Men’s Basketball: Starters

Coming off a summer where he competed with the Canadian Men’s National Development Team, Scott Morrison is expected to contribute heavily on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

CenterScott Morrison 6-11, 250SeniorVancouver, British Columbia Strengths: Shot blocking, low-post offense

Coming off a summer where he competed with the Canadian Men’s National Development Team, Scott Morrison is expected to contribute heavily on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

“Scott is a good presence on both ends,” said head coach Ken Bone. “He’s a big kid that can score around the basket. And he gets his share of rebounds.”

With Morrison’s experience, he is the only starter who has been in the Portland State program for four seasons; the Vikings will likely look to him for leadership and guidance.

Bone said Morrison will also be a major cog because he has played under the head coach for three seasons. This means the Vikings will lean on the big man even more, because Bone has immense confidence in his abilities.

ForwardTyrell Mara6-6, 235Sophomore White Rock, British ColumbiaStrengths: Rebounding, perimeter shooting

Coach Bone believes his forward position will be played by committee, as he plans to alternate between sophomores Tyrell Mara, Kyle Costen and Alex Tiefenthaler, who will not be eligible at the end of fall term due to NCAA transfer rules. Mara will begin the season in the starting lineup.

“Tyrell is just solid,” Bone said. “He has a good basketball IQ and doesn’t make many mistakes.”

Mara appeared in only three games last season because he had not fully recovered from knee surgery earlier that year. With the Vikings having lost two top three-point shooters from last season in Juma Kamara and Paul Hafford, Mara’s perimeter shooting will be crucial to the Vikings’ success.

WingDupree Lucas6-1, 170SeniorWichita, Kan. Strengths: On-ball defense, quickness

Dupree Lucas is another player who excels on both sides of the court. But despite a team-leading 13.2 points per game last season, Bone believes Lucas’ defense is his strongpoint.

“He’s a big-time defender. On the ball, off the ball, he really brings it with his aggressive and quick style of play,” Bone said. On the offensive end, Lucas simply knows how to put the ball through the basket. He scores in a variety of ways, including penetrating through traffic to the hoop, pulling up for jump shots and knocking down fadeaways.

“He’s getting a lot better at driving and passing it out to guys for open shots,” Bone said. “And if he can continue to do that, it will help us tremendously.”

WingDeonte Huff6-4, 195Senior Lancaster, Calif. Strengths: Slashing to basket, rebounding

In short, Deonte Huff is an offensive powerhouse. Having started slightly more than half the games last season, Huff averaged 10.7 points per game, shot a team high 58.5 percent from the field and knocked down about four of every 10 three-pointers he attempted.

“Deonte is probably our most versatile scorer,” Bone said.

Bone cited Huff’s knack for drawing fouls as another way he wears down opposing defenses. Huff puts defenders in a tough position because he knows how to get them in foul trouble, making them unable to play a physical brand of defense.

“He’s just a big, strong, athletic kid that knows how to score,” Bone said.

As a senior and major component to the team’s success, Huff will be another player that the Vikings depend on to flourish in pressure situations, and the ball will be in his hands often.

Point GuardJeremiah Dominguez 5-6, 150JuniorSalem, Ore.Strengths: Ball handling, tenacious defense

The oil that lubricates the Viking machine this season will be Jeremiah Dominguez.

As the point guard, Dominguez will be responsible for ensuring Portland State’s offensive execution is as flawless as possible. And even though this is his first season in the South Park Blocks, he has the basketball background to make him a star.

“He’s such a gym rat that I think he might be not be a senior, but he has the experience playing basketball against high-level talent,” Bone said.

Dominguez was selected as The Oregonian‘s State Player of the Year in 2004, the same year he led South Salem High School to the Oregon 4A Championship. At the University of Portland, Dominguez showed flashes of brilliance, and the Vikings hope he can sustain that level throughout the season.

X-factor Julius ThomasForward6-5, 220SophomoreStockton, Calif.Strengths: Rebounding, hustle, energy

While Bone believes numerous bench players, such as senior forward J.R. Moore and sophomore forward Kyle Costen, will contribute considerably this season, Julius Thomas sticks out as the one who will help the most.

“Julius is just a warrior inside,” Bone said. “He brings it on every possession.”

Bone said that Thomas contributes in a multitude of ways, such as rebounding, providing stops on defense and setting screens to open up shooting opportunities on offense.

“He helps in a way that isn’t in the box score,” Bone said. “Julius can come in and make a difference because of his work ethic.”

Bone raves about Thomas’ hustle and defensive energy when he is on the court.

Thomas averaged 14 minutes a game last season, maintaining 64 percent shooting from the field and grabbing about three rebounds per contest. The sophomore also scored 5.1 points per game, a mark that should increase with additional minutes this season.