Chris Burkhardt

Which Blazers do you want to see on the Summer League roster?

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USA Today

Which Blazers do you want to see on the Summer League roster?

Summer League starts for the Trail Blazers on July 7, and as usual, the roster for the annual event will be made up of the Blazers 2018 draft pick(s), undrafted free agents, NBA veterans looking to latch onto a roster, and current Trail Blazers.

So, which Trail Blazers players do you want to see in Sin City? Here are the most likely candidates to represent the Blazers and why they should be in Las Vegas:

Caleb Swanigan: Last Summer League – 8 games, 16.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apg

            Swanigan burst on the summer league scene and made an instant impact with his energy and hustle on the boards. Swanigan had the second most rebounds per game of any player at the event and was an All-NBA Summer League First-Team selection. However, his success in Las Vegas didn’t translate to the NBA regular season. Swanigan played in just 27 regular season games, averaging 2.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per contest. More than any other Blazer, Swanigan needs to be in Las Vegas. Swanigan needs the chance to once again show what he can bring to the table and convince not only the coaching staff, but also himself, that he can succeed in this league. 

Jake Layman – Last Summer League - 8 games 13.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.0 apg

            Layman had a successful summer league outing in 2017, but like Swanigan, it didn’t translate to a lot of playing time in the regular season. Layman was kept buried at the end of the bench and appeared in just 35 games, averaging 1.0 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game. Layman will be entering his third season in the league in 2018, and like Swanigan, needs to show something special at summer league or it could be another season of nothing but garbage time minutes.

Wade Baldwin – Last Summer League W/Memphis - 6 games, 14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.7 apg

            Baldwin had a great summer league for the Grizzlies last year, but he spent most of the regular season in the G-league before Memphis waived him. One team's trash is another team's treasure, and Baldwin has appeared to find a home with the Blazers. He played in just seven games for Portland, but showed great potential on defense and brought good energy to the floor. His best game – a 15-point outburst against his former team on March 28. A strong showing in Vegas could convince the Blazers that Baldwin is a capable backup point guard should they lose Shabazz Napier in free agency

Zach Collins – Last Summer League - 3 games, 6.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 apg

            By all accounts, Zach Collins had a very poor summer league last season. However, just like success in Vegas doesn’t always lead to success in the regular season, failure in summer league doesn’t always lead to failure in the regular season. Collins started the year with DNPs, but ended the season as a key part of Portland’s rotation. Right now Collins is 50/50 on whether or not he will be in Vegas, but judging by his late-season run, he will be well entrenched in the Blazers rotation no matter what. Collins has little to gain at Summer League outside of getting a few more games under his belt. The risk of injury may not be worth the minimal gain. 

 

 

 

What if LeBron heads West?

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NBCS NW

What if LeBron heads West?

The odds are out on where LeBron James will play next season, and his decision could have a huge impact on the Western Conference. James could still exercise his $35.6 million player-option and return to Cleveland, but the more likely scenario is to decline the option and hit the open market. 

According to the odds, the Lakers, Rockets, and Spurs are the three most likely teams in the Western Conference to land him. Here is how they can do it, and how it would impact the conference in 2018-19.

Lakers: +200

The Lakers currently hold the best odds of any team in the NBA to land LeBron James and will be heading into free agency with more cap space than any other team in the league. The Lakers will have enough free money that they can add James as well as another star, most likely Paul George.  Then the question is, do you keep Lonzo Ball or do you strike while the iron is hot, sell high, and trade him to bring in vets to complete the roster? Either way, a Lakers team built around James and George would all but assure the Lakers would end their playoff drought.

How it affects the West - Last season just two games separated the three seed Blazers from the eight seed Timberwolves, with the Nuggets dropping to ninth in the final game of the season.  A revamped Lakers squad would instantly be in the playoff mix, meaning any team that made playoffs last season (not named the Warriors or Rockets) would most likely end 2019 on the outside looking in.  

