After a preseason camp hindered by a litany of injuries, the PSU men’s basketball squad got their first chance to see where they stood Saturday night against Western Oregon University, and all things considered, they looked pretty good. In their first exhibition game, the Vikings easily dispatched the Western Oregon Wolves, 99-78.
Senior forward Juma Kamara led the Vikings with 20 points, nailing 6-for-7 from behind the arc. Kamara, who last season led the nation in three-point field goal percentage, showed no signs of rust.
”Juma is just a great shooter,” coach Ken Bone said. “It’s incredible. He can really shoot.”
PSU opened the game with an 11-2 run and sat on that lead all game long, taking a 13-point advantage into halftime, then blowing it up to 20, shortly after which they rode it to the end.
”We kept rotating guys and I think we kind of wore them down,” Bone explained.
The Vikings’ aggressive substitution scheme is a crucial component of the up-tempo style Bone hopes to employ extensively this season. Some of the team’s other traits began to surface as the Vikings played aggressive full-court defense, scrapped, fought, and hit the floor for loose balls and rebounds.
Portland State out-rebounded Western Oregon 42-28, 18 of those coming from the offensive end.
Despite the 20-point victory, coach Bone was not content to rest upon his laurels. The second year coach sees plenty of room for improvement.
”We worked hard, but we didn’t always play intelligently,” he said after the game. “Dribble penetration really hurt us.”
Saturday’s game was laden with fouls, as referees called a total of 60, 30 on each team. Of Western Oregon’s 78 points, 33 of those came from the free-throw line.
The frequency of whistles caused concern for coach Bone. “We were vulnerable to fouling continually, and it’s not going to get any better when we have to go on the road – certain areas in our conference are even worse,” he said.
All 10 of the PSU players in uniform scored, as the team finished shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. From the line, however, the Vikings were not as impressive, and netted only 64 percent of their freebees.
Four other players joined Kamara in scoring 10 or more. Junior forward Deonte Huff and center Scott Morrison each poured in 17. Junior guard Sean Smith and freshman forward Julius Thomas got in on the action with 14 and 11, respectively.
Western Oregon’s junior forward Ryan Schmidt led all players with 25.
The Vikings were most efficient in transition, and ran on most made buckets. But PSU struggled to execute within their half-court offense when Western Oregon was afforded time to set their defense.
Bone attributed those difficulties to a young team that has been set back by injuries. “Six of the 10 guys are new, so it’s going to take a while for us to gel as a group and be more organized offensively. Oftentimes there were three, four, five guys that are new this year playing together.”
And the coach, eager to give those players every opportunity to grow together, wasn’t content to just let the clock expire Saturday. With a 19-point lead and 20-some seconds left in the game, Bone was still calling plays.
”It’s a chance to play, and run one more set and see what happens. Even if it’s 20 or 30 seconds, it’s a chance to practice. That’s what the exhibition games are for, and let’s not waste any time.”