Keeping Kent was AD's final gift
On College Hoops
A smiling Bill Moos watched his basketball coach speak after Oregon's convincing Civil War victory Saturday, a final home game before the Ducks take to the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments.
It might be the last public appearance in Eugene for Moos before he departs March 30. The outgoing athletic director easily could have issued the proclamation 'I told you so' regarding Ernie Kent and the Duck hoopsters. But he refrained, expressing simple vindication for retaining Kent last spring when the coach's detractors wanted him canned.
Moos says he envisioned the 20-win season and NCAA Tournament team because of the 'character' and 'psyche' of players and coaches.
He repeated that Kent built expectations in Eugene -it'll be UO's fourth NCAA tourney under him - and 'I wasn't going to turn my back on somebody like that … or on the dedication shown by the players, who came to Oregon to play for Ernie.'
Kent and his players went 23-7 with the coach on the hot seat. Moos didn't extend his contract last spring - something new Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny will have to consider now - and Kent welcomed the pressure to win or be let go.
'He knew that, and he took it in stride,' Moos says. 'He told me they were going to work and, 'You'll be proud of the result.' And I am.'
Division I men
UO (23-7, 11-7 Pac-10): The Ducks play Arizona in the Pac-10 tourney at 12:20 p.m. Thursday (FSN) in Los Angeles. 'It's a big deal because of what these guys have gone through,' Kent says, of going for the tourney title. But 'I really look forward to Sunday,' when the Ducks celebrate their NCAA bid. … 'We want it badly,' Aaron Brooks adds, of the league tournament. 'Nobody has any hardware here. (An NCAA bid) frees you up to go play hard.' … The Ducks are 14-2 when shooting 25 or fewer 3-pointers (they were 9 of 23 Saturday vs. Oregon State). Tajuan Porter, 1 of 9 against OSU, needs one 3-pointer to set the Pac-10 freshman record with 83. … Brooks sits just behind USC's Nick Young in Pac-10 scoring (18.0). … Maarty Leunen had his eighth double-double against OSU (14 points, 10 boards). … Bryce Taylor had 22 points in both games vs. OSU. … Malik Hairston has a better percentage from the field (.525) than the free-throw line (.508). … UO has averaged only 8.7 turnovers in the past six games. … Benson High's Adrian Stelly is 0 for 5 from the field. … Posts Ray Schafer and Mitch Platt have combined to average 15 minutes and less than three points and three rebounds per game. … Long bomber Chamberlain Oguchi is shooting .255 from 3-point land. … 'It's the most unselfish team Ernie has had in terms of moving the ball,' OSU coach Jay John says.
PSU (19-12, 9-7 Big Sky): Can the Viks join the Ducks in the NCAA Tournament? PSU plays Weber State (18-11) at 7 tonight in the Big Sky semis. The other semi pits Montana (17-14) against Northern Arizona (17-11). The championship game is Wednesday. … A 20th win sets the PSU Division I school record. … PSU has not lost more than two games in a row all season. The Viks had the school's most road wins (7-9 record) since 1975-76, 17 playing seasons ago. … PSU's 147 blocks smashed the school record (108); Scott Morrison has the new individual record of 68 (season) and 132 (career) and counting. … Deonte Huff has 82 points in the past four games. He has shot 50 percent or better in 26 of 31 games, and 58 percent cumulative. 'I'm not a secret weapon anymore,' he says. … Fellow newcomer Julius Thomas is shooting 64 percent. … The Viks shoot a lot of free throws (leading the Big Sky), but struggle at 64 percent. … Everybody except freshman Kyle Coston has been contributing lately. 'And, if somebody went down, he could play,' coach Ken Bone says. 'He's a really good player. He'll be a stud here at Portland State.'
UP (9-23, 4-10 WCC): The Pilots improved with defense and rebounding under first-year coach Eric Reveno and beat Loyola Marymont for their first league tourney win since 1996 before bowing out against Saint Mary's. 'From my perspective, the season was a success,' Reveno says. … The Pilots allowed a respectable .432 opponent shooting and had a plus-3.1 rebounding margin. … Every player averaged one rebound or more per game. It's the first plus rebounding margin since 1994-95, although Saint Mary's pounded the Pilots on the boards 40-21 Saturday. … Benson High's Darren Cooper played injured all season and led the Pilots in scoring (12.1). Sophomore forward Jamie Jones averaged 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds. … Cooper finished as UP's all-time free-throw percentage leader (.853) and he had 1,020 points with the Pilots.
OSU (11-20, 3-15 Pac-10): The Beavs play Cal at 6:12 p.m. Wednesday (FSN) in the Pac-10 tournament. OSU has won tourney games the past two seasons, and then lost by 31 (Arizona, 2005) and 32 (UCLA, 2006). … 'Oregon's a better team than Cal,' coach John says, reflecting on Saturday's 70-49 Civil War defeat. 'We've played well against Cal.'
Division I women
PSU (12-17, 8-8 Big Sky): The Viks are playing in the Big Sky tournament Thursday against Weber State at Missoula, Mont. Leading scorer Kelsey Kahle reached 1,000 points last week. 'We're playing our best basketball of the season,' coach Charity Elliott says. The Viks went 10-4 at home.
UO (16-13, 8-10 Pac-10): If the Ducks don't get an WNIT bid, the college careers of Grant's Cicely Oaks and Wilson's Jessie Shetters have ended. Oaks hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range against Cal (63-51 loss) and is .428 from behind the arc. Shetters, who returned from injury and still had a sore back, played 11 minutes.
OSU (9-19, 4-14 Pac-10): The season ended with a 69-54 loss to Arizona in the Pac-10 tourney. Casey Nash led the league in scoring (20.0).
UP (10-20, 2-12 WCC): The season ended with a 68-55 loss to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament. The Pilots return a strong team next year, having relied on freshmen, including Laiken Dollente (leading scorer, 15.2) and junior post Rachel Warren (10.6).