Rockets: +275

Houston is also a favorite to add James, but the Rockets would have to shake up the roster for it to happen. Chris Paul is heading to free agency and could be looking to make more than the $24.6 million he made last season. Star center Clint Capela is also hitting the open market. Capela made just $2.3 million last season and has a giant raise coming his way. That doesn’t leave a lot of money to sign James.

The Rockets may have to find ways to free up Ryan Anderson ($19.6mil), Eric Gordon ($12.9mil) and P.J. Tucker ($7.6mil) to make it all happen. Houston would have one heck of a starting five, but not much of a bench. Either way, they would still be a favorite to win the title in 2019.

How it affects the West - James to Houston wouldn’t impact the standings as much as James to the Lakers would, but it would most certainly make it a two horse race to the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets were penciled into the Western Conference Finals this season, and with James added to the roster you might as well use a permanent marker. The real impact would be in how teams adjust. If the Western Conference turns into Golden State, Houston, and everybody else (which you could argue it is already), you could really see some playoff caliber teams enter rebuild mode in an attempt to be ready for the post-Warriors/Rockets era. 

Spurs: +1000

The Spurs would be an intriguing landing spot simply to see what happens when the best player in the game gets paired up with the best coach in the game. However, like the Rockets, San Antonio is in a tough financial situation.

Tony Parker is hitting free agency, freeing up $15.5 million, while Rudy Gay and Danny Green could free up another $18.8 million combined if they both choose not to exercise their player options. If Gay and Green exercise their options, then you will most likely see the Spurs push hard to trade Patty Mills ($10mil) and Pau Gasol ($16mil) to free up space.

How it affects the West - A core of James, Kawhi Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge would instantly make the Spurs a top three team in the Western Conference. The Spurs finished seventh last season, and vaulting to three would mean a team like the Blazers could end up missing the playoffs when it’s all said and done.

The Spurs would also make it a lot tougher for the Warriors and Rockets to make a repeat trip to the conference finals.

 

Blazer5 set to start 2K League regular season

Blazer5 set to start 2K League regular season

THE TIPOFF is behind them, and now Blazer5 Gaming looks to build off of the success of opening weekend as they start the NBA 2K League regular season.

Blazer5 had one impressive debut in the 2K League. They went undefeated in pool play, beating 76ers GC, Magic Gaming, and Raptors Uprising GC. They then took down Pacers Gaming and Cavs Legion GC to set up a rematch with 76ers GC in THE TIPOFF championship game. Blazer5 came up just short of bringing home a tournament win, but they had an impressive debut none-the-less.

OneWildWalnut and Dat Boy Shotz (that's right, we go by gamer tags around here) proved to be the league's best frontcourt pairing, while Mama Im Dat Man surprised everyone with his ability to run the show. Add in Lavish Phenom and Grant Monster doing all the little things, and Blazer5 proved to be a force.

Now they get to transition from the tournament to the regular season.

For those of you who don't know, here is how the NBA 2K League is set up:

  • The 12-week season is split into four-week chunks of play, with mid-season tournaments in between.
  • Following the regular season, there will be a final tournament to decide the champion of the inaugural season.
  • The tournaments throughout the season will not only have bragging rights on the line, but they'll also have cash prizes! The winner of the final mid-season tournament also wins an automatic bid into the playoffs.
  • The first mid-season tournament starts June 8, while the second mid-season tournament begins July 13. The regular season playoffs begin August 17.
  • The seeding for each tournament will be decided by the team's record during the four week stretch of regular season games that precede the tournaments.

 

If the Blazers early run is any indication, OneWildWalnut and crew will give gamers and Blazers fans alike something to cheer all summer.

And speaking of Walnut, our Serena Winters recently had a chance to catch up with him and Blazer5 as they trained for Friday's season opener. (Check out the full interview from The Bridge above.)

You can also catch the squad when they hit the virtual court on Friday for the season opener against Magic Gaming. The action for Blazer5 starts at 9 PM Eastern Time and can be streamed on Twitch

Nick Symmonds climbs on The Bridge

Nick Symmonds climbs on The Bridge

How many people in the history of man have ran a sub four-minute mile and summited Mt. Everest? The answer: zero.  Nick Symmonds hopes to change that.

