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Carlos Previews Portland!

There’s a huge temptation here to not take the Portland Pilots too seriously. Hey, why not? After all, this is a team that carries a 4-3 record after playing games against the likes of Southern Oregon, Portland State, and Boise State. They have faced Texas and Texas A&M so far this season but they were Texas Pan American and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Just when you’re about to crack a joke about how the Pilots aren’t a bad team – they should make it 32-4 in the first 12 minutes – just then you notice a pair of games their schedule where they played some Pac 10 competition. In games against Washington State and Oregon, the Pilots proved to be better than expected. They were probably much better than Washington State expected since they upset the Cougars on a night where the Pilots shot an atypical 46% from three point range. At 4-2, Washington State is probably not a really good team, despite the record. However, Oregon is currently 6-0 and is a respectable team. The Ducks are off to their best start in 26 years and currently sit one spot ahead of UNC in the Sagarin ratings. The toughest game Oregon has had so far has been their 6 point win over Portland.

What does all that mean for the Duke game? Not much other than the Pilots are probably a better team than many people would initially think. Still, this is a game that the Devils should obviously win and hopefully (for Duke fans) win big enough to allow substantial playing time for the reserves. This is also a game where the challenge for Duke will be more mental than physical. The Portland game sits on the Blue Devils schedule and screams out that it is homecoming game for Mike Dunleavy and a tune up before a big game with Stanford.

All of that may be true but there is another benefit to playing the Pilots. One of the hallmarks of a Krzyzewski coached team is an intensity that doesn’t vary regardless of the opponent. The Devils haven’t played in 10 days thanks to a break in the schedule for their final exams. They also have that little tiff against #3 ranked Stanford two days after the game. If there were any game on the schedule that would tempt the Duke players to coast a little, this would be it. The game presents an excellent opportunity for the coaching staff and the upperclassmen to instill that consistent intensity into the younger players.


The Pilots frontcourt is anchored by 6-10 sophomore center (and Kris Lang lookalike) Tim Frost. Portland wanted to redshirt Lang, er Frost, last year but decided not to and were rewarded with 8 points and 4 rebounds per game from the freshman. He set a school record for blocked shots with 48 rejections for the season. This year he is well on his way to matching that total with 13 rejections.

This year Frost is the team’s second leading scorer and the leading rebounder. He’s had some big games for the Pilots including a double double against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and a 17 point, 7 rebound effort against Washington State. Although Frost may be a shot blocking presence he is not a particularly stifling defender. Washington State center J Locklier and Boise State postman Abe Jackson were both able to post big numbers on Frost.

Starting alongside Frost is another sophomore, 6-7 Diaby Kamara. Kamara starts this year after limited play as a freshman. He’s currently averaging just under 6 points and 4 rebounds a game. He’s also the team’s best finisher around the basket converting on nearly 60% of his field goals.

Rounding out the frontcourt is 6-5 wing player Carmie Olowoyo a native of Australia. Olowoyo spent last year with Salt Lake City Community College where he was the team’s second leading scorer behind Mt. Zion graduate and erstwhile Ga Tech point guard Travis Spivey. Olowoyo is an athletic wing man with a decent in-between game but he seems to have become infatuated with the three point shot. At SLCC he took 40% of his shots from the three point line. This year he’s upped that figure to 64% with his accuracy suffering as a result.

He’s also shown a remarkable lack of conscience when it comes to shot selection. He was 0-6 on threes in the Southern Oregon game. He was 4-12 in the Texas Pan American game. He was 0-4 against Portland State. Still, Olowoyo is the Pilot’s best athlete and could have a good game if Duke is able to force an uptempo pace to the contest.

Off the bench the Pilots turn to Philip Dejworek for depth in the post. Dejworek is a 6-8 senior from Germany who gives the Pilots a physical presence in the frontcourt. Although he stepped outside for several three point shots last year he has concentrated more on his inside game this year and has a decent set of low post moves. Portland can also turn to 6-7 wing man Bryan Mills off the bench. Mills can give the Pilots some versatility, as he is able to play both forward positions as well as the off guard spot. He does not shoot much but does play give the team some depth.

When the Pilots come out for the tip off their frontcourt will be facing a group of counterparts that features two Naismith Award nominees. Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer are both averaging around 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Battier dedicated a great deal of his energy in the first part of the season to leading the team and as a result his personal numbers may have suffered. In the Michigan game the coaching staff made some minor adjustments to Battier’s responsibilities and the results were promising. He finished as the game’s leading scorer and, perhaps more importantly, made more baskets from 2 point range than from 3 point range. The Wolverines focused on trying to make Battier put the ball on the floor and he responded brilliantly.

For Boozer the Michigan game was not as sensational, partly due to being shackled with two early fouls. Duke is looking for Boozer to regain the intensity he displayed earlier in the season when he was Duke’s leading scorer. Part of the drop off in his production is attributable to the way teams are adjusting to point guard Jason Williams’ sensational play. Earlier in the year teams were forcing Williams to give up the ball when he would penetrate and Boozer was on the receiving end of those passes. Those baskets aren’t there as easily for Boozer as teams have become more reluctant to slump off him to help on the driving Williams. Boozer has adjusted and in the Michigan game he showed off his 8-12 foot jump shot which should open up other offensive opportunities in the future.

The third member of the Devils starting frontcourt is Mike Dunleavy. The multifaceted sophomore will be making a return to his native Oregon where he played his high school ball at Lake Oswego Jesuit. Dunleavy returns to Portland where he used to play pickup ball with the Trail Blazers, the team his father coaches. That experience shows in Dunleavy’s game as he has a game well developed beyond his years. At 6-9 Dunleavy presents matchup problems for most small forwards. He can put the ball on the floor and slash to the basket or he shoot the three where he is the team’s most accurate shooter. That slashing ability also serves him well on the boards where he often swoops in for rebounds.

