Who Are You: Portland State Vikings

Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the faithful with his preview of the Portland State Vikings, including a look back at their current and past season, the players to watch out for tonight, and the keys to a Stanford victory.

After a devastating loss to Kentucky in the finals of the Cancun Challenge on Wednesday night, Stanford men's hoops is ready to take the floor again in 24 hours in the friendly confines of Maples Pavilion where they will face the visiting Vikings from Portland State University.  Here's a look at the ins and outs of Portland State:

2008-2009 Season: Portland State finished the year with their 2nd consecutive 23-10 season and 2nd straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  Led by senior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez and Head Coach Ken Bone, the Vikings defeated Montana State in the Big Sky Conference Tournament Championship game and earned a 13-seed in the Big Dance.  Picked by Kevo to upset Xavier in the first round, Portland State never really was close in the game and fell to the Sean Miller-led Musketeers by a score of 77-59.  However, their season saw plenty of highs, including beating two top-half teams in the WCC in Portland and Gonzaga up in Spokane.  They also almost knocked off Washington, dropping an 84-83 decision in Seattle.

2009-2010 Season: With Dominguez graduating and Coach Bone off to Pullman, the Vikings have struggled out of the gates en route to a 1-3 start.  They went 0-3 to start the season for the first time this decade and hadn't had a three-game losing streak since December of 2007. However, their competition has been stiff thus far.  After losing close contests to Belmont and Wright State (a couple of 20+ win teams from a season ago), the Vikings were destroyed by Washington 111-55 in what was the worst loss in school history.  Once up 15-12 six minutes into the game, the Vikings let the Huskies go on a 43-14 run to close the half and Coach Romar's squad never looked back from there.  Portland State eventually earned their first win of the season against Cal Poly last Saturday night (11/21) by a score of 92-83.  In the game, the Vikings broke a school record by hitting 67.4% of their FG attempts (31-46) and were 53.8% from beyond the arc.  Senior guard Dominic Waters led the Viking effort with 32 points and five assists.  It was rookie Head Coach Tyler Geving's first collegiate coaching victory, and it came against former boss Joe Callero, who had coached him in his playing days at Central Washington and hired him as an assistant at Highline Community College and Seattle University.

Key Players:

- Dominic Waters (6-1, 180-lb Senior): leads team with 16.8 ppg, 4.0 apg, 50% 3FG, and 90.5% FT.  He was 2nd-team All-Big Sky last year and dropped 41 in a game against Northern Arizona (the most points ever scored in a Big Sky conference game).   He is a team captain and can pass, shoot, and drive equally well.

- Melvin Jones (5-10, 165-lb Junior): leads team with 34.0 min per game, 2nd on team w/ 13.5 ppg and has most made three-point field goals on team with 13.  He is extremely quick and drives well for his size in addition to launching from long range at a successful rate.

- Phil Nelson (6-8, 220-lb Junior transfer from UW): 11.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, great dunker and gets good position on the low block.

- Julius Thomas (6-5, 225-lb Senior): 6.9 ppg, 2nd on team with 5.2 rpg, 60% FG; holds single season and career school records for FG% (71.4% and 65.7%, respectively). 

Keys to the game:

- Take care of the basketball: Portland State led the Big Sky last year in steals per game and  are still an opportunistic defense, forcing over 13 TOs per game.  Jarrett Mann will need to continue his great play at the PG position for the Cardinal.

- Continue to defend the long ball well: Stanford has been fantastic in defending the three-pointer and forcing rushed shots from long range, holding opponents to 27.8% shooting from beyond the arc.  However, the Vikings are a great shooting team (as evidenced by their 92-83 win over Cal Poly) and have two guys (Waters and Melvin Jones) who shoot the three-ball at a better than 45% clip.

- Trotter Time: Outside of Phil Nelson, Portland State does not have much size.  Their biggest guy Nate Lozeau (6-10) has to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, and one of their other 6-8 guys is a walk-on who hasn't seen much time.  Guys like Trotter, Zimmermann, and Bullock are going to have a chance to shine down low, and it will be necessary for them to keep up their good work in order to open up the outside shooting opportunities for Shiller, Green, and Fields.

Can the Cardinal bounce back above .500 against the Geving-led Vikings?  Come out to Maples tomorrow night and log back on to The Bootleg afterwards for post-game thoughts and analysis!

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