The two-time Olympian recently announced his retirement from professional running while simultaneously announcing his intentions to climb the Seven Summits – the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Symmonds had quite the competitive running career, winning nine state championships, seven NCAA championships, six U.S. world championships, and was a two-time Olympian (2008 and 2012). An ankle injury prevented him from making the Olympics in 2016, and at the time he said he was not retiring from the sport. Fast-forward two years and Symmonds is trading his track spikes for crampons.

Symmonds expedition up the Seven Summits will take him nearly three years to complete and starts with Mount Kilimanjaro (6,882 meters), the tallest mountain in Africa, next month.

From there he will tackle:

Mt. Aconcagua (6,962m) in South America – December of 2018

Mt. Elbrus (5,642m) in Europe – June of 2019

Mt. Kosciuszko (2,228m) in Australia – December of 2019

Mt. Denali (6,194m) in North America – June of 2020

Mt. Vinson (4,892m) in Antarctica – December of 2020

Mt. Everest (8,848m) in Asia –May of 2021

In total, Symmonds will climb 41,658 meters, or 136,673 feet!

As part of his preparation Symmonds has also made it a goal to summit the highest mountain in each of the 50 states. According to this website he has successfully climbed 20 of the 50 high points thus far.

Before he climbs his next mountain Symmonds will climb onto the set of The Bridge.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Northwest tonight at 6PM as Serena, Bri, and Aaron find out how Symmonds plans to complete his latest adventure.

For more information on Symmonds and to follow his quest for the Seven Summits be sure to visit his website, miletomountain.com.

 

Where does OSU go from here?

Where does OSU go from here?

It’s a simple question, with a not so simple answer; where does Oregon State go from here?

Prior to the season many people thought the Beavers would be a bowl team. Year three of Gary Andersen would see the big jump in the win-loss column.  The fan base was full of optimism, and justifiably so.

However, instead of a return to respectability we have seen this team take a giant step backwards. Following a 42-7 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Huskies on Saturday the Beavers fell to just 1-4 on the season. That one victory took last second heroics from the offense to steal, yes steal, a win from FCS Portland State.

Against the Huskies the Beavers struggled to do anything on offense. At the end of the third quarter they had a total of just 104 yards of offense and zero scores. To put that in perspective the Huskies had 98 yards and a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Not the best of comparisons.

But we have to be fair on this night. The defense played lights out in the first half. They gave up that big drive to start the game, then hunkered down and held the Huskies scoreless the rest of the half. It was the best defensive half we have seen from OSU all season. But then the OSU we have some to remember showed up in the third quarter, allowing the Huskies to score 21-points.

Failing to score while failing to keep the opposition from scoring… well, you’re not going to win any games with that formula.

The frustration from coach Andersen could be heard in his voice postgame. The coach seems to be just as bewildered as we are. And that should be most troubling of all. When the captain of the ship doesn’t know why it turns left when he turns the wheel right, you have a serious problem.

There is something off with this Beavers team; I just can’t quite put a finger on it. At this point, it may be time to start looking to 2018.

The Beavers still have USC, Colorado, Stanford, a much improved Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon remaining on the schedule.

Will it be possible to pick up a win in that stretch? Of course it will be. Anything is possible, but that doesn't mean it's plausible. Win one game - Sure. Win enough games in that stretch to become bowl eligible – don’t hold your breath.

The Beavers we saw on Saturday will be lucky to win a quarter, let alone a game the rest of the way. And that is a sad state of affairs for a team that we all thought, myself included, was ready to turn the corner.

 

 

 

Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

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Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

There are a few reasons for optimism following the first game of the Beavers season.  However, grabbing a big early season win isn’t one of them.  The Beavers came into Fort Collins as underdogs, but many felt they had what it takes to pull the upset.

That looked to be the case early on, as the Beavers were the first team to get on the scoreboard. A big strike through the air from new quarterback Jake Luton to Timmy Hernandez gave OSU the 7-0 early in the first quarter.

For much of the first half it was a well played, back-and-forth matchup, but one arguable call in the final seconds of the first half would permanently shift the momentum in favor of the Rams.

