Tag Archives: Portland Pilots

Photo Gallery: Idaho men’s basketball versus Portland

21 Nov

The Vandal men’s basketball squad allowed a big second-half run by an opposing team for the second game in a row, and the outcome of a 66-53 loss to Portland was the result. The Vandals lost at home in the confines of the Memorial Gym for the first time since coach Don Verlin took control of the team. Under Verlin, the team was perfect in defending their home turf, going 9-0.

Photographer Kate Kucharzyk was at the game and snapped some shots of the action. Hats off to Kate, and we hope you enjoy.

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Boise State 77, Idaho 67

25 Jan

Somewhere in the locker room, there’s an Idaho basketball team that dropped 94 points on Utah and beat No. 25 Portland by 20 points. But those are now distant memories.

Idaho blew a 9-point lead over arch-rival Boise State, giving up an Anthony Thomas buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime — and from there the Broncos took over. Boise State avenged its sweep at the hands of the Vandals last season by defeating Idaho, 77-67.

The Vandals fall to 1-6 in the Western Athletic Conference, while the Broncos get their first win of the conference season and improve to 1-7.

We’ll have a complete postgame report later, but for now, here’s postgame interviews with coach Don Verlin and center Marvin Jefferson.

Turnovers, shooting woes lead to 30-point pasting at Portland

23 Dec

For the third straight game, the Vandals looked more interested in sleeping in than playing basketball last night. The Portland Pilots, hungry for revenge at home after a 20-point Idaho beatdown knocked them out of the Top 25 last week, gladly took advantage.

Canning a school-record ten 3-pointers in an unstoppable performance, Portland guard Jared Stohl made up the margin of victory himself in leading the Pilots to a blowout 82-52 victory over the Vandals in the Chiles Center.

Idaho has looked disjointed, sluggish and indifferent ever since its home win over then-No. 25 Portland two weeks ago. There’s nothing good to talk about from this game, as virtually every stat was a season low for the Vandals: 38 percent shooting, 19 turnovers, even a spectacularly bad 12-for-29 performance from the free-throw line. The loss drops Idaho to 6-4 on the season, with a game next Tuesday against Lewis-Clark State remaining before Western Athletic Conference play opens.

“I’m at a little bit of a loss because I felt like we practiced hard,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “This basketball team simply has got to get ready to play on the road because we didn’t come out to play tonight and I’m disappointed.”

Mac Hopson led the Vandals with 15 points on a respectable 5-for-9 shooting performance, but he turned the ball over three times and was just 1-for-4 from downtown. Idaho’s shooters combined for a season-worst 2-of-11 performance outside the arc, and Steffan Johnson once again was dead quiet — he was just 1-for-8 on the night.

The game was never really competitive, as for the first time all year Idaho didn’t even get a taste of the lead. The Pilots broke open a 7-4 game with a 15-1 run that left the Vandals trailing 22-5 with 11 minutes to go in the first half, keyed by 3-pointers from Stohl, Nik Raivio and Ethan Niedermeyer.

Out of the locker room, the Vandals seemed ready to spark a comeback, as six unanswered points in the paint to open the second half closed the deficit to just 10. But Portland turned to Stohl again, and he delivered — a pair of buckets from downtown keyed an 11-0 Pilots response that broke Idaho’s back.

The Vandals allowed the Pilots to drill 55 percent of their 29 shots from beyond the arc, by far the worst defensive performance of the season, and with Stohl racking up 10 makes on 15 attempts, it’s as if Idaho’s defense didn’t even try.

“You have to give credit to Portland, they shot the ball well and we weren’t ready for it,” Verlin admitted.

Adding to Idaho’s troubles, backup point guard Marcus Lawrence has been suspended indefinitely for unspecified violations of team rules. The oft-troubled UNLV transfer is playing as a walk-on this year after being charged with theft during his redshirt season, leading to the revocation of his scholarship.

