Montlake Madness Speaks with Portland State Coach, Tyler Geving

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The Huskies will take on Portland State this Sunday evening, in the finale of the Athletes in Action Basketball Classic. In advance of the matchup, I had a chance to catch up with new Portland State head coach, Tyler Geving, recently. Geving spent four years as the top assistant to Ken Bone, who’s moved on to Washington State. /

Coach Geving gave me some insight into his team and was also kind enough to tackle some other subjects as well, including Phil Nelson, Portland State’s junior forward who played his freshman season at UW.

Montlake Madness: Please give me the capsule scouting report on Portland as you see it at this point — style of play, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Coach Geving: We are an up-tempo team on offense.  We are looking to run and score in transition.  We are trying to play pressure defense.  Strengths would be we have a core of 5 returning players from last year that have a lot of experience.  Weakness would be how deep we can go on our bench.

MM: Last year, Portland State dropped 10 three-pointers on the Huskies and missed out on the big upset by one point. What’s your strategy for beating Washington this year?

CG: You have to control their transition.  You can’t allow them to get out and
run and score early points in transition.  They are one of the best
rebounding teams in the nation so you have to battle on the glass and not
allow second-chance points.  Offensively you have to take care of the ball and
handle their pressure!  They are extremely good on both ends of the court.

MM: You’re from the area. Were you a UW fan growing up?

CG: Huge UW fan growing up. I was a kid watching the team with Alvin Vaughn, Shag Williams, Paul Fortier, Detlef (Schrempf), and Chris Welp. I used to shoot around outside pretending I was one of those five guys. Also, our family was big UW football fans growing up.

My dad is actually a season ticket holder for football. Outside of basketball, they are still my favorite sports team to watch and follow.

MM: When mid-major schools, like Portland State, do make the NCAA Tournament, you’re often given low seeds and forced to play a very strong team right away. How much extra meaning do your games against bigger conference schools take on, knowing there are so few opportunities before tournament time to test yourselves against those schools likely to get the high seeds come tournament time?

CG: These games are a true test of a tournament-like game. We don’t see the
athleticism, length, and strength like that during our league play so these
games definitely prepare you if you’re lucky enough to get to the Big Dance. It’s also a good measuring stick of how good you might be during league play
if you can compete with teams that you’re overmatched against.

MM: Can you give me your brief scouting report on the Huskies?

CG: UW is very talented. Their backcourt has to be one of the best in the
nation. They can create a lot of turnovers with their pressure which will
lead to a lot of easy transition baskets. All those guards are skilled offensively and extremely quick which makes them hard to guard. Pondexter has grown into a nice player and a leader for them. He’s a physical player
on both ends of the court. MBA had a great game against us last year when
Brockman sat out. Lorenzo is a great coach and I think they have the
ability to make a deep run in the tournament this year.

MM: Any sense of the kind of things that go through a guy like Phil Nelson’s head when returning to play against the school he started his college career with?

CG: I think Phil has moved on from his days at the UW. He doesn’t talk about it much. I’m sure he wants to go up there and put on a good performance at a
place he used to play. Phil has grown up a lot on and off the court, and
hopefully this will be a breakout season for him. He has all the talent to
be a great player.

Thanks for coming!