Where Would You Like To Be Headed To Watch College Basketball


Where Would You Like To Be Headed To Watch College Basketball

By Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider, @wchoops
Merry Christmas to everyone and may your favorite team or sport have a great 2013.
Basketball Present---During this time of year, we often think about giving a gift to someone, or getting something special.
I have to ask everyone three questions today about getting a gift and I want you to tell me the answers in the comment section please or by email. Will really look forward to what you have to say. Grab a gift from below, just one or all three and tell me why.
1. What college basketball arena would you like to visit that you always wanted to go see, but have not as of yet?
2. What rivalry game in college basketball would you like to see. It is ok to say North Carolina Duke, but there are plenty of other rivalries that are pretty good.
3. What tournament would you like to go to, that you have not been able to in college basketball?
Yes, I do get to answer. The greatest arena for college basketball I have been too is Utah State, even better than Cameron Indoor at Duke. Just loved the crowd, the singing, which is much better than any soccer crowd singing and the intensity is riveting in Logan.
As for rivalry, really want to go see the IllinoisMissouri game someday. They just played this past weekend and it was as intense as it gets, per usual. I guess it means more to have an inner-league rivalry, but love this one.
Really want to attend the Great Alaska Shootout. I do not like basketball when it is 80 outside, so Maui Classic is not on my radar, but Alaska, wow, what a gorgeous state and in the winter time, I need to get there.
For good measure, I have been following Big Sky basketball since the league started in the 60s and it is my goal at some point to visit every Big Sky arena. I just think the Big Sky has some charm to its basketball competition, both men and women. Of course the league needs a name change, any fifth grader could tell you that, but I love the competition of the league and the cities the teams are located within.
Now your turn, let me know, answer one of the questions or all of them. It will be fun to see your answers.
Mac's Message---"Coach Mac, I have been so impressed with the play of Aaron Moore, can you talk about him and also how does he overcome missing the two crucial free throws in the final minute of regulation against Weber State. I felt so sorry for him as he is one terrific player"? Doug---Downtown, Portland Oregon.
"Doug thanks so much for your question and insight, you obviously have been watching the games closely.
I too felt badly for him when he missed the free throws in the clutch last Saturday. I do not think we would have been in the game at that point if it were not for Aaron playing as well as he did, so the loss certainly can't be pinned on him. I thought it was great after our post-game meeting when I was walking up from the locker room, I found Aaron shooting free throws with Marcus Hall rebounding and encouraging him. He certainly didn't wait until we resume practice on the 27th to address free throw shooting--which has been very good.
When we recruited Aaron from San Bernardino Community College we were aware of his strengths and shortcomings as a player. I think we are a little shocked that his inside game has been as good as it has been. He is willing to go into the basket area, bang with strong opponents and has a willingness to play physically on the interior. Without question, he is our "Newcomer of The Year", to date. He has to be in consideration for the same in the Big Sky Conference along with Northern Arizona's impressive freshman guard, DeWayne Russell.
Like a lot of junior college transfers, Aaron is making the adjustment to the level of play at the D-1 level and is striving for more consistency. I think he is making transition very nicely and has the ability to do even more as we get into the Big Sky race.
Thanks for your question and interest in Viking basketball. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Crawford's Court, Aaron Moore and all Portland State Vikings, each and every sport". Andy McClouskey, Portland State assistant basketball coach.
"100 in 90"---My seeing 100 college basketball games during 90 days in the state of Oregon is on pace, even a little ahead of schedule. Last week I saw six games, bringing my total for the year to 18. Actually the highlight, was seeing the rivalry game in the NAIA Cascade Collegiate Conference, a game that Warner Pacific won over defending NAIA national champion Oregon Tech. Great game and packed house at Warner Pacific.
And speaking of packed houses, where were the people to watch Oregon women play U of Portland on December 21st. 438 fans showed up, ouch and Duck fans, where were you? Come on, 438? No wonder it is so hard to get the Duck men to play in Portland. This to me was the low-light of the week. Shame on everyone.
Now here is your chance to make amends. There is a great doubleheader at U of Portland on December 29th, first game at 5:15, inner city battle between Portland State and U of Portland women, followed by the Pilot men taking on Texas Pan American.
The Pilot men are playing some great basketball right now, so I suggest you get out there and get a 2 for 1, with four decent teams playing. As matter of fact, a doubleheader like this in a 4,800 seat arena should be sold out. I know, here I go again, but you can't fault me for trying to raise the level of interest in college basketball and increase attendance.
Craw's Nine---My top nine teams at present in the six leagues out west that play D-1 basketball. Keep in mind this is not always best record, it is in the moment. Feel free to disagree or deliver you top nine in comment section.
9. Boise State---Leon Rice has nice team, 9-2 and playing good basketball. Pay attention to BSU.
8. Colorado State----Flying under the radar, have won four in row and have great season going so far.
7.Oregon State---Five wins in row, showdown coming January 6th, when Ducks visit Corvallis. Both teams will be 11-2 when they play.
6. UCLA---Five wins in row, huge game coming 28th at home against Missouri.
5. Santa Clara---Six wins a row, 11-2 on season, could easily be 13-0. Once again my pick, which I wrote in October to win WCC tourney, no one is laughing at me now.
4. San Diego State---Steve Fisher is an amazing basketball coach, if they beat Arizona on Christmas Day, they will be number one next Monday in Crawford's Court.
3. Gonzaga---I will tell anyone who listens, this team has all the potential to go to at least the Elite 8 or Final Four, first time ever for any Gonzaga men's basketball team for either of those postseason places.
2. Wyoming---12-0, if you are undefeated headed into 2013, you have to be good.
1. Arizona---Easily the best team in the West, no one even close right now.
Scores---My usual attempt at humor on a Monday, although, I am 22-6. Can you beat me, send me an email and I will give you a chance.
December 28th Missouri (64 at UCLA (68) Mild upset.
December 29th Santa Clara (71) at Duke (84) Duke is good, not rest of ACC.
December 29th Idaho (80) at Seattle (60) Madison scores 35 for Vandals
December 29th UNLV ((90) at North Carolina (87) ACC is overrated this year, end of story.
GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twitter @wchoops

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

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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

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

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

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LIVE: Washington State University Athletics football coach Mike Leach

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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.