Portland Pilots

Oregonian women's hoop has national respect

Oregon, OSU, even Portland are expected to perform well
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

As another season of college basketball approaches, women's teams from across Oregon have turned into psuedo powerhouses - now including the University of Portland.

After winning the West Coast Conference tournament last season with a core of underclass players, the Pilots were picked to finish third in the regular season which begins Dec. 28.

Oregon and Oregon State are not only picked to compete for the Pac-12 Conference title, but are among the Top 20 in the nation.

The Ducks and Beavers have not released their season-opening dates.

Oregon was 31-2 and had won the conference title when the college season came to an abrupt end last year. The Ducks graduated the top pick and No. 3 pick as well in the WNBA Draft. But, the returning crew is stacked enough to warrant a No. 10 ranking by ESPN.

Oregon State enters the season ranked No. 18 in the same poll.

Stanford, No. 2, Arizona, No. 7, and UCLA, No. 9, give the Pac-12 a ton of national respect.

Gonzaga, which won the WCC regular-season title last season, begins the year ranked No. 21.

Portland State is picked by coaches to finish in the middle of the Big Sky Conference.

 

 

Canzano misses boat on Pilots hoop

UP has a perfect successor to Terry Porter lined up just two miles away
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

To get a handle on the University of Portland men's basketball program these days, you only had to follow the website coachesdatabase.com in February and look for head coach Terry Porter's name. The site has a section called the Hot Seat Report. From the hottest to just warm, the editors give you a good idea of who needs to perform the most, and the fastest, including Danny Manning at Wake Forest, Donyell Marshall at Central Connecticut and, for a time, Patrick Ewing at Georgetown.

But, Porter's name wasn't on that list.

At the tail end of a 15-game losing streak that closed the program's fourth straight season of finishing last or ninth in the 10-team West Coast Conference, Porter didn't make the even mildly hot list until Feb. 26. What's that say? Nobody's paying attention. And when nobody's paying attention to your basketball program, it probably shouldn't be your basketball program anymore.

In these challenging times, though, Portland announced Tuesday that Porter would return for the fifth and final year of the 2016 contract he signed that directed his focus from the NBA, where he was head coach for both the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, to the college game, where he has gotten to coach his two sons. The excitement Porter initially brought due to his long, memorable playing career with the Trail Blazers helped the school attract boosters, but it never transferred to the court. In four seasons, the Pilots won just seven conference games combined, including just one the past two seasons.

John Canzano, The Oregonian's sports columnist, wrote the school probably should work its way out of Porter's final year back in February. After Tuesday's announcement, he wrote again the school should have worked its way into another coach. "They punted," Canzano wrote. I'd agree with that except for the state of the world today, and making a coaching move of a popular and well-respected guy in charge truly unnecessary regardless of wins. The need to win at UP just isn't that great these days, and Porter already has a contract.

Anything short of a Disney+ "Miracle on the Bluff" season, though, and UP will be looking for another coach in 12 months.

In compiling a short list of candidates, Canzano showcased just how little attention the Pilots generate even to experienced journalists, and he missed the perfect candidate who's just two miles away from the Chiles Center. It's Tony Broadous, head coach of the Portland Community College program for the past eight seasons (and Grant High for a decade before that).

There is not a better choice for the Portland Pilots than Broadous, and he needs to be on the radar for the school because when I've talked with sports folks in the area about him at the University of Portland the main response has been "now that would be exciting."

Broadous moved from Grant, which won the state title in 2008 under his guidance, to PCC in 2012 with the idea that might lead to a four-year school in the future. The Panthers had just come off a winless season in which they lost games by an average of 37 points. The program had never been to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges playoffs in spite of the fact half the eight teams in their division qualified each year by finishing fourth or higher. In spite of sitting directly across the street from Jefferson High, the program had basically no pulse. That changed quickly.

In year one under Broadous, Portland missed the playoffs by just one win, and in year two ... it won the NWAACC title. Two years removed from a winless season, PCC had a league title (2014) in its first-ever trip to the playoffs.

