WCC Game 14: @ Portland

Tip-off: Saturday, 5:30 @ Chiles Center
TV: WCCNetwork
Line: Torvik- Broncos -2.7, 60% win probability; ESPN- Broncos -2.5, 55% win probability.

Portland:
The Pilots are 13-15, 5-8 in the WCC. They had a bye Thurs., lost last Sat. to SMC by 17.

Top Players / Stats:

  • 6-6 wing Tyler Robertson (14.9pts, 5.3 rebs, 5.4assists, 31% from 3, gets the FT line a ton).
  • 6-8 forward Moses Wood (14.8pts, 6 rebs, 38% from 3)
  • 6-8 forward Kristian Sjolund (12pts, 4.7 rebs, 39% from 3)
  • 6-2 guard Mike Meadows (10pts, 2.1assists, 36% from 3)

Meadows missed a dozen games and has been coming off the bench since his return. Freshman 6-1 guard Juan Sebastian Gorosito has been starting and is a 3pt shooting specialist. The 5th starting spot has been a revolving door of forwards; of late, undersized 6-5 forward Chika Nduka has been starting. 6-7 athletic forward Alden Applewhite provides good production off the bench (8.5 pts, 3rebs).

Robertson and Wood are their key players. Robertson does everything for them. He looks like a cleanup hitter on a beer league softball team but he’s a unique player, a skilled wide bodied wing who is a great playmaker and passer, likes to post up and gets to the free throw line a ton. He often backs his man down in to the post, seeks contact and will find the open man if he’s doubled.
Wood is a skilled and athletic wing/forward. A dangerous 3pt shooter, but if you overplay the 3, he’s skilled and athletic enough to get to the rim and finishes strong.

Portland plays some unique lineups that can cause match-up challenges with the wide bodied Nduka and Robertson, forwards Wood and Sjolund who shoot a lot of 3’s and typically only have 1 true guard on the floor.
I’m hoping we put Justice on Robertson (matches his weight and less likely to get bullied on back downs) and Podz on Wood, Podz will be giving up several inches but Wood plays more like a wing. Put Stewart on Gorosito, Braun on Sjolund and Bediako on the 6-5 Nduka. Nduka doesn’t shoot much, and isn’t a 3pt threat; I’d have Bediako sag way off in the key and more or less play a 1 man zone and protect the rim.

The Pilots take and make a lot of 3’s, ranked Top 40 in each in the country and also get to the FT line a ton. The Broncos 3pt D will once again be challenged. The Pilots aren’t a good rebounding team at either end of the floor, ranked ~300 at each end; the Broncos really need to dominate the glass.

Hoping to see the Broncos continue to play with the energy we’ve displayed in several recent games and the continued emergence of Tilly and Tongue.

Prediction: Broncos win their 5th in a row in a close one, 83-80.

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SCU 84 - 73 Portland

Not gonna lie. This game is the one I have most concerns with. This one is personal. The Portland team has it in for SCU. They feel like we bailed on a second game against them last year and they made a big public stink about it. So this is a Gonzaga vs LMU “getback” game for Portland. Hope our boys are ready for battle.

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@Portland is always tough.

It used to be paired, in the old days, with @Gonzaga when we had the travel partner system… so many teams sleepwalked into Chiles either after playing GU or with GU on their mind for the coming Saturday. that has gone away, but I still get an eerie feeling about the Chiles center.

They more talented than their record, and as Femme says, they’ve got this one circled.

Go Broncos.

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This will be a tough game for the reasons mentioned. I see this as a trap game following our win over BYU. Portland was very upset last year when we did not play up there due to COVID. They thought we were making it up. I am sure they circled this game at the start of the year. On top of that, while they have a losing record, they played Gonzaga very tough at home until the last six minutes. We need everyone to play with high energy, strong defense and rebounding and make our FTs. Free throws were one weakness at BYU. A win tonight and we are well positioned for the WCC tourney. Go Broncos!

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Something to keep an eye on tonight is Bronco foul trouble, particularly for our guards. Both Justice and Podz are likely to have difficult 1on1 assignments vs. Roberston and Wood. Both draw a lot of fouls and get to the FT line; Robertson is 2nd in the league to Timme in FT attempts and is fond of using his wide body to draw contact, jump in to defenders, etc. Meadows also gets the FT line a fair amount.

