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WCC, Reveno, Good, and GU

I’ve put together more notes, including a couple from GU, but mostly the thoughts of Loyola Marymount’s Max Good and Portland’s Eric Reveno. Read on.

 


First, some GU leftovers:

—I asked Matt Bouldin, who has said several times this season that this team is tougher and grittier than the last few GU clubs, if he’s taken any flak from former teammates. Jeremy Pargo was in Chicago for the Illinois game and Josh Heytvelt is back in town this week on a break from his Turkish team.

“No,” he said. “I feel like if they were in my position, they’d be saying the exact same thing. It’s not a knock on them. Last year we were really tough, everybody was tough, everybody is playing pro ball somewhere. It was a really talented, scrappy team, but as a whole that team was a lot more skilled. This year’s team really needed to be junkyard dogs. We’ve embodied that and I’m having a lot more fun this year. It’s a fun way to play basketball, but no, it’s not a knock on those guys.”

—Josh Heytvelt went home to Clarkston on Wednesday and hoped to practice with GU on Thursday. His girlfriend, Bulldogs basketball player Claire Raap, picked him up at the airport and Heytvelt knew right away he wasn’t traveling on the streets of Bursa, Turkey, anymore.

“Driving there is insane,” Heytvelt said. “There are no real rules. People just drive and honk and flash lights and cut you off. My girlfriend picked me up and I said, ‘You drive so slow.’ There is no speed limit over there.”

—Heytvelt said his team’s coaches and managers know English to some degree, as do the officials who call the games.

“If I ask them (officials) a question, they’ll respond,” he said.

Heytvelt said it’s not easy to follow the Zags, but he does the best he can via e-mail, Skype and the Internet.

“The Internet is my only connection to home,” he said. “I’m on it all the time.”

Now, back to Reveno and Good.

Portland earned a spot in the A.P. Top 25 for the first time in 50 years when it knocked off Oregon, UCLA and then-No. 22 Minnesota. The Pilots then lost three straight and four of five, including a 20-point loss to Idaho and 35-point loss to Washington. Portland has rebounded with three wins in its last four, including a 30-point rout of the Vandals in a rematch.

“I don’t think it had to do with handling (the ranking),” Reveno said. “The Portland State game, to be honest, was the one where I felt our performance was really lacking. I could make excuses, it was our fourth game in six nights or something and we’re coming off the big games in Anaheim, but that was the one game. And they played well, they shot like 15 of 25 from 3. We were getting everyone’s best shot after (Anaheim). We went through a little rough stretch. That was a good learning experience for us, in terms of how we have to play and taking people’s best shots. It probably had more to do with growing as a program and getting used to that.

“I feel like our team had a great preseason,” he added. “Our schedule was ranked 24th or 25th in the country. It’d be great to have another win or two, you always want that, but in terms of preparing us for the WCC, it was a perfect schedule.”

Reveno said the WCC appears to be on the rise.

“We’re the most veteran team, we’re about where I expected us to be,” he said. “Those Anaheim (76 Classic) wins on national TV were eye-opening wins for some people. I didn’t think Gonzaga would come down much because they never do. Top 20 teams have top 20 players sitting on the bench ready to play. I went to New Zealand and saw (Saint Mary’s guard Matthew) Dellavedova play, so I knew was what possible there. LMU is pretty impressive, offensively very dangerous. It makes sense that Pepperdine and LMU are getting better after the transition years they had last year.

“I would agree overall I think the league is better. The top – coach Few would have a better assessment having been at the top so often – but I don’t think it has come down much.”

Portland said his Pilots are experienced by design and necessity.

“It happens with teams that are in transition,” he said, “because they recruit freshmen and play a lot of freshmen. Taishi (Ito) started as a freshmen. He’s a backup now, but he has college experience worthy of two guys and he’s played in a ton of games. Kramer (Knutson) is a junior, but he’s one of those guys. We’re very much a veteran team and that has a lot to do with our fast starts. I would have liked to play Gonzaga after our first week of practice, to be honest.”

Good is about as plain-spoken as they come. He is refreshingly candid. He said good coaches are the reflection of having good players and he quoted Jim Brown to make his point.

“There are no coaches pulling rabbits out of hats,” he said. “Jim Brown always used to say coaching is over-rated, but make no mistake he had all the respect in the world for Paul Brown.”

Of the WCC, Good said, “I have an extremely healthy respect for everyone in our league. I know how good the coaching is in this league.

“I think it’s Gonzaga, with Saint Mary’s not terribly far behind, although Gonzaga has played a tougher schedule. Saint Mary’s played a good schedule. And Portland played extremely well early and appears to be back to form in their latest games. All three of them are formidable. It’s kind of a foregone conclusion by most that the top three will be hard to displace. Fourth through sixth … there may be a battle in there.”

Good, 67, replaced Billy Bayno during the Lions 3-24 season a year ago. LMU has better players than a year ago, and more of them, Good said.

Vernon Teel “is just much better than he was last year,” he said. “Last year he tried to do too much, and understandably so.”

Oregon transfer Drew Viney is among the WCC’s best scorers/rebounders.

“Viney is an outside-in scorer,” Good said. “He shoots 3s well and he’s a surprisingly good rebounder.”

Six-foot-7 Ashley Hamilton, who was hurt last season, is contributing at center, which was a concern when 6-10 freshman Edgar Garibay suffered a season-ending torn ACL.

Sophomore guard Jarred DuBois is averaging 12.3 points. He hit the game-winner in LMU’s 87-85 win over Notre Dame. LMU also defeated USC, but the Trojans were without Mike Gerrity, Leonard Washington and Alex Stepheson.

“DuBois hadn’t played particularly well that (N.D.) game,” Good said. “But I’m with the kid every day and I see him every day and I know how hard he works and how focused he is. No way I wasn’t going to keep playing him.”

LMU opens WCC play vs. Pepperdine in Malibu. The Lions have lost 11 straight at Firestone Fieldhouse. I asked Good who follows Pepperdine on LMU’s schedule and he said he honestly didn’t know.

“Everyone always says play them one at a time,” he said. “I’m barely smart enough to do that.”

Good continued: “The grapefruit season is over. Now we’ve got Pepperdine. I do think there’s a little buzz around our program, at least locally. We haven’t had much success against Pepperdine over the years. I wasn’t aware it was a big rivalry. I’m from the East Coast, I wasn’t cognizant of it.

“A lot of good we’ve established can go right down the drain if we don’t play well over there.”


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