For local teams, PK85 tournament presents challenge, opportunity
There should be some interesting opportunities for the six local teams participating this week in the Phil Knight college basketball extravaganza in Portland. For those who might not have yet turned their attention to college basketball, here's a primer at what the teams from Oregon, Oregon State, the Portland men and the Portland State men have done in the first couple weeks of the season.
The Ducks, who enter Thursday's game against UConn with a 2-2 record, are decimated by injuries, particularly in the backcourt. Keeshawn Barthelemy, a junior transfer from Colorado, was the latest to go down when he left Oregon's loss to No. 3-ranked Houston with an ankle injury. Already sidelined were senior guard Jermaine Couisnard and sophomore guard Brennan Rigsby — who coach Dana Altman has said were in line to be starters. Also on the shelf are junior forward Lok Wur and sophomore forward Ethan Butler.
The short bench will challenge the Ducks and coach Dana Altman to be competitive over three games in four days — especially with Michigan State or Alabama waiting on Friday.
Fifth-year guard Will Richardson is a proven player, but like his teammates has struggled to score from the perimeter so far (Richardson has made 5 of 20 3-pointers and the Ducks are shooting 26% as a team on 3s).
A healthy N'Faly Dante has been a force around the basket. The 6-foot-11 senior has scored 16 points or more three times while shooting 59% and is averaging nine rebounds.
Nate Bittle, a 7-foot sophomore, has averages of just under 10 points and 5.5 rebounds. Five-star freshman Kel'el Ware is intriguing and has blocked eight shots. To compete this weekend, the Ducks must get more than 23% shooting from senior forward Quincy Guerrier.
Oregon opens the PK Invitational against UConn at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Moda Center (ESPN2). They will face Alabama or Michigan State on Friday.
Oregon State men
The Beavers enter Thursday's noon game against No. 8 Duke with a 3-1 record — matching last season's win total but coming off a loss at home to Portland State on Nov. 19. Oregon State has 11 newcomers, eight of them freshmen.
Two of the intriguing young Beavers are sophomore forward Glenn Taylor jr. and freshman guard Jordan Pope. The 6-6 Taylor was a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last season, is off to a good start and averaging a team-best 16.3 points. The 6-2 Pope, from Oakley, California, is averaging 15.5 points, 3.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Nov. 14 has scored double figures in each of his first four college games, including 19 in his debut, a win over Tulsa that saw the Beavers overcome a 19-point deficit.
Junior guard Dexter Akanno has averaged 10.8 points and 3.3 assists.
OSU's frontline is led by senior forwards Dzmitry Ryuny (6-9) and Rodrigue Andela (6-8), though Andela did not play the second half against Portland State because of injury. Ryuny has eight of Oregon State's 22 blocks through four games.
The Beavers will face Xavier or Florida on Friday afternoon.
The Pilots (4-2) played six games over 12 days to open the season and figure to look at the Phil Knight Invitational as a chance to test themselves ahead of WCC play. A 10 a.m. Thursday game at Moda Center against top-ranked North Carolina figures to be a memorable opportunity.
In his second season, Coach Shantay Legans looks to build upon a 19-15 2021-22 season. He has the core of that team back, though guard Chris Austin is redshirting and guard Mike Meadows missed the last two games with injury.
Forward/guard Tyler Robertson and forward Moses Wood are players who fill up the stat sheet. Robertson leads the team with averages of 17.5 points and 4.33 assists. Wood is averaging 13.8 points and a team best 7.6 boards.
One area the Pilots can improve is assists (88) to turnovers (91, including 27 in a loss at Kent State).
Portland State men
Coming off a fun win at Oregon State, the 2-2 Vikings get a shot at No. 6-ranked Gonzaga in Thursday's late game.
Portland State is working to build continuity with a roster that features 10 newcomers, seven of them from other Division I programs. Entering the season, PSU's 14-player roster combined for 618 games of Division I basketball.
That experience figures to help Jase Coburn's squad against some of college basketball's elite.
Jorell Saterfield, a 6-4 junior guard from Chicago who played one season at UTEP, leads the Viks in scoring (17.5) and has established career highs for scoring (26 at OSU) and rebounding (10 vs. Evergreen State).
Of local interest is point guard Cameron Parker, a Portland native out of Jesuit who played two years at Sacred Heart and two at Montana before coming home for his final season. Known for his distribution skills, Parker has been looking to score and is shooting 60%, averaging 14 points. He's still a point guard first whose 2.75 assist-to-turnover ratio leads Big Sky teams this season.
Coburn's teams play an aggressive style, and a lot of players see the floor. So far, the Viking bench has outscored starters 182-170.
It will be interesting to see how the No. 18-ranked Ducks handle the challenge of facing No. 8/10 North Carolina on Thursday afternoon.
The retooled Oregon team has looked quite good at times in its 4-0 start, but an inconsistent performance in a 66-54 win over Southern Utah on Monday is a reminder to the younger Ducks that Division I college basketball requires consistent intensity.
Three of the five Ducks averaging double figures are freshmen: 6-3 forward Grace VanSlooten, 5-9 guard Chance Gray and 5-11 guard Jennah Isai. The loss of senior post Sedona Prince to a season-ending shoulder injury has thrust 6-8 sophomore Phillipina Kyei into a more prominent role.
But, come crunch time, expect the Ducks to ride veteran guards Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers.
Oregon State women
Scott Rueck's Beavers enter Friday's game against No. 9/8 Iowa at 4-0, a stretch that has included some promising play from 6-4 Raegan Beers, last week's Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after a 28-point 12-rebound outing against Prairie View A&M.
Third-year sophomore Talia von Oelhoffen is off to a strong start, averaging 19.5 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Sophomore guard AJ Marotte is averaging 15 points, redshirt junior guard Noelle Mannen from North Plains has been starting along with 6-1 redshirt junior guard Shalexxus Aaron and 6-9 redshirt sophomore Jelena Mitrovic.
Probably the most influential newcomer to the OSU program is the only senior. Bendu Yeaney, a St. Mary's Academy grad who played at Indiana and Arizona, chose to play her final college season in Corvallis. She brings experience and proven defensive skills to the Beavers.
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