A season that started with much promise now seems to have peaked with the home win over Portland, and a tough, deep set of WAC contenders won’t tolerate nights off. One tuneup remains before conference play gets underway, and it’s those contests that will determine whether Idaho’s “Road to Glory” is paved to tournament success — or covered in fool’s gold.

“This team has to get better and it will get better,” Verlin promised. “We’ll get back to work and we’re going to get it done.”

The Vandals get Christmas week off before returning to action Tuesday in Boise with a neutral-site game against Lewis-Clark State, the night before the Humanitarian Bowl.

“Our guys are looking forward to playing in Boise and we’re hoping all the Vandal fans will come out and cheer us on,” Verlin said.

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Hoops Preview: Portland (Deja vu edition)

22 Dec

Yes, the Vandals are playing Portland tonight — and yes, we’ve been there before.

Idaho took down the then-No. 25 Pilots in Moscow on Dec. 6. The stunning 20-point blowout helped knock Portland out of the Top 25.

Now, Idaho travels to Portland, and the Pilots will undoubtedly be out for revenge. Can the Vandals do on the road what they did at home? We’ll find out — the game tips at 7 p.m. We’ll have live scoring updates on Twitter.

The Pilots opened the season with five straight wins, including victories over Oregon, UCLA and No. 22 Minnesota, before losing a close fight to West Virginia. That was enough to earn them their first Top 25 ranking since the 1950s. But from there it was downhill — Portland dropped a close game at home in the city battle with Portland State and then fell to the Vandals.

In their two games since, they’ve edged Denver at home and were torched by Washington on the road. So the Pilots are 6-4.

A win over Idaho would avenge the brutal defeat in Moscow and put the Pilots back on the right track.

For the Vandals, the story is much the same — a win tonight would exorcise the demons of back-to-back disappointments against Washington State and Eastern Oregon, launching Idaho into the WAC season on the right track.

To get the win, the Vandals will need to return to the formula that made them a formidable hoops power: a balanced scoring attack with inside power from Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo and outside sharpshooting from Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson. After sitting the last two games with injury troubles (a big reason why Idaho struggled) Toledo’s scheduled to return to the lineup tonight. He’s got to play well for Idaho to leave the Beaver State with a win.

For our full breakdown on the Pilots from the last game, click here.

Portland 67, Idaho 56

11 Dec

Idaho made it close in the second half, but bigtime buckets from the Pilots and easy layups blown by the Vandals made it another disappointing finish. Portland defeated Idaho, 67-56, in Memorial Gym tonight. The Vandals fell to 1-9 on the season, while the Pilots improved to 6-3.

It might have been the most complete game for the Vandals, but yet again they couldn’t close the deal. They performed particularly well, though, given the absence of two starters: point guard Charlotte Otero and post Yinka Olorunnife, who were suspended by coach Jon Newlee for unspecified conduct detrimental to the team.

Jessica Graham led the Vandals with 18 points on 7-14 shooting, grabbed 6 rebounds and made 3 blocks.

We’ll have a complete postgame report tomorrow.

Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Portland

11 Dec

The Vandal women close out a four-game homestand tonight against the Portland Pilots, and we’ll have all the action for you from courtside in Memorial Gym. Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m., tip-off is scheduled for 7.

Idaho’s men beat the nationally-ranked Pilots on Sunday, and now the women will attempt to complete a home hoops sweep over UP. The Vandals have had a tough start to the season, but a win tonight would be a big confidence booster before they head back out on the road.

Join us for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat with pregame at 6:30 p.m., tip at 7.

Uninspired Vandals ‘whupped’ by Washington State

10 Dec

PULLMAN, Wash. — With 10 minutes to go in the second half and Idaho trailing Washington State by nearly 30 points, the Vandals’ starting five sat glumly on the bench, watching the clock run down on their upset dreams.

Coming off Sunday’s 20-point blowout victory over the No. 25 Portland Pilots, Idaho seemed poised to knock off its cross-border rivals for the first time since 2002. Instead, tonight the Vandals seemed more interested on getting back on the bus to Moscow.

