Vikings prepared for big week at home

Last week’s trip to Montana didn’t go quite as planned for the Vikings.

Last week’s trip to Montana didn’t go quite as planned for the Vikings. Coming off two straight wins, Portland State suffered two straight losses on the road to Montana and Montana State, dropping the Vikings (9-8 overall, 2-3 conference) into a two-team tie for fifth place in the Big Sky.

Portland State also played Weber State last night at the Stott Center, the results of which were not available by press time.

But the question is: Do the Vikings have what it takes to rebound again and separate themselves from the middle of the pack?

“We’ve got to take it one day at a time, go hard in practice and stay focused—it’s as simple as that,” sophomore guard and leading scorer Chris Harriel said. “It starts in practice; you play how you practice.”

“We have to compete and we have to play harder consistently,” coach Tyler Geving said. “I wasn’t disappointed in our effort against [Montana and Montana State], but you can’t just turn it on and off and expect to win…that’s not going to work.”

Geving added: “You can’t give up 19 offense rebounds and expect to win, either.”

In both recent losses, the Vikings were out-rebounded, and Portland State currently ranks second-to-last in rebounding for the Big Sky with a 34.2 average. Fortunately, the Vikings will play both their games this week in the comforts of the Stott Center.

“We have to win home games,” Geving said. “But I think it’s more about us than necessarily about preparing for our opponents. We’ve got to keep improving and getting more consistent as a team. We’re too up-and-down right now.”

“We need to focus more on being a team,” senior forward Phil Nelson suggested. “We had a few possessions in the Montana State game where we took quick shots and that [resulted] in them going on a run. It’s about execution, being a team and playing with each other, not as individuals.”

Nelson has recently returned from injury and in three games is averaging 21.0 minutes, 4.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4-19 shooting from the field and 4-18 shooting from three-point range.

“It feels great [to play], but at the same time its hard to go out and do the same things I’m used to doing,” Nelson remarked. “Just moving [is tough]. I’m still not as quick as I used to be, and getting to the rim, being able to create opportunities for my teammates is difficult, but it’ll get better as I get my legs more underneath me.”

“He’s progressing,” Geving said. “Every day he’s going to be closer to where he was, but he’s still a week or two away from being in full basketball shape.”

“The good thing is…the more we play, the better he’ll get,” Harriel added.

From Nelson’s experience as a senior, he knows that it won’t be an easy task to pull out victories against Weber State and Northern Arizona this week.

“It’s always been a tough match-up with [both teams],” Nelson noted. “I expect them to be hard-nosed, competitive games.”

“This is real big week for us, so we’ve got to go get it,” Harriel said. “In practice it felt like everybody was in tune, everybody was on the same page and focused, so I hope that makes a big difference.”

For the results of the Weber State game, check out Tip-off for the Northern Arizona game is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Saturday at the Stott Center. ?