Friday, March 20, 2009

Experienced Xavier ends Vikings season: Xavier uses its size advantage in 77-59 victory over Portland State

The Portland State Vikings dance in the NCAA tournament ended in the first round for the second consecutive season in a 77-59 defeat to a physical, oversized and experienced Xavier team Friday in Boise.

Four Musketeer players scored in double digits, led by senior forward C.J. Anderson who scored ten of his 14 points in the second half.

“Xavier set the tone immediately,” said Portland State head coach Ken Bone. “They were very difficult to stop on one end and hard to get good shots off against on the other.”

PSU found themselves battling from behind early in the first half when Xavier used a 10-0 run to build a 17-7 lead.

However, the Vikings would rally behind inside baskets made by junior forward Jamie Jones and senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez. The captain would score all of his 13 points in the first half.

Portland State rallied to take a narrow one point lead, 25-24, when senior guard Andre Murray hit a three-pointer with 8:35 remaining. The one point edge was the Vikings only lead in the game.

“The momentum was definitely turning our way when we got the lead,” Murray said. “But after that we kind of beat ourselves.”

Xavier responded with a 16-4 run that resulted in a commanding 40-29 lead. Portland State’s struggled with turnovers all game long and two consecutive giveaways by the Vikings helped Xavier regain the lead and capture the momentum on transition baskets.

The Vikings would get another taste of momentum when Murray drained another three with three seconds remaining in the first half to cut the Xavier lead to just seven points at the break, 42-35.

“Xavier played off their experience playing in the tournament,” Bone said. “They reacted right away whenever we tried to get something going and never panicked.”

In the second half the Atlantic-10 regular season conference champion Xavier used their commanding size advantage to take over the game and put away the underdog Vikings.

Xavier senior guard B.J. Raymond nailed a three-pointer, which was followed by a Derrick Brown alley-oop dunk moments later to give Xavier a 49-37 lead with less than five minutes into the second half.

Portland State never seemed to match the energy that Xavier brought to the game in the second half as the Musketeer lead reached as large as 23.

Xavier’s tenacious defense led to shutouts from two of the Portland State players that the squad had leaned heavily on during the six-game winning streak that preceded the first round game. Junior starting small forward Phil Nelson and junior reserve forward Julius Thomas were each held scoreless.

“I think that we just didn’t have the motivation at the end,” said junior forward Jamie Jones who finished with a team high 16 points. “It was just tough. A tough team, a good team.”

Even though the Vikings were outplayed by a team that on this night, looked far superior, Bone was satisfied with his team’s effort.

“I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “They left everything on the court and we just happened to run into a very good Xavier team. We did the best job we could.”

Xavier advanced to face the winner of the Florida State/Wisconsin first round game on Sunday.

posted by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Closing Time: Xavier 77 Portland State 59

This NCAA Tournament appearance might have felt more businesslike for Portland State and the Vikings might have felt more comfortable competing and, by all accounts had a better chance of pulling of an upset, but the outcome is the same.

It finished up Xavier 77 and Portland State 59.

Portland State didn't force anyone to crumple up their bracket today as a response to surprise victory over a favored opponent. The Vikings didn't make school history. But they did put forth a valiant effort and the pieces merely failed to fall into place.

We will have more after the team's press conferences.

Slipping Away: Xavier 68 Portland State 47

Who would have thought that it would be Xavier that showcased the impressive transition game?

No, many, including possibly the Portland State coaching staff. However, that is what has happened as the Musketeers have opened up a 21-point second-half lead that began, in part, with Xavier's ability to run the floor and cash in on easy buckets.

Combine Xavier's transition success with the fact that the Vikings have gone ice cold from the field, and it looks like Portland State will exit its second consecutive NCAA Tournament with a loss. That is unless Jeremiah Dominguez and Co. are unable to catch fire in the final few minutes.

Held Back by Miscues: Xavier 59 Portland State 45

Jeremiah Dominguez is running the offense, Andre Murray is knocking down three-pointers and Jamie Jones has his patented left-hand hook falling perfectly in the paint, however, Portland State is struggling to stay with Xavier because of mental lapses and poor decision making.

On several trips down the floor, passes have been thrown behind a player on the run or directly into the hands of a Musketeer following the play. The Vikings have also allowed the Musketeers to leak out after a Portland State made basket to score an easy layup at the other end.

If Portland State wishes to notch its first NCAA Tournament victory in the school's history this evening, then the Vikings must cut down on these mistakes and begin to play smart enough to grind out a victory in this close matchup.

We'll find out if this happens in the next 10 minutes of play.

Halftime: Xavier 42 Portland State 35

If Ken Bone found out that heading into the second half of Portland State's opening round matchup with Xavier his team would be down only seven points, he would likely grimace momentarily before shaking his head approvingly and saying, "We can work with that."

And that truly is the case. Portland State has not played perfectly by any means, however, the Vikings are still fighting hard against an Xavier team that has appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine years. That's not a moral victory, but rather a decent start to a game that many saw unfolding much differently.

Once again the stage broadens and senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez's play matches the challenge. Dominguez scored 13 points in the first half, but his greatest contribution has been dictating the tempo of the game. When Dominguez has had the ball in his hands, things have unfolded nicely for the Vikings. When he hasn't, it has been hit or miss.

Portland State must figure out a way to rebound better in the second half, or at least keep Xavier off the offensive boards. There were a couple times in the first 20 minutes that the Musketeers' size and strength became apparent, and almost every time this occurred it was when Xavier was jockeying for offensive rebounds. The Musketeers have four offensive boards thus far.

Surprisingly the Vikings are still contending even though they are shooting only 42 percent from the three-point line. That is a fine percentage, however, in Portland State's biggest wins this season they have shot the three ball much better. This will certainly be something to keep an eye on in the second half.

Another thing to watch is whether forwards Phil Nelson and Julius Thomas improve their production. Currently both players have been held scoreless, and considering they Nelson and Thomas were significant contributors down the stretch of the season, it will be crucial for them to pick up the pace on the offensive end.

A Lead in the NCAA Tournament: Xavier 37 Portland State 29

With a flawless Andre Murray three-pointer, Portland State captured the lead for the first time this afternoon, and the roar of the boisterous, rowdy Vikings cheering section made sure everyone in Taco Bell Arena and those watching around the nation at home knew it.

Xavier has fired back immediately, and it is clear that they will not go down easy, either. Another thing that is becoming crystal clear is that this matchup is going to be a competitive one until the end.

Both teams are executing their game plans quite well and the action has carried on at a high intensity level without an interuptions or lulls. The two teams might play completely different forms of basketball, but their pairing makes for an entertaining affair.

Beginning to Settle In: Xavier 22 Portland State 18

After the Vikings had tied the score with a Jeremiah Dominguez three-pointer a few minutes into the game, Portland State went ice cold and the Musketeers pieced together a 10-point run.

