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Punishing schedule is Pilots by choice

University of Portland has a long-term plan for moving up ladder

It's all part of a plan, Michael Holton insists, even though his University of Portland basketball team could take its share of thrashings this season.

'I don't know what I was thinking,' the coach says, chuckling. 'Toughest schedule in school history.'

'My goal,' Holton says, 'was to do two things: establish a style of play and strengthen the schedule. That's what we needed to do to recruit the type of kid we needed to move up the ladder. We'll pay the price, but it's the better way to go about it in our five-year plan to become successful.'

The Pilots have 13 nonleague games, including games against Oregon (road), Oregon State (home) and Portland State (home and away). The Pilots will play at UCLA and Long Beach State and against Big Sky Conference favorites Weber State and Eastern Washington. Two other games, versus San Diego State and Nevada, also are challenges.

Then the West Coast Conference schedule starts, and Portland plays nationally ranked Gonzaga and Pepperdine twice each.

The Pilots have upgraded athletically, however, with the arrival of L.A. area preps Donald Wilson and Eugene 'Pooh' Jeter.

'Wilson's probably the most athletic guy on our team,' Holton says of the 6-foot-4 guard. 'Jeter is a natural, quarterback type of point guard. He has presence and poise.'

Newcomers Dustin Geddis, a 6-7 forward, and Andreas Gahlmann, a 6-8 center, also will be in the rotation.

'Andreas might be our best lowpost player,' Holton says. 'I don't want to compare him to Coky (Rochin), but he's like that, and only a sophomore. A lowpost presence.'

Holton and his assistant coaches are asking Casey Frandsen, last year's leading scorer at 19.2 points per game (20 in league), to be more of a playmaker and defender. They won't tell him not to shoot, however, considering the 6-3 junior cans quite a few 3-pointers.

Adam Quick also returns at point guard. Patrick Galos, Karl Aaker and Ghislain Sema have one year frontcourt experience.

'Overall, what we have is team depth,' Holton says. 'We played with seven scholarship guys last year, and it was tough to be competitive night in and night out.

'We have quality players, and it's easier to play well. We're probably not going to be a 20-win team, but we'll be better.'

NOTES: The Pilots went 6-24 last year, losing 20 of their last 22 games. They beat St. Mary's and Loyola-Marymount at home for their only WCC victories. É One wonders whether Oregon players will remember Dec. 2, 2001, during this year's game at McArthur Court. The Pilots stunned the Ducks 79-78. É The up-tempo offense won't change, but Holton has been emphasizing defense and rebounding. The Pilots gave up 80 points a game last year (averaging 72 themselves) and got outrebounded by five per game. É The Pilots did not force an opposing player to foul out last year. É Portland plays home games Jan. 9 against Pepperdine and Jan. 24 against Gonzaga.

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