

Most of us however, think better of it and when we don't coaches or media relations people are there to somehow deflect the crap from actually hitting the fan. UCONN might want to think about that.

Of course, this is not Calhoun's first press conference blunder.... Check this out...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guest Commentary from a Portland State student and fan

Disclaimer: While we here at the Vanguard pride ourselves in maintaining our journalistic integrity and not having a rooting interest it is often difficult to not get attached to the athletes, teams and coaches that we cover. With that said, our ethical responsibility is to report the truth regardless of what light it depicts our university in.

Luckily enough, we have a guest commentator to give us the PSU Fans' perspective.

His name is Marnix Brinkhoff and he is a senior majoring in Business Accounting. Check out the picture for a glimpse at what this Dutchman looks like...

Marnix will be contributing to the sports blog on a semi-regular basis. Check out his first blog entry as he digs on the Vikings fans that manage to make all the PSU games, as long as they are on national television.

Viking Fans,

With the stars out (well, at least Greg Oden) and the bright lights of ESPN shining on the Stott Center in Saturday’s men’s basketball match up against Boise State, the Portland State student’s showed up to electrify the gymnasium.

Similar to Jeremiah Dominguez’s game, the students of PSU came out of a near year-long hiatus to once again show up in force for an ESPN televised game. The last game with so much support was the Big Sky Championship last March, the last time that the Vikings played on ESPN.

As a devoted fan to the basketball program, I realize how much better basketball at the Stott Center can be with the energy of so many rowdy students.

However, the fact that student’s only show up for a glimpse at the big stage of ESPN is disturbing.

With competitive basketball in the Park Blocks this year, I anticipated some large crowds to cheer on the defending Big Sky Champions, but with most athletic events, I was sorely disappointed in the student turnout this season.

My writing, I hope, will not deter students from attending more games or cheering vigorously but instead will ignite a spark for ALL students to come out to ALL games.

Think about the impact the sold-out crowd had on the game (as the team led by 23 at halftime) and think about what the season would look like right now if those students had been there all year.

With the last home game this Wednesday, my hope is to see just as many vibrant PSU fans this

week as there was for the game last weekend, even without the stigma of ESPN coverage.

Go Vikings!

Who's going to Ogden? Big Sky Tournament update...

As we head into the final week of the regular season much of the conference tournament field is being narrowed down. We already now that the Big Sky Tournament will be at the Dee Events Center in Ogden and Weber State will be the host.

Up to this point the Wildcats have looked downright dominant. While Lillard and Bullinger get a bunch of credit and McCoy seems like a lock for POY, Weber State is the team that they are because of a strong inside game from Steve Panos and real leadership from senior guard Daviin Davis, who you can catch a glimpse of his athleticism on this video.

Anyhow I thought it would be good to break down the tournament scenarios for everybody...Here goes:

# 1 Seed: Weber State- (see above).

#2 Seed: Likely Montana-The Griz are 11-4 after taking down Idaho State on Saturday. They play at Northern Colorado on Thursday and control their own destiny. If they win, they are the automatic No. 2 seed. If they lose... that's when things get interesting.

#3 Seed: Portland State- The Vikings have a home game against Montana State on Wednesday, and it's certainly no gimme. If Portland State can play like they did against Boise State on Saturday: inspired and confident they should get a win. The tougher test might come on Saturday when they play at Eastern Washington, a team that could be fighting for its playoff lives.

#4 Seed: Idaho State- The Pocatello pokies seem poised to host another Big Sky Tournament game. They have two easy games this week to wrap up the regular season.

#5 Seed: Montana State- The Bobcats still have three games remaining but will probably find a way to get wins in at least two of them. The game of the year could be Saturday when Montana State travels to Greeley to take on the Bears with the playoffs on the line.

#6 Seed: Northern Colorado- Not sure why I have the Bears here ahead of Eastern Washington, but I feel strongly that they will be able to get at least one victory out of the Montana schools this week. Eastern Washington has the misfortune of having just one conference game left- against Portland State, a team that they do not match up with very well...

We'll of course know more after this week... In fact we'll know everything.