A couple quick adjustments on the part of head coach Ken Bone, another Dominguez triple and then a big Kyle Coston three-pointer in the corner has brought the Vikings back into contention.

Portland State is still demonstrating great energy and quickness on both ends, however, the difference appears to be the Vikings are settling in and feeling a bit more comfortable. In the game's opening minutes Dominguez looked like the only Viking that had calmed his nerves and was playing within the flow of the game, but now center Jamie Jones is finding his place in the low post and guard Andre Murray is running the floor with more confidence.

Jones steps to the line to shoot a pair after a hard foul.

First Half: Xavier 12 Portland State 7

Things just kicked off here at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, and thus far the action looks to be pretty fast-paced, which favors Portland State in the end due to the Vikings lack of size and the team's overall quickness.

From the outset, senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez has been impressive, scoring five of the Vikings' first seven points and looking extremely comfortable against this athletic Xavier squad. Dominguez is known for shining brightest when the stakes are the highest, so his play should act as an excellent barometer for how the Vikings will fare in this opening round matchup.

One immediate mismatch for Portland State is Dominguez drawing the assignment of 6-foot-5 guard Dante Jackson on the defensive end of the court. Dominguez, at only 5-6, may have a tough time contesting Jackson's shots and if Xavier almost always has a post-up opportunity in the paint if they choose to exploit it.

Band's Back at It

Many might remember that at the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb., last year Portland State athletic director Torre Chisholm employed the services of the Cal State Fullerton's pep band for the Vikings' matchup with Kansas.

Well, Chisholm is at it again.

This time the Boise State band has thrown on the Portland State garb and actually played a pretty decent rendition of the school's fight song as the Vikings trotted onto the court. Minutes away from tipoff, there is a moderately full Portland State fan section, including head football coach Jerry Glanville, that is making some noise and also making the university look pretty legitimate.

That's the horn, and this thing is about to get underway.

Photos From Boise

Here's a glimpse at some of the masterful photography of the Vanguard's Rodrigo Melgarejo from Thursday's practice sessions.

Dominic Waters

Phil Nelson

Wendell Wright

B.J. Raymond

Kyle Coston

Kahle has record breaking outing as Vikings beat Portland to advance in WNIT Tourney

Though St. Patrick’s day has come and gone, Viking forward Kelsey Kahle is happy to still be seeing green.

“It feels like we’ve been playing in a red gym for a while,” Kahle said, referring to the Vikings last three games, all played at the University of Montana. “Its nice to be back in a green gym.”

With the home crowd behind her, Kahle poured in 30 points and collected 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings past the cross-town Portland Pilots, advancing to the second round of WNIT.

The 57-51 win represents Portland State’s first Division I post-season victory ever, and also the continuation of Kahle’s assault on the program’s record books. In her school-best seventh career 30 point game, Kahle also broke the school’s all-time rebounding record.

“I can’t even think of the words to describe how good it felt to play back home again,” she said after the game.

Though the home team proved triumphant at the end of the night, the visiting Pilots did not by any means roll over and die. Coming into the game, they were looking to avenge their 72-56 loss to the Vikings on November 26.

The Vikings jumped out to an early 19-10 lead, but the Pilots closed the gap and ended the half with a 15-2 run that put them up at the break, 25-21.

“We just kept battling,” Portland head coach Jim Sollars said of his team’s effort.

The Vikings looked to strike early in the second half, scoring the first two baskets on a Kahle lay-up and Lexi Bishop three-pointer. Bishop tallied a season high 12 points, making four of Portland State’s five three pointers on the night.

But the Pilots refused to back down, heading a 14-4 run that put them up 39-30 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Vikings’ cause was not helped by an off-shooting night from junior guard Claire Faucher, who went a dismal 0-10 from the field, making only a pair of free-throws for two points on the night.

But, in her usual style, Faucher dished a game high eight assists, many to the red-hot Kahle, who finished the night a scorching 11-12 from the field and 8-8 from the line.

Kahle and Bishop sparked a 15-2 Viking run that put the home-team ahead 45-41, but the Pilots rallied behind the stellar play of guard Laiken Dollente, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

It wasn’t until Kahle drained a jumper and hit a pair of free-throws in the final minute that the Vikings were able to distance themselves from their cross-town rivals. After the final buzzer, Kahle and her teammates already had their minds focused on the next hurtle in the road.

“Right now we’re all thinking about Saturday and going down to OSU again,” Kahle said.

Head coach Sherri Murrell echoed the sentiment.

“That’s the one game of the season we wanted back,” Murrell said, referring to the Beavers 58-24 drubbing of the Vikings on December 7. “All we need to do is figure out how to score,” she added.

If their first post-season game is any indication, the Vikings plan on meeting the Beavers with a much different looking team than earlier in the season.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Gill Coliseum.

Written by Doug Cornett, Vanguard staff

A Little Different

For junior forward Kyle Coston, this trip to the NCAA Tournament is much different than last year.

One year ago the Vikings were a first-time March Madness participant and a lowly No. 16 seed that was matched up with national powerhouse and No. 1 seed Kansas. And in Omaha, Neb., Portland State was also in close proximity to Lawrence, Kan., where the eventual national champion Jayhawks call home, bringing the Vikings additional media attention and scrutiny from a host of reporters.

Portland State was under the microscope for a litany of reasons. But that is not the same this year in Boise.

Instead of fighting through crowds of TV reporters, radio hosts and print journalists just to speak with one of the team's players or head coach Ken Bone, there were only a few media members in the Vikings' locker room before practice Thursday. 

And while Portland State is still facing off against a program with a proud NCAA Tournament tradition in Xavier, who has made it to the Big Dance eight of the last nine years, the Musketeers are simply not the same caliber squad as Kansas.

"We're not seeing big lights, we're not seeing Kansas--we're seeing Xavier. And we feel like we have a good chance," Coston said. "We're not just a 16 seed."

Aside from everything else, the biggest difference between Portland State's NCAA Tournament appearances is the fact that as a No. 13 seed the Vikings truly do have a chance, as No. 13 seeds are 20-76 since 1985 while a No. 16 seed has never knocked off a top-seeded squad in the opening round.

Coston said the believability factor is certainly a major change from last season, mainly because Xavier actually has weaknesses that the Vikings might be able to exploit. This is something that the coaches have been harping on over the last week and a half, Coston said, as Bone as his staff have searched for ways to manipulate the Musketeers on both the offensive and defensive ends.

"It was fun just to get here last year. But, like the American dream, you always want more," Coston said.

Like Coston, sophomore forward Phil Nelson was looking loose as usual in the Vikings' locker room just minutes before practice on Thursday. Listening to music and hanging out on a sofa with his teammates, Nelson didn't appear to have a worry in the world. And after talking to him it is clear that is actually the case.

"We're feeling alright," Nelson said with a slight smile. "We're excited to be here, but at the same time it's just another game."

Nelson knows Xavier will be a challenge for the Vikings, as he specifically cited the team's length and ability to rebound the ball as strengths, but the Keizer, Ore., native continued to revert back to the Musketeers' proficiency at grabbing boards.