Colorado scored a touchdown to take the 24-17 lead with just 1:19 left in the half. With the clock ticking away Oregon State started to march down the field putting together a near perfect two-minute drill.

With 13 seconds on the clock, and the ball on the CSU 7-yard-line, the Beavers had time for one more play. Luton took the snap, scrambled under pressure, side armed a pass around the defense, and found the outstretched arms of a diving Noah Togiai for the tying score. Or did he?

The ruling on the field was incomplete, but was sent upstairs for video review.  It looked as if Togiai had control of the ball, with a knee inbounds, as he fell out of play. Every replay they showed looked like a touchdown. Twitter thought it was a touchdown. Television announcers thought it was a touchdown. I thought it was touchdown. But when the review was finished the referees stayed with their original call of an incomplete pass.

Oregon State settled for a field goal and headed to the locker room trailing 24-20, rather than knotted up at 24.

That play seemed to take the wind out of the Beavers sails, and swung the momentum to the home team. The Rams came out and outscored the Beavers 17-0 in the third quarter and never looked back.

The second half seemed to be nothing but a constant replay of a Beavers turnover followed by a Rams score. Interceptions, fumbles, it didn’t matter. CSU found ways to frustrate the Beavers and grind the Oregon State offense to a halt.

The Beavers looked good early, and behind Ryan Nall they had 125 yards on the ground in the first half. In the second half they managed just 30 rushing yards. That is pretty much a quick way to sum up the game for the Beavers.

But it’s not all negative for the Beavers. Despite the high number of interceptions, Jake Luton showed that for the first time since Sean Mannion was on campus, the Beavers might have some semblance of a passing game. Last season the Beavers averaged just 29.4 passing attempts and 174 yards per game. In the loss to the Rams Luton had 27 pass completions on 47 attempts, for 304 yards and two touchdowns.  Sure, he did have three interceptions, but it was still one of the better quarterback performances the Beavers have seen in some time.

The loss leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Beavers fans, but the season is still young. Now all eyes will look to the next opponent: The Portland State Vikings. Anything less than a blowout win for the Beavers and then we may want to sound the horns of concern. As we saw against CSU, the Beavers can shoot themselves in the foot and easily become their own worst enemy. Hopefully next Saturday the Beavers are playing only the Vikings, not the Vikings and themselves.

Final Score in Fort Collins: Colorado State 58 – Oregon State 27

Next Up: The Beavers open up their home schedule against the FCS Portland State Vikings. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM, Saturday, Sept. 2nd.

 

Will Oregon State end its bowl drought in 2017?

Will Oregon State end its bowl drought in 2017?

The Oregon State Beavers open the 2017 football season on August 26, against Colorado State in Fort Collins. The game will not only mark the start of the season for the Beavers, but will start what could be the Beavers first bowl eligible season since 2013. The hype train is rolling in Corvallis, and many fans are wondering if head coach Gary Andersen finally has this team pointed in the right direction. Vegas oddsmakers have the over/under for the Beavers set at 5.5 wins. If I were a betting man, I would take the over. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you are a Beavers fan. Will the Beavers go bowling this season? Here are five reasons I think they will:

2) In Jake Luton, the Beavers finally have a passing threat -  

Not since Sean Mannion left the program following his senior season in 2014 have the Beavers had a true quarterback behind the center. In the two season since Mannion left the Beavers have seen five different signal callers take a snap: Seth Collins, Marcus McMaryion, Conor Blount, Darell Garretson, and Nick Mitchell. In 2015 and 2016 the Beavers finished 117 and 113 in passing offense respectively. In those two seasons combined the Beavers passed for a total of 3,995 yards and 23 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Mannion passed for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns in just his junior year alone.

The Beavers have had a giant question mark at quarterback, and transfer Jake Luton could be the answer.