In the past six seasons, in spite of being the only full-time coach and having no budget for anything but Facetime chats, Portland has been to the playoffs again four times, and reached the NWAACC tournament semifinals in 2018. They were headed to the tournament again this season before it was cancelled.

Moving from a former NBA coach and local basketball legend to a community college coach would be quite a gamble for UP, but that's exactly the kind of thing Disney+ was made for - and the Pilots desperately need that kind of attention. Broadous, 51, is worthy of that opportunity starting with his connections in Portland. People know him. And, his connections around the region - coaches know him. And, his work on the court - PCC is a regular winner and has all-league players each season.

Given the opportunity to recruit to a four-year program, with numerous full-time assistants, it's exciting to think what might happen in the Chiles Center starting in 2021.

Broadous isn't going to be an expensive hire - maybe the program could use some of that savings on an additional recruiting coordinator - and he's probably going to be extremely loyal if some success brings other schools calling.

Canzano's short list of successors had a few names tossed in to look impressive starting with Portlander and former Blazer Damon Stoudamire, the head coach of WCC rival Pacific. After three losing seasons, Stoudamire was on the Hot Seat for much of this season, but the Tigers won 23 games, and he was recently named the nation's minority coach of the year. One more solid season and big name programs will come calling. Portland's calls next season - even this past season - would be going to voicemail.

Former UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams made the list, but he's, well, who is he again to Portland fans?

Greg Clink has guided Chico State to regular success at Div. II, but he's been there for 12 secure seasons and, again, who's he to Portland fans?

Barret Peery is the head coach at Portland State, and has averaged 18 wins per season in his first three years there. Moving across town wouldn't be a stretch, but would involve rebuilding another program and he's got a lot more of a shot at winning a conference title in the program he's already building.

And, finally, former UNLV head coach Dave Rice, who led his alma mater to NCAA trips twice in five (full) seasons, more than a dozen wins over higher ranked teams, and claimed the top pick in the NBA Draft (2013 - Anthony Bennett) as program highlights. But, the school abruptly fired him during his sixth season - that doesn't speak well about making boosters happy. Since 2017, he's been an assistant at Washington, which finished last in the Pac-12 this season.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few has been vocal about WCC members needing to spend more on their programs so as to get more teams to the NCAA Tournament - and the riches that conference members share in. But, money doesn't always buy success in any sport, and neither do big names as the school has found out. Coaches sell dreams that need to turn into reality, and Broadous has enough of that on his resume to be able to recruit on Day One, in spite of that resume just being at the high school and community college level. And he's going to need to jump right in on Day One because of not having any ability to recruit during the season.

UP is still feeling the glow of its women's basketball team performing a Disney+ miracle by playing its way into the NCAA Tournament under a first-year coach and having been picked for last by conference head coaches. That coach, Michael Meek, was a former high school coach at Southridge in Beaverton, who moved to NCAA Div. III's George Fox in 2011.

So, the Pilots are secure for another season under Porter, but the coaching search for his replacement has likely already begun. When the names start to go on the big chalkboard, hopefully the school's athletic director, Scott Leykam, and his associates will take more than a few minutes to dream about what the Chiles Center might look like with maybe the nation's biggest underdog on the sideline at one of the nation's biggest underdogs as a program. That's a story made for the Magic Kingdom.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misidentified Barret Peery as the former head coach at Portland State. We regret that error.

 

Timbers, Pilots share a common denominator

Harry Merlo not only supported UP's program, he owned the Timbers
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Harry Merlo.

The name is recognized for the University of Portland's prized soccer field (how many fields actually have grass on them anymore?), and as a supporter of sporting events in the 80s by Oregonians family with the state's history.

But, most people don't know of his history with the Portland Timbers - as owner for three seasons through through the lumber company Lousiana Pacific, which he was president of for 22 years.

With the team ready to fold, Merlo came to the rescue in 1980 and provided plenty of cash and optimism - including the franchises indoor team - in rollicking days of the North American Soccer League.

Portland had already established itself as Soccer City, USA, in the stands, and Merlo sought to take advantage of that on the field through signing European players. But, it didn't take and the team finished above .500 in just one of those three seasons. With the team unprofitable at the close of the '82 season, Merlo looked for a buyer but none arrived. The team folded.

