Portland Pilots (6-3)
- Conference/Location: West Coast Conference (Portland, OR)
- Head Coach: Terry Porter (1st Season)
- Top Performer: Alec Wintering (22.4 PPG, 6.4 APG)
- Points For: 81.4 PPG (T-50th)
- Points Against: 75.7 PPG (253rd)
- Last Game/Streak: 85-82 Win v. South Dakota (2W)
While “Know The Enemy” is always about breaking down the next opponent on the Beavers’ slate, this edition of KTE may be more about Oregon State than any other post before. The fact of the matter is, regardless of who they’re playing, the Beavers needs to find a way to break their eight game losing streak against Division I opponents and find their way into the win column once again.
The Dam City Classic should be a nice opportunity for Oregon State to find some wins on an in-state neutral court but their first action in the showcase series got off on the wrong foot, when the Beavers couldn’t find their way past Long Beach State on Friday night. They’ll get a chance to bounce-back against the hometown favorites in Portland.
The Pilots are an intriguing customer in the West Coast Conference, who in their first season under new head coach Terry Porter, have shown a bit of a program resurgence after former head coach Eric Reveno’s long ten-season tenure, where the team never made it farther than the CIT First Round. Last season, Portland limped to a 12-20 finish, despite having a roster filled with some high-potential pieces.
One of the strongest talents still remaining on the Portland roster is electric guard Alec Wintering (22.4 PPG), who may be one of the country’s best unknown backcourt players. Wintering, who already has two thirty-point performances on the young season (36 - CSUN, 31 - Dayton), is flanked by big-time rising sophomore Jazz Johnson (18.8 PPG) and steady junior D’Marques Tyson (10.0 PPG).
Junior forward Gabe Taylor (14.0 PPG), a 6’ 8”, 240 pound Portland native, headlines a developing and unique Pilots front-line, that also includes the likes of 7’ 1” German center Philipp Hartwich, 6’ 10” Mexican center Ray Barreno, 6’ 10” freshman Joseph Smoyer, and 6’ 7” freshman wing Chier Maker, cousin of current Milwaukee Bucks’ rookie, Thon Maker.
Keys To The Game
⇛ Slow Down A Gifted Pilots Backcourt
Portland can become the Alec Wintering show at times, as the talented senior is the focal point of the Pilots’ offense and for some damn good reasons. However, there’s also a litany of capable scorers surrounding him, starting with the almost equally prolific, Jazz Johnson. Between Wintering and Johnson, Terry Porter has a one-two backcourt punch in his arsenal, that can be get going at any given moment. The Beavers will need to slow down these two excitable scorers, as well as the rest of the Pilots’ backcourt ensemble.
⇛ Oregon State Needs To Find An Identity
Since the injury to star forward Tres Tinkle, Oregon State has looked like a lost unit, that’s relied either too heavily on their starters to carry the load or too much on unproven role and bench players. They’ve been hot-and-cold offensively, downright atrocious defensively and more importantly, last season’s surplus of leadership feels like a distant memory. So how do the Beavers go forward? Head coach Wayne Tinkle needs to start pushing some buttons to see what makes this team tick, as the nonchalant, stick-to-the-program mentality has grown old. The Beavers need a spark plug, however it may come, and they need it fast.
Player To Watch
Guard - D’Marques Tyson (Junior)
While the scoring tandem of Wintering and Johnson may take most of the headlines for the Pilots, the steady play of junior guard D’Marques Tyson can’t go overlooked, as there’s few players in the whole West Coast Conference that play the “ole reliable” role as well as Tyson does. Every time Portland calls on the mostly unheralded guard, the Bothell, Washington native seems to come through. While Tyson was expected to emerge as a higher-impact scorer before the emergence of Johnson, the 6’ 5”, 215 pounder, has quietly stepped into a lesser role for the better of the team, one of the main reasons that Portland is off to a solid 6-3 start. Look for Tyson to find his way to fill out the stat sheet and help his Portland team in whatever capacity they need on Sunday afternoon.