Justice and Podz often play 35+ mins a game and our offense could suffer if those two are stuck on the bench in foul trouble.

There’s been a lot of chatter in other threads re: playing aggressive, the merits of fouling, etc. IMO, this is not a game where we want to see a lot of fouls. That’s just what the Pilots want and leads to putting them in the bonus early and a FT parade. Play big, challenge shots, stay in front of them and keep them from getting to the rim but do so without fouling excessively.

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I saw this on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SantaClaraHoops/status/1626989102536032256?s=20

While I like the sentiment, I’m not yet calling this a “20-win season” because one of those wins was against Menlo College, which isn’t a D1 school.

However, if we can run the table, finish 3rd in conference, and win at least one game in the conf tourney, then we’d finish 23-9 against D1 opposition going into (presumably) the NIT.

THAT would be impressive.

Ummm…the twitter graphic says first time in 23 years…it’s 27 years (1996 to 2023). Appears our SID group needs to hire a few interns from our Math department.

That said…these type of simplistic ‘first time since XYZ’ stats can be a bit misleading. ie- the Broncos won 19 games in 2000 and 20 games in 2001 at a time when we played fewer games. Broncos played 29 regular season games in 2000 vs. the more common 31 today.

Regardless…yes, two good seasons in a row and what looks like back-to-back NIT’s. But I still want an NCAA berth and that should be the goal. And if we return to the NIT this season, I hope we win a couple games and get at least one home game. Last season was anti-climatic…find out we’ve made the NIT then just a couple days later get blown out by Kyle Smith’s WSU squad…season over.

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That WSU squad did at least beat BYU by a roughly equal amount and make it to Madison Square. But I agree. It was not the ending we wanted.

But having back-to-back 20 win seasons is pretty cool. And the last two seasons have both been against roughly top-100 schedules, so it hasn’t been 20 wins against a dozen SWAC and MEAC teams.

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Portland is probably fired up for this game. But I can imagine that Santa Clara doesn’t see them coming. And the relative disappointment of Portland’s season probably cuts somewhat into the sharpness of grievances that are a year old. If this were the battle for 4th place that many were expecting at the season’s beginning (not I) then it might be more pitched. Portland is just trying to stay out of the Thursday games in Vegas.

I think SCU anticipates the punch and handles it accordingly. The streak continues: 84-71 Santa Clara. Stewart gets back in a big way with 24 points.

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Portland has lots of issues. SCU has too much fire power and is playing their best ball of the season. 3rd place gets finalized tonight.

Broncos 87 Pilots 73

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I’m with you Betts. The Broncos, especially with Tilly and Tongue, have too much fire power and rebounding for Portland. I smell a double digit win.

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Also, glad Knapper is back. Kosy seems to keep making the same mistakes, I.e., forcing shots and over dribbling. We have guys who can break down the defense and make difficult shots - we don’t need him trying to do that too. I wish he would simply focus on creating a deflection, rebounding at BOTH ends and executing the offense. Instead it appears that he desperately wants to get his takes as soon as he touches the ball.

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Line has inched down to -2, and now -1.5. Apparently a lot of Pilot bettors out there.

Portland to me has always been a bit of missed opportunity for the WCC - great basketball state, great basketball city, strong college sports fan state… just feels like the Pilots are lost in the mix. If they had a decade or two of success, I think people would really buy in.

Instead, the Pilots have the fewest NCAA trips of any WCC hoops team - 1959 and 1996, i.e., a lifetime apart.

I’ve never been to the WCC Tournament in Vegas - not my deal. But if it were in Portland at the Moda Center, I’d be there in flash.

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Agree 'Nashty.
I think they struggle a bit with size and resources…only SMC is smaller and their endowment is in the $200 millions…SCU is now at $1.5Billion and Pepp is now over $1B.
Plus the same challenge of most WCC schools of being overshadowed by the large public institutions…Phil Knight U officially know as University of Oregon, Oregon St. not to mention they share the City with Portland St. which is the largest school in the state.
Uphill battle.

Senior night for the Pilots…a couple seniors starting who don’t normally start and typically play limited minutes. Wood and Robertson still in the starting lineup.

He has 2 3 pointers already. Lets go!

Can’t get the stream but looks like we’re absolutely blizting them! 36-17

Combined 14pts from Knapper, Tilly, Tongue has been big…adding to the usual scoring from Stewart, Podz and Justice.

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