2013: Craw's Nine Hopes For College Basketball


2013: Craw's Nine Hopes For College Basketball

By Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider, @wchoops
Craw's Nine Hopes---No it is not Craw's Nine top teams today, instead it is my hope that these nine things will happen in college basketball in 2013. Not just a wish list, but actual events and happenings that will make the game better. Let me know what you think either by email or in the comment section, love your thoughts positive and negative, always.
9. Get Oregon Tech head men's basketball coach Danny Miles in Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the ultimate for anyone associated with the game of basketball. It is a joke that he is not there already, but it time to turn this from a joke, to reality. Character, affecting postively lives of future adults and winning, are all part of the Miles culture.
8. Gonzaga into at least the Elite 8. This is the year, the roster is loaded with depth at every position and although not a big fan of Mark Few, Gonzaga nation deserves to not only make the Elite 8, never having been there before, but how about a Final Four.
7. Give Dick Vitale a lifetime achievement EMMY. No matter what you think of him, Dick Vitale made college basketball on TV. And while we are at, would someone please tell Dick Vitale, we do have running water and electricity west of the Rockies.
6. Attention college ADs. You are losing the marketing battle when it comes to college basketball. Get your marketing people to do a better job, it is no longer the case you can just open the doors and people will show up. You should be crisis mode, when it comes to attendance.
5. The PAC is back, but no one seems to notice. Come on Pac-12, shock everyone in the NCAA tournament and win a couple of games, then you will get noticed big time.
4. Radical change here: In order to eligible for the NBA Draft, you either must be 21 years old or have completed three years in college. It is time for meeting of the minds to sit down and hammer out a deal, "one and done" should be DONE, stick a fork in it, it is not working.
3. NCAA D-1 basketball teams can start playing games on November 1st, but starting November 20th, must take 10 days off and can only practice. It would make the game better, no one cares about college basketball during Thanksgiving time because of football. And then come back strong in December, especially Christmas time, where basketball always rules.
2. D-1 basketball referees, should only be allowed to work three nights in a row. How can a guy or gal be fresh after working 14 days in a row in 14 different cities which three referees have already done this year. When this happens, it is messing with the integrity of the game. And yes, if the NCAA stepped in, independent contractors or not, the rules would have to be followed.
1. For the betterment of the game, start by changing these four rules immediately: 1) Four media timeouts per half, one 30 second in first half and two in second half, of which of one can only be taken in final two minutes. 2) Bring back pre-game dunking, complete joke to still not allow it. 3) Men's game, change the 35 second clock down to 29 seconds, the women do just fine with 30 seconds 4) Do not allow teams to be able to call timeouts after they score a basket or allow the offense call timeout in the backcourt.
ATTENTION COACHES: Look at Craw's Nine 1, especially the timeout suggestion. Someone step up and realize the game is not entirely about coaching. If there is no one to watch, then you will not have a job. Fans in person and on TV are sick of the timeout structure, think about the betterment of the game for everyone, just not yourself. (For the record, many coaches do agree with my suggestions, just not enough).
Wolf's World---It is Friday, so it is time for Michael Wolf, assistant coach at U of Portland to shine in answering a question from a Crawford's Court reader.
"Coach Wolf, I like what Coach Mac did in assessing the coming Big Sky league season, but I hate the Big Sky, so how about your assessment of the coming WCC league season, the most underrated league in college basketball"? Thanks, Gary---Moscow, Idaho.
"Gary, thanks for the question. Since Coach Reveno took over the program here in Portland 7 years ago, we have seen tremendous growth in the West Coast Conference. Obviously the addition of BYU has strengthened the league, but it is overall improvement of the entire group that I think is most impressive. Unfortunately, that also means as coaches, there is going to be a tough game every single night out. The gap between Gonzaga (who has been the gold standard in the WCC for over a decade) and the rest of the league has closed considerably during that time. We will enter next week's Conference play ranked as the 10th best conference in D-1 college basketball and third, in conferences not playing football behind the A-10 and MVC. It is a testament to the commitment of the WCC universities, the quality of the coaches and types of student athletes we all have recruited.
As for the coming WCC season, I tried to to wait as long as possible to see how the league might shape up. October handicapping is tough, but with 2 solid months under our belts, I think the league is shaping up to be as tough as ever. Be sure that San Diego, will get my full attention before next week's Pilot opener, but with our tough non-conference schedule, sometimes it is tough to look at the league overall during November and December.
Clearly Gonzaga is the team to beat and I think the dragon was awoken where their streak of WCC regular season titles was snapped last year. They are so big and physical inside with Harris, Dower, Olynyk and Karnowski, but when you add the quality guard play of Pangos and Bell it makes it a virtual impossible task.
St. Mary's and BYU continue to play well in the non-conference slate. I have heard Tyler Haws is as good as advertised for the Cougars, but he will be new to the league coming off his mission, so we will have a few surprises for him in his travels. I would call those two teams in a dead heat coming into the league play, but as a coach it is hard not to ride a guy like Matthew Dellavedova. He is the heart and soul of St. Mary's, with his ability to make the right decisions and execute the right plays. Will not be sorry to see him graduate.
Santa Clara has earned the right to be in the conversation for the top of the league based on their stellar non-conference record. They are 2 OTs away from being 13-0 and probably nationally ranked. They have always been an explosive offensive team with Marc Trasolini inside (now healthy) and Kevin Foster outside (get a hand up). What it seems is going to set this year's Bronco team apart is their ability to defend.
How the rest of the league finishes is really anyone's guess and honestly, I could see anyone of the remaining teams putting it all together and making a run at the upper echelon and that coveted conference tournament bye in Las Vegas. USF boasts the nation's leading rebounder in Cole Dickerson and one of the toughest competitors in the conference in Cody Doolin. Hate to play him, but would have loved to coach him.
LMU is as talented as anyone and I know they have been fighting the injury bug, but if they are healthy they can beat anyone in the league. Anthony Ireland is a special player and Ashley Hamilton has become an absolute match-up nightmare.
San Diego sophomores Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson will be giving the league fits for three more years chasing those waterbugs around the court, but the development of their post play will be their key to make a run at the top of the league. Chris Manresa should be the man as a senior, but their post depth might be as good as anyone in the league.
Pepperdine is led by the return of Lorne Jackson coming off an ACL injury and missing all of last season. I love his toughness and leadership, so I think he could really bring them along to the next tier of the league. Senior leadership is so important in a league as talented as the WCC because each night is a war and Pepperdine has a senior warrior to lead them into battle.
I think that about covers the league......oh wait, I forgot someone, didn't I....
The Portland Pilots have proven a remarkable commitment to defense. If we can hold on that mantle and carry our defensive mindset into WCC play we have a chance for a special season and will be fighting for one of those tournament byes for sure. Obviously, our offensive improvement will need to continue to grow, but as Coach Reveno always says, "defense determines whether you win or lose, offense just tells you how much".
Have a great 2013 and see you at the Chiles Center".---- Coach Michael Wolf.
GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twitter @wchoops askGregCrawford

