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Season preview: CHD interviews Portland State coach Tyler Geving

To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Portland State coach Tyler Geving about the importance of senior leadership.

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You spent four years as an assistant to Ken Bone at Portland State before taking over in 2009: what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He is probably one of the best Xs and Os coaches out there. I always felt like we were prepared and had a a good strategy going into every game, and he was able to make adjustments during the game. He also kept an even keel that we fed off of: he was never too high or too low.

Last January you had a three point, three overtimes home win over Montana: where does that rank among the most exciting games of your career? It was a pivotal part of our season: we had lost our first three league games and not beaten Montana in awhile, but after forcing OT and making a game-winning three at the buzzer it gave us a lot of confidence going forward.

Your school was recognized as one of the top programs in the nation according to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR): how much importance do you place on academics? We were on APR probation during my first two years here so we have made great strides. When you are 40 years old nobody cares that you played basketball: you have to be able to fall back on your education.

In the 2014 CIT you lost to San Diego: what did your team learn from that game that you think can help you this year? It was just good for our program to be back in postseason play. When you are in a one-bid league, it is obviously a good stepping stone to make the postseason and build off of that going into the next year. We all want to make the NCAA tourney, but the CIT is a good goal.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against USC, Oregon, and Portland: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? We have a pretty difficult schedule, but we have a good team and have to find a way to sneak a win in one or two of those games on the road in order to elevate our program.

You return three of your top-four scorers from last year (Tim Douglas/DaShaun Wiggins/Gary Winston): how crucial will their senior leadership be to your team’s success? Huge. They all played about 30 minutes/night last year and have been in some big situations. They are all 5th-year seniors who are grown men, so we expect them to act mature and be good leaders. They are pretty focused and hungry, which will hopefully rub off on our younger players.

You only have five players on your roster who grew up in Oregon: how do you balance your in-state recruiting with your out-of-state recruiting? I have been here for 10 years and our philosophy from day 1 has been to recruit the top players from Canada to California up and down I-5, and we have done a good job of that. However, if we can get a division one transfer or some junior college kids, we are interested in those as well. We have had some success in Idaho and California, as well as Texas. We just try to recruit Washington/Oregon as hard as we can.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? I would be disappointed if we do not finish in the top half of the league. We have enough talent on paper that we need to play up to that level, but all 12 teams in our league have the same goal: getting to the NCAA tourney. You need to stay healthy and have a little luck.

JonTeitel