It was announced early last week that Luton will be the No.1 quarterback for the Beavers, and with that coach Andersen finally has a quarterback that can get the ball downfield. In 2016, while the quarterback for Ventura CC, Luton passed for a school record 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns. Luton has the size and the arm to help add the air raid elements that coach Andersen wants in the offense, and may finally be the quarterback that can get the ball to the Beavers playmakers. Tight end Noah Togai has been turning heads early on in camp, catching three touchdown passes in the latest open scrimmage, and can be a huge weapon for Luton. The Beavers also have senior wide receiver Jordan Villamin who is due for a monster year. Villamin has all the intangibles to be one of the best receivers in the conference, but over the past two seasons he hasn’t had someone who could consistently get him the ball. That should change in 2017. Oh yeah, the Beavers also have Seth Collins in the slot, so Luton will have plenty of hands to get to the ball to.

A decent quarterback can be the difference between a four win season and a bowl game, and the Beavers finally have a decent quarterback.

2) The running back stable may be the best in the Pac-12 -

Talk about the rich getting richer. The Beavers had one heck of a backfield heading into 2017. They had returners Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce, who combined for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016, as well as TCU transfer Trevorris Johnson. The backfield was stacked. Then, out of nowhere, the news broke in late May that former Oregon Ducks stud running back Thomas Tyner was coming out of retirement to join the Beavers. Tyner dealt with injuries during his time in Eugene, but when on the field he was a force. In two seasons at Oregon Tyner rushed for 1,284 yards and 14 touchdowns. The four-headed monster of Nall-Tyner-Pierce-Johnson gives the Beavers one of the best backfields in the conference, if not the country.

At this point, and for the foreseeable future, Nall is the starting back. But let’s be real. The Beavers have two legit starting caliber backs, and two others that could start on a lot of teams in the country. They have running backs 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D. The depth is unreal.

3) The schedule plays out well for the Beavers -

The Beavers do have a gauntlet to run mid-season, a stretch of three games that sees them play Washington State, Washington, and USC in three consecutive weeks. That is followed by tough games against Colorado and Stanford. Outside of that stretch the schedule plays out favorably for the Beavers. They open the season on the road against Colorado State, which is a tough but winnable game for the Beavers. A lot of experts see Colorado State as a team that could sneak into a New Years Six bowl. A win in Fort Collins could set the tone for the season.

Following the Colorado State game the Beavers get Portland State and Minnesota at home. PSU is nearly a certain win, and Minnesota should be as well. The Beavers played a heck of a game against the Gophers last season, and with Minnesota starting out the P.J. Fleck era, a win on the road for the Gophers may be a challenge.

The Beavers also end the season with an incredibly “easy” slate of games: Home against Cal, home against Arizona, on the road at Arizona State, and home against Oregon. Following last season’s Civil War win, fans and players alike have every reason to think the Beavers can beat the Ducks again.

Realistically, the Beavers could go 3-0 in non-conference play, then drop 5 straight in the aforementioned “gauntlet,” then finish the season 4-0. For those keeping track, that is a 7-5 season, and a trip to a bowl game.

4) Year Three of Gary Andersen has a history of success -

Back in 2009 Gary Andersen took over a poor Utah State football team. In fact, calling them a poor football team is an understatement. The Aggies went just 3-9 the season prior the Andersen’s arrival, and hadn’t had a winning season since the team went 6-5 in 1997. From 1998 to 2008 Utah State went a combined 35-90. Then came Andersen.

Andersen’s Aggies went 4-8 in both his first and second season, and then jumped to 7-6 in his third season. In Andersen’s fourth season the Aggies jumped to 11-2, won their first bowl game since 1993, and finished No.16 in the final AP Poll. Andersen’s first two seasons at OSU have largely mirrored his first two at Utah State; there is every reason to think year three will see the same leap it did in Utah. Andersen has a quarterback, a stacked backfield, a young talented defense, and a team that is finally his. Really, after two straight losing seasons, anything less than six wins would be a disappointment for Andersen in year three.

