Injury-plagued Vikings to host Hornets

The injury bug has taken quite the chomp out of the men’s basketball roster this season.

The injury bug has taken quite the chomp out of the men’s basketball roster this season.

Just after starting forward Phil Nelson returned from an injured foot starting center Nate Lozeau went down with an injured foot, and is expected to miss another two to three weeks. Last week, starting power-forward Chehales Tapscott—the team’s leading rebounder—injured his knee and could miss anywhere from three to four weeks.

“When you lose your starting [front-court], it leaves you in a little bit of a hole,” said head coach Tyler Geving.

But Geving isn’t making excuses for his team.

“We’ve got to piece it together for the next few weeks until we get more guys back,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep trucking on. It’s about us sticking together and doing whatever we can as a team to grind out some wins.”

Portland State (10-9 overall, 3-4 Big Sky) is currently in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big Sky Conference. The team played Eastern Washington last night, the results of which were not available at press time. With a win over Eastern Washington, the Vikings will secure the first annual Dam Cup and claim bragging rights over their northwest rivals for the remainder of the school year.

Tomorrow night, the Vikings face Sacramento State at the Stott Center. Despite the lack of size and depth up front, Geving isn’t ready to simply shake up the Etch-a-Sketch.

“We’re not going to re-invent the wheel,” he said. “That’s not how you build a program or how you keep the foundation together. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing, but tweak a few things here and there.”

The Vikings will be forced to make adjustments, but they’ll try to play toward their strengths.

“When you’re smaller, you can’t just sit and play a half-court game,” Geving said. “You’ve got to try and create turnovers.”

“We can spread the floor a little bit and that opens up some driving lanes, drive and kick and get some open shots,” he added. “But it can be good and bad because you don’t want to become dependent on the three point shot.”

Without Tapscott, who averages 8.2 rebounds per game, defending and controlling the inside will be big concerns for the team in the following weeks. The Vikings are sixth in the conference in rebounding as a team, averaging 34 boards a game.

“We can score points. The [challenge] is going to be defense and rebounding,” senior guard Melvin Jones said. “Everybody needs to help pick up the slack.”

“I need to get in there and help rebound more,” junior guard Charles Odum said. “But it had to be a team effort, we’re missing our [big men], so everybody has to fight out there.”

Portland State will need to move past its mid-season hurdles and keep improving if the team hopes to separate itself from the pack in the Big Sky. Consistency has been an issue for the team.

“We have empty stretches sometimes, when we’re not getting anything,” Odum said. “And during those empty stretches [is] when the other team goes on their run. We can’t have those stretches of bad team-defense, or bad shots.”

“We have to stay together,” Odum emphasized. “Everything has to be team-oriented—team rebounding, team defense—we have to work together well.”

Geving agrees that the team members need to lean on each other and also notes that the next few weeks represent an opportunity for the entire roster to show what they’ve got.

“It’s a chance for everybody—it’s across the board,” Geving said. “Guys who’ve [wanted] more playing time, now it’s your opportunity to go out and do it. Everybody has to make sure to do their part.”

Portland State hosts Sacramento State at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Stott Center. Live stats will be available on, and the game will air on KXFD, AM-970. ?