On the strength of a 21-2 run to open the second half, the Cougars drilled Idaho, 76-64, in a game that was not nearly as close as its final score might indicate. The Vandals fell to 5-3 on the season while WSU improved to 7-2.

A clearly-frustrated Idaho coach Don Verlin minced no words after the game, laying the blame squarely on a lack of effort all the way around the court. His wrath fell particularly hard on an all-senior starting five who combined to go 15-for-39 from the floor, and that only made respectable by Kashif Watson’s team-leading 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

“(The Cougars) were coached better, they played harder and they were much more prepared. They flat whupped our tails,” Verlin said. “Vandal basketball and Vandal players need to expect more than what we got tonight. I’m embarrassed.”

Star backcourters Mac Hopson and Steffan Johnson combined to go 5-for-17 and just 2-for-9 from beyond the arc, part of the team’s season-low .390 shooting performance and an awful .292 from downtown. They rode the pine for much of the second half, as Verlin turned the game over to his reserves. Even walk-on Travis Blackstock saw 5 minutes of action, his first of the season. It appeared Idaho’s second-year head coach was making a point to his team leaders, and he said as much after the game.

“I was disappointed. I didn’t think they played hard,” Verlin said of his starters. “You’re not allowed to play in this program if you don’t play hard.”

The opening 5 minutes were promising ones for the Vandals — though WSU’s star guard Klay Thompson got loose for some easy buckets, Idaho managed to hang with the Cougars and even take a 4-point lead.

At that point, things went upside down. Instead of running offensive sets, the Vandals began chucking up contested 3-pointers and turning around with the ball in the air. Rebounding vanished and the Cougars smelled blood, pulling out to an eight-point lead at the halftime break.

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Washington State 76, Idaho 64

9 Dec

PULLMAN, Wash.— As badly as Idaho exposed the Portland Pilots on Sunday, the Washington State Cougars returned the favor tonight in Beasley Coliseum. The Vandals were manhandled and embarrassed in a 76-64 defeat that was far uglier and more lopsided than the score indicates.

Idaho opened the game matching Washington State score for score, and even took a 4-point lead early on. But from there it was all Cougars, as Ken Bone’s squad opened the second half with a 14-0 run against an uninspired Idaho starting five, and the damage was done. The Vandals shot under 40 percent for the game, under 30 percent from 3-point range.

“I thought we didn’t compete from the start. Vandal basketball needs to expect more than what we got tonight. I’m embarrassed for how we played. We should have given Washington State a better game than that,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said after the game.

We’ll have a complete postgame wrap tonight.

Edit: That story is now posted.

Vandal Spotlight: Jeff Ledbetter

8 Dec

With his flowing locks and dead-eye shooting, Jeff Ledbetter has had no problem at all making the transition from sunny Southern California to the wintry Idaho Palouse. The junior guard, who hails from Irvine, Calif., where he starred for the Irvine Valley Lasers, wasted no time establishing himself as one of the Vandals’ top threats from downtown.

In his first Division I game, on the road at Utah, Ledbetter exploded off the bench for 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and nailed four of six shots from beyond the arc. Those buckets were key to the Vandals’ season-opening 94-87 upset of the defending Mountain West Conference champion Utes.

While Ledbetter has not had a big-numbers night like that since, as coach Don Verlin plays with lineups and rotations, in virtually every game he’s provided a spark or forced defenders to take notice.

Take Sunday night’s victory over #25 Portland, for example. Jeff played a key role in a quick 8-0 Idaho run midway through the first half that broke the back of the visiting Pilots.

First, he dished to a wide-open Marcus Lawrence, who drilled the Vandals’ first 3-pointer of the afternoon. Just 57 seconds later, it was Ledbetter’s turn to score. Finding himself in position at the top of the key, Jeff pump-faked, stepped back and canned a contested trey. It was his only field goal of the night, but was it ever a big one.