Above all, Nelson and Coston said the Portland State coaching staff has made it absolutely clear that if the Vikings hope to pull off an upset they must limit Xavier to only one opportunity on the offensive end, making snatching defensive rebounds crucial.

"Limiting them to one shot will be key," Nelson said. "That's how the game will end up."

Another key for Portland State will be pushing the ball up court and dictating the tempo to ensure it remains fast-paced throughout the 40-minute ordeal. With excellent size and strength, Coston compares Xavier to a team the Vikings nearly knocked off on the road this season: Washington.

"They are like a UW--athletic and long," Coston said. "And they play in a tougher league than the Big Sky."

However, despite the perceived shortcomings of Big Sky competition, Coston believes the Vikings have been tested enough times this season to put forth a valiant effort against Xavier. Coston is high on the Vikings non-conference schedule--headlined by matchups with Gonzaga, Washington and Baylor--and thinks the adversity the Vikings endured in those games will benefit them substantially when they walk on the floor in a few hours.

"Our preseason schedule was really designed for us to get to the tournament and play a team like this," Coston said.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Can the confident Vikings pull an upset? Thoughts from Thursday’s shootaround from Taco Bell Arena

The Portland State players have never lacked a confident attitude in what so far has been a roller coaster of a season. On Thursday the No. 13 seeded team from the South Park Blocks came into Boise determined to compete.

But one underlying question regarding this team is, can they play their best basketball game of the season for 40 minutes and defeat no. 4 seeded Xavier, who is playing in their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament.

“Last year we were just happy to get the 16 seed,” said senior guard Andre Murray in a press conference before practice. “But now we’re coming here hungry. We’re looking to get a win or two.”

In order for the Vikings to reach their goal of the second round, they will have to take down a tough and much bigger Xavier squad.

The Musketeers are led by Senior guard B.J. Raymond who averages 14 points per game and played a significant role in the team’s run to the Elite Eight last season.

“When you look at his statistics, the senior season that he’s had arguably is one of the best that we have had in recent times at Xavier,” said Musketeers head coach Sean Miller, who is in his fifth season coaching the team from Cincinatti.

The Vikings took the court at Boise State’s Taco Bell Arena for a brief practice at 5:55 Mountain Standard Time Thursday evening.

Players rotated taking shots and ran various full court drills.Throughout the practice, the players were quiet and seemed to be playing very hesitantly as they adjusted to the new scene.

Unlike their opponent who ran practice about 90 minutes prior to Portland State, the Xavier players were very loose and acted off their prior NCAA tournament experiences.

One advantage the Vikings do have over Xavier is their ability to run the floor. If the Vikings want to compete in tomorrow’s game they must out-run Xavier and get transition buckets.

“I would like us to initiate the tempo of the game, try to get out, try to push it, see if we can’t get a good look at the basket in transition,” said Portland State head coach Ken Bone.

A few thoughts about the game:

I expect senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez to have a solid game. The Big Sky tournament MVP has willed this team back to the NCAA tournament.

The defensive matchup against BJ Raymond will be interesting. It is unclear which Portland State defender will start off on Raymond although it will most likely be junior wing Phil Nelson. Junior forward Kyle Coston has played solid defense of late, in particular a nice effort in the conference championship game against Montana State

The Vikings Big men vs. Xavier Big men: If Jamie Jones and Julius Thomas can out run Xavier’s Jared Love, the Vikings can have easy scoring opportunities in transition.

Waters-Thomas combination: The Vikings bench will have to outplay Xavier’s lack of depth. In the conference tournament Dominic Waters and Julius Thomas connected frequently, with Waters dishing out brilliant assists that typically resulted in highlight dunks from Thomas.

Posted by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff
All photos taken by Rodrigo Melgarejo, Vanguard photographer

Reporting From Xavier's Practice

Just moments ago head coach Sean Miller and the Xavier Musketeers flooded onto the court here in Boise. Only minutes into the Musketeers 40-minute shootaround, it is clear Portland State will have its hands full when the teams face off in tomorrow's opening round matchup.

Throughout the practice I will note observations about the Musketeers.

-Raymond might be a problem

Senior wingman B.J. Raymond is likely to give whichever Viking matches up with him fits. At 6-6, 226 pounds, Raymond is thick and muscular in a way that would describe only a few Vikings. On top of that, the All-Atlantic-10 First Team player shoots an impressive 42 percent from the three-point line, making him that much more dangerous.

Portland State forward Phil Nelson possesses comparable height, however, the primary difference is that the 6-foot-7 Keizer, Ore., native's frame is much leaner than Raymond's. If head coach Ken Bone opts to assign Nelson the tough task of guarding Raymond, then Portland State's best hope is that Nelson's long arms will help alter some of the his three-point attempts. When it comes to covering Raymond inside the arc, Nelson will likely need some help from the weak side, which will probably come from Jamie Jones or Julius Thomas from the paint.

-The comfort factor

It goes without saying that Xavier's recent tradition of participating in the March Madness festivities, appearing in the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine years, gives the Musketeers a decisive advantage over a Portland State program making its second ever trip to the Big Dance.

With all of that experience playing on a stage that only the NCAA Tournament can create, Xavier is frankly more familiar with the pressures of competing in important games in March. The Musketeers have been exposed to the media attention, hectic travel schedule and hassle of quickly preparing for a team located on the other side of the country. And it certainly shows.

The Musketeers appear loose, laughing with one another and taking things in stride before the coaches broke up the party by demanding pristine execution during all the drills. While it is difficult to precisely articulate, it's evident through their body language -- and the fact that they spent the final five minutes of practice shooting half-court shots -- that Xavier's players and coaches are unfazed by the scene of the NCAA Tournament.

It will be interesting to see whether Portland State looks nearly as comfortable during its practice this evening.


The Musketeers have some solid shooters, their guards look fairly quick and they possesses size down low, but the most alarming reality for those close to Portland State is Xavier's sheer strength. Nearly every player on the roster has the appearance of a part-time trainer, especially a few of the wingmen--such as the aforementioned Raymond, C.J. Anderson and Derrick Brown--who should prove to be difficult assignments for their Viking counterparts.
Earlier this season Portland State dropped a couple respectable losses to teams comparable to Xavier in the strength category in Washington and Baylor. In both of those games the Vikings had trouble stymieing their bigger, more powerful opponents in the paint, leaving golden opportunities for the Huskies and Bears to capitalize.

If Portland State hopes to stop history from repeating itself Friday evening, then the Vikings must employ an up-tempo, energized attack that allows them to beat the Musketeers with their legs rather than being beat by Xavier's superior arms. This is how the Vikings neutralized Boise State's big men back in February, with ballhawking defense that turned into easy fastbreaks and a quick-but-accurate-trigger on the offensive end.