PK80: 16-Team college hoops tournament comes to Portland in 2017


PK80: 16-Team college hoops tournament comes to Portland in 2017

Next November the Rose Quarter will play host to one of the largest regular season tournaments in the history of college basketball. Welcome to PK80 – The Phil Knight Invitational.

Held in honor of the Nike co-founder’s 80 birthday, PK80will see 12 teams from around the nation and four local schools converge on the Rose City. 

Portland’s own University of Portland and Portland State University will carry the torch for PDX, while Gonzaga and the University of Oregon will also help them represent the northwest.

The four northwest school will be joined by 12 of the best college basketball programs in the nation; Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas.

The invitational consists of two eight team brackets, with each bracket only having one school from each conference. The the winners of each bracket playing in a championship game.

In total the participants have combined for 23 national titles, 89 final four appearance, and 391 NCAA Tournament Invitations. Needless to say, this tournament is sort of a big deal.

The invitational starts on Thursday, November 23 and ends on Sunday, November 24(with no games played on Saturday).

Here are what some of the participating coaches are saying, via the official press release:

“It’s an honor to be included in this prestigious group of college basketball programs and to get the chance to participate in an event as exciting as the PK80. The level of competition, as well as the college basketball atmosphere, will make it a tremendous experience for everyone involved, especially the student-athletes. After all he’s done for college basketball, there is no more appropriate way to help Phil Knight celebrate such a special birthday.” – UConn head coach Kevin Ollie

“Phil Knight has been a visionary and an innovator for a long time. PK80 is a unique way we can honor him and the contributions he has made not just to the game of basketball, but to all of sport.” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski

“What a great way to celebrate Phil Knight and all that he and Nike have done for college basketball and the Florida Gators. We’re excited and honored to be part of this field that features so many excellent programs.” – Florida head coach Mike White

