It hasn't been the most stellar year for college basketball in the state, has it? The combined record of the four Division I teams: 45-58.
Oregon (12-11) talked of a league title, but went in the tank. Now the Ducks may not even make the NIT, and they aren't quite a lock for the Pacific-10 Conference tournament. However, a win over USC or UCLA, or a Washington State loss this weekend, would clinch it. The Ducks did win the state this season, going 3-1.
Oregon State (11-15) looked terrific at home against Oregon and Arizona but is ninth in the conference and must leap over WSU to make the Pac-10 tourney. If the Beavers win one more game than the Cougars this weekend, they'll go to the tournament, since they hold the tiebreaker.
With a roster that includes several transfers, Portland State (11-16) played well at times and raised expectations, then lost twice on the road last weekend with the chance to make the Big Sky Conference tournament. Stick a fork in 'em.
And the Portland Pilots -(11-16) entered the week as the only team guaranteed to play in the postseason. The Pilots play Loyola Marymount, a team they have beaten twice, on Friday in the West Coast Conference tournament. A 12th win would be one more than last season, and would pit them against Pepperdine on Saturday. Another win would put them in the semifinals against St. Mary's.
'In the big picture, we're heading in the right direction,' says UP coach Michael Holton, who is 28-57 in three seasons. 'But, I know at the end of the day, you want to take measurable steps forward. Or two steps.'
Holton knows all too well the theme of locker room speeches in Portland, Corvallis and Eugene: 'You can't lose your confidence, or spirit for the game.'
Easier said than done.
Elsewhere with UP hoops:
• Eugene Jeter scored 38 points in two games against LMU, hitting 9 of 11 3-pointers. He and defense were the keys in 77-68 and 74-59 wins over the Lions.
• Pilot seniors Casey Frandsen and Dustin Geddis each plan to marry after the season. Fellow senior Adam Quick plans to return to his native Australia in the spring and try to play pro.
• It's 801 and counting. Mauro Potestio, the bow-tied booster and ex-sports information director at Portland, watched his 801st consecutive home game Saturday, an 89-78 Pilot win over San Diego. It concluded his 55th season of watching every UP home game. The streak started in 1949.
Potestio has his own all-time Pilot team, based on career achievements. 'Jeter's the closest player to making the list since 1982,' he says. 'I like his spunk. He's got knowledge of the game. Great speed. I just think he's going to be a good one.'
Potestio's first team: Andy Johnson (1950-53), Darwin Cook (1976-80), Jose Slaughter (1978-82), Steve Anslett (1961-64), Rick Raivio (1976-80). Second team: Cincy Powell (1962-65), Jim Armstrong (1956-59), Jim Winters (1949-52, 1955-56), Leonard Williams (1974-78), Gil Garner (1958-62). Honorable mention: Paul Gloden (1965-68), Art Easterly (1959-62, 1964-65).
nFreshman Dreshawn Vance started nearly the entire WCC schedule and shot 59 percent from the field to lead the league.
nOne of sportswriting's good guys, and a paragon of dependability and loyalty, will make his final work trip this week, covering the WCC tournament. 'It's my swan song,' says John Nolen, who will conclude a 46-year career Ñ including more than 21 years with The Oregonian, and 20 with the Oregon Journal Ñ when he retires June 14. His first retirement destination: Poipu, on the island of Kauai.
The Warner Pacific women have qualified for the NAIA tournament. The Knights (20-11), who played Eastern Oregon in the Cascade Conference title game Monday night, won two Cascade games to qualify, getting 42 points from Becky VanTine. É Despite a sore shoulder, John Mietus played and played well in Lewis & Clark's finale, a 68-50 win over Pacific. His line: 24 points, 15 rebounds (his 19th double-double in 23 games), 11 of 14 shooting, two blocks, two steals. Sharp-shooting guard Danny Winchester added 25 points, going 7 of 13 on -3-pointers, and finished with the school's best single-season free-throw percentage (.886). The Pioneers finished 15-10 overall and 8-8 in the Northwest Conference.