2010 Athletes In Action Preview
When: November 12th -14th, 2010
The Teams: Portland (host), Florida Atlantic, UW-Milwaukee, UC-Davis
The Format: Round Robin, each team playing one another over the three days with best overall record claiming tournament champion honors.
Where: Chiles Center - Portland, Oregon
Internet Broadcast: Here
The Schedule: Tournament Bracket
Game #1: Friday at 4:30 PM UW-Milwaukee vs. Portland
Game #2: Friday at 7:00 PM UC Davis vs. Florida Atlantic
Game #3: Saturday at 7:30 PM Florida Atlantic vs. UW-Milwaukee
Game #4: Saturday at 10:00 PM UC Davis vs. Portland
Game #5: Sunday at 6:00 PM UW-Milwaukee vs. UC Davis
Game #6: Sunday at 8:30 PM Florida Atlantic vs. Portland
Latest Lines: Here
Portland at a Glance
G Jared Stohl
G Eric Waterford
F Nemanji Mitrovic
F Luke Sikma
C Kramer Knutson
A young but talented University of Portland squad enters this weekend’s festivities off of back-to back postseason berths for the first time in school history. Led by fifth-year head coach Eric Reveno, the Pilots started off last season with early victories over Oregon, Minnesota and UCLA in the process of earning themselves their first ever Associated Press Top 25 ranking. The team finished off the season going 10-4 in West Coast Conference play, and lost in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Not much is back from last season’ poster year, as only one starter and six lettermen return to the team, but the cupboard isn’t completely bare as two WCC honorable mentions are back in forward Luke Sikma and guard Jared Stohl. Stohl lead the nation in three-point shooting percentage a year ago at .478, and averaged 11.5 points per game as a viable sixth-man option off the bench.
Portland opened up season play last Sunday against Concordia in an exhibition game at home and Stohl picked up right where he left off, going 5-of-9 from behind the arc, giving the team 15 points. Sikma had just as impressive outing grabbing five offensive rebounds and scoring 14 points of his own. However, the youth and inexperience of the squad showed throughout the contest, as the score was close in the final minutes before the Pilots were finally able to secure a 68-65 win.
Three different freshmen saw game action and there play was highlighted by guard Tanner Riley who scored 11 points and didn’t manage any turnovers coming off the bench as a reserve.
Although Portland has lost a lot of its production from seasons before, there are still players in place like Stohl and Sikma who will have opportunities to take control of matchups and games.
UW-Milwaukee at a Glance
G Jerard Ajami
G Tone Boyle
G Kaylon Williams
F Anthony Hill
F Tony Meier
Hailing from the Horizon League Conference, UW-Milwaukee basketball comes into this weekend’s tournament looking to build of off last season’s 21-14 record with a veteran roster that returns four starters. Having already recorded two victories in exhibition games over Milwaukee School of Engineering and Carroll this past week, the Panthers got off to an advanced start this season with a summer trip overseas to Italy.
Much like the trip FAU’s basketball squad took too Europe, the Panthers and head coach Rob Jester visited Italy to play games, practice, and sight see. The team went 4-0 against local teams from Italy and took advantage of the ten extra days of practice they received.
With the Panther’s losing their top two scores to graduation someone on offense needed to step up and that appears to be senior forward Anthony Hill, a player that seen action in 88 career games. Hill averaged 9.1 points last season, but saw his production pick up in Italy when he averaged 11.8 points in the four games.
However, the real answer to the offense might come from the guard position as the Panthers feature one of the top backcourts in the conference.
Senior Tony Boyle who missed all of last year with a back injury returns to the starting lineup, and is expected to continue his top play from the 2008-09 season in which he earned All-Horizon League honors averaging 13.2 points per game.
Alongside Boyle is fellow senior Jerard Ajami and transfer Kaylon Williams. The trio form one of the top guard combinations, as Ajami and Williams are known for their ability to pass the ball and hit shots when needed. Adding even more talent to the position is sophomore Ja’Rob McCallum, the Sporting News Horizon League Freshman of the Year last season, who should see minutes off the bench.
The defense was the key for the Panthers in the two exhibition wins, holding opponents to just 29.4% shooting from the floor. Teams will need to limit the backcourt and be able to hit open shoots against the tournament's deepest squad.
UC-Davis at a Glance
G Mark Payne
G Eddie Miller
G Joe Harden
G Ryan Howley
F Alex Tiffin
The Aggies travel to Portland, Oregon under the direction of eight-year Head Coach Gary Stewart, a man that has brought improvement year-by-year to the program. Posting a 14-18 record last season, UC-Davis finished tied for third in the Big West Conference and had its best season since 2003-04.
Running a smaller, fast paced type lineup that features four starting guards, the formula for the Aggies recent success has been seniors Mark Payne (17.0 ppg) and Joe Harden (16.0 ppg). The duo graduated together from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, California and were reunited when Harden transferred over from Notre Dame.
Harden was named to Big West Preseason All Conference team, a year after earning the Big West Best Hustle award for his all around performance. The 6’8” guard can not only score but makes his presence felt around the boards averaging 7.3 a game throughout his career.
Payne, a similar player to his friend Harden, is the active leader in the Big West in career points (964) assists (352) and steals (149). In the teams opening 84-78 exhibition win over Menlo College he recorded 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
After the first initial exhibition victory, the Aggies dropped their next one 67-62 to Academy of the Art, a Division II school. Shooting only 40 percent from the field, Stewart’s squad never found an offensive groove outside of Harden and Payne who each scored in double digits and the team felt the effects.
For the Aggies to find success in the tournament, players outside of the duo will need to produce.
FAU at a Glance
G Dennis Mavin*
G Alex Tucker
G Greg Gantt
F Kore White
F Brett Royster
The Owls got preseason play off to a rough start against Northwood (85-81 OT), later recovering in healthy fashion at the expense of an over matched Lynn squad 81-61. However, critically, FAU was able to get a lot of bodies into the games, and that will prove beneficial given the three day line up that lies ahead on Portland.
The blemish, which sticks out like a sore thumb at this point in time, was the inability to knock down long range shots with any consistency. The Owls have averaged just 12.5% through the two exhibitions - a time at which one would think it would be just the opposite.
"I don't like missing threes, especially wide open threes like we've been missing. But when you look at the guys who've been missing them, you know they can make them", said Coach Mike Jarvis. "Part of the problem may be they are too wide open. So, I'm hoping the teams we play this weekend might be a little closer to them and they might start making some."
Ray Taylor is a better open shooter from beyond the arc than guarded, so him being out of the picture likely contributed as well. *He will be a game time decision tomorrow night. However, the insertion of Kore White has already proven to be worth the hype that preceded it.
The Owls will face both UC-Davis and Portland for the first time in program history, but are tied 1-1 all time against UW-Milwaukee:
03/04/95 H W 68-59
11/24/00 N L 60-78
FAU finished last season with a 14-16 mark, and were much improved over the year prior. There is no reason to believe that further improvement won't happen again in 2010-11, beginning tomorrow night. Jarvis would like to see the squad go undefeated to start the slate, but knows that is a tall order given three games in just over 72 hours.
"I'd like to get three wins, but more important than that, I want us to grow as a team and really compete every second of every game", said Jarvis. "If we do that, I think we'll do well in the tournament."
Two wins should not be out of the question, and that's where the Owls should find themselves when it's all said and done.
But perimeter defense will be a must on the west coast swing; with improved long range scoring being an equal second.
"We're a completely different team. That's not the same team (against Northwood) we've been seeing the last few weeks", said senior forward Brett Royster. "We're more than ready to get the season started."
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