It's exciting to be a part of this tournament. It is a privilege to be involved in an event that honors Phil Knight.  Mr. Knight has not only been pivotal figure in college athletics, but he has been a driving force in the entire sports industry. We are proud to participate in an event that celebrates him. – Georgetown head coach John Thompson III

“We’ve been fortunate to play in some incredible preseason events, but we’ve never been a part of something this amazing – both in terms of quantity and quality of the teams. This is sure to be an incredible experience for all the student-athletes. It’s only fitting to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind man with a one-of-a-kind event. Phil Knight has revolutionized modern day fitness, while setting the gold standard for shoes and apparel, not just in basketball, but across all other sports and activities as well.” – Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

“What a thrill for North Carolina Basketball to be playing in such a special event to honor a truly special man. PK80 not only brings together some of the top basketball programs in the game, it honors a giant in business and sports. Mr. Knight has a wonderful ability to touch people’s lives and do great things, both in and out of the sports world. I’ll always cherish my friendship with him.” – North Carolina head coach Roy Williams

For more information, visit pkinvitational.com

College football opens in Australia tonight? That's just wrong

College football opens in Australia tonight? That's just wrong

Yes, college football opens its season tonight in a matchup between California and Hawaii. And it's not enough to just play this game in Honolulu -- the teams must go to Sydney, Australia for this one.

Which is so totally unnecessary.

For several years now, it's been professional teams -- trying desperately to make their "brand" worldwide -- heading outside the country for games. In the beginning it was just non-counting preseason or exhibition games that went to Europe, Asia, Mexico or wherever. But now the NBA, Major-League Baseball and the NFL are moving regular-season, counting games outside the country.

And I don't think that's fair -- to players or fans. It's a hardship to players and so unfair to fans, especially in football where there are so few home games during a season. Why allow one of those to be played outside the country? It's a betrayal to loyal fans and a hardship for players because of the long travel and often sub-par condition of foreign playing fields.

And at the college level, it's ridiculous. There are reasons for doing this, of course. Most of them have to do with money, in one way or another And at the college level, it's simply unfair to unpaid players who have to make trips of that length to play in front of crowds that probably don't include their families or friends.

I can't really believe this is happening, actually.

The players at Hawaii this season ought to be allowed to accumulate frequent-flier miles for a schedule that is cruel and unusual punishment. They open the season in Australia, then next play at Michigan before finally getting a home game in the third week of the season. Then it's to Tucson, Ariz., for a game the following week before finally getting a bye week. But the Rainbow Warriors never get two consecutive home games during the entire season -- it's a constant zig-zag between the island and the mainland.

That's terrible. But of course, we're seeing the colleges chase the dollars just like the pros these days. And so it's no surprise they'd go all the way to Australia to chase a few more bucks.


The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena


The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

Portland State has begun construction of it's new "pavilion" on campus, in case you haven't noticed. But I find it interesting how much the vision for the new arena has changed over the last few years.

This project is a little more than half of what I remembered it was supposed to be.

Webster's has a definition for "pavilion" that is "a large building that is used for sports or public events." As such, I'm not sure the "pavilion" part of "Viking Pavilion" applies these days. I wouldn't call this new structure "large."

At one time, I seem to remember the seating capacity of that building was going to be somewhere near 7,000. But I couldn't find any written evidence of that. But I have found various accounts listing the projected seating capacity of the arena as 5,500, and then "nearly 6,000-seat," and 5,000, then it dropped to "4,700 for sports," then I found 4,800, and now I'm reading mostly 3,000. On top of that, the early renderings of the building always showed what appeared to be a new arena sitting atop the previous Stott Center -- a spanking new top floor for the building.

The drawings I'm seeing now aren't so grandiose. Mike Lund, Portland State associate athletic director media/communications, provided the latest rendering, which is used with this post. And he explained the loss in seating capacity:

"When the project was first introduced the thought was we would be able to get about 5000 seats," he wrote in an email. "As plans evolved and space was actually worked out that was reduced down to 3000-3500. We do have to provide for a lot of academic space, larger sports medicine facility, more offices and some classrooms. I don't really think the seating will be a big issue for us."

And about the different look of the structure:

"As for the structure, the arena will not be on top. The building is being gutted on the east side. When reconstruction begins the final project will be taller than the original building so it is going up."

The Stott Center seating capacity previously was barely more than 1,000 so anything larger is an improvement. But I must say I'm disappointed that PSU is going to so much expense and trouble to build an arena for its Division I basketball program that is apparently going to seat just 3,000. That's too small. And yes, I know the program struggles to draw a thousand people to its games now.

