Time for another installment of On the Radar. You may recall in the premier edition of OtR I tabbed Troy St. as a team to watch (except that you really can’t watch them unless you attend one of their games). The Trojans promptly fell on their face to Division II Christian Brothers University 62-61, almost forcing me to start another feature called “Off the Radar.” Not only did the boys from Troy lose to a D2 outfit, but they lost to a D2 outfit who couldn’t secure proper transportation to take their whole team to the game.
But I am pressing onward with another hidden gem. The University of Portland hasn’t cracked the RPI top 200 or had more than 11 wins since 1998. However the times are changin’ under 3rd-year coach Michael Holton (future coaching star, mark it down). All of the Pilots starters returned this year and they have reeled off a 4-1 record so far with wins over Nevada, at Oregon St., and at New Mexico. Nothing really shocking, but then this is the perennial West Coast Conference doormat we’re talking about, so cut ’em some slack. Portland, like Troy St., is built on outstanding perimeter shooting (46% on 3’s so far). But unlike Troy they’re not totally dependent on it – only a quarter of their shots come from 3-land. They beat Portland St. in their most recent game making only one 3-pointer. Their next game? A nationally televised affair this Sunday at Duke. So most likely the “OtR Jinx” will continue. Duke’s weakness – inside play – is something Portland is unable to exploit. And defending the 3-pointer is still something Duke does better than anyone.