A player’s coach

The 2009–10 basketball season is quickly approaching, and with it comes the new leadership of first-year head coach Tyler Geving.

The 2009–10 basketball season is quickly approaching, and with it comes the new leadership of first-year head coach Tyler Geving. Now, after four years of working with Vikings basketball, the last two as associate head coach, he is ready to lead a winning season.

Geving begins as the 12th head coach in Portland State basketball history and hopes to further the team’s recent success. The Vikings took the Big Sky Tournament Championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in both 2008 and 2009.

Geving said that the foundation built with former head coach Ken Bone is something that will help the team this season.

“We need to keep the formulas that worked in the past,” he said.

But, as always, there is room for improvement. Geving said the team needs to work on being a good rebounding team. “We need to learn how to value the basketball—to work on our assists-to-turnover ratio. And that is something we have been emphasizing early on,” he said
Geving is a “player’s coach,” said Portland State junior guard/forward Paul Guede. “He knows us. He gives us freedom on the offensive end, so long as we work on the defensive end.”

“Geving coaches an up-tempo game,” Guede said.

Gevin has been on the coaching scene in Washington and Oregon for over a decade. He said that, over the years, knowing the players has always been one of his strengths.

“I relate to the players well. I’ve always been able to communicate with them. Not in a friendship sense, but [I’ve] really been able to communicate with the guys,” he said.

Due to his close work with prior head coach Ken Bone, Geving said that the game will not change drastically. The one thing he said is different between his predecessor and himself is the intensity level.

“I show emotions. That’s one thing I respected about Bone, was how even-tempered he would be,” Geving said.
As a team, the Vikings look strong both offensively and defensively. “This will be a big year for us,” he said.

Some players to watch out for are the strong returners. Senior Jamie Jones, forward, played for the Vikings all last year and knows about the level of competition at the NCAA Tournament, and brings great leadership to the court.

Geving said senior forward Julius Thomas, junior forward Phil Nelson and senior guard Dominic Waters have all played in the NCAA postseason and also are strong leaders for the new players.

“It’s a good quality to have boys that know how to win show the new guys what it takes to get there,” Geving said.

On the recruiting side, Geving has brought in many strong competitors to the team. He brought four new players to the court this season: freshman guard Chris Harriel, junior guards Melvin Jones and Alonzo Brandon and junior forward Phillip Thomas.

With the mix of the experienced players, such as 2008–09 starters Jamie Jones and Nelson, and Geving’s new recruits, the Vikings hope to cover any weak spots the team may have had.

Outside shots from Nelson, who hit 57 three-pointers last year, and inside shots from Jamie Jones, who had .589 field goal shooting, lend well to a high scoring game.

Waters shot 60 three-pointers and was named to the All-Big Sky Conference Second Team. Julius Thomas posted a school record of .643 in field-goal shooting, and was on the Big Sky Conference All-Tournament Team.

Guede returns to the court after a broken bone in his foot put him out just two games into last season. The two other returners, sophomore guard Dane Johnson and freshman guard Austonn Lazoff, were redshirts last season.

The new players bring strengths as well. Melvin Jones has an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 111/56. Phillip Thomas has .558 shooting percentage, and walk-on freshman forward Kenton Bhansemer was named All-State at the Oregon 4A level. Two other newcomers, junior guards Nathan Lozeau and Nigel Peter-Denman, will be redshirted.

Of the team’s strength, Phillip Thomas said, “We have depth. Everyone can play.”

The solid roster combined with Geving’s intense coaching technique should equate to wins this season. The team is working towards another birth in the NCAA Tournament, and hopes to make it beyond the first round.

Geving is excited for the season to begin and said he is pleased with how hard the guys are working. “I feel we are already more of a team than last year, and you can’t put a price tag on that,” he said.

The season begins on Nov. 13 when Portland takes on Washington, Belmont and Wright State in the Athletes in Action Basketball Classic in Seattle. The Vikings play an exhibition game on Nov. 3 at the Stott Center, and the first regular season home game is Nov. 21.