Taking a big step toward success

Taking a proactive approach to a potential lack of size, Portland State Vikings basketball coach Tyler Geving announced the signing of two junior college transfers, bolstering what was already going to be a stacked roster for the 2014–15 season.

After a disappointing start to last season, the Vikings had a late-season surge that led to a collegeinsider.com tournament appearance. The Vikings returned with a plethora of talent in 2014–15, including nine lettermen. With the signing of Collin Spickerman, at 6 feet 8 inches, 210 pounds, and
Braxton Tucker, at 6 feet 6 inches, 220 pounds, the Vikings have addressed what surely looked to be their Achilles heel: front-court size.

Geving, who will be entering his sixth season as the Vikings head coach, was recently at spring practice for the football squad and couldn’t contain his excitement about his two newest members.

“Right now we are getting some good individual work done with the new guys,” Geving said.

“[Spickerman] has some good game and will help fill the void left by [Kyle] Richardson. He’s a good kid with scoring ability. He does have some work to do to be as physical as he needs to be.”

Spickerman, who graduated from Jesuit High in Portland, comes home after averaging over 17 points per game last season for Clark College.

Tucker, from North Idaho College, could play the three or the four for the Vikings. He’s a versatile player who will fit nicely into the Vikings free-flowing offense.

“Braxton is another guy that is a great athlete. The biggest thing he adds for us is his ability to rebound and defend bigger guys inside. He fills a need of adding more size and depth to our front line,” Geving said.

Geving also told GoViks.com, “One thing we like about Braxton is that we are getting a junior college guy that we can have for three years here at PSU. When you have someone for that long it makes a difference in his development and contributions to the program.”

While Geving expects to sign two more players this spring, there’s already excitement brewing for the coming season. The Vikings played so well the second half of the season that they made the postseason, despite a midseason stretch that saw them lose three games in a row twice, and a four-game losing streak as well.

The late season surge, combined with the returning talent and now two guys who will shore up the low post, the Vikings enter 2014 with as much confidence as they finished last season with, and maybe more.

Led by seniors Gary Winston (whose breakout performance in the second half of the season was the main catalyst for the team’s success), point guard Tim Douglas, Marcus Hall, DaShaun Wiggins and Brandon Cataldo, the Vikings have the experience to avoid the slow start that hampered them last season.
Winston, who battled a hand injury early in conference play, got his shot and never looked back.

Geving is high on Winston, no doubt aided by his season-saving performance to end the 2013 season. “We need to get him healthy because he can shoot it. He is our best perimeter shooter and led the league [his sophomore] year in three-point percentage. He is a talented player that has matured.”
Douglas, who played last season after transferring from the University of Portland, provides leadership at the point guard position. Combined with Winston and Zach Gengler, a sophomore who showed flashes of lights-out shooting, the Vikings could have a three-headed monster for defenses to contend with.

Losing Kyle Richardson in the middle appeared to be the Vikings’ big problem entering the season. Now, with the addition of Braxton and Collin, the size is there. Once they spend the summer working together and learning the system, the Vikings appear to be set for a magical season.