If my guesses are correct, the Vikings would host Northern Colorado in a rematch of last week's game that went down to the final buzzer and Idaho State would take on Montana State in Pocatello. My guess is that the chalk would advance and you would be looking at a pretty solid Big Sky Final Four.

Wanted to let everybody know that we will have a feature post from a new guest writer later tonight or sometime soon. Unlike the Vanguard sports section staff, he is not a partial writer covering a team, but is instead a fan and wants his voice to be heard. More details later...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bombs Away: PSU's 12 threes helps Vikings take 58-35 lead into the break

In one of the more exciting games that this author has ever been privy to witness, the Vikings are playing perhaps as good as they possibly could and leading Boise State convincingly at halftime.

Just about everybody on the roster has hit at least one three pointer. Jeremiah Dominguez has three triples and Phil Nelson, Andre Murray and Kyle Coston each have two three pointers.

The Vikings got off to a scorching start, scoring on 12 of their first 17 possessions, including eight three pointers. Simply put, this is the team that Portland State fans have been waiting to see the entire season.

The Broncos have looked steady at times but unsure of themselves and without a strong offensive presence outside of junior guard Jamar Greene who has penetrated at will and hit shots from the perimeter with ease en route to 12 first half points.

As a team, the Vikings are 12 for 21 from three point land in the first half and shooting a scorching 65 percent from the field. More impressively, they have won the rebounding battle and have 16 team assists. The Vikings have also forced the Broncos into 13 turnovers leading to 23 points.

Quite the atmosphere here in the Stott Center if I may say so myself. Not only is the team playing superbly but the fans are cheering as if they know what they are doing... Its a good day to be involved in Portland State athletics. I can see Torre Chisholm beaming from here.

Oh yeah and one more topper: Greg Oden just walked in.

I don't think we're at Taco Bell Arena anymore...

I decided to get to the Stott Center early and its a good thing I did... On Thursday night there were nearly 500 announced open seats here for a conference game with Northern Colorado.

Today, at 4 p.m., one half hour before tip off, the arena is alive and jumping with a brand of energy that may not have ever been here.

You can attribute it to ESPN's presence, Boise State's natural proxemic rivalry or some other things. But any way you look at it, the celebrities are out, the alumni are here and the student section is packed with more spandex than I have seen since the Big Sky Volleyball Tournament. Should be an exciting couple of hours. If you're not here yet, get here quick.

The big talk before the game was about PSU's chances to possibly claim a decent seed should they somehow snap out of the funk that they're in and run the table. This would include a big win today and taking the other two conference games as well as trounicng their opponents in the Big Sky Tournament.

My gut feeling is that if the Vikings could do that- run the table and win the rest of their games they maybe could claim a No. 15 seed. Obviously they have some other things to worry about. Check back for more updates.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vikings need to find identity starting tonight

The Portland State men’s basketball team entered this season with high and expected expectations. And it seemed that all those expectations were going to be true to form for instance when the team beat Gonzaga on the road and got off to a 6-1 Big Sky conference start. However the Vikings have lost 4 out of their last 6 and getting to March Madness for a second year in a row seems doubtful.

All year the team has been clinging to the words of energy and effort. I believe that more times than not both of those ingredients have been there for the Vikings. However what is missing for this team is consistency and an identity.

The team has struggled to find a dominant scorer to rely on day in and day out. Phil Nelson is defiantly not that scorer; he has not scored in double digits in the last four games.

It seems that Jeremiah Dominguez senses this lack of consistency and is putting the team’s performance on his shoulders. But there is too much talent on this team for one player to carry. Jamie Jones can score in the paint, and Andre Murray can be an aggressive scorer only when he wants to be.

Fact of the matter is that that Vikings are in a rare position to build an established identity this late into a season. I think coach Bone believes it and is banking on the fact that his team can build momentum into the conference tournament. Only problem is that the result of trying to prove something this late can either work out brilliantly or fail miserably.

Tonight against Northern Colorado will be the first chance for PSU start playing with consistency and a changed identity.