5) The Oregon State defense will be better than people think -

Defensively the Beavers have not been great in recent seasons. Last season the Beavers were 75th in the nation for total yards given up, at 5150, mainly because they just couldn’t stop the run. Oregon State allowed 2616 yards on the ground, which was 101st worst in the nation. However, they balanced that out with a decent pass defense, allowing just 2534 yards through the air, which was the 40th best pass defense in the country. Looking ahead to this season, the Beavers should be even better against the pass, and hopefully improved against the run. The Beavers played a lot of freshman and sophomores in 2016, and that year of experience should pay off this season. The Beavers return impact players such as Brandon Arnold, Jalen Moore, Bright Ugwoegbu, Kammy Delp, Manase Hungalu, Jonathan Willis, Elu Aydon, and Xavier Crawford just to name a few. Of that group, only Arnold and Hungalu are seniors. There is plenty of young talent on this defense to help push the Beavers forward. If the defense can improve against the run, they should be able to help the improved OSU offense win a few more games. ---

The only thing working against the Beavers is that the Pac-12 is stacked with talent. The Beavers have to play at least four teams that could easily win the conference (Washington, WSU, USC, Stanford), and some other teams that may be on the downswing but are by no means pushovers. That being said, Andersen has steered his ship in the right direction, and the Beavers should be more optimistic than ever that this is the year they get over the hump. The only question left to ask - “is it August 26 yet?”

CJ McCollum to play for Team World in NBA Africa Game 2017

CJ McCollum to play for Team World in NBA Africa Game 2017

The NBA has announced the full rosters for NBA Africa Game 2017, an NBA exhibition game that will see Team Africa take on Team World in support of UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.

NBA fans in the Northwest may notice a familiar name on the Team World roster: Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum. McCollum will be the third current Trail Blazers player to play in the NBA Africa Game, joining Al-Farouq Aminu (Team Africa) and Evan Turner (Team World) who both played in NBA Africa Game 2015.

Former Trail Blazers Nic Batum (Charlotte Hornets) and Festus Ezeli (then with the Golden State Warriors), also played for Team Africa in NBA Africa Game 2015.

NBA Africa Game 2015, played on Aug.1, 2015, was the very first NBA game played on the continent and drew a sold-out crowd. According to the press release from the NBA “there have more than 70 current or former NBA players from Africa or with ties to the continent, including NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Dikembe Mutombo, both of whom played in NBA Africa Game 2015.”

Luol Deng and Thabo Sefolosha will captain Team Africa, a roster comprised of players born in Africa, as well as second-generation African players. The rest of the world will come together with McCollum to form the roster of Team World, captained by Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki and the United States’ Kemba Walker.

NBA Game 2017 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 5 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information visit NBA.com/Africa 

The full rosters are as follows:

Team World:

CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.)

Dirk Nowitzki C*  (Mavericks; Germany)

Kemba Walker C*  (Charlotte Hornets; U.S.)

Leandro Barbosa (most recently with the Phoenix Suns; Brazil)

Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics; U.S.)

Wilson Chandler (Nuggets; U.S.)

DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans; U.S.)

Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons; U.S.)

Courtney Lee (New York Knicks; U.S.)

Kyle Lowry (Raptors; U.S.)

Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks; Latvia).

 

Team Africa:

Luol Deng C* (Los Angeles Lakers; South Sudan)

Thabo Sefolosha C* (Utah Jazz, Switzerland; parent from South Africa)

Bismack Biyombo (Orlando Magic; Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Clint Capela (Houston Rockets; Switzerland; parents from Angola and Congo)

Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal; BWB Africa 2009) Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011)

Serge Ibaka (Toronto Raptors; Congo)

Luc Mbah a Moute (most recently with the LA Clippers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2003)

Salah Mejri (Dallas Mavericks; Tunisia)

Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets; Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers; U.S.; parent from Nigeria)

Dennis Schroder (Hawks; Germany; parent from The Gambia)

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Sinclair’s brace helps put an end to Portland’s two-game skid

Portland, OR – The Portland Thorns came into Wednesday’s matchup in dire need of a victory. Portland had lost two matches in a row, including a 3-1 loss at home to Sky Blue FC on June 17. Losses in Providence Park just don’t happen. Including the loss to Sky Blue, the Thorns came in with am impressive home record of 13-2-3 since the start of the 2016 season and looked to add another on to the win column with FC Kansas City in town.

