Viking Notes

While I have no interest in looking up info on our next football opponent, I was curious enough to compile some notes on Portland State Vikings, Ben Ball warriors' first opponents for the 2007-08 season. I don't think it is a coincidence that the Bruins' first opponent from Love's first season happens to be from the Evergreen State (more on that below).

Now it turns out that the Vikings are not a pushover team. These guys can play a little basketball and came pretty close to making the Big Dance last year before losing out to Weber State, which you should all know happen to be the alma mater of our basketball coach. From Sportsline.com:

A year ago, Portland State was playing its best basketball when it counted the most. Only a three-point loss in the Big Sky tournament semifinals to host and eventual champion Weber State prevented the Vikes from perhaps qualifying for their first NCAA Tournament.

This year's team has talent and experience at most positions. Senior Dupree Lucas is one of the top small forwards in the league and last season was named Big Sky Newcomer of the Year. He averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists. Also returning is 6-11, 250-pound senior center Scott Morris, who set a school record with 70 blocked shots last season. He holds the school career record with 134 blocks.

Smooth-shooting Deonte Huff is also back after averaging about 11 ppg a year ago.

Morrison, who averaged 11 points and seven rebounds, might be ready to emerge as the top inside force in the Big Sky.

The Vikings made great improvement a year ago under coach Ken Bone and may well be ready to challenge for the top of the conference.
Over at OregonLive.com there is a nice profile on Scott Morrison, who Coach Bone is counting on to be the nucleus for his team hoping to contend for the Big Sky race:
Bone said he is counting on Morrison to provide leadership, because he is a four-year starter and has been at Portland State longer than anyone else.

"Scott has had some good seasons, and now it's time for him to have a great season," Bone said. "It's there. He's capable of doing it. So the expectations are high.

"He can play well every night out if he puts his head to it, I think. There are some good post players in the league, but I think Scott has the ability to be just as good an anybody else. And there have been times when he has shown that, but not night in and night out."

Bone agrees that the Vikings should be in the thick of this season's Big Sky title race. He said the only question marks he has have to do with "unknowns" such as the possibility of injuries at key positions and other factors out of his control.

"You need healthy guys and you need to create good chemistry," Bone said. "And within that, we're hoping that guys understand and embrace the roles that we have for them. It's an impossible chore to please them all, but I do think as of right now, we have the personnel to be a very good Big Sky team and a fun team to watch."

The Vikings get a good test right out of the gate against the defending Pacific-10 Conference champion Bruins in a game that also marks the college debut of Lake Oswego's Kevin Love, who could find himself matched up with Morrison.
I will get to the Love/Portland angle in a bit. Before I do that some more notes from Sportsline.com on the Vikings roster:
SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS
Jeremiah Dominguez is a 5-6 guard who is expected to vie for the starting point guard spot after sitting out last season following a transfer from the University of Portland.

Junior guard Andre Murray is a transfer from College of the Canyons, where he averaged 15.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season. [...]

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP
PG Jeremiah Dominguez, SG Deonte Huff, SF Dupree Lucas, PF Julius Thomas, C Scott Morrison
Now lets get back to the main show, which will be Love matching up against Morrison and a college from his home state. Spotted this amusing post from Ian Ruder in OregonLive.com's Vikings Blog. Ian was fantasizing about Love in a Vikings uniform:
Of course it would never happen, but what if Love spurned common thinking and attended PSU.

Clearly, this is just a fantasy, but it could have paid some dividends for Love. Look at Carmelo Anthony. He led the Syracuse Orangemen to a national championship as a freshman and in doing so raised his profile to the point he became the number three draft pick.

A national title ala Anthony would be a reach, but chances are good that Love would have been talented enough to lead the Vikings through the Big Sky conference tournament and make them one of the most dangerous high seeds in March Madness.

Back in the real world, Love is probably counting down the hours until his debut. At the same time coach Ken Bone and staff are probably frantically trying to figure out ways to slow down the Bruins multi-faceted attack.

Friday's game has all the makings of a "roofies special" - a game so one-sided you want nothing more than to forget it.

The Bruins were one of the best teams in the country without Love and his solid incoming class. With him? Forget it.
Fun read.

Obviously on paper this game is kind of a mismatch. But I am sure Coach Howland will make sure the kids know about what has happened to Kentucky and Michigan State early this season. And given all the injury issues we have in the backcourt, our young guys will need to stay focused and ready to step up. Howland has given somepositive feedback on the early season efforts of Stanback and Dragovic. Looking forward to hearing about how they perform tomorrow. I have a feeling Vikes are going to be lot tougher opponent than the ones we have had in exhibition games. Keep an eye on Bruin Basketball Report for their game preview.

I think it is going to be an very interesting game. I am bummed that I am not going to get to watch to get my first early impressions. However, I am sure rest of you will be more than able to fill us in.

GO BRUINS.
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