Vikings have a lot to prove as season starts to wind down

Men’s basketball head coach Tyler Geving was pretty upset by his team’s loss at home to Idaho State last week, questioning his players’ effort and motivation after the game.

Men’s basketball head coach Tyler Geving was pretty upset by his team’s loss at home to Idaho State last week, questioning his players’ effort and motivation after the game.

“He told us we had to play harder. Everybody got a good tongue-lashing. Basically, he called everyone out,” said junior Charles Odum, the team’s leading scorer. “He demanded that every single person play harder.”

Determined to find a way to turn around the season, Geving quickly got the Vikings back into the gym and said he “refused to quit on the team.” In practice this week, Geving had the players participate in drills where points were awarded to those who worked the hardest or performed the best.

“Every drill was a competition,” Odum said. “Everybody took the drills more seriously; everybody wanted to compete for the points.”

The focus was on defense and rebounding, areas the Vikings have struggled with in recent weeks. In the last five games, the Vikings have been out-rebounded by their opponents by an average of 10.8 boards per game. Poor shooting and inconsistent offense have also haunted the team this season. In their last five losses, the team has shot a combined .359 from the field.

“We worked on defense, defense, defense,” Odum said.

“Everbody needs to talk more,” he said. “We worked a lot on communicating, defensive rotations and team rebounding.”

The Vikings are hoping the extra effort will pay off this weekend, as it did not appear to help much on Wednesday. Portland State lost to Weber State, 80-58, in Ogden, Utah on Wednesday, marking the Vikings’ fourth consecutive loss.

Portland State sits at seventh place in the Big Sky standings with a record of 11-14 overall and 4-9 in conference.

Although the Vikings have lost eight of their last 10 games, one positive is that the team will see the return of starting power-forward Chehales Tapscott this week. Tapscott, the team’s leading rebounder, has missed six games due to knee injury and the Vikings have gone 1-5 in games played without him. PSU has been plagued by injuries this season, with key players missing a total of 33 games due to health issues .

“It’s great to be getting Chehales back,” Odum said. “Even if he’s not at 100 percent, he’s still productive.”

PSU will host Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference tomorrow night at the Stott Center for ESPN’s BracketBuster week, although the game will not be televised. During BracketBuster week, teams from mid-major conferences get the opportunity to be matched up against non-conference opponents and potentially shake up the forthcoming NCAA Tournament field. The Vikings are 1-1 against WCC opponents this season, but don’t necessarily feel like they have anything to prove.

“We’re not worried about what other people think,” Odum said. “We just have a lot to prove to ourselves. We haven’t shown what we’re really capable of this season, so we need to prove to ourselves that we can play hard every possession of the game— that we can rebound and play defense. Not only so we can keep getting better for the rest of the games this season, but so we can also set a good tone for next year.”

With only six games left in the season and the Vikings’ postseason hopes officially over, the team still looks to keep improving and refuses to accept a losing mentality.

“We play to win. We don’t play just ‘because,'” Odum said. “If you go out there and put on a jersey, then you’re playing to win.” ?