FC Kansas City came in winless in its previous three matches (0-1-2), and with an overall road record of 1-3-1. For a team that is struggling, and is poor on the road to boot, Providence Park is the last place you want to be.

Portland fed off the home crowd, as is usual, and dominated from the start. Any danger FCKC posed was because the Thorns made little mental errors, but nothing large enough to bite them. Portland had the occasional misplayed ball here, the occasional poor pass there, but largely looked to be playing a game of cat and mouse.

Before Kansas City could really get in any kind of groove they found themselves playing from behind.

Just fifteen minutes into the match Allie Long put a shot on goal from about 10-yards out. Her shot was blocked, but it bounced off the post and right to the feet of a wide-open Christine Sinclair. The Captain did what she does best, and put the Thorns up 1-0.

From that point on it never felt like much of a match. The question wasn’t if the Thorns would win, it was how many goals would they score before the final whistle?

The answer: Three

Hayley Raso added a goal in the in the 32’, and Sinclair added another goal in the 75’.

This was a great bounce back game for Portland, and much needed as their next two matches will be on the road.

FINAL SCORE: Portland Thorns 3 – FC Kansas City 0

Notes: Hayley Raso scored the first goal of her NWSL career. A beautiful shot from beyond the right side of the box that curled around the defense and just over the hand of the goalkeeper. She joked postgame, calling the shot “lucky” but it was one of the more impressive goals I have seen. Sinclair looked to score her second goal of the match in the 71', but a controversial handball call negated it. She got her revenge four minutes later when she scored the team's third goal of the game.

Next Up: Portland travels up north to take on rival Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 1. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM at Memorial Stadium.

Former Oregon Duck Aaron Wise earns PGA Tour card with win at Air Capital Classic

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Former Oregon Duck Aaron Wise earns PGA Tour card with win at Air Capital Classic

It has been a whirlwind of a year for professional golfer Aaron Wise, whose rise to through the pro ranks has been meteoric.

It was just June of last year that Wise won the NCAA Men’s Individual title and helped the University of Oregon win its first ever team championship. Wise became the first player since UCLA’s Kevin Chappell in 2008 to win both the individual and team championships in the same year.

Now he has his sights set on the PGA TOUR.

Wise played some of the best golf of his career for a wire-to-wire win at the 28th annual Air Capital Classic on June 18th.  Wise earned $112,500 for his victory and secured his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season.

At 20 years, 11 months, 28 days, Wise is the fourth-youngest winner in tour history. PGA Tour mainstay Jason Day, currently ranked No.4 in the world, set the record in 2007 winning the Legend Financial Group Classic at 19 years, 7 months, and 26 days. Not bad company for Wise.

“It’s a lot of history to go down with and it’s just a really cool feeling,” said Wise, who moved from No. 35 to No. 6 on the money list. “I played great all week so none of that surprises me but it’s great to be in that position.”

From start to finish, Wise had a historic weekend at the Air Capital Classic. He started 62-62, the lowest back-to-back rounds in the history of the Air Capital Classic, tied the second lowest 36-hole score (124) in Tour history, and his final score 21-under 259 was also a tournament record. His wire-to-wire win was also the first since Stephan Jaeger’s win at the Ellie Mae Classic in 2016.

Wise will officially receive his PGA Tour card at this year’s WinCo Foods Portland Open, Aug 21-27 at Pumpkin Ridge.  Tournament director Pat McCabe hopes Duck fans show up to support their former star.

“Congratulations to Aaron on his first win on the Web.com TOUR. It will be fun to have him at the WinCo Foods Portland Open in August. He has been on a tear through the golf world since he won the NCAA Championship as a Duck last year in Eugene. He has a very promising future on the PGA Tour” said McCabe. “Hope to see the U of O community come out and support Aaron as he competes for the top spot on the Web.com Tour and receives his PGA Tour card at Pumpkin Ridge. This is likely the last chance to see him play in the Pacific Northwest.”

For more information on the WinCo Food Portland Open, and to purchase your tickets to see Wise in action, visit wincofoodsportlandopen.com