Men's Basketball Preview

What: NCAA Tournament East Regional First Round Game

Who: No. 13 seed Portland State (23-9) vs. No. 4 seed Xavier (25-7)

When: Friday, March 16, 4:25 p.m.

Where: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID

On the air: TV: CBS/ KOIN 6, radio: 800 AM (KPDQ)

2008 Tournament History:

No. 3 seed Xavier lost to No. 1 seed UCLA 76-57 in West Regional Final. Defeated Georgia, Purdue, and West Virginia.

No 16. Portland State lost to No.1 seed Kansas 85-61 in the South Regional first round.

Just a taste: The Musketeers of Xavier enter the big dance as regular season conference champion of the Atlantic 10 conference and are ranked 22nd in the coaches polls.

Their last game was a two-point loss to Temple in the A10 conference tournament semifinal. Temple went on to win the tournament securing an NCAA tournament berth.

Xavier has an impressive tournament resume with victories over last year’s National Champion runner-up, Memphis, and SEC conference champion Louisiana State. Notable losses for the Musketeers from teams competing in the NCAA tournament include an 18-point loss at Duke and a nine-point loss to Butler.

Two-time Big Sky tournament champion Portland State will come to Boise riding a season high six-game winning streak.

The Vikings were surprised by a No. 13 seed from the tournament committee after last year’s drawing of a 16 seed and a date with eventual tournament champion Kansas.

Portland State’s victory at Gonzaga stands out as the biggest win for the season while a one-point loss to PAC-10 regular season champion Washington shows that the Vikings can compete with teams that were given high seeds in the tournament. Washington, like Xavier, is a No. four seed in the West Regional.

Stars: Xavier has three starters that average double digits in scoring. Senior B.J. Raymond leads the team in scoring averaging 14 points per game, while forwards Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson score 13.8 and 10 points each contest respectively. The Musketeers rely heavily on their rebounding. They are eighth in the country in total rebounds while holding opponents to an average of 62.3 points a game.

BJ Raymond

The Vikings will be led by senior captain and Big Sky tournament MVP Jeremiah Dominguez. Dominguez has scored in double digits in the last five games averaging 16.8 points in those games.

PSU will also rely heavily from fellow starting guard and senior Andrew Murray, who played a significant role in getting the Vikings back to the big dance for the second year in a row. Starting forward Phil Nelson and Jamie Jones will also need productive games for the Vikings to get the upset over Xavier. Both players struggled with scoring in the conference tournament.

X-Factor Matchup: Xavier’s Bench vs. Portland State’s Bench

The Vikings look to have a much deeper bench than the Musketeers. Junior guard Dominic Waters and forward Julius Thomas have developed a nice two-man game that has been difficult for defenders to stop. Waters is a threat from the outside while Thomas is a force underneath the basket. No player from the Xavier bench averages more than five points a game.

Written by Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Early Morning Pontificating From Boise

Boise State Univeristy

Earlier this evening the Vanguard arrived here in Boise. And after chowing down on dinner downtown and making a quick stop by Fred Meyer to pick up some last-second essentials, everything is winding down and most of the "Tournament Team" members are resting up for tomorrow's practice sessions.

However, while it is approaching midnight, I find myself in a coffee-induced state of perkiness. Joined in Boise by sports editor Skyler Archibald, beat reporter Tom Sedun and photographer Rodrigo Melgarejo, I already believe this trip to the NCAA Tournament is different for Portland State. At least it feels that way.

As the only member of this quartet that traveled to Omaha to cover the Vikings' initial foray into the depths of March Madness, I have a bit of perspective. Excitement fueled the tournament appearance last season. The team was thrilled to have "Portland State" inscribed across an official NCAA Tournament sign outside its locker room and appeared content just to share the floor with Kansas.

That overwhelming sense of excitement seems to be tempered this time around. Like Ken Bone and his team, I have experienced March Madness up close before, and this trip is defined more by a feeling of legitimacy and respect for the program developing in Portland's South Park Blocks rather than over-the-top excitement. And that starts with the athletic administration and flows directly down to the players.

Speaking of the players, Jeremiah Dominguez, Phil Nelson, Andre Murray and Co. will step on the floor at Taco Bell Arena slightly after 4 p.m. Pacific Time for a rather brief shootaround that better resembles a football walk-through than an actual practice.

In Omaha, the vast majority of the players were tense and reserved during in a similar mini practice session. Forward Kyle Coston was one of the few players that broke out of his shell, unleashing a handful of tantalizing dunks to entertain the scanty number of spectators that where on hand. But outside of Coston, the flashes of a team that had dominated its conference and deserved to have a chip on its shoulder were limited.
When the Vikings faced off against Kansas the following morning it was evident the uncomfortableness strolled on the court with them. With that said, we will know much more about how Portland State is feeling this year, and, as a result, what the Vikings' chances are of upsetting a solid Xavier squad.

If my faculties are functioning properly, I have a hunch Bone will have his players better prepared, both mentally and physically, and the Vikings will stroll onto the court a much more confident bunch than they did last year. It feels more like business--not pleasure--this time around.

But we will have a better idea if that is truly the case tomorrow. Check back throughout the day, but certainly frequent the blog and Web site in the late evening for the lowdown on practice, a pulse on the team's mood and an in-depth examination of Xavier.

--Nathan Hellman

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why do you love the Tourney?- Jerseys Anyone?

For many, the pageantry of college basketball is the binding force that keeps us excited about March Madness year after year.

Just like college football, the colors, jerseys, pep bands, cheerleaders and all of the hoopla that CBS and ESPN can throw at you keep me and millions of basketball fans tuned in from the early season moments of Midnight Madness to Selection Sunday and all the way through the Final Four.

This year, like any other, I have filled out two brackets.

The first is based on which teams I actually feel will win and is not particularly unique from the millions of others being filled out.

But my other bracket is chosen based on the most beautiful uniform that is playing in the game. Michigan’s classic navy jerseys that they seem to have been wearing for twenty years take the cake over Clemson’s Nike horn pattern, for example.

In filling out my uniform bracket this year, I came across some interesting tidbits that I found worth mentioning. I have divided the observations into the four regions.

Midwest Region

It always seems strange when teams have the All-American look going strong on their jerseys. The red, white and blue has become synonymous with the flag that represents our country but it typically doesn’t have the same aesthetics on a basketball court.

This region has three teams, (Kansas, Dayton and Arizona) that sport the red, white and blue although there is some variation in each team’s shade of blue. I am particular fond of Dayton’s and have them advancing all the way to my Uniform Final Four, although I wish that the Flyers would wear this jersey more often.

What a thing of beauty this matchup would be...

Stumptown Sports Hook has noticed some striking similarities between Cleveland State and our homegrown Portland State squad. The school’s share a mascot--Vikings-- but also share colors and there are some striking similarities in the mascots...

Cleveland State vs. Portland State.

You decide...

Boston College
and USC both seem to sport a similar color palette but the Eagles are the lone representative in the tourney sporting Reebok gear.