Plus, he’s already grabbed a share of one honor: best hair in the WAC.

We sat down with Jeff last week to find out why he chose Idaho, how he’s developing as a student and an athlete and where he hopes the Vandals will go this season.

How did you get your start in basketball?

As far back as I can remember, my dad grew up playing basketball and my two brothers were playing, so a ball was put in my hands from day one.

I went to Orange Lutheran, and high school ball was a lot of fun. We had a great crowd, it was great to play in front of your friends. We never won CIF or state or anything but it was a fun time and a really good learning experience. It was the perfect school for me to go to.

Tell us about your career at Irvine Valley, and how did you end up with the Vandals?

I ended up going there after high school, I had a shoulder injury so I sat out and put on a bunch of weight, like 20 or 30 pounds. I knew I had to work hard, because my ultimate goal was to get to D-I.

My teammate, Kashif Watson, came up here first. I heard nothing but good things about Idaho and Coach Verlin and everyone, so I made it my mission to get up here too.

Moscow must have been quite a change!

Yeah, it was a lot different. I came out here in the summertime and didn’t know what cold meant, but I loved it from my first visit. All the guys chill together and we all get along, the chemistry was there from the start. I like having the college environment, too. I wanted to get away from California, experience something diferent, experience the seasons and the college town. As soon as I got here, I knew I wanted to play here.

Did you get any other offers?

There were a couple that I almost signed with after my freshman year, because Idaho didn’t have any scholarships available. But I decided to go back and play another year at Irvine. I didn’t want to rush into something because it’s a big decision to decide where you want to play. After that, Verlin called me up and it worked out how I wanted it to.

How do you think you’re developing as a player?

You know, I put on a lot of size in juco and that helped me a lot, getting in the weight room. You have to have strength to play at this level. A lot of is mental, though — you have to keep working, stay humble and never be satisfied with the way you are.

If you think you can always play better, you’ll keep getting better. That’s how we’ll have success this year. We are going to be the hardest-working team in the WAC.

What does it mean to put that Idaho uniform on and know you’re playing Division I?

It means a lot. That’s what happens when you work hard — you can do whatever you want. I had a few setbacks with injuries that made it really difficult. I spent a lot of time sitting out and wondering if my career was over and my dreams were done.

But my family and my close friends got me through those times. They kept pushing me to get back in there. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it.

You made a strong first impression in that Utah game.

It was fun, it was just fun to get out there and play. My adrenaline was rushing, I don’t even remember how I made those shots. It was fun to be with this group of guys, we played together, we all rallied together and won as a team. It wasn’t me, it was a team effort.

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Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Dec. 7, 2009

7 Dec

History was made last night in Memorial Gym, as the Vandal men knocked off #25 Portland and football coach Robb Akey stepped to the floor at halftime and announced Idaho’s acceptance of a berth in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. It’s been a banner year for Idaho sports already, and we’re just at the halfway mark.

Here’s the links for today:


  • The New Mexico State Aggies are having an awful season, just 1-5 against Division I opponents and staring down the barrel of two tough road games. Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News looks at the Aggies’ total lack of offense.


Photo Gallery: Idaho vs. #25 Portland

7 Dec

Thanks to Argonaut photographer Nick Groff, we’ve got a great selection of photos from last night’s historic Vandal victory over the #25 Portland Pilots.

Pilots left stunned as Idaho’s defense crushes #25 Portland

6 Dec

The Portland Pilots, the No. 25 team in the country, came to Moscow tonight for Idaho’s first-ever home showdown with a nationally-ranked non-conference opponent — and were promptly blown right back out the doors of historic Memorial Gym.

To the thundering cheers of a sellout crowd in the venerable home of Idaho basketball, the Vandals made history by destroying #25 Portland, 68-48, for Idaho’s first victory over a nationally-ranked team since 1982.

Idaho improved to 5-2, the team’s best start since the 1989-90 season, while the Pilots fell to 5-3.