But really, I had hope that the Portland State vision for the future would be something more than 3,000 fans per game.



CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

Future college football playoff semifinal games will be played on Saturdays and holidays, instead of on New Year's Eve. 

“We tried to do something special with New Year’s Eve, even when it fell on a weekday," said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. "But after studying this to see if it worked, we think we can do better.  These adjustments will allow more people to experience the games they enjoy so much.  For these four years, our previous call is reversed.”

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report tweeted the adjustments and dates for the upcoming semifinals:

5-star forward Michael Porter Jr. commits to UW


5-star forward Michael Porter Jr. commits to UW

The Husky basketball team just got a whole lot better. In a move that many UW fans expected, 5-star small forward Michael Porter Jr. officially announced his commitment to Washington on Friday.

Porter, a senior at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School took to his Twitter page to make the announcement.


The news comes as no surprise, as the connections between Porter and UW are many. Porter’s father, Michael Porter Sr., was hired as an assistant coach on Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington earlier this year, and many thought the move would sway Porter Jr. to UW as well. It looks like it did.

Not only is his father on the coaching staff at Washington, but his current coach at Nathan Hale is Husky legend, and former Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy.

With his dad on staff and Roy coaching him his final year at NHHS, many fans thought the official committment was nothing more than a formality. 

Porter comes to Washington as one of the most sought after recruits in the class of 2017. He ranks in the Top-5 nationally on most recruiting sites, including a No.2 ranking by Rivals, No.2 by 24/7 Sports, and No.4 according to ESPN.

Porter Jr. and his father aren’t the only members of the family to join the Husky basketball team in the coming years. Porter’s younger brother, Jontay Porter, committed to Washington last summer, and is considered one of the Top-100 recruits in the class of 2018. 

Needless to say, the Porter family is taking over the University of Washington.


FACEBOOK LIVE: Videos from Pac-12 Media Days


FACEBOOK LIVE: Videos from Pac-12 Media Days

Check out these Facebook Live videos from Pac-12 Media Days, and be sure to check in for more LIVE videos at facebook.com/csnnw.

Inside scoop on Oregon State at Pac-12 Media Day

[LIVE] Inside scoop on Oregon State Football at Pac-12 Media Day

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[LIVE] Hollywood: Inside scoop on Oregon at Pac-12 Media Day

[LIVE] from Hollywood: Inside scoop on Oregon Football at Pac-12 Conference Media Day

Posted by CSN Northwest on Thursday, July 14, 2016

LIVE Coach Helfrich talking Oregon Ducks Football; Devon Allen, Dakota Prukop, Brady Hoke and more!

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USC Trojans CB Adoree' Jackson was in Eugene for the Olympic Trials, "the best place ever"

Posted by CSN Northwest on Thursday, July 14, 2016

USC Trojan Football's OT Zack Banner talking UCLA Football rivalry and that small (sarcasm) preseason game versus Alabama.

Posted by CSN Northwest on Thursday, July 14, 2016

LIVE: Washington State University Athletics football coach Mike Leach

Posted by CSN Northwest on Thursday, July 14, 2016

Unlikely walk-off homer sends UCSB and Andrew Checketts to CWS

Unlikely walk-off homer sends UCSB and Andrew Checketts to CWS

If you haven't seen this highlight yet, you need to check it out immediately. Third-string catcher Sam Cohen, a freshman, batting with his team trailing 3-0, two strikes, one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday against No. 2 national seed Louisville, hammered a grand slam home run to win the game and send his team to the College World Series.

Cohen was batting for just the 27th time this season against a closer who had been taken in the first round of the recent June draft. It was one of the most shocking walk-off homers I've ever seen and it was obviously a big moment for Gaucho Coach Andrew Checketts.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Checketts was an all-state pitcher at West Linn High School and pitched three seasons at Oregon State. He later served as George Horton's first pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Oregon and I think his loss has been difficult for the Ducks to overcome. It was obvious when he was with Oregon that he had a bright future as a head coach and he's been sensational at UC Santa Barbara.

On a personal level, I was doing some television work on Duck baseball games for a couple of seasons and found him to be as open and helpful as just about any coach I've ever worked with. I wish him all the luck in the world as UCSB heads to Omaha and its first-ever College World Series.



