FUN FACTS ABOUT PORTLAND STATE:
— Ime Udoka is perhaps the Vikings most famous alumni to play in the NBA. Other notable alumni include: former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, football coach June Jones and Rick Sanders, a two-time Olympic silver medalist wrestler.
— Portland State had its best success in school history the past two years under former coach Ken Bone who was hired by Washington State in the offseason. Bone’s lead assistant Tyler Geving takes over, but he’s finding the early goings very difficult.
— Last season, the Vikings posted a 23-10 record and was second in the Big Sky. Portland State made its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament and lost 77-59 in the first round to Xavier.
— Also last season, Portland State nearly beat Washington 84-83. The Vikings were down 78-62 with less than five minutes to play and closed the game with a 21-6 run. Dominic Waters led PSU with 19 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a career-high 23 for Washington.
— This season, the Viking are 0-2 having lost to Belmont (74-67) and Wright State (75-70).
— The Vikings return three starters (Phil Nelson, Jamie Jones and Waters).
— More on Nelson. The former Husky, he played one season at UW (2006-07), is starting for the second straight year with the Vikings.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Be sure to keep an eye on Melvin Jones who has converted 10 of 19 three-pointers this season.
Portland State guard Melvin Jones (4) dribbles against Wright State during the second half on Saturday.
Photo credit: (AP Photo/Joe Nicholson)
F – Julius Thomas, 6-5, Sr., 12.5 ppg.
F – Nelson, 6-8, Jr., 11
F – J. Jones, 6-7, Sr., 9
G – M. Jones, 5-10, Jr., 16
G – Waters, 6-1, Sr., 14
UW ASSISTANT JIM SHAW SCOUTS PORTLAND STATE:
AND FINALLY, AN INTERVIEW WITH VIKINGS BEAT WRITER JIM BESEDA OF THE OREGONIAN:
(Tell me about Portland State.) “They’re a different than they were from a year ago. I think they’re really going to miss Jeremiah Dominguez, who really made them go. They got a few guys back and the coaching change is going to make a big difference. (Coach) Tyler Geving says he has the same philosophy as Ken Bone, but I don’t think it’s quite the same without Bone. So there’s some adjustments that need to be made. They’ve got several new faces and they’re still trying to figure out how it all comes together.”
(What are the Vikings chances in this tournament?) “This is a really a tough place for them to open. You got three teams that were all 20-game winners last season. They’ve struggled with turnovers and that said I think they’re built to be a competitive Big Sky conference team. They’re a good Big Sky team, but when they step outside of conference in siutations like this, they tend to struggle.”
(How do you think they’ll fare against Washington?) “It depends. I remember when they were up here last year and they got down by 20 and it came down to a last possession because (Phil) Nelson got hot from three-point range. I think Dominguez might have hit a couple of threes. And that’s the thing. They’re not afraid to shoot the three. So if they heat up from the outside, that’s the great equalizer in college basketball, the three-point basket. But I would think the Huskies should be heavily favored.”
(Who are Portland State’s stars?) “Phil Nelson, Dominic Waters and Julius Thomas are three key guys for them. And I really believe Phil Nelson, the ex-Husky, if he really applied himself has the talent to be in contention for the Big Sky conference player of the year. I think he really is that kind of a player, but there’s just something about Phil that he seems to only scratch the surface of his potential.”