The victory came in an unorthodox — and for coach Don Verlin, heartening — way: with punishing lockdown defense. The Pilots, who came into this game as one of the nation’s top shooting teams, were comprehensively shut down, making just 19 of 59 shots from the field — an abysmal .322 performance.

“That’s as good defensively as we’ve played all year for that length of time,” Verlin said. “It’s a credit to our guys.”

The stat lines are stunning: guard T.J. Campbell, the Pilots’ leading scorer with 16.7 points on .554 shooting, was held to an awful 1-for-11 shooting for 3 points. Big man Robin Smeulders, a 63.3-percent shooter averaging 13.3 points, was just 1-for-6 with 2 points while turning the ball over 3 times. A team that came in shooting 42 percent from downtown made just 6 of 22 3-point attempts — 27.3 percent.

“We’re happy about this win because we did it on the defensive end and that’s where we were lacking,” Idaho point guard Mac Hopson said. “Coach said that’s what he wanted from us, was to shut them down, and we just listened this time. We stopped their top threats and got the W.”

Right from the opening tip-off, it was clear the Vandals wanted to establish dominance early. Idaho made its first three shots in a row — including a crowd-pleasing dunk by center Marvin Jefferson — while the Pilots missed their first six attempts from the floor.

The real damage was done midway through the first half. With 10 minutes to play in the opening period, a 4-0 run from the Pilots cut Idaho’s lead to 3 points, and the momentum seemed to be all on the visitors’ side. But reserve point guard Marcus Lawrence stepped up and canned a wide-open trey from the corner, and the rout was on.

Idaho would go on to score 10 more points in the next 5 minutes — while Portland combined to go 1-for-6 with 5 turnovers and a bench technical foul. Ethan Niedermeyer snapped the run with a 3-pointer, but Luciano de Souza ignited the gym by returning the favor from downtown. That would be the game’s theme — every time the Pilots looked to have something going, the Vandals struck back and reignited the crowd.

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Idaho 68, #25 Portland 48

6 Dec

Tonight in Memorial Gym, what promised to be a wide-open shootout between two of the hottest-shooting teams in the nation instead turned into a one-sided blowout. The #25 Portland Pilots were comprehensively shut down by a stifling Idaho defensive performance, and the Vandals rolled to a 68-48 victory — the team’s first-ever home win over a ranked non-conference team.

Idaho improved to 5-2 on the season, 3-0 at home, with the victory.

Kashif Watson led the Vandals with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting despite sitting for much of the second half with foul trouble. Idaho’s slash-and-dash transition game converted 17 Pilot turnovers into 23 Vandal points. Luiz Toledo shot 5-of-7 for 12 points and 5 rebounds, while Mac Hopson poured in 10 more. Marvin Jefferson had an off night offensively, but grabbed 9 rebounds to lead all players in that category.

The Vandals set new season lows in opponent scoring (48) and field-goal percentage (32.2).

We’ll have a complete game story tonight (Editor’s note: that story is now posted) — for now, here’s raw video interviews with Don Verlin, Mac Hopson and Marvin Jefferson.

Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. #25 Portland

6 Dec

It’s Idaho’s first home game against a ranked non-conference opponent in recorded history, as the Vandals take on #25 Portland this afternoon in Memorial Gym. It’s going to be a historic throwdown on the hardwood, as both squads feature offenses ranked among the best in the nation. Join us as Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson, Luiz Toledo and the rest of the Vandals look to continue their hot start at home against the Pilots.

Here’s our complete preview package, including video interviews with Don Verlin, Mac Hopson and Marvin Jefferson.

Pregame coverage starts at 4:30 p.m., tip-off at 5.

