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Monday, February 10, 2020

Justin Martin - Reverberations Of An Alpha Scorer

 By Harry Cummins

     The dumbfounding numbers for Multnomah University's Justin Martin this season continue to dance off small college basketball score-sheets in a conga line of disbelief.

     41,42,53,40,74,40,43,49, and still ricocheting like a pinball in play.

     With four games remaining in Multnomah's regular season, the 5'9" senior guard sees his team positioned to celebrate their first ever post season playoff appearance in their 5 year history as a fledging member of the NAIA's Cascade Collegiate Conference.

     Martin,with his whirling blend of motion and launch angles, has led the statistical onslaught this year, pacing the NAIA in scoring with a spectacular 34.52 ppg  average in a bid to become a rare back-to back D-2 national scoring champion.  He leads Mark Gordon of Keiser University by a comfortable 6.29 ppg margin as the season draws to a close.  Martin also tops the NAIA in 3 point baskets with 113 and is among the national leaders in assists as well. Martin may be the embodiment of a  true alpha scorer but he is far from a one-dimensional player.

     Simply put, Justin Martin is a presumptive All-American, an honor that surprisingly escaped him last season when the NAIA announced their 1st,2nd, and 3rd Team D-2 All-Americans without a mention of the nation's leading scorer. A similar occurrence this year is highly unlikely

     A stunning sixteen times in his two years at Multnomah, Martin has posted games of 40 or more points.  Most college teams will go an entire season without a single player ever reaching 40 points in a game. Twice Martin has exceeded 50 points in a game.  Twice he has scored 70 or more points in a single contest. Last month, he broke his own NAIA record by scoring 74 points in a win over Northwest Christian. Martin had previously set the all-time D-2 record last season with a 71 point night vs Warner-Pacific.

      If Multnomah can manage a deep post season run, Martin, a transfer from Wenatchee Valley College in Washington, has a remote shot at reaching 3,000 points in his college career.  Although he missed 3 games in a row earlier this year, he is closing in on a 1,000 point season in his farewell year of college basketball. A spot at the 'next level' soon awaits.

     The career numbers and his points per game average justify Martin's place in the pantheon of college basketball's great scorers.  Despite playing at an NAIA level in a 3 point offense that scores nearly 100 points per game and is built around his scoring prowess, Martin rightfully belongs on a list that includes the likes of Doug McDermott, Mike Daum, Hersey Hawkins, Oscar Robertson, Chris Clemons, Freeman Williams, and the great Pete Maravich.

     An 'alpha' scorer such as Martin will always have detractors. There will always be a certain level of stress surrounding such stature.  It is common for such scoring dominance to come at the expense of teammates ego's and scoring opportunities of their own.  It can become problematic for a coaching staff trying to devise a consistent offense that will still function when the star's shots are not falling.

     In the case of Justin Martin, these are minor difficulties that must be overcome.  Martin is the unquestioned leader of a undersized team that competes in a conference full of bigger and stronger players.  Multnomah has compiled a commendable  28-28 won lost record over the past two seasons. Is is difficult to justify not placing the ball in Martin's productive hands most of the game. Veteran coach Curt Bickley has rightly concluded that heroes and game-changing alpha stars are often born out of necessity and a high usage rate.

     Despite his inflated shot attempts, Justin Martin is not a selfish player, as his assist totals will attest.  Mere text without context can be damaging. Perhaps the true measure of an alpha player comes in watching those around him become better.  A case could be made that Lions teammates like freshman Jaeden Ingram and junior Forrest Smith have grown throughout the course of the current season.  Senior guard Trey Fountain has recently assumed an added role on offense, taking the burden off Martin and proving that diverse new identities can emerge downwind of an alpha scorer.

      Although shut down for the remainder of this season with a stress fracture, developing sophomore sensation Zach Richardson will finish the year averaging over 15 points a game for the second consecutive season while ranking among the top 3 point snipers in the nation.  His leadership role should increase dramatically following Martin's graduation this year. Anyone who saw Richardson and Martin score 49 points each in the same game last season, will not soon forget the scoring potential of this 6'1" guard.

     There are not many opportunities to still watch Justin Martin as this season will soon wind down.The Martin Show is much like a great movie that gets no Oscar buzz because not enough of the right people have seen it, or care to understand the deeper significance of what they were witnessing.

     It has been 22 years since that famous courtside basketball fan Jack Nicholson was awarded the Academy Award for the best performance by a leading man in a motion picture.

     The name of the movie -- "As Good As It Gets"

     Jack, meet Justin.











Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mt. Rushmore state of Oregon Sports Legends

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The great Mychal Thompson got me thinking here. He asked on Twitter yesterday the Mt. Rushmore of LA sports legends?

