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West Coast Countdown: Portland's the Young and the Restless

Nov. 7, 2008

A year after fielding one of the youngest teams in Division I, the Portland Pilots hope that last year's trial by fire pays dividends in 2008-09. The Pilots, who had the eighth youngest roster in Division I last season, welcome back four starters and five players that started at least 13 games last season.

Portland third-year Head Coach Eric Reveno will have the benefit of returning seven of the team's top eight scorers from last season. In all, the Pilots bring back nine letterwinners that accounted for 80 percent of the team's scoring and 87 percent of its rebounding from the 2007-08 season.

Despite all the returning letterwinners, Portland will again be one of the youngest teams in the nation as the Pilots are the only team in the conference without a senior on their roster. The Pilots young squad will again be challenged as they play 11 total games against teams that advanced to the postseason last year.

THE PILOTS' TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
NAME YEAR
POSITION
2007-08 KEY STATS
Nik Raivio Junior
Guard
12.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
Robin Smeulders Junior
Forward
9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .721 FT %
Luke Sikma Sophomore
Forward
6.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .532 FG %

PORTLAND BACKCOURT

Junior guard Taishi Ito returns to the Pilots' backcourt after making 22 starts last season.


Headlining the list of Portland returners is 6-4 junior Nik Raivio, the Pilots leading scorer last season at 12.6 points per game. Raivio's average ranked as the ninth best clip in the WCC. In his first season with the Pilots, Raivio started 27 games and scored 20 or more points on four occasions.

Also returning to the Pilots' backcourt is junior point guard Taishi Ito and 6-2 shooting guard Jared Stohl. Ito started 22 games last season and finished second in the WCC in assist-turnover ratio (1.8), while leading the Pilots and ranking seventh in the WCC in assists with 3.2 assists per game. In his first season on the Bluff, Stohl established himself as one of the top shooters in the conference. As a freshman last season, Stohl ranked second in the WCC in three-pointer field goals per game (1.93), and finished fourth in three-point accuracy (.411). His 58 three-point field goals established a new Portland freshman record.

Junior T.J. Campbell, a junior college All-American last year at Glendale Community College, should see time at point guard. Campbell scored 10 points and dished out six assists in the Pilots' exhibition win over Linfield. Freshman Eric Waterford, sophomore B.J. Porter, and freshman Nemanja Mitrovic give the Pilots additional depth in the backcourt.

PORTLAND FRONTCOURT

Junior forward Robin Smeulders was one of the best off the bench in the WCC last season, averaging 9.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg.


The Pilots should boast one of the biggest frontlines in the WCC with five players standing 6-8 or taller. Junior forward Robin Semulders turned in a solid first year at Portland, ranking second on the squad in scoring (9.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg), despite making just eight starts.

Joining Smeulders in the frontcourt will be sophomores Luke Sikma and Kramer Knutson. Sikma proved to be one of the top rebounders in the WCC, ranking sixth overall (7.3 rpg), while his 227 rebounds were the second most by a freshman in program history. Knutson started 30-of-31 games as a true freshman last season, chipping in 4.5 points per game to go along with 3.8 rebounds per game.

Also returning to the Pilots' frontcourt is versatile junior wing Ethan Niedermeyer (4.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and 6-10 sophomore big man Jasonn Hannibal. Combined with 7-0 freshman center John Hegarty, the Pilots should have plenty of options in the post.