Porter names Ben Johnson to men’s basketball staff


Porter names Ben Johnson to men’s basketball staff

Ben Johnson, a former assistant coach at Washington State with extensive playing and coaching experience in Australia, has joined Terry Porter’s men’s basketball staff at University of Portland as an assistant coach.

“It didn’t take long for me to recognize that Ben would be a great addition to our staff after we reconnected last month,” Porter said. “Ben has great experience coaching at the collegiate level, specifically here in the Pacific Northwest. He also has great knowledge of coaching and talent-evaluation in Australia. Most importantly, Ben and his family will be an excellent fit for the University of Portland community and the basketball program.”

Johnson, like Porter, is an extension of the Dick Bennett coaching tree. Johnson teamed with Bennett’s son, Tony Bennett, to lead Wisconsin-Green Bay to great success from 1989-92 while playing for Dick Bennett. The Bennetts and Johnson would later reunite at Washington State and lead the Cougars to unprecedented success on the court.

"It is a tremendous honor for me to join Coach Porter's coaching staff at the University of Portland,” Johnson said. “My family and I are extremely grateful for this opportunity. I am looking forward to helping him, our coaching staff, as well as current and future players build a very competitive basketball program.”

Johnson spent nine seasons at Washington State serving two years under Dick Bennett and then three more under Tony Bennett. Johnson assisted in recruiting, scouting and all other coaching duties while helping Cougars to three consecutive postseason appearances (two NCAA, one NIT), the second such occurrence in school history. 

He remained on the WSU staff four more seasons under new head coach Ken Bone, before returning to Australia, where he had a successful professional playing and coaching career. 

Johnson had great success in recruiting Australian players to Washington State, most notably two-time Pac-12 All-Conference forward Brock Motum and current NBA center Aron Baynes. WSU’s success during Johnson’s tenure included two seasons of 26 wins (2006-08), which tied the school record. The Cougars also were ranked No. 4 nationally at one point, the highest ranking in program history. WSU also had two players earn Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors.

From 2013-16, Johnson served as the South State Performance Manager for Basketball Queensland in Australia. His duties involved program planning and talent identification of the U14-U20 age groups. He also provided coaching mentorship and development.

In April 2016, Johnson coached at the prestigious U18 Australian Junior Championships – where his Queensland South State team reached the national championship final and finished as silver medalists.

After graduating from UW-Green Bay in 1992 with a degree in business communication, Johnson played three years of professional basketball in Cairns, Australia from 1993-95. His time overseas coincided with the beginning of his coaching career as he worked as a basketball youth development officer and state clinician. During those years, he coached and developed hundreds of Australian players at the local, junior and state representative levels.

From 1995-2002, Johnson cut his teeth in collegiate basketball coaching by returning to UW-Green Bay, where he served as an assistant coach. In 1996, he helped guide his alma mater to another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Johnson returned to Australia in 2002, where he got his first head coaching position at the U23 level for the Kuiyam Pride. The following year, Johnson also took on head coaching duties for the Kuiyam Pride Women. The Pride Women competed in the professional Australian Basketball League. Following the 2003 season, Johnson was named Queensland Australian Basketball League Women's Coach of the Year.

FOR TRANSACTIONS: University of Portland names Ben Johnson assistant men’s basketball coach.

PSU football player Kyle Smith passes away, second Viking this offseason


PSU football player Kyle Smith passes away, second Viking this offseason

Portland State Athletics is deeply saddened to announce the passing of student-athlete Kyle Smith on Wednesday evening. Smith, a senior-to-be offensive lineman on the Viking football team, died in his apartment near the PSU campus. 

Kyle is a native of Elmira, OR. He was a first-team All-State performer as an offensive and defensive lineman at Elmira High School. After taking a redshirt season at Portland State in 2012, Kyle started 36 straight games Portland State, playing the vital position of left tackle. He was a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2015.

"I feel we have the most united, close-knit football team in America, and we just lost a major piece of that team in Kyle. Right now we have two concerns, Kyle's family and our football players," said Viking Head Coach Bruce Barnum. "The program is being tested but we will come out of this on top."

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kyle Smith," said Director of Athletics Mark Rountree. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.  I would ask the Viking family to support our student-athletes and coaches with love and caring during this difficult time. We must all must show resolve to cope with this tragedy as best we can."

Tragically, Kyle is the second Viking football player to pass away this off-season. PSU lost linebacker AJ Schlatter on Jan. 17 due to complications following surgery.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the Portland State program are with the Smith family. Funeral arrangements are pending.