Whenever anyone looks for a weakness on the Duke team they inevitably point to a lack of depth in the frontcourt. Indeed there is a distinct drop off in skill level when Duke goes to its bench but that talent gap is shrinking. Several Duke players are vying to emerge as the key frontcourt reserve for the Blue Devils and each player brings a different role to the team. 6-11 sophomore Casey Sanders has the most athleticism of any of Duke’s reserve big men and has shown more polish to his game in recent contests. The team wants Sanders to focus on shot blocking and rebounding when he’s in the game. He is Duke’s most proficient shot blocker on a per minute basis and is developing as a rebounder. Any offense Sanders is able to contribute is considered a plus and in recent games he has shown an ability to step out and hit an 8 – 15 foot jump shot.

When Duke needs strong physical play off the bench they can turn to Matt Christensen, a 6-10 junior. Christensen has difficulty finishing around the basket but is a strong rebounder. He averages 2.5 rebounds despite playing only 9 minutes a game.

Nick Horvath and Andre Sweet round out the Duke reserves in the frontcourt. Horvath’s play has been limited this year due to a recurring foot injury. When he’s healthy Horvath is the most offensively skilled of Duke’s reserves off the bench. Unfortunately for Duke he has yet to become comfortable with the pace of college play and has not been able to realize his offensive potential. Sweet is able to come off the Duke bench and provide minutes at the small forward and guard spot. Coming into the season many observers expected Sweet to take some time to contribute to the team but he has been proving them wrong. The big question about him was if he could contribute to the team on the offensive end of the floor. Sweet’s answer has been to shoot 46% from the floor and also contribute strong work on the offensive glass.


Shooting guard Ryan Jones is arguably the best player for the Pilots. The 6-2 junior was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year after his first campaign and an honorable mention selection to the all conference team last year. This year he is once again the team’s leading scorer at just over 15 points per game. Despite his size Jones doesn’t score most of his points from beyond the three point line. For the year he is shooting just 33% on the long ball while hitting nearly 40% overall.

Coach Rob Chavez has great depth available in the backcourt. Last year Jones split time at the point with Travis Andrews. However, moving Jones to the off guard has not assured Andrews of the starting point guard spot. Instead, 6-1 freshman Adam Quick has taken over the starting point guard spot. Quick, a native of Australia, leads the team in assists at just under 4.5 per game. On the negative side, his assist to turnover ratio is just 1.6 per game. He is a solid defensive player although it’s doubtful he’ll have ever seen competition like Jason Williams. Quick rarely shoots and for good reason- he is hitting 23% from the field and 17% from the three. Oddly, that poor shooting touch doesn’t follow him to the free throw line where he hits a team-leading 89%.

Andrews is a 6-2 senior who gives the Pilots a little offense off the bench. Like most of the other Portland backcourt players he is not much of a threat from the three point line where he shoots just 20%. Also coming off the bench for the Pilots is 6-0 junior Ross Jorgusen who may be the team’s best outside shooters.

Duke’s Coach K has to be extremely happy with the play he has been getting out of his backcourt. Starting point guard Jason Williams is having a Player of the Year start to the season while senior Nate James may be betting more out of his talent than any other player on the team. Add in freshman Chris Duhon off the bench and the Devils have as fine a rotation in their backcourt as most any team in the country.

Williams is now shooting 75% over his last 3 games including a scorching 64% on the three. Teams are faced with a true dilemma when trying to decide how to defend Williams. Play him tight and he goes by you. Give him room and he buries the three. At 6-2, 200 lbs. Williams has the strength to finish in the lane.

Starting beside him in the backcourt is 6-6 senior Nate James who has been as steady as any Blue Devil this season. In addition to his 14 points per game, James has also stepped up to help fill Chris Carrawell’s role as a defensive stopper. Also helping shut down perimeter opponents is the 6-3 freshman Duhon who has shown signs of emerging from his early season shooting difficulties. Against Michigan Duhon was 4-5 from the field which is good news for the Devils. Even better news for the Devils is the assertiveness Duhon displayed in looking for his shots. Much like Shane Battier in his freshman season, Duhon has at times been too deferential to his teammates. If you have to have a problem though, that’s not a bad one to have.

Duke also has two other reserves on the bench in Reggie Love and Andre Buckner. Both players should see minutes against the Pilots. Love is a football player who brings great athleticism and a 40 inch vertical off the bench. He joined the team after the football season and has been trying to catch up to the rest of his teammates but don’t be surprised to see him become a contributor in future games. Buckner is a 5-10 point guard who usually sees mop minutes but always plays hard and gives the Devils a steadying influence when on the court.


The Blue Devils are going to want to try and put Portland away early. With the Stanford game looming and the team trying to shake off the rust from 10 days of inactivity Duke will be trying to sharpen its execution. Duke should be too much for the Pilots to guard in a man defense so Dunleavy, Battier, James, and Williams could have another night like they did against Temple. Opponents are averaging over 45% from the three point line against Portland and Duke is far from your average team in that regard.

Defensively Duke may be able to really put the pressure on a Portland team that features a young point guard. Any time Duke squares off against a team that is averaging 17 turnovers a night you can expect a lot of quick scoring runs from the Devils.

Once Portland gets the ball into a halfcourt set they may still have trouble scoring. As a team they are shooting under 30% from the three point line and are shooting 44% overall from the field. Duke should be able to dictate the tempo on both ends of the floor and put this game away early. Expect to see extended minutes for Sanders and Sweet as Duke continues to try and build depth for the future.