Friday, January 29, 2010
Portland has postseason hope
By Diamond Leung
SAN FRANCISCO -- Does Portland coach Eric Reveno think his seven-loss team needs to win the West Coast Conference tournament in order to make the Big Dance?
Well, Reveno said he doesn't pay much attention to postseason scenarios at this point in the season.
"I haven't thought about it," he said. "If I did, I'd be more rational about it."
Until then, the Pilots are going to be idealistic about things and keep on trying to pile up as many wins as they can, hoping that earlier successes count for something. They've won three in a row since leading scorer Nik Raivio went down in practice with an Achilles strain.
Portland beat San Francisco 74-58 on Thursday, and when the game got close, it was Raivio's replacement who came up with 3-pointer after back-breaking 3.
Jared Stohl went 6-for-12 from beyond the arc to finish with a game-high 22 points, and the junior is now only three trifectas away from tying the school record in a career.
Senior point guard T.J. Campbell added 19, and he's had to assert himself as well with Raivio not even making the plane ride to the Bay Area.
Reveno's team is such a veteran squad that he said, "If they held the WCC tournament the first week of practice, we would have won it."
But the rest of the conference quickly caught up as young talent rose to the surface. Freshmen like Gonzaga's Elias Harris and Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova have played major roles, and both teams were able to squeak by Portland.
It seems a long while ago since the Pilots went to Anaheim in November and raised eyebrows by beating UCLA and Minnesota before giving West Virginia a tough game in the 76 Classic final.
They followed that up with a loss to Portland State that put them in their place, and right now, that's a solid third place in the WCC.
"It's easy to go down the path of woulda, coulda, shoulda," Reveno said.
There were reminders of what could have been throughout the night with the public address announcer at War Memorial Gym giving updates on the Gonzaga game.
Fifty miles down the road in Santa Clara, the Zags got the scare of their lives trailing by 14 in the second half before coming back to avoid the stunner.
Portland already had its chance and fell to Gonzaga at home in the conference opener only after Stohl's falling-out-of-bounds 3-point attempt rimmed out.
The Pilots get Gonzaga again on the road next week, but Raivio is still a question mark to return for the game. It's a win that would boost their résumé, or at least what's left of Portland's worn-out piece of paper.
So let's ask Reveno another way. Does he think the WCC is a three-bid conference if a surprise team somehow were to win the conference tournament?
"I would think so," he said, noting Saint Mary's big year.