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Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vikings set sail for clash with Kansas

March 19, 2008

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Jayhawks arrive in Omaha

The Kansas men's basketball team took the first step in the quest for a championship by making it to Omaha, where they'll face Portland State on Thursday morning. Enlarge video

— Portland State's No. 16-seeded basketball players were treated as heroes as they boarded their team bus and headed to the airport Tuesday for their flight to Nebraska, site of Thursday's first-round NCAA Tournament clash against No. 1 seed Kansas.

One student pounded on a full set of drums as others held signs that said, "Vikings rock." A video of the sendoff is available at oregonlive.com.

"It's nice," sophomore forward Kyle Coston told the Portland Oregonian. "We're trying to get some fan base here to support us. This gives us that extra drive to get it done."

¢ Going for the victory: Portland State coach Ken Bone realizes no No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament.

That doesn't mean it can't happen at 11:25 a.m., Thursday, when Portland State takes on KU at Qwest Center.

"I really want to instill in our guys that it can be done," Bone told the Oregonian.

"Kansas has all the pieces," Bone noted. "They're big, strong, quick, athletic and aggressive ... and they're beatable. They have been beat (three times)."

"We're the big underdog," junior guard Andre Murray told the Oregonian. "Hopefully, we can try to make some history. You never know."

¢ Bone honored: Portland State coach Bone on Tuesday was named Big Sky Conference coach of the year in a vote of the league's nine head coaches.

Bone, in his third season, guided the Vikings to a 23-9 record - the highest victory total in school history. The Vikes won the Big Sky regular-season and postseason tournament titles, and claimed the first NCAA Division I Tournament bid in school history.

Portland State was picked to finish third by the media and the coaches in the preseason.

Bone, 49, has a 54-38 record at Portland State. He also was named the PacWest Coach of the Year as head coach at Seattle Pacific in 1999-00, leading the Falcons to a 27-5 record and an NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

Overall, Bone is in his 16th season as a head coach, and has a career record of 312-156.

"He was the main reason I came here," Coston, a 6-8 native of Lynden, Wash., told the Seattle Times. "I trusted him and knew he would do great things here. He's made the city of Portland fired up about college basketball again."

Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley recently wrote this about Bone, who Thursday will try to become the first coach to lead a No. 16 seed over a No. 1:

"Tall, with a boyish, easy smile, Bone, 49, has the demeanor of a church vicar. And that demeanor sometimes masks the competitive fire that he keeps stoked inside. He doesn't throw chairs or tantrums and rarely raises his voice, either in games or practices, but he is tough, and his teams play tough.

"Ken Bone can coach. His teams, whether at Seattle Pacific or Portland State, are faithful to his offensive system. It seems he always has a brainy point guard who takes care of the ball. And every one of his teams plays defense.

"In last week's 67-51 championship win over Northern Arizona, his defense forced 22 turnovers and held Northern Arizona big man Kyle Landry, who was averaging almost 18 points per game, to 10. They pushed him off the blocks, and he was never a factor.

"It was typical of the way Bone-coached teams play."

¢ Awards galore: Portland State has won a lot of hardware this postseason. Junior guard Jeremiah Dominguez was named the league's MVP and Newcomer of the Year. Senior center Scott Morrison was Defensive Player of the Year. Senior guard Deonte Huff was named MVP of the Big Sky Championship.

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