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Know Thy Enemy: Portland State Vikings

Proof that the blogopshere has truly exploded: the Big Sky Conference has a handful of bloggers. While attendance doesn't match up with "big-time" basketball, they are equally represented on the (mostly) democratic megabytes of the internet.

Luckily, I was able to find an excellent Portland State blogger, Ian Ruder of the Vikings Blog, a blog hidden inside the depths of the Oregonian website. Or just their sports section. Nevertheless, Ian was nice enough to answer some questions I had about the Vikings. I hope you stop by and check out his excellent blog as we prepare for tomorrow morning's game, it is remarkably well done.

Here are the questions and answers:

1) By now, I'm sure everyone has heard of 5'6" junior PG Jeremiah Dominguez, mostly because of his size and the fact that he is leading the Vikings in scoring. Who else should Jayhawk fans look out for, in other words who has the potential to take over the game for the Viks besides Dominguez?

Dominguez deserves all the hype he's received but the guy who gets overlooked is senior wing Deonte Huff. He was first team all-conference this year and the Big Sky tournaent MVP. He came to PSU from a California JC and exemplifies the type of player that Big Sky-winning programs are built around. At 6-foot-3 or so, he was a little too short to draw the attention of bigger programs and had the label of a slasher who couldn't shoot. Well, he's shaken the "can't shoot" label (he shot 50.8 percent from the floor and established himself as 3-point threat), taken his slashing ability to the next level and proven to be an amazing rebounder. Despite playing outside and never being one of the bigger guys on the court, Huff led the team in rebounding this year (6.1 per game). Add in his team leading 155 free throw attempts (75 percent made) and he's pretty much been an all-around stud. He's the closest thing PSU has to a Kansas-type star and will need to come up huge if the Viks are to even stay in the game.

2) What is the city's attitude towards its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance? Are they just happy to be in the NCAAs, or are they hoping that the Viks can make it a game, or maybe even win a game or two?

There was more media at the Vikings practice Monday then I have seen in seven years and the school has gotten more print and TV coverage than ever before. But does the city care? Eh. The announced attendance at the Big Sky Championship game was 4,118 but there's no way there were that many people there as three quarters of the Rose Garden was empty. Despite the fact that probably half of Portland has taken a class at PSU, very few claim it to be their own. In all honesty, the program is a tough sell. The gym sucks, until recently the talent has been forgettable and Portland is sick for the Oregon Ducks and OSU Beavers. Most Portland residents couldn't name a Viking player, much less the mascot. As for the diehards, I think they'll be happy with a solid showing Thursday morning.

3) What are your thoughts on Ken Bone's rumored departure to Oregon State University after the year? Do you think it will happen, and if so, who will the Vikings replace him with?

There is no question Bone has done a good job of rebuilding the PSU program after Heath Schroyer cut bait and hit the hills after the 2005 season. He's a good recruiter with great NW ties. The question for OSU and anyone else looking at him is, is he sexy enough? The immediate answer is no (though he was named to Yahoo's all-porno name tournament team). But after a few of the top names turn down what has to be the worst job in the Pac-10, Bone will begin to look better and better. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't hesitate to take the job and I know he'd do better than recently fired Jay John. Will it happen? I'm saying no for now.

4) With 2 of your top 3 scorers (Scott Morrison and Deonte Huff) graduating after this season, what do you think your chances are of repeating as Big Sky Champions next season?

Pretty good. The losses of Morrison and Huff will hurt but Bone has the best group of D-I transfers in the conference coming in and with a JC here or there, the Viks actually have the potential to be better. The Big Sky has become a perennially bad league and with Dominguez, JC Andre Murray, a solid group of juniors-to-be and the new faces, the Viks are definitely thinking title.

5) What are your thoughts on the Vikings' seeding? Did you expect a 16 seed, or were you hoping for a better seed?

No one was thinking 16. Every "bracketologist" and "expert" had the Viks as a 15 and that seemed about right. When you win 14 straight conference games to end the year the only way you get a 16 is if the selection committee has no respect for your conference. So it is. The puzzling thing to me is that a less talented Montana team two years ago got a 12 seed (and upset Nevada in the first round) coming out of the BSC. If they were a 12 there is no way the Viks are a 16. It sounds homer-ish to say, but the Viks are a pretty good 16 on paper.

6) One last question. What is your prediction on Thursday morning's game? Will the Vikings be the first 16 seed to upset a 1?

My bracket depends on it.

Thanks again to Ian for answering my questions. For the answers I gave him, click here.