Can Never Ignore The Readers Of CSNNW.com, The Best In Basketball

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Can Never Ignore The Readers Of CSNNW.com, The Best In Basketball

By Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider, @wchoops
From The Email Screen---I respond back to most people that email me, but sometimes I love to answer questions and today is the day. So hold on, even if you do not like my answers. It is fun and you can always comment on the question and answer.
"Greg, do you think Oregon State will go to the NCAA tournament this year, after a 22 year absence"? Roger-Corvallis Oregon.
Roger, I do think they will be in the NCAA tournament come March. The Beavers have the talent, what scares me is the lack of big people depth and the fact that those big men who play, can't make free throws, thus making it easy for opponents to foul them down the end.
"Greg, my Ducks are so dominant in sports, will they be back in the NCAA tournament this season"? Dick--Eugene, Oregon
Dick, of course the Ducks will be in the tournament this season. You can count on it, put it in the book. And if you want to learn more about the Ducks, just watch Talkin Ducks coming up on Comcast SportsNet the first week in January.
"Greg, you always tout Gonzaga, I have to think you are a graduate, they are not that good". George---Tacoma, Washington
George, not even close to being a Zag graduate. I went to an academic school, not Gonzaga and a school that could advance in the postseason. But with that said, I say Zags in the final four this year, for the first time ever, how does that sound.
"Greg, I just do not see Colorado as being a good team, like you always seem to claim, am I wrong"? Roger---Denver, Colorado
Roger, you are not wrong, it is just in a football conference like the Pac-12, we seem to tie in schools that are bad in football, just assuming they will be bad in basketball. It was not good for the Buffs to lose at Wyoming and then get blown out by Kansas. I still think even with a young team they are going to finish third in Pac-12 regular season.
"Greg, what makes you think you know so much about basketball and I wish Comcast had someone else doing this besides you"? Larry---Chehalis, Washington
Larry I know so much because I am old and I have lifetime contract with Comcast, so do not mess with Crawford's Court :).
"Greg, are you ever afraid of Richard Lucas on the set of Talkin Ducks, you give him lots of grief and he is so much bigger than you"? April--Northwest, Portland
April, Richard's mom likes me, so I am safe for now, but thanks for your concern.
"Greg, who is the best player in your opinion in the WCC"? Jake---Santa Clara, California
Jake, seeing where your from, of course the best player is Kevin Foster of the Broncos, kidding aside, I firmly believe he is the best player.
"Greg, care to pick a team that might schock everyone in the Pac-12"?---Jonathan---Seattle, Washington
USC, they have some talent, plus some very good big people. It might be time for them to explode in the league, watch how they play in month of January.
"Greg, you seem to have lots of knowledge about Seattle University, I keep waiting for a good team here, but still waiting. Is Cameron Dollar on the hot seat as coach"? Fran---Seattle, Washington
Yes, getting warmer all the time for my money.
"Greg, is Lorenzo Romar, ever going to leave Washington"? Gregory---Bellingham, Washington
I did not feel this way two years past, but now I think he is lifer at his alma mater, does a very good job and one day will have a final four team for the Huskies
"Greg, of Oregon's four D-1 schools, which of the four coaches will either be fired or leave for another job first"? Charles--Salem, Oregon
Charles, excellent as are most of the questions asked of me, I would say Dana Altman. I think he will leave in the next three years, the other three, Reveno, Geving and Robinson will be present for long, long time at their schools.
"Greg, do you follow the professional game, as closely as the NBA"? Sandy---Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
Yes, I love all basketball, as much as I can I even follow high school basketball, love the game of basketbll and actually do not like football, but keep up on it some.
"Greg, who is going to be coach of the year in the Pac-12 this season"? Cary--Burbank, California
Cary, that would be Ben Howland, I say the Bruins still have great chance of either winning the conference tournament andor the regular season.
"Greg, do you have a favorite basketball team that you actually root for and follow all the time"? Garrett---Bozeman, Montana
Garrett, yes I do, it is any team that Rick Adelman coaches. I think he is one of the best coaches, managers, I have ever seen in all of sports and not to discount, how much of a quality person he is.
"Greg, who is the best college basketball player you have ever seen on the west coast"? Kathy--Pendleton, Oregon
My answer might shock you, but it is Stan Love when he played at Oregon. There is a reason, Kevin is a super-star.
"Greg, what do you think of the Pac-12 network"? James---Sacramento, California
Excellent network, high quality work they put out, especially in basketball
"Greg, do you see a rising star in the basketball coaching ranks I should watch out for in the next few years"? Keith----Phoenix, Arizona
How about several that I think are doing good work now and have a bright future, which no one talks about these guys. Rod Barnes, Kerry Keating, Jim Hayford, Tyler Geving and Bob Cantu at USC. I know I miss many, so I apologize, but those are just a few.
Once again Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and next Friday, after giving them a week off, we will be back with Wolf's World, My Adopted Team and cranking it up on 2013 NBA draft picks now in college, plus Craw's Nine Top Coaches.
GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twiiter@wchoops

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

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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

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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

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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.

https://twitter.com/michaelporterb1/status/754096756904828928

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

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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

Posted by CSN Northwest on Friday, July 15, 2016
[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!

Posted by CSN Northwest on Thursday, July 14, 2016

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

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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

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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.