Before spring term arrives, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from the winter. Though both the men and women’s basketball teams ended up with 12-16 records, each program notched landmark wins in the 2005-06 season.
I covered the women’s team last season, as they limped to a 3-23 record under then first-year head coach Charity Elliott. It was a hard year, and the team played some ugly games in front of a virtually empty Stott Center.
In 2005-06 the Vikings nearly doubled their attendance to over 400 people a game and quadrupled their win total. More importantly, they played basketball that was fun to watch. There were a couple of blowouts, including an ugly loss to Northern Arizona in their final home game, but this season must be considered a success.
Just five games into the season, the women’s team beat Southeastern Conference power Arkansas at the Stott Center. The Vikings held on 67-65 against the Razorbacks for PSU’s first victory over an SEC school.
Freshman Kelsey Kahle announced her presence with a monster double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 boards in an eye-opening performance. Kahle averaged over 17 points and eight rebounds on the year and won Big Sky Conference Co-Freshman of the year and was also a First Team All-Big Sky player.
The Portland State men’s team also got a huge win, as they beat Oregon 54-52 at McArthur court on December 27. The men ground out a physical game and won after senior captain Jake Schroeder sank two free throws in the final minutes. Ryan Sommer sealed the win with another free throw as the Vikings won their fourth straight.
The men’s team did quite well for themselves after a six-game slide in the middle of conference play and made the Big Sky tournament for the second straight year. However, it was the women’s team that was the real surprise of the winter.
Winter term also saw Tom Burman move on from his post as athletic director to a new job at the University of Wyoming, Burman’s alma mater. Burman helped grow Portland State athletics from a joke into a school that can compete and win in the Big Sky. The 2004-05 men’s basketball team that won 19 games and hosted the Big Sky tournament marked the height of the turnaround.
Now Teri Mariani, the long-serving softball coach and administrator, takes over until next fall. Mariani is perfect for the job. She knows how this school works and her appointment does not mean that stagnation will set in. Mariani has proved year in and year out that she can get the job done. Don’t expect that to change with her new title.
On a final note, Portland State athletics ends winter term with the saddening loss of junior football player Ed Macon. Macon was killed in a one-car accident on March 11. He was a little-used wide receiver who missed the 2005 season with a foot injury.
I didn’t cover PSU football this year and didn’t know Macon, but I’m saddened by his death. He was a 21-year-old kid who worked hard to be here, and he didn’t deserve to be cut down in what has to be considered his prime.