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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Pilots Are No Longer Bluffing

About the only thing that is bad for Portland Pilots basketball coach Eric Reveno lately,  is that some people still can't pronounce his last name and often he is confused  in looks with Colorado head coach Tad Boyle.

Otherwise things are pretty darn good for Reveno as he enters his sixth season for the Pilot,  a school which sits on "The BLUFF  in north Portland with a beautiful campus and beautiful views of the Willamette river.

Reveno had a shaky start at University of Portland. His first team went 9-23 in the 2006-07 season and the next year was not much better. In fairness, Reveno inherited a mess from previous coach Michael Holton. In maybe the most gutsy move in the history of Pilot athletics, athletic director Larry Williams bought out Holton's contract at the end of the 2006 season.

As of right now the move looks brilliant. Although attendance is still not where it needs to be, it has risen in each year under Reveno, people are starting to talk about the Pilots for the first time in ages and more importantly, in the last three years the team has gone 60-36 and advanced to play in the CIT post season tournament each year.

Even with all the regular season success, the Pilots have struggled in the West Coast Conference tournament, I am sure something that weighs on the mind of Reveno. In the last 20 years prior to the the arrival of Reveno, the Pilots were most noted in athletics for having a great women's soccer team and every year winning their league championship in men's cross country. Under Reveno, Pilot basketball is changing that.

Lately I have often said that Reveno is the best head basketball coach in D-1 that no one knows about. The city of Portland is not a good college basketball town, the Pilots history in basketball for the most part is,  there is little history and with its high academic standards and lack of a basketbal history, it makes recruiting athletes hard.

But somehow, each of the last three years Reveno has gotten the job done. He will be challenged once again this year with a young team that will have only two seniors, but one of those seniors Nemanga Mitrovic has the potential to be the best three point shooter in the country. The rest of his teammates will have to develop quickly if the team hopes to win 20 games again this season, but it is obvious now you never bet against Eric Reveno accomplishing anything.

If you ever make it to Portland during basketball season, it is worth the trip to watch the Pilots play. Their arena, The Chiles Center, does not have a bad seat in the house, it even offers some items  in the concession stands that differ from the normal crap and most important, parking is always free.

I did think of a couple more bad things. You can't email Coach Reveno, he is the only staff member that does not list an email. This is a disturbing trend in college athletics, not being able to email the head coach. Bad customer service. Also, it is not good that the Pilots play their cross town buddies, Portland State only once during pre-season. In days of tight budgets and shortfalls it just seems so natural these teams should play twice, not once.

In college basketball often programs can sustain for years after their head coach moves on, many examples. But in the case of the Pilots, when Eric Reveno moves on, the program could easily suffer. It is obvious he is a coach that knows how to put a program together under not the best of circumstances and he knows how to win.

If the Pilots can keep him, great. If he leaves for a better job, not great.

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