PSU leaps into Big Sky basketball schedule

Vikings men and women open with Idaho State and Weber State
Dec. 20, 2012

The Big Sky Conference basketball season begins for Portland State Thursday without a clear favorite on the  men's side, which might be the brightest news for the Vikings this season.

Portland enters its conference opener with Idaho State at the Stott Center with a 2-5 overall record, but only one team, Sacramento State, won as man as five of its opening eight games giving rise to the thought the regular season title is anyone's to win. Idaho State enters at 1-7 overall.

The PSU women open at Idaho State with the conference in a similar situation - only with a more successful season so far. Seven of the conference's 11 teams have won four games, putting them at .500 or better.

PSU is 5-3, just a game behind conference leader Montana State, 6-2, as the conference begins action.

Following the opner, the Vikings' men play host to Weber State on Saturday, then are off until Jan. 3 when they travel to Montana for games against the Grizzlies and Montana State.

PSU's women play at Weber State Saturday, then have a non-conference game at Portland, Dec. 29, during its holiday break before playing host to the Montana schools.


Here's hoping the Stott Center gets 'blown up'

Mon, 11/07/2011 - 11:27am
Cliff Pfenning
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Hopefully, the Rip City Classic will be an annual event, and not because professional basketball players don't have a league to play in. It's an outstanding opportunity to promote the game and raise funds for organizations that can use funds.

Actually, the players do have a league to play in, it just isn't operating thanks to the kinds of money problems few people have sympathy for.

Money problems among milionaires - owner and players. That's great stuff to follow during the days when people are unemployed at an alarming level, around one in 10.

People have trouble paying their rent, paying their mortgages in good times, too, it's just happening a lot more currently, enough so that the President, a guy who took over the fallout from economic collapse and has struggled to get his opposition party to ... be part of any kind of solution, is teetering on brink of getting voted out of office.

So, if the players had to make some concessions, even a lot of concessions, they should make them, and get the league back to work, because playing in the Chiles Center isn't where they should be playing these days.

Sure, it sold out, but a game that featured one of the top names in the league - Kevin Durant - would normally attract 20,000 paying fans to the Rose Garden. And, be covered by live television.

Football, of course, had trouble earlier this year, but the players and owners found some peace before any games were lost. And, the public has a pretty solid respect for how much money NFL players earn, because it's not that much. Those guys get hit a lot, which increases the level of respect for how much money they make.

Baseball has regularly had work stoppages in the past, but it's been quite a while since the last one - 1994-95, which caused the loss of the entire postseason. The sport hasn't had one since.

Hockey lost an entire season, 2004-05 to labor negotiatons - a lockout. The sport is stronger, but still has issues with economics. What it doesn't have is competition within itself. There's no real competition with college hockey. Basketball has a lot of competition.

College basketball has never been stronger, even with many of the top players ditching their school after one season. With no pro basketball to watch, it's going to be interesting to see what happens to attendance at local colleges, especially the University of Portland, which plays in a 5,000-seat arena, and Portland State, which can hold around 1,500 in the Stott Center.

There's dozens of high schools with larger gyms than PSU. If there were a chance to make an issue of that, a prolonged strike and solid season would be the way that might happen.

Maybe something like the Rose City Classic can play out there in the near future - Greg Oden would be a great host for that game.

NBA guys. Take the hit, sign an agreement and get back to work making millions before college arenas becomes your home courts again.

Portland and PSU have a chance to meet Saturday

Mon, 10/03/2011 - 7:24am
Cliff Pfenning
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Last seen: 15 hours 37 min ago
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If football and Portland State area ever really going to go together, Saturday is one of the days that can make it happen.

Not only do the Vikings need to win, but they need to win before a crowd: even better, an inspired crowd.

Portland State plays host to No. 3 Montana State in its third game at Jeld-Wen Field with the Big Sky Conference lead at stake. Both teams have won their first two conference games, but head to Saturday with different agendas.

Montana State is working to successfully defend its conference title, and is on the way there having beaten defending national champion Eastern Washington two weeks ago. The Bobcats are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Big Sky games with wins over the Eagles, 36-21, and then Sacramento State, 31-21, before 18,847 fans at Bobcat Stadium. Eastern Washington was picked to finish first, and Sacramento State, which won at Oregon State, was picked to finish fourth in the preseason conference media poll.

The Bobcats lost their opener at Utah of the Pac-10, 27-10.

After Saturday, Montana State’s big game is its regular season finale against in-state rival Montana, Nov. 19, on its home field.

PSU lost its game against Texas Christian of the FBS, 55-13, although the game was tied 3-3 until late in the first half. The Vikings have beaten Northern Arizona, picked for sixth in the preseason poll, and Idaho State, picked for ninth among the nine teams, by a combined total of nine points.

Saturday is a tremendous test for the team and second-year head coach Nigel Burton. It’s also a test for Portland and connection with its inner city university athletic department.

The Vikings, you’ll recall, went to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament recently – twice, but play in one of the nation’s smallest arenas, the Stott Center, which can hold around 1,500 people if they get cozy with one another. Only Sacramento State has an arena close in size to the Stott Center.

Football, though, is a different story. If Portland wants to, it can put the Vikings among the national leaders in attendance for FCS teams. The Vikings can help that happen simply by winning.

Saturday is the start of a very big run of games for the Viks. Following MSU, they play at Montana, which gets more than 25,000 fans for every home game, play host to a non-conference game with Willamette, then play at Eastern Washington. That’s the top three teams in the conference in a little more than three weeks.

Jeld-Wen Field has seen a remarkable level of energy this spring and summer thanks to the Portland Timbers and their Army of supporters. How the Vikings can get an army is a mystery the school’s athletic department has been unable to solve.

A big upset would be the first step.

So, Portland, if you’ve got an idea to maybe attend one PSU game this fall, make it Saturday. The Ducks play Thursday, so a trip to Eugene isn’t needed, and Oregon State is winless. PSU has a shot at something big, and tickets are plentiful and inexpensive - $15 for general admission ($8 for kids). That’s about 1/10th of the cost to get into a Ducks game, but it would have about 10 times the effect on the Vikings program.

Vikings sail under radar toward Burton’s first game.

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 7:59am
Cliff Pfenning
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Last seen: 15 hours 37 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

With all buzz going across the state about Oregon and Oregon State and Quizz and LaMichael, TCU and BSU, the PSU Vikings have just disappeared from the media radar.

But, they’ve got problems/drama, too, maybe even more that both the Ducks and Beavers because the Viks are inaugurating a new coach Saturday at Arizona State.

Payday game for their new coach, Nigel Burton. Payday game against a program in need of whomping on a smaller program to make a statement it’s a big-time program.

And the Viks get another one of those games two weeks later when they visit Autzen Stadium, the loudest stadium on the planet, to take on the No. 11 Ducks. Currently, I’ve got that game pegged at 70 for the Ducks, 0 for the Vikings. That’s because the state know’s nothing about how the PSU program is going to perform under Burton, who’s never been the head coach for a college game.

So, banter all you want about the Oregon and OSU games on Saturday – and I’ll be watching the Beavs’ game intently, but the Vikings are the real drama on Saturday. Can they actually win against the Sun Devils? Can they actually score against the Sun Devils. It’s the game with the most drama among all the programs in Oregon.

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