Join us for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

Hoops Preview: Inside Portland (Lights-shot-out edition)

6 Dec

The Vandals take on one of their toughest foes yet, the Portland Pilots, in Memorial Gym at 5 o’clock this evening. The Pilots are nationally ranked #25 in the AP Poll, which makes them the first ranked non-conference team to visit Moscow since 1963. (Thanks to SID extraordinaire Spencer Farrin for tracking that stat down.) It’s a big game for both teams, which are each coming off their second loss of the season. For the Vandals, knocking off a top-25 team could be a big boost to the seed-line come tournament time, and it would certainly be a nice feather in the cap regardless. As we’ll mention, it’s also a matchup of two of the best offensive teams in the NCAA.

We’ll have all the action on Vandal Nation Live, starting with pregame at 4:30 p.m., tip-off at 5.

Let’s take a look at this year’s Portland squad. Click here for Idaho coach Don Verlin’s thoughts on the game.

Portland Pilots (5-2)

West Coast Conference — 2009 record: 19-13 (lost to Pacific in CollegeInsider.com First Round)

Backed by a high-powered and efficient offense, the Portland Pilots have busted out of the gate as one of the hottest mid-major squads in college hoops. They upset Oregon, UCLA and #22 Minnesota en route to a runner-up finish in the 76 Classic preseason tournament, losing in the title game to a red-hot West Virginia squad. Those stellar performances, all on national TV, earned Portland its first national Top 25 ranking in 50 years. But ever since then, it’s been downhill. The Pilots dropped their last game at home to cross-city rival Portland State, and desperately need a victory to keep their two-game slide from getting steeper.

Few teams in the NCAA are as efficient as the Pilots, and that’s what’s powered them to the upsets. They rank 24th in the nation in points per possession, collect an unreal 1.2 points per weighted shot (12th in the nation) and have Division I’s 10th-best True Shooting percentage. They aren’t great with ball-handling, turning it over about 15 times per game, but those shooting percentages make up for it. In raw numbers, Portland hits from the floor at a .491 clip and .417 from downtown.

The Pilots are also extremely diverse — in seven games, four different players have stepped up as the leading scorer. This is not a uni-dimensional squad and it won’t be easy for the Vandals’ defense to shut down. There’s not much depth, though — only seven players have been making significant contributions to the offense, and six average at least 25 minutes. Past the two bench stalwarts, fourth-year coach Eric Reveno is taking big chances.

The good news, if there is any: Portland’s inside presence can be exploited, because that’s where the Pilots have been giving up big points. They’re holding opponents to just 32 percent shooting from beyond the arc, but allowing 48 percent inside. Even more heartening: they can be even worse. In the loss to Portland State, the Pilots gave up 53 percent shooting, including a lights-out 60 percent performance from downtown. But still, the Vikings never led until the final minutes, as Portland’s powerhouse offense was able to keep a step ahead despite shoddy defense.

To get the win, the Vandals are going to have to shoot the lights out in their own gym, earning easy layups and bullet treys off wide-open transition looks. Idaho’s not built for grinding it out, and neither are the Pilots. Whoever has possession last (and whoever gets hot near the end) may well come out on top. But with more depth on the bench, Idaho coach Don Verlin may have his ace in the hole. Forcing Portland into foul trouble could pay big dividends, as their finely-honed short-bench rotation doesn’t tolerate interruptions. The other thing they must do: come through in the clutch. Idaho’s defense couldn’t get any stops down the stretch in Northridge and that was the difference between winning and losing. So may it be tonight.

Key statistic: True Shooting Percentage

  • Idaho: 60.3% (16th) — Portland: 61.0% (10th)

If you like offense, you’re going to love tonight’s matchup, and the scoreboards in venerable Memorial Gym may just blow a fuse. This is a matchup of two of the hottest-shooting teams in NCAA basketball. True Shooting Percentage is a weighted percentage that factors in a team’s performance from beyond the arc and the free-throw line. The Vandals clock in at 60.3 percent, good for 16th in the nation. The Pilots are even better at 61.0 percent. Could both teams break the century barrier? Not out of the question at all.