Posted by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Blazers should stand pat

Apparently with not much time left in the NBA trade deadline your Portland Trail Blazers will not shake things up and acquire a big name player in hopes for an earlier than expected championship run.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a player like Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee or Gerald Wallace of Charlotte in a Trail Blazer uniform; however I am already more than satisfied with the current progression of the team and the small deals that puts money in the Blazers pocket.

The ‘Zers are fourth in the west and will mostly likely only have to beat out one other team in order to reach the playoffs, which was the only goal for this year.

Pulling a deal before the deadline is a HUGE risk. For instance Phoenix changed the entire face of their franchise by acquiring Shaquille O’Neal at the deadline last year in a desperate attempt for a championship. Where did that lead them you ask? It ended with a first round exit by the Spurs, two different coaching changes, and the eighth highest payroll in the league.

What I am getting at is that the Blazers should not become desperate for a championship. Portland is the second youngest team in the league and has improved by strides with the talent that they have. Now I’m not saying that Blazers should not go after and get a player that can help this franchise.

There is a time and a place for everything. The time to make a move is this summer in the offseason. Kevin Pritchard and the rest of his brain trust crew should spend the rest of this season and evaluate the players we have carefully and then target one player this summer and go after him with force.

Posted by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vikings defeat Sac St, 59-42

It surely wasn't pretty, but the Vikings defended their home court, and picked up a victory to keep pace in the race for Big Sky Conference supremacy by defeating Sacramento State, 59-42.

The victory, which came without junior center Jamie Jones, was one of the slowest paced games that the Vikings have played in all season. Sac. State head coach Brian Katz deployed a slow paced game and deliberated on each play call as if he were a Supreme Court judge.

The talk of the game was how the Vikings responded without Jones, the man who had started at center every game and provided much of the interior scoring for the squad this year.

Julius Thomas filled in nicely with a double-double while Kyle Coston and Tyrell Mara each had their best interior game since conference play began, each grabbing six rebounds. The trio combined to score 27 points and 22 rebounds.

It was interesting to watch Katz attempt to thwart the high powered offense by forcing his team to waste the majority of the shot clock on each posession by dribbling around near mid court. He then would methodically signal in a play that his team would run, usually with only a moderate amount of success.

It was an usual strategy, especially for a first year coach that has a roster of entirely new faces that each are in their first year since transferring from a junior college. Most people would have probably suggested that the Hornets try to beat the Vikings at their own game, out scoring the home squad.

But Sac St opted to slow the game down and despite the low scoring output from both teams, nobody at the game, including the Hornet players, looked like they thought it would work.

It was interesting to see and hear the television announcers call the game from the sideline. Former Portland State player Rashad Floyd was on the commentary and while he occasionally bumbled through information, a la Woody Paige on Around the Horn, they did a decent job, although the final word may come tonight when the broadcast actually airs.

The Vikings are going to have to get standout performances from Dominguez, Waters, Murray and Nelson if they are to have a shot to beat Weber State on Saturday. The Idaho State game is no cakewalk either, although it looks like the Bengals may be without conference leading scorer Amarrow Morgan who is with an ailing family member.

I will leave you with the aforementioned Floyd's highlight video... good stuff...

PSU and Sac. State gridlocked at 8-8

After playing more than eight minutes in the first half, its clear that the Hornets game plan is to keep the ball away from the Portland State offense.

Sacramento State is holding the ball near half court the majority of the shot clock before initializing their play, and usually being successful at that play.

The Vikings are struggling on offense, committing several turnovers and missing most of the shots that they typically would make. Word is trickling down slowly about the injury of Jamie Jones who suffered some sort of foot injury (more on that later) and may be out the rest of the regular season.

Obviously Jones' absence could be devastating for the Vikings chances in the Big Sky.

Vikings take on Sac. St pregame

Here in the unusually empty Stott Center, there is an usually large media sighting...

The Altitude Network is making their only appearance in the Stott Center this year and the two announcers are sitting next to yours truly. It's a good thing I shaved today...

In other news---

The Stott is unusually empty. My guess is that Ken Bone would have rather played this game on a Saturday night.

Jamie Jones is out with a collection of injuries to his ankle and wrist. The junior will miss his first game of the year despite being hampered by the wrist injury for quite some time. Julius Thomas will get the start in his stead.