Uniform Picks: Arizona, Wake Forest, Dayton, Kansas, Michigan State with Arizona and Dayton advancing to the Elite Eight. Like we said before, we like Dayton...

Best first round matchup: West Virginia vs. Dayton Best potential matchup: Dayton vs. Arizona

West Region

While pouring over the West region we came across one abnormality that the people from the state of Utah have likely debated before. Both Brigham Young and Utah State seem to be running off the same jersey with the same basic colors of Navy and White. Interesting....

The West region features an interesting brand matchup with Maryland (thankfully the only Under Armour team in the tourney) meeting Cal (one of only two teams clothed by Jordan). We like the Golden Bears.

Memphis, after their embarrassing (uniform) in the national championship last year switched to Nike and the swooshers from Beaverton gave the Tigers something special for their inaugural Nike season.

Someone might want to remind John Calipari that special arrangements haven’t worked out so well for the Ducks.

We would be remised if we didn’t bring attention to the Marquette jerseys, not only the most original and most bold in the tourney but also our overall favorite. The Stumptown Sports Hook is headed to Boise to watch Portland State take on Xavier but don’t blame us for wanting a close look at the Golden Eagles, who also will head to Potato country.

Uniform Picks: Marquette, Marquette, Marquette... But if you horizontal stripes aren’t your thing, check out Cal, Washington (minus the annoying shoulder thing and UCONN, just not the silver jerseys)

Best first round matchup: Washington vs. Mississippi St. I don’t usually have an affinity for purple so I’ll hope that the Huskies will go with the white or gold.
Best potential matchup: Connecticut vs. Marquette

East Region
Besides boasting our own Vikings of Portland State, the East region has one of the more unique uniform matchups of the tourney. When Oklahoma State takes on Tennessee, the orange on orange battle will reign supreme.

I am partial to the creamsicle of the Volunteers but since I can’t stand watching the academic juggernauts that Bruce Pearl deploys, its hard to root for them.

The East has a staggering 12 of the 16 teams dressed in Nike apparel. Included in that bunch is the beautiful jerseys of Villanova, the classic (up until the ACC Tournament) Duke blue’s and the busy, busy black jerseys of Florida State.

For all the talk about VCU defeating the history-rich tradition of UCLA, I just don’t see their jerseys pushing the Bruins around one bit.

Uniform Picks: Tennessee, Villanova, Duke

Best first round matchup: Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
Best potential matchup: UCLA vs. ‘Nova

South Region

For some reason, I have a hard time getting excited about the aesthetics of this bracket. Outside of Gonzaga’s patented number font and Carolina’s argyle on the shorts there isn’t too much to care about.

Of course, then I saw that Syracuse is in the bottom half of the bracket and my pulse jumped a bit. Maybe it’s the way they play, or the 2-3 defense or the fact that they always seem to have a white guy that annoys the crap out of opponents.

I personally think that its the orange jerseys... I am praying that the Orange advance all the way to the Final Four, only so I can see those jerseys in primetime a few more times.

For a sleeper pick in the South, check out Akron who apparently gets some special benefits from Lebron James, the King of preferential treatment. James’ high school coach is now the coach of the Zips...

Uniform Picks: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Michigan

Best first round matchup: Arizona St vs. Temple
Best potential matchup: Michigan vs. Syracuse

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vikings matched up with Xavier in first round: Portland State earns a No. 13 seed and will face the Musketeers in Boise on Friday

The Vikings learned what a difference one year makes on Sunday afternoon when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee slotted the repeat Big Sky Champions as a surprising 13 seed and rewarded head coach Ken Bone’s squad with a first round game in Boise, Idaho.

Last season, the Vikings rolled through the Big Sky Conference and tournament but lacked a signature non-conference win and were seeded No. 16 leading to a difficult first round matchup with eventual national champion Kansas.

But this year, a December victory against Gonzaga coupled with a Portland State victory for the second consecutive year at the Big Sky Tournament earned the Vikings a much-improved and more winnable game against Xavier of the Atlantic-10 Conference.

The Musketeers seemed like a lock for a better seed until they were upset by Temple in the A-10 Semifinals on Friday. They boast a 25-7 record and were 12-4 in conference play.

Included in those seven defeats were losses at Duke, Duquesne, Dayton, Charlotte, Temple and Richmond. The Musketeers lost only one home game all season, on Dec. 23 (the same day the Vikings defeated Gonzaga) to Butler. Three of their seven losses came to NCAA Tournament teams but Xavier has posted impressive wins over Missouri, Virginia Tech, Memphis, Auburn, Cincinnati and Virginia.

Xavier is led in scoring by 6-6 senior forward B.J. Raymond who averages 14.1 points per game and shoots 42 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Junior forward Derrick Brown provides the interior presence for the Musketeers averaging 13.8 points and 6 rebounds per game.

The matchup will be the first in the history of the two schools and the Vikings have never faced an opponent from the Atlantic 10. Game time for the first round contest has yet to be announced.

Portland State and Xavier will join Florida State, Wisconsin, Marquette, Utah State, Missouri and Cornell in first round games at Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vikings release football schedule: Red Raiders will head to PGE Park

As suspected when we broke the tentative football schedule several weeks ago, the Vikings will head into the 2009 season looking favorably at the schedule.

Portland State will open up the season at Reser Stadium in Corvallis in a game that will likely be televised on FSN. They'll continue their trip through college football in Oregon with a matchup against NAIA Southern Oregon.

The Red Raiders are considering elevating athletics to Division II status where they would be able to compete against Western Oregon and Humboldt State, both more accessible to SOU out of Ashland.

The Vikings will take on Montana in the squads road and Big Sky opener but then will play four of five at home in a stretch that will determine the teams ability to achieve their goal of making the subdivision playoffs.

Unlike last season, the Vikings will likely play just one "cold weather game" when they take on Eastern Washington in Cheney on Oct. 31. They also head to Pocatello for a matchup with the Bengals but will play in a dome in their season finale.

The full schedule is as follows:

Sept. 5
at Oregon State, TBA

Sept. 12
vs. SOUTHERN OREGON, 1:05 p.m.

Sept. 19
at Montana, 12:05 p.m. PT

Sept. 26
vs. WEBER STATE, 1:05 p.m.

Oct. 3
vs. SACRAMENTO STATE, 1:05 p.m.

Oct. 10
at Northern Colorado, TBA

Oct. 17
vs. NORTHERN ARIZONA, 1:05 p.m.

Oct. 24
vs. UC DAVIS, 1:05 p.m.

Oct. 31
at Eastern Washington, TBA

Nov. 7
vs. MONTANA STATE, 1:05 p.m.

Nov. 14
at Idaho State, TBA

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PSU headed to the Dance again, 79-77

Written by: Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

The Portland State Vikings are headed to the NCAA tournament again after defeating Montana State in a wire to wire 79-77 victory over Montana State in front of 1546 at the Dee Event Center in Ogden, Utah.

