Schroyer shrugs off losses, vows to win next year
Despite only four wins in 22 games, first-year Portland State coach Heath Schroyer maintains his optimism.
'We'll get there. No doubt we'll get it done,' he vows. 'We'll win a championship, or have a chance to win, fill this arena and make it a happenin' thing.'
Schroyer even goes one step further: 'We've got to win next year.'
Next year, the 30-year-old Schroyer will have five new players, all capable of starting: JC recruits Will Funn and Blake Walker, transfer Antone Jarrell (a Jefferson grad) and redshirts Seamus Boxley and Marshal Hartman. Jarrell, a small/power forward, could be a star. And eight other players will be back, including starting 6-10 post Seth Scott.
'We've got a very good recruiting class coming in, and we've laid the foundation and playing structure,' says Schroyer, who has emphasized defense and rebounding because the Vikings have trouble 'manufacturing baskets.'
The Vikings would be happy to make the Big Sky Conference tournament this season, especially for seniors Jeb Ivey and Kevin Briggs, who have stood tall through teammates and coaches coming and going. But Schroyer's recruiting and coaching ability really can't be judged until next year.
'I'll always remember those two seniors,' Schroyer says. 'We've had a tough season, but they've come to work every day. They've been a joy.'
The Vikings were 2-7 in Big Sky play entering the week and needed road wins against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State to get into the postseason. The Vikings were 0-12 on the road. It doesn't look good.
The future remains bright, though, as Scott can only improve. Schroyer describes his prize recruit's season as 'peaks and valleys.' Scott averages 13 points and seven rebounds Ñ not too shabby. But he has fouled out eight times, admittedly because of poor defense, and he leads the team with 87 turnovers.
Last week, in key home games against Montana and Montana State, Scott made 5 of 20 shots and grabbed only seven total rebounds.
'A slump,' Scott says, talking about his season. 'It's a lot different than community college.'
Madison grad Chris Botez, now listed as 7 foot, has made an immediate impact at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, especially with his coach.
'Best center I've seen in the Northwest,' George Libbon says.
'He's a terrific kid. My best player. He's extremely coachable Ñ like a sponge. He's (NCAA) Division I all the way.'
Botez went to community college to get his grades up and needs to qualify for Division I by getting his Associate of Arts degree at Chemeketa. Libbon says he pulled a 3.52 GPA the first term.
In 21 games, Botez is averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks, while shooting .588 from the field. Libbon says Oregon, Utah State, University of Pacific, Boise State and many others have inquired about him, even though Botez will play JC ball for another year. He's likely to be pursued more hotly next season.
Miles up and down
Kansas point guard Aaron Miles, the Jefferson grad, led the Big 12 Conference in assists (160) and steals (50) entering the week, but he can't seem to shake media and fan criticism.
'It's silly,' coach Roy Williams told the Lawrence Journal-World after last week's 82-64 win over Kansas State. Williams said not even maligned KU big men Greg Ostertag and Eric Chenowith faced as much criticism.
'I think he's been good all year,' senior guard Kirk Hinrich says of Miles.
Sure, Miles had some bad games Ñ like the two-point, six-turnover game against Missouri last week in which Williams played him only 19 minutes. But Miles seems to bounce back strong; he had 13 points Saturday against Kansas State. He had 15 points, nine assists and one turnover two weeks ago against Texas.
His 7.3 assists per game rank fifth in the country, and he plays decent defense. But because he only averages 8.7 points and shoots 38.7 percent from the field Ñ including 24.2 on 3-pointers Ñ he gets the heat.
'I don't worry about what people say,' Miles says. 'If people on this team believe in me, it's all that matters.'
Meanwhile, Michael Lee, Miles' teammate and friend, continues to get quality minutes off the bench. Just as Lee predicted, he has become part of Williams' rotation.