Great question, but why not the same for my home state of Oregon. Here are my 4, of course subject to lots of debate and corrections.

Danny Miles—- 44 years as MBB coach at Oregon Tech, 1,000 wins plus and 3 national titles , a complete joke he is not in Naismith Hall of Fame.

Mel Counts— Played in final four, won an Olympic Gold Medal and NBA Championship. Only a few have accomplished that. An Oregon State Beavers icon.

Brad Smith—- Greatest WBB Coach in state of Oregon ever. His impact on the game changed women’s basketball not only in the state, but nationally.

Jon Spoelstra— All you need to say is, Greatest Sports Marketer Ever. His genius rings around the world.

Now your turn please.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Lion On Roller Skates!

Plotting An Evening "Drive" --Trey Fountain 23 pts on 9 of 10 shooting

By Harry Cummins

     ' The night a house became a HOME....

     Trey with a brand new pair of roller skates, Coach Bickley with a brand new key....

     Jaeden jumps on a lightning bolt...Zach dances with a dagger...

    ....and Justin with just another 35 point "off-night"

Multnomah Lions 104
Evergreen      98 overtime!

Poetry in motion

Sunday, January 12, 2020

It Is Not Always The Biggies

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The legendary writer Harry Cummins has documented this before on Craw’s Corner, so I am now jumping on the bandwagon not that I ever fell off.

D-1 basketball gets lots of attention as it should, but right here in the small Pacific Northwest lots of great things are happening on “lower levels” of hoops which we all can appreciate.

1. Walla Walla Washington, which has a couple of noteworthy things going on. NWAC legendary coach Bobbi Hazeltine has another great WBB team that has won 12 in row. Staying in Walla Walla, Eric Bridgeland at D-3 Whitman has turned them into a national power and they are rolling again.

2. Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon has two teams of note. The MBB & WBB teams have combined record of 31-1 and have won 24 straight games. Not too shabby.

3. Into his 43rd year of coaching basketball, NWAC icon Clif Wegner is doing great work with a 14-1 record at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Oregon.

Oregon City, Oregon.

4. Skagit Valley, coached by NWAC legend Carl Howell just went to 17-0, in that 17 was a huge championship win in December at the above Clif Wegner Basketball Classic.

5. Last but not least the 5’ 6” senior guard at NAIA Multnomah University, Justin Martin,  in Portland, Oregon, returned from missing 3 games to score 40 and 74 in big road wins for Lions in Cascade Collegiate Conference league play.

Apologies to any great stories I left out, totally unintentional, as my intentions are there always.

Turn The Music Down

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

I attend tons of basketball games every year in person, but this post is not about me. It is however about showing respect for basketball fans.

You want more fans.? Turn the dam music down.

Administrators, ADs and coaches come up to me all time wringing there hands saying, “where are the fans”?

Well, I can say for sure it is not the only reason , but it is a reason , the music is just too loud.

Not everyone, but some game management people tell me, “ the players like loud music”. They also like playing before more than a handful of fans.

Well yes they do, but players also like good coaching, good playing conditions, good food and nice uniforms.

A great fan experience will bring fans and bring them back. Turn down the music, at least so you don’t have to shout to the person next to you, who is one foot away.

This is a certainty, keep turning up the music and there will not be plenty of good seats available, there will be PLENTY OF GOOD SECTIONS AVAILABLE.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Justin Martin Shatters His Own NAIA Record With 74 Point Masterpiece!

A Volcanic Justin Martin Blows Up Record Book..Again!

By Harry Cummins

     Coming off a massive 40 point performance the previous night, Multnomah's Justin Martin, it appeared, was only warming up!

     The 5'9" senior guard broke his own all-time NAIA Division 11 single game scoring record with a jaw-dropping 74 point performance as the Lions won a wild 118-111 overtime Cascade Collegiate Conference shootout over host Northwest Christian University Saturday night in Eugene, Oregon.

     Martin shot an incredible 15 of 22 from 3 point range and scored 45 points in the second half and overtime, including 21 of Multnomah's 22 points in the extra session.  The 15 baskets from long-range equaled his own record set last year in his 71 point performance against cross-town rival Warner Pacific.  The 15 3's in a single game are the second most  ever recorded in NAIA history.

     The NAIA record for 3 points baskets made in a game is held by Chad Bickley, who is, ironically,the brother of current Multnomah head coach, Curt Bickley. Chad sank 18 3 pointers while playing for Christian Heritage (Calif) in a 1996 game vs Patten.

    Martin, in his final season with the Lions after transferring from Wenatchee Valley College in Washington, showcased a bevy of acrobatic drives to the baskets, allowing him to convert 19 of 21 from the line, establishing a NAIA D-2 season high.