Projected Starters:

  • G #15 Nik Ravio, Sr. — 15.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.4 apg

Ravio began the season as one of the Pilots’ most potent weapons, and he’s still a high-scoring backcourt threat and glass-cleaner. But his shooting efficiency has taken a nosedive in the last three games — not coincidentally, three of the toughest opponents the Pilots have faced this season. He’s just 14-of-42 after opening the year 36-of-52. Nor is he great at the charity stripe. So it would seem the Vandals could find a defensive opening against him. But there lies danger, too — you never know when a streaky shooter like Ravio will get hot again.

  • G #44 T.J. Campbell, Sr. — 16.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.3 apg

A 5-9 sparkplug, Campbell was the WCC’s Newcomer of the Year last season, and why not. The kid shoots 55 percent from the floor — 2-point and 3-point — and boasts a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. After his breakout 2008-09 campaign, Reveno said “We maybe need to get him some more shots.” They have — he’s the team’s leading scorer despite his diminutive size. Campbell is also a nearly-automatic free-throw shooter, so the Vandals can’t just hack away. If Idaho lets him run loose in Memorial Gym, it’ll be a long night for the home team.

  • C #12 Robin Smeulders, Sr. — 13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg

The Pilots’ big man with soft hands, Smeulders will be a handful for the Vandals’ post defenders to deal with. Not only can he score in bunches, but he simply does not give up the basketball, averaging just 1 turnover per game this year. That’s unusual for a paint power like Smeulders, and it’s one reason he’s so effective at scoring the basketball. Not only that, but you don’t want to foul him either. He doesn’t turn it over, he shoots 64 percent and he hits free throws? Yeah, good luck guarding that. Jefferson, Barone and Co. have their work cut out for them tonight.

  • F #45 Kramer Knutson, Jr. — 5.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.6 apg

You knew Portland couldn’t have five starting studs, and here’s where the Pilots could get take advantage of. Knutson is not a great starting power forward, because he just doesn’t pull down the boards like he should. Oh, he can shoot it — 63 percent from the field — but he’s averaging a turnover every 10 minutes and he has nearly as many fouls (14) as rebounds (16) on the season. It’s clear Reveno doesn’t have much confidence in him — for a starter, Knutson sees very little playing time, just 16 minutes per game.

  • F #3 Ethan Niedermeyer, Sr. — 6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg

Another weak spot for the Pilots, Niedermeyer is the worst shooter on the team by a country mile — and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being a guard. He’s just 18-of-46 from the field (.333 from downtown) and is either on his game or way, way off. Nothing in between, he might be the streakiest shooter in the West Coast Conference. Not only that, he’s a turnover machine, too — he’s coughed it up 16 times in just seven games, with 9 of those coming in the last three contests. His saving grace, might be his rebounding, where he puts up solid numbers for a wing.

Key reserves:

  • G #20 Jared Stohl, Jr. — 8.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.3 apg

The backcourt spark waiting on the bench, Stohl is a decent enough shooting guard hampered, in what seems to be a recurring theme for the Pilots, by extreme streakiness. Against UCLA, he was unstoppable, burying 5-of-5 from beyond the arc, but the next night against Minnesota he took 10 shots and hit just 2 of them. He’s a combined 6-for-24 in the Pilots’ last three games, where the defensive challenge has stiffened. If the Pilots want to make a real run in the WCC and continue their statement season, Stohl has to get more consistent, if perhaps less spectacular.

  • F #21 Luke Sikma, Jr. — 6.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.3 apg

A versatile front-courter off the bench, Sikma is a huge force off the glass, a solid ball-handler and a 58-percent shooter from the floor. His defensive skills are somewhat suspect (with two foul-outs on the season, it seems he has to hack to get a stop) and he’s a relatively poor free-throw shooter, but those are small quibbles. On a team with a fairly thin bench, Sikma has played a huge role in the Pilots’ success this season, and his minutes are going to be big ones against an Idaho team that runs the floor and leaves opponents gasping in its wake.


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