2009-10 Portland Basketball Preview: #88
Overall Rank: #88
Conference Rank: #2 West Coast Conference
2008-09: 19-13, 9-5
2008-09 postseason: CIT
Coach: Eric Reveno (37-58 at Portland, 37-58 overall)
After going 18-45 during his first two years at Portland, Coach Eric Reveno finally made some progress during his third season. The Pilots ended up being one of the most pleasant surprises in all of college basketball. Yet, by the end of the year, the team was worn down and limped to the finish line. Still, this was a great year for the team and it ended with a trip to the postseason. With everybody who played significant minutes back, Portland hopes to win their first ever postseason game in 2009-2010.
Key Losses: none
The Pilots will not have any new faces on the team this year since the only departure is center John Hegarty, who only played in seven games and averaged a mere 7.7 minutes last year due to injuries. With four projected starters being seniors, it will be important that some of the younger players start to show some promise or this team will regress back to their old losing ways. But, for now, this should be the year that Portland makes a serious run in the West Coast Conference.
It was the arrival of junior college All-American point guard T.J. Campbell that really turned this team around. Campbell ran the offense very well from day one last year and should be even better in year two. Even more impressive than his 4.7 assists per game was his three-point shooting percentage. Campbell shot an incredible 53.1 percent from beyond the arc and connected on 2.4 long balls per game. That was pretty much the extent of his offense and he could turn into a superb scorer if he mixes it up a little more and finds a way to score around the basket. Nik Raivio is not a bad outside shooter, but he does a lot of scoring around the basket as well. The 6-4 senior led the team with 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals last year and will take all the big shots for the Pilots.
Most of the scoring will come out of the backcourt, but the Pilots frontcourt deserves some accolades too. Robin Smeulders, a 6-10 senior, has developed into the best interior scorer on the team. Yet, he can also step outside and hit the mid-range jumper with relative consistency. Kramer Knutson is the more traditional back to the basket big man and should again be starting beside Smeulders. Junior Luke Sikma is a perfect backup to those two and arguably the best rebounder on the team. Ethan Niedermeyer spent most of last year starting at the small forward position. Mostly the 6-6 senior is an outside shooter, but because of his size he can help out on the glass as well.
Who to Watch:
Niedermeyer may be starting again, but Jared Stohl will likely be on the floor at the end of the game. Despite only earning seven starts during the 2009-2010 campaign, Stohl ranked second on the team with 11.2 points per game. And on a team that already has two great shooters, Stohl was the most prolific outside shooter last year, connecting on nearly three three-pointers per game. However, like Campbell, Stohl does not score very often in other ways. While Campbell will get to the basket and find his teammates, Stohl just rarely moves towards the basket at all. Now an upperclassman, the 6-1 junior needs to be more aggressive and turn into more than just a shooter.
If Stohl does become more aggressive it will be really hard to keep him out of the starting lineup. The team may struggle on the glass in that scenario, but Stohl has the potential to emerge as a terrific scorer. Even if he does not, Portland has more talent on this roster than they have had in a long, long time. Maybe they will not be in the NCAA Tournament, but they could win a postseason game in any of the other tournaments.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
T.J. Campbell, Senior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Nik Raivio, Senior, Guard, 16.0 points per game
Ethan Niedermeyer, Senior, Forward, 4.5 points per game
Robin Smeulders, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Kramer Knutson, Junior, Forward, 6.5 points per game