     Martin's historic 74 point outburst also surpassed the present NCAA Division 1 record of 72 points, set in 1991 by Kevin Bradshaw of United States International in a game against Loyola Marymount.  It was also the third highest single game point total in NAIA history!!  Martin now owns the 3rd and 4th  highest scoring NAIA individual point games ever recorded.

     Earlier this season,J.J. Culver of Wayland Baptist posted a 100 point game, the second highest in NAIA history. Clarence "Bevo" Francis of Rio Grande (Ohio) is the only other player in NAIA history to have a 100 point game, scoring an NAIA record 113 points in 1954.

     Nearly lost in the record setting night was the performance of Multnomah freshman Jaeden Ingram of Puyallup, Washington, who posted a 23 point, 13 rebound double-double effort. Martin and Ingram combined to score 97 of the Lions 118 points.  Multnomah converted 23 of 40 from the 3 pt. range (57.5%) They currently hold the NAIA record for 3 point shots made in a game (38) which came last season against NCAA foe Pacific University.

Promising Frosh Ingram soared to 23 point, 13 rebound night." Jaden's 3 pt corner shot to send the game into OT was insane" said  coach Curt Bickley

      Northwest Christian had 5 players in double figures, paced by Ernest Ugoagu who had 33 points in defeat.  Shawn Carson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Logan Sand and Logan Davis had 18 and 17 points respectively.

     Northwest Christian held a slim 54-50 halftime advantage and the two teams went to overtime deadlocked at 96.  The Beacons enjoyed a healthy 12 point advantage, 85-73, with 4:50 left in regulation.  Martin then dominated the late stages of the second half and overtime with his 3 point blitz.

     "I told Justin when we were down 12 late, that the only chance we had was for him to shoot us back into it from 3. No two's, all 3's.  He went out and hit 4 in a row.  Who does that", said coach  Bickley in a jubiliant post game press conference.

     Lions center Stephan Zavydovskyy had 9 rebounds and 6 blocked shots on the night and Bickley claims "Steph was the defensive key late that gave Justin the opportunity to shoot us back into it."

     "I really have no words for how special Justin is.  A lot of players talk about spending 6 hours a day in the gym, but I have witnessed it this summer and now he is seeing the results of that effort", says Bickley

    Prior to Martin 40 point performance against Corban Friday night, he had missed the Lions previous 3 games, but returned to the lineup just in time to help Multnomah (9-8,2-5)sweep the weekend games and move back into contention for a CCC playoff spot.

      It was the first ever sweep of back-to-back road games for the Lions in the CCC

     Martin amassed 114 points in the two games, a 57 point average.  He currently leads Division 2 of the NAIA in scoring at 34.71 ppg and is seeking to become a rare back-to-back national scoring champion.

     Martin's 53 point game earlier this season was the NAIA D-2 high water mark until his stratospheric Saturday night.

     More remarkably perhaps, he has now posted 70 plus scoring games in consecutive seasons, sending statisticians scurrying.

     It should also send Multnomah fans scampering for seats for the upcoming 7- game home stand beginning next weekend in their tiny Portland, Oregon gym



Friday, January 10, 2020

Multnomah's Justin Martin Returns With A 40 Point Exclamation!

Justin Martin-another big night in bid for back-to-back national scoring titles

By Harry Cummins

     Sitting out his team's last 3 games, the NAIA's D-2 leading scorer, Justin Martin, poured in 40 points tonight in his return, resulting in a thrilling 97-93 road win for the Multnomah Lions (8-8) over Corban University.

    Forrest Smith tallied 19 points, as well, for the victors, 16 coming in a sizzling first half. Sophomore Zach Richardson added 15 points on 4 of 7 3's in the win.  Martin converted a career-high 16 of  his 17 free throw attempts in scoring 40 or more points for the 4th time this season.  His 53 point outburst earlier this season is the high point mark in NAIA D-2 for 2019-2020.

     Multnomah shot 49% from the field, 44% from long range for the contest.  Smith added 8 rebounds to his big scoring night, while Martin, 2nd in the nation in assists per game, collected 5 more.  With his 40 point outpouring, Martin further solidifies his bid for back-to-back national scoring titles.  He currently sits atop national scoring charts, averaging 31.69 ppg.

     AJ Hodges paced Corban with 23 points.

     The Lions win tonight, their first ever at Corban, was also their first of the year (1-5) in conference play.  They now travel to Eugene Saturday night to take on Northwest Christian University.   They return home January 17 to launch a key 7 game home stand, Justin Martin back in tow, in an effort to climb back into the Cascade Collegiate Conference playoff race.

    The stunning new video screen just installed in the lobby of Jim Skagen Court on the campus of Multnomah University might simply read.."He's Back"