Backcourt boosts PSU, and UP gets surer shot
Basketball is in the air at colleges throughout the country. Here's a look at the city's two Division I men's teams to find out who's playing and looking good in practices as exhibition games approach:
Anthony Washington quit the team and newcomer J.R. Moore (ex-Benson High) will be redshirting, so the Vikings will be fairly small outside of 6-foot-11 center Scott Morrison. And Morrison has been dealing with his sore back again. 'It comes and goes,' second-year coach Ken Bone says. Otherwise, 'he's moving well, jumping well and playing good.'
Bone really needs Tyrell Mara healthy on the front line, but the 6-6 sophomore had knee surgery in April 'and he's a big concern,' the coach says. 'He hasn't been able to show us anything.'
Watching the Viks, don't take your eyes off the quick-and-quicker backcourt duo Ryan Sommer and Dupree Lucas. 'I see them playing together quite a bit,' Bone says.
And even true freshman Emmanuel Jenkins could join the fray.
'Hopefully we'll play more 94 feet (of basketball),' Bone says. 'I think we'll be very good defensively, and we'll be able to advance the ball in transition.'
Juma Kamara shot 52 percent from 3-point land last year, getting better as the season went on. 'In the offseason, he prepared himself really well,' Bone says. 'He's still putting that shot down; he's a prolific 3-point shooter.'
Point guard Jeremiah Dominguez, who will redshirt this season, impresses Bone, who says he doesn't worry about Dominguez's size (5-6) or his poor shooting at the University of Portland. 'He's relentless on the defensive end, and he's so quick with the ball,' Bone says. 'And he's a hoop junkie - those guys are hard to find.'
Post Kyle Coston, who has an elbow injury, has a chance to contribute as a true freshman.
Long-armed, big-footed, strong-based and left-handed Jamie Jones has been the most impressive player in practice.
The 6-7 sophomore rebounds well, and his scoring ability has improved; Jones creates great space with his body and shoots the hook shot well.
'He's got a knack for finding the basketball,' first-year coach Eric Reveno says.
It's early, but Reveno anticipates that Jones will be a double-figure scorer and a leading rebounder. But, he emphasizes, 'you don't make all-league in the first week - it's a long haul.'
Defense and rebounding are being emphasized under Reveno, and the coach has been impressed with efforts of veteran big men Ben Sullivan, Kevin Field and Chris Jackson. Field has lost about 30 pounds.
Brian McTear has the edge on freshman Taishi Ito to start at point guard, while veteran Darren Cooper (ex-Benson High) could play some at the point along with his 2-guard duties. Cooper had minor knee surgery and has been limited in practice. Reveno needs Cooper and Walter Thompson to shoot well to open things up.
The 3 position won't be the strongest with Sherrard Watson and Marcus Carter, although the long-armed dudes could be good on defense. 'What can they give us on offense?' Reveno says.
German newcomer Robin Smeulders, a 6-9 forward, has been practicing, but his NCAA eligibility status hasn't been rectified; UP officials want to determine to what extent he played with pros in his home country.
Forward Alex Tiefenthaler got suspended (violation of team rules), but he will return.