The three extra years, though, helped Soccer City, USA, long into the future, though, as many influential figures in the Rose City's soccer history arrived, or remained here from their home bases in Great Britain.

The story of Portland's soccer roots are covered in 

Oregonsports Journal

 

Pilots ready for WCC flight

UP has high hopes for not only conference play, but beyond
Dec. 22, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - Are the Portland Pilots for real?

NCAA Tournament?

If the Pilots don't reach the NCAA men's basketball tournament come March, they might actually be disappointed, that's how the non-conference schedule has gone for the team, which beat Lewis and Clark 71-49 Monday afternoon at the Chiles Center.

Portland improved to 9-3 overall, but could easily be 11-1 as two of the losses were in overtime - one at Oregon State and the other at UNLV. Were the Pilots 11-1 with wins over OSU and UNLV, there are media members who might actually raise an eyebrow regarding their season. But, it won't ever be more than a raised eyebrow no matter what their record is if the program can't get to the Big Dance.

So, that's where the Pilots are now - ready to expect they can get to the NCAA Tournament.

"Our non-conference games have given us a lot of confidence that we can do well in the WCC, and that's our goal," coach Eric Reveno, in his ninth year, said Monday. "But, conference play is just one part of the season. It leads to the WCC Tournament, and that's where you really want to be playing well."

Portland has been to the NCAA tournament just once - 1996 - by virtue of winning the WCC Tournament. They got drubbed 92-58 by Villanova in the NCAAs once they got to the Midwest Region, but a loss in the tournament is still a game in the tournament. They haven't been there since.

Not that the program hasn't been capable, at least on paper. Reveno has led the Pilots to 20-win seasons three times, and they finally beat Gonzaga last year when they might have made some late-season noise had leading scorer Kevin Bailey not went down with a foot injury.

Bailey is out again with a foot injury, but it's at the start of the conference season. And, teammates are stepping up in his absence.

Portland's guard are going to be its strength, but it's core is a trio of solid front-line players led by 6-fot-11 senior Thomas Van Der Mars, who understands his senior season perfectly.

"This is it, when you're a senior," he said after scoring 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. "You know you've only got one season left, and you want to get to the tournament so that's what you play for."

 

 

Sportsland, Oregon: 11/23/2010 - #38

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 2:13am
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In the first part of an extra long holiday podcast, Los and the gang delve into the Blazers injury woes and their outlook for the rest of the season, and discuss the action around the rest of the league. Then they move on to BCS talk, including possible championship scenarios, Black Friday, and awards winners. This is all followed by the NFL, and early seasoncollege basketball action.

In Part 2, Los and the gang wrap up everything else they missed in Part 1, including NCAA Women's soccer, Baseball Rookie's of the Year, High School football playoffs, Kentucky vs Portland in Men's basketball, and this week's segments, including This Week in Oregon Sports History and What Plucks My Duck.

Sportsland, Oregon: 11/15/2010 - #37

Tue, 11/16/2010 - 2:08am
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In the first part of a two part episode, Los and the gang open up with their concerns about the Blazers situation, specifically Brandon Roy's comments and health. After that it's on to the world of college football, with plenty of Ducks talk after their tight win, which inevitably leads to BCS Championship talk and Heisman Trophy predictions. They wrap up Part 1 trying to figure out who the best team in the NFL is.

In Part 2, Los and the gang wrap up everything else they missed in Part 1, including NCAA Women's soccer, Baseball Rookie's of the Year, High School football playoffs, Kentucky vs Portland in Men's basketball, and this week's segments, including This Week in Oregon Sports History and What Plucks My Duck.  You can check it out in the nifty player on the right.

Sportsland, Oregon: 11/8/2010

Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:55am
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Back after an extended break, Los and the gang start off a packed show by remembering the great Maurice Lucas on the day of his memorial.  They also delve into the Oregon Ducks National Championship chances, the Portland Pilots Women's Soccer National Championship chances, the Blazers' start to the season, and some NFL talk.  Check it out at blogtalkradio.com/oregonsportsradio, sportslandoregon.blogspot.com, or in the nifty player on the right.

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