No more A-Dub

    The up-and-coming Portland State men’s basketball team was dealt what appeared a significant blow when 6-foot-9-inch senior center Anthony Washington informed Head Coach Ken Bone he wouldn’t be suiting up for the 2006-07 season. Washington was last season’s second-best rebounder and third leading scorer. 

    Expecting his first child in the next month, Washington decided his energy would be better spent preparing and caring for his soon-to-be son or daughter.

    As tough as the loss might be to the team, Anthony’s former coach stood behind his player. “I support his decision and I told him that,” Coach Bone explained. “I’ve coached student athletes with children before and it’s a difficult balance. They’ve got to be able to take a full load, and they’re usually in their junior or senior years and taking difficult courses.”

    And though Washington won’t be patrolling the Stott Center lanes for dunks and rebounds anymore, by no means is he packing up.

    ”[Anthony’s] taking some classes, part-time, at Portland State right now, which I’m happy about,” Coach Bone beamed. “He’s valuing his education and trying to succeed in earning his degree.”

    And though the 245-pound Washington will leave a sizeable hole in the PSU paint, Coach Bone refused excuses.

    ”It is what it is,” the Coach said. “Life goes on, and we’ve got other guys that can play. [Sophomore Forward] Tyrell Mara is back and last year he played 12-14 minutes as a freshman. Scott Morrison is a two-year starter, and he proved he can do some damage inside.”

    Last season the 6-foot-11-inch, 240-pound Morrison led the team with 5.3 rebounds per game to go along with 9.3 points. It is likely that the junior center will scoop up most of the minutes left by the vacating Washington, but he is not the only one who Coach Bone expects to play a bigger role.

    ”We’re trying to make up for [the loss of Washington] with guys like Kyle Costen [6 foot 7 inches, 210 pounds] and Julius Thomas [6 foot 5 inches, 215 pounds], two freshmen that are coming in that we didn’t think would play a lot of minutes their first year,” Bone explained. “There’s a reason why we recruited them to Portland State, and we feel like both of them are very gifted, although they’re probably going to be thrown into the fire a little quicker than we had hoped.”

    Outside of the paint, the Vikings’ return team-leaders Juma Kamara and Ryan Sommer. Senior small forward Kamara, last year’s number-two scorer with 11.4 points per game, is deadly from long range and should only improve with another year under his belt. Junior point guard Sommer led the team in assists while averaging 10 PPG.

    And as the off-season has given PSU’s players the time to grow, it has been an important time for second-year coach Ken Bone and his staff. Speaking of his first season at Portland State, Coach Bone explained why things looked so much better towards the end of the year: “Everything was brand new and not only to the players, but none of us coaches had really worked together as a group either. It takes time to mold and create a system.” Bone continued, “People always talk about ‘team chemistry.’ Well it’s the same with a staff.”

    Now about to head into his second season, Bone feels much more prepared. “We’ve worked closely together now for about 15 or 16 months, and I think now we know each other much better. We know the roles and expectations in place. It’s just as important for the staff to be on the same page as the players.”

Still, there are quite a few freshmen on this year’s team, and some will be expected to fill the pretty big shoes left by Washington. As long as everyone works hard, things should work out fine.

After all, Coach Bone, who’s known about Washington’s plan since early August, has been preparing a plan.

“We’ve been working on it all summer. It’s going to take some time to blend together, but I’m very optimistic that we can be a very good team.” Of that plan Bone disclosed, “we’ll be playing fast on both ends of the court.”

Alright, no Washington, no problem. Time for some PSU small ball.