Two head North

Most college basketball players hang around a school for three demanding years to savor their senior season. That is when everything typically gets a little easier and the statistics get a little fatter.

Most college basketball players hang around a school for three demanding years to savor their senior season. That is when everything typically gets a little easier and the statistics get a little fatter.

But Kyle Coston and Tyrell Mara are going against the grain.

Fresh off two trips to the NCAA Tournament and on the verge of their senior seasons at Portland State, the forwards are both heading north to play at Trinity Western, a small private Christian university in Langley, B.C.

For Coston, it represents a chance to move closer to family and friends, as he grew up in nearby Lynden, Wash., and he believes attending a Christian school he will be a part “of something that is furthering life benefits.”

While transferring will be more of a homecoming for Mara, a British Columbia native, he hopes the opportunity blossoms into an excellent experience as he will also work toward a master’s of business administration at Trinity Western after graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Portland State this spring.

The pair will also benefit from the fact that in Canada they still have two years of athletic eligibility remaining, where NCAA regulations would allow them to compete for just one more year at Portland State.

Coston believes this additional time will be instrumental in shaping his game.

“That gives me a lot of time to mature into the player that I want to become,” Coston said with a smile.
Another potential positive byproduct from the change of scenery is that the two friends might get an opportunity to play on the court together at the same time, which has been a rarity at Portland State over the past few years.

Coston and Mara competed for playing time at power forward for the last two seasons, with Coston starting and Mara spelling him off the bench. However, at Trinity, which is a well-respected and established program in the Canadian ranks, the two should have a chance to play together.

“It will be a good opportunity to play with one another’s strengths,” Mara said.

Under collegiate regulations Coston must sit out for a year after transferring, they will not have an opportunity to step onto the court together for the first time until the 2010-11 season.

However, when that happens the power forwards will likely be lining up at different positions than they have become accustomed to at Portland State. Both said they expect to play shooting guard or small forward, roles that require more athleticism and versatility.

But Mara said that should not be a problem in Canada, as he mentioned that a primary differencebetween college basketball in the two countries is that the Canadian game is geared more toward team-oriented play and emphasizing the fundamentals than the one-on-one style of the United States.

“The big difference is probably athleticism,” Mara said when comparing the two countries. “There are bigger, more-athletic players here.”

While Mara is testing out the Canadian competition, Coston plans to spend his year of waiting working on his game and assisting with coaching at high schools near Lynden. He plans to work at his brother’s gym as well.

His brother attended Trinity Western and was later the women’s head basketball coach, which factored into Coston’s decision to transfer there.

Another reason Coston, who started the past two seasons, opted to transfer was the departure of former Portland State head coach Ken Bone.

Bone and Coston had a solid relationship, which began when Bone began recruiting him back in high school. With Tyler Geving assuming Bone’s vacant post, Coston felt it might be time to leave.

“We were really close,” Coston said of he and Bone, “and I am not as close with Coach Geving.”

On the topic of coaches, the move will also reunite Mara with former head coach Scott Allen, who coached him for several years during high school.

With the reunion of Allen and his homecoming, Mara has aspirations to revert back to his more team-oriented philosophies about the game.

“This is all about creating a good team,” Mara said. “I think it will be a really cool experience.”