By Wes McCurtis
Fullerton Calif., November 25, 2016 – Terry Porter, a 17-year NBA veteran and former NBA head coach, was hired to take over a struggling Portland Pilots men’s basketball program in April of 2016. The Pilots started off the season 3-0 before the Wooden Legacy Tournament tipped off on Thanksgiving Day.
Coach Porter and his young team faced a tough opponent in UCLA to open the tournament. The Pilots managed to trade leads 7 times with No. 14 UCLA, before the Bruins eventually took over and went on to win 99-77.
“Thought the guys came out and really competed well. In the first half, we did a much better job knocking down shots. Second half, we knocked down shots at times and they really got hot,” said Porter. “They executed a lot better and got the shots going where they wanted to on the floor and going down the stretch, we just couldn’t consistently knock down shots and make plays for us.”
The Piloots went on to face the Dayton Flyers (3-2) in their second game on Friday night. Portland gave the Flyers all they could handle, but eventually fell short 84-74.
Porter has relied heavily on his backcourt, including senior guard Alec Wintering and sophomore guard Jazz Johnson. Johnson and Wintering each logged 40 minutes in the Pilots loss to Dayton, “We’re going to rely on our starters a lot, I don’t know if it’s forty minutes worth but it will be a lot,” said Porter. “We need them on the floor because they are great leaders and decision makers. There will be many games when you see those guys on the floor a majority of the time.”
Wintering averages a team-high 20.2 points and 6.8 assists per game. He made the most of his 40 minutes on the floor for the Pilots, recording 31 points and 8 assists in their loss to the Flyers. “I’m a little tired but I am always ready to go and compete. I’m ready to go onto the next game,” said Wintering.
Johnson is averaging 17.0 points and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting a blistering 56.6 percent from the field and 65.0 percent from three-point range. Johnson recorded a career-high 25 points in the Pirates loss to UCLA. “You definitely get confidence from playing a game like this against UCLA. Coach Porter is really on me about playing aggressive and not playing passive. Being aggressive against a team like this should lead up to conference well.”
The Pilots will need all they can get from Wintering and Johnson as they take on CSUN (2-4) in the seventh place game on Sunday at 8 p.m. (PT) in Honda Center.