“We beat an impressive team in Montana State, said head coach Ken Bone who has now led the Vikings to its second NCAA tournament in school history. “This victory is a tribute to our team.”

Senior captain Jeremiah Dominguez led all scorers with 22 points and was named the Big Sky tournament Most Valuable Player. Divaldo Mbunga led the Bobcats with 20 points and ten rebounds.

“It’s a great feeling after working so hard,” Dominguez said. “We had some struggles in the middle of the season, but we were able to come out and win the championship.”

“Jeremiah put us on his back,” said junior forward Julius Thomas who scored 17, including the game winning slam from Dominic Waters with five seconds remaining.”He is the leader of this team.”

The first half was nip and tuck with both teams exchanging baskets en route to a 40-39 halftime lead for the Vikings. Kyle Coston provided much of the energy for the high scoring half for Portland State with seven points.

“Kyle came out with tremendous confidence,” said Bone. “He was a definite presence on the defensive end.”

In the second half with the game tied at 50 and Montana State being the early aggressors, Dominguez ignited his team to a 11-1 run giving Portland State a ten-point advantage with 12:25 to play.

“I didn’t want to go out like that,” Dominguez said. “I got a feeling in my stomach and sometimes you feel confident in yourself; luckily I hit some big shots and made some plays down the stretch.”

Montana State had a chance to force overtime or win the game outright with 2.5 seconds remaining. But junior guard Dominic Waters stripped Brendan Johnson in the middle of his game winning shot attempt.

“They (Montana State) threw it to Howard and Dom’ (Waters) guarded him well,” Bone said.
Now the Vikings wait for selection Sunday to see who and where they will play their first round game.

“Last year was exciting to get to the tournament, this year we’re excited to be going again, but lets try to build from last year’s experience and go win a game.

Vikings look to be pulling away: lead 71-62

If your dancing shoes got a little dusty over the past 12 months, you better shine them up because it looks like the Vikings are pulling away from Montana State. A win, of course, would earn the club their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Men’s Basketball Preview: Big Sky Championship Edition

What: Portland State (22-9, 12-5 BSC) vs. Montana State (14-16, 7-10)
Where: Dee Events Center, Ogden, Utah
When: 7:30 p.m., Tonight
On the air: 800 AM KPDQ (audio, Tom Hewitt play-by-play), ESPN2 (Comcast channel 36)

Stars: Montana State has had an inconsistent year thus far, but when the Bobcats have played well it has been based heavily on the inside presence of senior All Big Sky center Divaldo Mbunga.

Mbunga, the Zach Randolph lookalike, is a force on the glass and on defense. In their win over Weber State he had 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

The Montana State backcourt tandem of Marquis Navarre and Will Bynum form a strong duo of players capable of running the offense and scoring. Combined, they average 15 points per game but have been effective in hounding opposing ball handlers with their quickness.

In addition to those three stars, Junior Branden Johnson was the player of the game for Montana State in their semifinal victory. The southpaw shooter hit four of his six threes en route to a team high 16 points.

Portland State will need a strong game from at least two of their perimeter players. In their semifinal victory over Idaho State, it was junior Dominic Waters who sparked the team in the first half and senior guard Andre Murray who brought the team to life in a stagnant second half.

A key matchup should be Johnson and Portland State junior forward Kyle Coston. Both players like to roam outside the three point line and three’s by either will help either team establish the spacing and tempo that both of these teams will want to play at.

Just a taste: An unlikely pairing, the two squads will meet for the third time this season, but this time a Big Sky Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament will be on the line.

Montana State has bulldozed through two of the top three seeds in the conference, all on the road, and will have an opportunity to knock off the Vikings and earn the school’s third ever trip to the Big Dance.

Portland State is making their second consecutive trip to the championship game and will have to give a more consistent effort should they earn a subsequent berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Vikings have struggled with consistency within games this season and only played well during the first half of their 61-53 semifinal victory over the Bengals.

The two teams split their matchups this season, with Montana State eking out a narrow three point victory in Bozeman and Portland State picking up a six point win at the Stott Center.

With host Weber State dropping their semifinal yesterday and nearby Idaho State also stumbling, the Big Sky Championship will likely be played in front of just a few hundred fans as neither Montana State nor Portland State looked well supported in their semifinal.

This will be the second time this season that the Vikings have appeared in a ESPN game. Portland State defeated Boise Stat on Feb. 21 in the other game.

The two squads met last in the Big Sky Tournament in 2007, when Portland State defeated the Bobcats, 96-71 in a quarterfinal game played at the Stott Center.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Favorites shocked: Weber State falls in a stunner to No. 6 seed Montana State

In a game that not a soul was bold enough to predict, Montana State defeated Weber State in the Big Sky Tournament Semifinals, 70-61.

The win advances Montana State, an unlikely participant, to the Big Sky Championship where they will face the No. 2 seeded Portland State in the championship game tomorrow evening. At stake will be a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the first for Montana State since 1996.

The Bobcats trounced the host Wildcats, who they had fallen to by 20 points just one week ago, behind a terrific defensive performance and sharpshooting from the perimeter.

Weber State managed to hit just four of their 26 three-point attempts while Montana State shot an efficient 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Wildcats shot just 33 percent from the field for the game and had just eight team assists.

“They played really hard,” Kellen McCoy, Weber State’s senior guard said. “We just didn’t hit our shots and they came in with a lot of heart. Everything changed from two weeks ago.”

The loss left the 5,162 in attendance devastated, and the host Wildcats wondering what went wrong.

Montana State, who barely snuck into the Big Sky Tournament, upset rival Montana in a road game last Saturday to earn their ticket to Ogden.

On Tuesday night, they made believers out of the rest of the conference by handing Weber State just their second loss of the conference season.

“Our guys persevered through a lot this season,” said Montana State head coach Brad Huse. “This win is exciting for our program, exciting for our university.”

The Big Sky MVP, McCoy, had an off-night and was hounded by defensive pressure from Marquis Navarre and Will Bynum. McCoy finished with just 16 points but struggled from the perimeter and hit just four of 10 field goal attempts. He also had six turnovers.

Navarre and Bynum had 17 total points and joined Branden Johnson, Erik Rush and Divaldo Mbunga in holding off a furious Weber State rally in the waning moments.

The Weber State freshman combination of Damian Lillard and Kyle Bullinger that spurned Big Sky opponents during the regular season was held in check for the majority of the game. They combined for just 10 total points.

Momentum may have swung as early as the final moments of the first half when a Bynum steal led to a thunderous transition dunk over Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, Weber State forward Daviin Davis.

Bynum’s play and the subsequent technical foul he earned for jawing with Davis infuriated the crowd but ignited a strong run by the Bobcats to close the half.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Weber State will continue their season in the NIT. Due to the defeat, the Wildcats will claim the conference’s automatic bid to the tournament and could possibly host a first-round game next week.

