Notes on our state's top coaches and players, a smaller Viking Pavilion, a home for PSU football, Greg Oden and more
KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS
Notes, quotes and observations about our sporting world
Lets take a moment to acknowledge the outstanding basketball coaching at the pro and college level in our state.
The Trail Blazers Terry Stotts is a bonafide NBA coach of the year candidate.
Dana Altman (Oregon men) and Scott Rueck (Oregon State women) took their teams to Pac-12 championships, and Altman was named the conference coach of the year for the third time in four years.
Wayne Tinkle has done a marvelous job in his second year rebuilding Oregon States mens program.
And dont forget the job Kelly Graves has done with the Oregon women in his two years. If not for the untimely injury to co-Pac-12 player of the year Jillian Alleyne, the Ducks might have made the NCAA Women's Tournament.
At George Fox, womens coach Michael Meeks has the Foxes 29-0, ranked No. 2 nationally and in the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen.
At Western Oregon, mens coach Jim Shaw has the Wolves 27-3, ranked sixth nationally and playing host to the NCAA Division II west regional.
In the NAIA Division II mens ranks, Luke Jackson of 11th-ranked Northwest Christian (27-6), Jared Valentine of 15th-ranked Warner Pacific (23-9) and Brian McDermott of 17th-ranked Southern Oregon (24-8) had their teams in Wednesdays first round of the national tournament.
They play good basketball in this state, a direct reflection on some first-rate coaching.
Oregon State and Oregon were well-represented on the all-Pac-12 teams.
The Beavers had Gary Payton II on the mens first team and Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese and Ruth Hamblin on the womens first team. The Ducks had Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook on the mens first team and Alleyne on the womens first team. Weisner and Alleyne were co-players of the year on the womens side while Hamblin was womens defensive player of the year and Payton was the mens defensive player of the year for the second straight season.
Payton II and Oregons Chris Boucher were members of the mens all-defense team. Hamblin and Alleyne were on the womens all-defense team. Oregons Tyler Dorsey made the mens all-freshman team, and UOs Maite Cazoria was named to the womens all-freshman team.
A quibble, though. The Pac-12 named 15 players to its womens first all-conference team (with no second team). Ten players were selected for the mens first all-conference team, with five chosen for a second unit.
Why not just name five players each to the first, second and third teams?
Last I checked, 10 or 15 players cant be on the court representing one team at a time in a basketball game.
Too many players water down the honor, frankly.
It has been a rough second season on the Palouse for Washington State mens coach Ernie Kent, whose Cougars finished the Pac-12 schedule 1-17 and were 9-22 overall.
That hasnt dampened Kents enthusiasm for his rebuilding job.
Ive done this before, the former Oregon coach says. We rebuilt Saint Marys and its still a championship program today. We rebuilt Oregon and its still a championship program. Both of those programs had growing pains like this.
Kent coached at Saint Marys from 1991-97, winning the West Coast Conference regular-season and postseason tournament titles his last year, and he was at Oregon from 1997-2010, twice taking the Ducks to the Elite Eight. Saint Marys won the WCC regular-season championship this season. The Gaels reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2010 and have made NCAA Tournament appearances four times since 2008. Under Altman, the Ducks have made the NCAA Tournament four straight seasons and won the Pac-12 regular-season title this year.
The difference between the programs is that Saint Marys and Oregon had experienced winning in their (recent) past, Kent says. This program has not experienced that. We have guys in our program who have never been on a winning team. Therefore, they do not know how to win. You have to go through it, figure it out along the way before you get there.
Washington State returns its top eight players from this years team.
We have everybody back, Kent says. This conference takes a little bit of a dip next year. Were going to Italy this summer and hopefully learn how to win. Well reload it and see where were at.
Weve gotten a lot of work done. Were less than 24 months on the job. Weve come a long way. Theres a lot that goes into turning these programs around. It doesnt happen overnight. But we feel like were headed in the right direction.
When plans were drawn and fundraising ensued for Portland States Viking Pavilion and Academic Center, the capacity was projected as 5,000 roughly the same as the University of Portlands Chiles Center.
It turns out maximum seating at the multi-use facility that will house Viking basketball will be nowhere close.
The capacity is going to be between 3,000 and 3,100, PSU athletic director Mark Rountree says.
The original estimates were made back in 2012, and (5,000) was the number people were looking at, Rountree says. Since then, weve had input from architects. With the design of the building and the footprint of the space (where Stott Center now stands), (5,000) doesnt fit.
I like the capacity. We have a gym now that seats 1,000, so were tripling the size. Its going to be a great venue for college basketball. The seats are all close to the floor. Its an intimate environment. I think 3,000 is the right number.
Stott Centers capacity is listed at 1,775, which can be expanded to more than 2,000 for volleyball, according to the PSU website. So the new arena wont even double the current ceiling for seating.
My feeling is, the downgrade in capacity is shortsighted. If youre going to run a Division I program, you need an arena that seats more than 3,000. If you ever get a top-flight program and that would ostensibly be the goal you want to have an arena big enough to accommodate all fans. A 3,000-seat arena is too small to host state high school basketball tournaments, too, while 5,000 is about ideal in todays environment.
It would also seem that youre limiting possibilities as a concert venue for mid-level acts, though Rountree denies this. Theres little difference between 3,000 and 5,000 in terms of (attracting musical and entertainment performances), he says.
State bonding covers about $22 million of the $50-million project. The rest is paid for from contributions for donors who were told the venue would seat 5,000.
Weve talked to those individuals, Rountree says, and we havent heard any complaints.
Groundbreaking on the project is expected within a month. The target completion date is January 2018.
Portland State football has had to play at least one home game off-campus at Hillsboro Stadium over the past few seasons instead of at Providence Park due to purported conflicts with the Portland Timbers. Rountree says that wont be the case for the 2016 campaign following negotiations with Peregrine Sports LLC the Timbers managing company and Timbers president Mike Golub.
All five of our home games will be at Providence Park, he says. Weve had a very good relationship with the Timbers, Peregrine Sports and Mike. Theyre working with us to make sure we can play all of our games there.
Two former Portland-area prep standouts had successful seasons for South Puget Sound Community College.
Deiondre Bird of Grant High and Dez Stoudamire of Centennial High were named to the first-team all-NWAC West Division in helping the Clippers to a 22-7 season.
Bird, a 6-5 sophomore, led South Puget Sound in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage and efficiency rating and was named to the NWAC all-defense team.
Stoudamire, a 6-1 freshman, led the Clippers and was eighth in the NWAC in scoring with a 20.4-point average. Stoudamire is the cousin of Damon and Salim Stoudamire. Dezs father, Patrick Sr., was a standout football player at Centennial who went on to become a second-team All-America cornerback at Western Illinois.
South Puget Sounds coach is Aaron Landon, a former assistant coach at Concordia University.
Greg Oden is living in Columbus, Ohio, after being released from his Jiangsu Dragons contract on Jan. 31 with two games to play.
The former Trail Blazer center believes it was a money move. His one-year, $1.2-million contract was paid out on a month-to-month basis, and the Dragons saved a month of salary by letting him go early.
They cut me so they didnt have to pay me for February, Oden told Cleveland.com.
Oden averaged about 13 points and 12 rebounds in 25 games.
I made some money and got to play some basketball, said Oden, 28. I didnt get injured or hurt my knee to where I couldnt play anymore. So for me, I look at it as a win.
Open told the website he will take classes at Ohio State during spring term and work toward completing his degree.
I cant talk about whats going to happen in the future, Oden said. All I know is, this year I was able to play. So if I feel better and (if a pro basketball job) comes along next year, Ill take that chance.