GAME NOTES: A couple of teams from out west continue their respective basketball schedules tonight, as the San Diego Toreros and Portland State Vikings meet up in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
San Diego finished in the bottom half of the West Coast Conference standings this season, sporting a record of 7-11 and just breaking even overall at 16-16. The squad dropped its regular-season finale against BYU (78-70) at home on the first of the month, and then was tripped up by San Francisco (69-60) during the quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas a week later.
As for the Vikings, members of the Big Sky Conference, they ended up being tied for fifth in the standings with 11 wins against nine defeats. The squad was three games over .500 overall, after being knocked out of the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament by North Dakota (79-63) last Friday.
These teams, which are both competing in this event for the first time, have met five times previously, with the Toreros posting four wins, including a 74-59 decision in the most recent encounter during the 2001-02 campaign on the road.
The winner this time around will appear in the second round against an opponent to be determined.
For head coach Tyler Geving, who is in his fifth season with the Vikings, this is just the second time the team has finished with a winning record under his direction. The program has four active double-digit scorers who are helping the Vikings to produce 72.7 ppg, although at the same time the defense is giving up 71.7 ppg so there really is not much room for error.
DaShaun Wiggins leads the way with his 12.8 ppg, followed by Tim Douglas who is shooting only 38.2 percent from the floor but still coming up with 11.9 ppg. Perhaps even more important than his point production is the 98 assists issued by Douglas as he keeps the offense moving along. Gary Winston (11.5 ppg) and Kyle Richardson (10.1 ppg) have their own specialties as the former hits 3-point shots at a 43.8 percent clip, while the latter handles the action in the paint with 6.4 rpg and has recorded half the program's 68 blocked shots.
With four players having started all 32 games for the Toreros this season, the team is well balanced as it focuses more on keeping scores low than anything else. Johnny Dee, who was selected to the All-West Coast Conference First Team, leads the group with 16.8 ppg as he shoots not only 42.0 percent behind the 3-point line but also a staggering 93.9 percent at the free-throw line. Duda Sanadze, second on the unit with 45 3-pointers made, accounts for another 12.9 ppg, although his deficiencies show just a 39.8 percent shooter from the floor who has but 29 assists, against 62 turnovers.
Dennis Kramer (11.6 ppg) heads the attack in the paint with 6.7 rpg, while his 26 blocked shots are second only to Jito Kok (4.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) who has tallied 56 rejections while caring little about his own offensive numbers. Christopher Anderson checks in with 10.0 ppg, while his 189 assists are more than half the program's total of 357 over 32 contests.
By spreading the wealth, the Vikings are able to keep defenses on their toes, while more often than not it is clear that Dee is the focal point of the San Diego offense. Assuming Portland State plans accordingly on defense, they should be able to put the pieces together for a decent win on the road tonight.
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