Montana State will move on to keep their streaking run through the Big Sky Tournament with a chance to take their lackluster 13-16 record to the NCAA Tournament with a victory over Portland State tomorrow night.

Vikings Stumble into Big Sky Championship

Written by: Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Ogden, Utah- For the second consecutive season, the Portland State Vikings have reached the Big Sky conference tournament championship game. And for the second consecutive year they reached the conference championship by defeating Idaho State.

The Vikings were able to pull out a 61-53 victory in front of 2779 at the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State.

The road back to the final did not come easy for the Vikings who let Idaho State rally from a 19-point halftime deficit.

“Well it wasn’t the prettiest of games but we are glad that we were able to win,” said Portland State head coach Ken Bone. “It feels great to be back in the championship game. It’s something we have been striving for all season long.”

Andre Murray led all scorers with 24 points and scored 13 of Portland State’s 19 points in the second half. “They were beating us in transition,” Murray said. “I felt I needed to score the ball for us.”

Portland State went on a 22-2 run in the first half to give the defending Big Sky champions a 42-23 halftime advantage, Phil Nelson scored 12 of his 14 in the first half.

But much like their earlier meeting in Pocatello, the Bengals opened the second half with an 18-3 run and had all the momentum late in the ball game.

“I told the guys that this game was just like that one. Idaho State is a very good team and could have very well been in the championship game,” Bone said.

With the Bengals only trailing the Vikings by three with Jeremiah Dominguez sealed the Portland State victory by hitting three free throws, all in the final minute.

“It’s great we are back in the championship game,” said the first team all Big Sky guard. “But we need to play focused for forty minutes in order to win tomorrow.”

Even though the game was not the finest performance from the Vikings, the victory was satisfying enough, at least for one night.

“A win is a win,” said Andre Murray. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a blowout or by one point, I’ll take it.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Marnix, our student blogger predicts the conference tourneys...sort of

By now, most of you will have familiarized yourselves with our student and unabashed Viking fan, Marnix Brinkhoff.

He took a few days off but Marnix is back with a guest post about how he feels the men's and women's basketball teams will do in the Big Sky Tournament's this weekend.

With March Madness around the corner that can mean only one thing: Conference Tournaments!

With the Men’s Big Sky Tournament kicking off tomorrow and the women’s later this week here are my predictions for both Tournaments this week.

Men’s Semifinals:

Portland State vs. Idaho State: I predict PSU wins this match-up, because the team is rested and hopefully pumped for the opportunity to play again on television with an opportunity to defend their Big Sky Conference Crown.

Weber State vs. Montana State: Even though MSU is the only team to beat Weber State in conference this year, the Wildcats are no joke and come to play every night.

Men’s Final:Weber State v. Portland State.

I believe the Vikings will show up to this one, but with the poise and leadership the Wildcats have, I’m going to have to give the edge to Weber State.

It pains me to say such a thing and I’ve never wanted to be proved wrong more, but I believe the Wildcats are going to win, because they are consistent, have worked hard and gotten better all year.

Even though the bright lights of ESPN will be shining again, I just don’t see the lethargic Vikings being able to pull off what I would classify as a huge upset.

Women’s Semifinals:

Screw it, lets just get straight to the inevitable finale: Portland State and Montana.

Portland State vs. Montana: The clash of the two titans in Big Sky women’s basketball should be quite the match-up.

Last Saturday’s game would have been quite the match-up too, but Comcast is too sexist to cover the game I guess, but I digress.

My prediction for next week’s match-up is that the Vikings pull off the victory and gain a berth to the NCAA tournament, because Kelsey Kahle and Claire Faucher are just too big of competitors to let another “W” slip through their grasp.

Besides, I’m still a Viking fan and I still hate Montana so there is no way I can predict them to win.

Well, those are my predictions. You can like them or you can hate them. I may be wrong or I may be right, but either way be sure to tune in and cheer the Vikings on!

Marnix, our student blogger predicts the conference tourney'

Comments on Quarterback Free Agency

Posted by Vanguard sports writer, Allison Whited

The shake-ups that rattle the football world during free agency are felt most strongly in the quarterback position. And this off-season has had it's fair share of seismic activity.

Kurt Warner just signed a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, practically guaranteeing that the 37-year old QB will end his career in the desert. Good for him. But I take a little issue with his attitude. Warner's agent made it clear at the beginning of free agency that Warner was due the pay that the top five QBs receive. Mind you, despite some spectacular years, he has had more than his fair share of throw away years. Does anybody remember Kurt Warner, mentor extraordinaire to Eli Manning in New York? No, you say. That's with good reason. It was more than forgettable. It was worthy of traumatic amnesia. It is also well-known that he has been battling for the starting job every year since Matt Leinart was drafted.

I'm moving on to Jay Cutler now. Poor, poor Jay Cutler. I despised him when Denver drafted him because I knew that would be the end of Jake “The Snake” Plummer, and I adored that guy and his on-field intelligence. But today, my heart is with Jay Cutler. Josh McDaniels needs to realize he is now the head coach of a team and that being in that position requires a certain amount of poise and awareness. Let me set the scene for you. On the eve of free-agency, McDaniels and Broncos brass make a disorganized, incomplete play to acquire McDaniels's former QB protégé Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots, sending Cutler to Detroit. Never mind that Cutler has three years left on his contract. Never mind that he had a great season last year, despite the team's overall inadequacies. Never mind that he is the exact kind of QB the Denver fans demand, an image of John Elway formed by God's own hand. Elway is a god there, make no mistake.

So the deal falls through and Cassel heads to Kansas City. Good for Denver fans I think because they would never be able to stomach a QB like him. And because the dealings in free agency are spread around in a fashion similar to the spreading of a rumor in a girl's locker room, Cutler's agent found out and kindly let him know. Now Jake Cutler is sad. Very sad. He has said to anyone who will listen he will not talk to the team right now and that he is in an utter state of shock about what happened. Now all McDaniels has done is created a bitter pot for Cutler to stew in during the off-season. And what Denver needs more than anything is a revamped defense. Mike Shanahan's grave was the skill he put into offense. In my opinion, McDaniels has really blown his first big call as a head coach. I sincerely hope this ordeal makes him grow up quickly so that he can have a long career in this one-shot-don't-screw-it-up league.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Odds are set at 3:1 that Kyle Coston earns a technical foul in Ogden

After doing some preliminary research on the subject, the evidence is in. Junior forward Kyle Coston , a man with many talents, is the most likely player at the Big Sky Tournament to earn himself a technical foul.

Coston, a junior lefty with a strong outside shooting touch, is leading the team in fouls heading into the Big Sky Tourney. This comes despite Coston often being handed the least physical of the opposition's front-line players, with either Jamie Jones or Julius Thomas typically defending the bigger and better opposing post.

Kyle also leads the team in technical fouls--he has earned two in the past four games. Now, certainly he isn't approaching Rasheed-level status but a closer look and a trip down memory lane demonstrates that if the Big Sky Tournament had some prop bets for the action in Ogden, put your money on a Coston infraction.

He may have only technically (ha, ha) earned two technical fouls but fans of the Vikings will remember a few other points of evidence that could work against the Southpaw.

1- Coston and Portland forward Robin Smeulders tangle underneath the hoop in the Vikings Stott Center opener. No technicals are assessed but there was certainly some extracurricular activity, if you know what I'm saying.

2- Coston and Seattle Redhawks' Austen Powers and Mike Boxley get tangled up on several occasions. Again, no whistle but there could have been.

3- The Vikings and Idaho State scuffle on the way to the locker rooms at the end of the first half at the Stott Center. Surely, Coston isn't solely responsible for the altercation but he was definitely there and definitely involved.

4- Chris Kaba of Northern Colorado and Coston go nose to nose after a physical play in the second half. Finally some game control by the zebras, as both are assessed T's.

5- The great dunker that he is, Coston is whistled for dunking during warmups of the Eastern Washington game. Not necessarily a fight but you can label it in the bonehead category.

Now, what do all of these bodies of evidence tell us? I don't think they say that Coston is a dirty player or that he is cheap or anything like that. I think these pieces of evidence and my own personal knowledge of Coston indicate more than anything, that he is a maturing young man and he still has some growth left in him in that sense.

Sometimes he just doesn't make the best decisions on the court, especially when emotions are high.

Now, on to the readings of the week-
Jim Moore of the Seattle PI has a good story about a former high-school and college star who suddenly was diagnosed with cancer.

The annoying logos that the NCAA had previously used on all their NCAA Tournament courts are going by the way side because players were slipping all over them.

No that it matters really but CollegeRpi has the following from the Big Sky Teams
Weber State: 95
Portland State: 119
Montana: 164
Idaho State: 201
Northern Colorado: 261

Montana State: 242

Eastern Washington: 237
Northern Arizona: 295
Sacramento State: 341 (of 344 teams)

Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats advancing from the Big Sky Championships and drawing a No. 14 seed. He also said PSU would get no worse than a No. 15 seed last year so take it for what its worth.

Anyways make sure to stay tuned- The Stumptown Sports Hook is headed to Ogden next week!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Free Agency '09 (or how Dan Snyder lost his damn mind)

by Vanguard Sports writer, Allison Whited

The first weekend of free agency for the NFL is a roller coaster ride like no other.

It's one of those times when in one minute your heart is so swollen with joy it could burst in and in the next you're on your knees crying and trying hold back the knot of nausea in the pit of your stomach.

There have been some great signings, things I really believe are good moves. Bart Scott to New York is a fine move by a fine head coach who seems to have the class and defensive wisdom of his father. Scott is truly one of those additions that is worth it at any price.

I do not like, as you can guess, the 'Skins free agency moves.

No, no. I know what you're thinking. I can get past the Haynesworth deal. Personally, I think he's overrated. He only performs when it's a contract year and he is injury prone, even if it is small injuries. Being without an important piece of your defense like that for even a couple of games each season is like missing a puzzle piece, but not an inconspicuous edge piece.

It's like missing the piece in the middle of the puzzle. Also, I would like to remind everyone that the man cleated Cowboys center Andre Gurode's face. Very rude and speaks loudly about his inner character. Despite the $100 million on his contract, Haynesworth will more likely see about $48 million, which while still a lot, is not $100 million.

My biggest problem is with the DeAngelo Hall deal. Six years and $54 million. Really? Really??? This is a man that was cut midway through the season by the hapless Raiders last year before being picked up by the Redskins. Really?

The deal includes $22.5 million guaranteed. It's astounding. He was not a presence in Atlanta where he began his career. He had a whopping two picks in eight games for the Skins this past season. This contract is almost on par with Raider's cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's $15 million per year contract and his skill level is something Hall could never dream of replicating.

You cannot buy championships, can you Cowboys, Jets, and Redskins teams past? Dan Snyder should know better than to make these deals by now. Talent is inherent in players and throwing more money at them won't increase their production. All Snyder has done is lock the team into more salary cap crises in the future.

I think all the time he spent with Tom Cruise at home games in the owner's box last season must have had an adverse effect on his rational thinking... DeAngelo Hall... Really???

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Vikings grab No. 2 seed in conference tourney and something special for the second week in a row...

After four straight wins to close the regular season, the men's basketball team earned a first round bye in the Big Sky Tournament and will not open the tournament until the semifinals next Tuesday night.

If the chalk holds out, and its a safe assumption, you can bet that PSU will likely take on Montana in that semifinal game. My feelings about the squad not playing until nine days from now are mixed.

Another home game and you obviously have the chance to keep improving and continue perfecting the offensive scheme of working inside-out. But of course there is always the possibility that the Vikings could lose that game and given the fact that they got beat by Montana State (who would have been their opponent) in Bozeman earlier in the year, it might be a good thing.

Anyhow, we will definitely have a more thorough breakdown of the Big Sky Tournament later this week. As for now, on to other things...

Last week our guest commentator, a Portland State student and fan, made known his feelings about the fans that made their presence known in front of the ESPN cameras... This week he is ranting about another itch: the possible renovation of the Stott Center.

Feelings around campus are mixed. As any observer could tell you, the student section is hardly full and rarely boisterous. Why should we quadruple the seating capacity of the gym when it does not sellout currently?

Well our man Marnix has a solid take on it.

There are many who feel that the Stott Center Renovation is a pointless and wasteful project that Portland State shouldn’t waste there time with. To those “nay sayers” I would like you to think about the following…

As the men’s team wraps up their 2008-2009 season with a 12-1 home record and the women’s team going 13-2, I don’t see any reason why the athletes that represent the PSU colors on the hard-court don't deserve to play in a legitimate gymnasium.

If money is the issue maybe we should take some money from “high-profile” but under-performing coaches (Glanville) or programs (football).

If your complaint is that Portland State should focus on academics, I would propose the notion that investing and building a national athletics program is the road to such an idea. Think about it, outside of the Ivy League schools, all the national powerhouses in either football or basketball are considered to have highly reputable academic institutions.

For example,
USC with Football, Duke or North Carolina with Basketball, or Texas that dominates in just about every athletic event are all highly regarded academically in addition to being powerhouses in sports.

Whether or not they are good at academics because they are good at sports is not a concrete correlation, but the fact that its works more times than not is a compelling idea.

With that said, I guess I look forward to coming back to campus in a couple of years and seeing the new beautiful stadium the athletic department is working so diligently to build.

Then again, actually filling the new, larger stadium will be a different story (see my posting from Tuesday, Feb. 24).

A decent effort from Marnix in his second such posting of the year... We'll leave you today with a pretty solid youtube video of Northern Idaho Junior College point guard Melvin Jones hitting an impressive shot to help his current squad defeat CSI, which I believe stands for College of Southern Idaho and not something else.

Who is Melvin Jones? Possibly the man who will replace Jeremiah Dominguez as the Vikings starting point guard next season.