PK80 Report Card: Grading the performance of all 16 teams that participated

The Dagger
Florida was among the most impressive teams at the PK80 Invitational. (AP)
Florida was among the most impressive teams at the PK80 Invitational. (AP)

It’s a shame this past weekend’s marquee college basketball event honoring Nike founder Phil Knight is a one-time only thing.

The two simultaneous eight-team tournaments held adjacent to one-another in Portland featured some outstanding basketball.

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Duke rallied from second-half deficits of 16 and 17 points against Texas and Florida to capture the title in one of the two brackets. Michigan State stifled North Carolina with an outstanding defensive effort to win the championship in the other bracket.

For some of the 16 Nike schools that participated, the weekend was a clear success. For others, it was a major disappointment. Here’s a report card with grades and comments for each of the 16 teams in the field:


If the SEC is exceeding expectations as a league so far this season, then Arkansas is certainly one of the teams fueling that. The Razorbacks appeared Top 25-caliber this weekend in Portland as they sandwiched emphatic victories over Oklahoma and UConn around a loss to North Carolina. What’s especially encouraging about Arkansas is the way it’s shooting from the perimeter. The Razorbacks are hitting 41.7 percent of their threes as a team and leading scorers Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon are both connecting at clips of over 50 percent. That’s encouraging for a team that lost elite big man Moses Kingsley and sharpshooter Dusty Hannah to graduation last spring. GRADE B-PLUS

BUTLER (2-1)

What an escape from Butler to close out the weekend with an emotionally gratifying victory against their former coach. The Bulldogs rallied from 15 down at the under-4 timeout against Ohio State and won the game in overtime on Kelan Martin’s game-winning layup. That show of resilience salvaged an otherwise concerning weekend for a Butler team that was outclassed by Texas in its opener and barely escaped Portland State in its second game. The Bulldogs lack sufficient outside shooting and don’t appear to have too many scoring threats behind sophomore Kamar Baldwin and seniors Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman. GRADE: C-PLUS


While UConn’s opening victory against a revamped Oregon team was encouraging, the two losses that followed provided a reality check. At this stage of the season, the Huskies simply aren’t any match for upper-echelon opponents like North Carolina and Arkansas. UConn’s big men are serviceable at best this season and its collection of talented guards too often resorts to hero ball when adversity hits. The Huskies don’t shoot it particularly well from the perimeter and on the season they’ve tallied 76 turnovers compared to only 53 assists. GRADE: C-MINUS

DEPAUL (1-2)

DePaul was a late addition to the field after Georgetown recognized it wasn’t going to field as strong a team as usual this season and pulled out at the last minute. One win in three games was the expected result for the Blue Demons, but they showed progress by taking Oregon to overtime on Friday and handling Portland with ease on Sunday. One big bright spot was a combined 41 points in those two games from 6-11 center Marin Maric. If the Croatian senior can provide an interior complement to guards Max Strus and Eli Cain, DePaul has a real chance to escape the Big East cellar this season. GRADE: B-MINUS

DUKE (3-0)

Here’s the most encouraging aspect of Duke’s comeback victories to stun Texas and Florida and claim the PK80 Motion Bracket title: The Blue Devils can get so much better. Their outside shooting remains erratic, their rim protection was inconsistent and their transition defense was practically nonexistent. But talent and resilience can mask a lot of flaws, and Duke has plenty of both. Marvin Bagley averaged 27.3 points and 15 rebounds and singlehandedly spearheaded Duke’s rally from a 16-point second-half deficit against Texas. He had more help guiding the Blue Devils back from 17 down against Florida as Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval and especially Gary Trent Jr. all made big plays. GRADE: A-MINUS

 FLORIDA (2-1)

In three games at the PK80 Invitational, Florida proved it’s college basketball’s most entertaining team. The Gators also made a strong case they’re one of the sport’s best too. They piled up 108 points against overmatched Stanford, outgunned Gonzaga in double overtime and led No. 1 Duke by 17 before squandering a potential signature victory. Chris Chiozza’s playmaking instincts, blazing speed and desire to have the ball in his hands late in close games make him a huge upgrade over Kasey Hill at point guard. Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov bring perimeter shooting that Florida has sometimes lacked. And while defense is a concern, the eventual return of injured center John Egbunu should boost the Gators’ rebounding and rim protection. GRADE: A-MINUS


With Saint Mary’s floundering this weekend and BYU doing nothing of note so far, Gonzaga knows its marquee wins this season may have to come outside its conference. The Zags got off to a strong start in Portland with wins over Ohio State and Texas sandwiched around an oh-so-close loss to Florida in a double-overtime classic. While Gonzaga misses the scoring and leadership of Nigel Williams-Goss, the outside shooting of Jordan Mathews and the rim protection of Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, the Zags’ replacements have been impressive. They displayed resilience battling Florida shot-for-shot and bouncing back from a late-game meltdown against Texas, though 3-point defense, free throw shooting and breaking a press are potential areas of improvement. GRADE: B-PLUS


Whatever buzz Michigan State lost with its Champions Classic loss to Duke, the Spartans regained it with a dominant showing this weekend. They outclassed DePaul and UConn before stifling North Carolina in Sunday’s Victory bracket title game to emphatically end Roy Williams’ streak of dominance over Tom Izzo. Michigan State’s defense was the story of the week as the Spartans held their three opponents to 28 percent shooting collectively and 21 percent from behind the arc. They held North Carolina to its worst shooting percentage in program history, shutting down its vaunted transition attack, keeping the Tar Heels off the offensive glass and altering many of their shots around the rim. GRADE: A


. So which team is North Carolina? The one that blitzed Arkansas or the one that couldn’t score against Michigan State? Probably somewhere in between. The Tar Heels will also improve as their freshmen post players develop and Cam Johnson returns from injury. GRADE: B 


They were outclassed by Gonzaga. They were just good enough against Stanford. Sunday’s matchup with Butler figured to determine how Ohio State felt about itself as it flew home from Portland, and for awhile it appeared that flight would be a happy one. Then everything changed in an instant as the Buckeyes squandered a 15-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation and lost at the buzzer in overtime. Ohio State’s undoing was its poor shooting and inability to take care of the ball, both month-long issues for the Buckeyes. They committed 24 turnovers and appeared to lose their poise as Butler made its late run. GRADE: C-MINUS


My goodness, Trae Young. What a way to introduce yourself to college basketball. Oklahoma’s prized freshman point guard dropped 43 points and 7 assists on Oregon on Sunday afternoon and averaged 34.7 points and 6.7 assists in three games in Portland. Young is the dynamic engine of a fast-paced, high-octane offense that should fuel a return to the NCAA tournament for Oklahoma this season. The Sooners fell to Arkansas in their opener, but recovered to dominate Portland and handle Oregon for a pair of consolation-bracket wins. GRADE: B

OREGON (1-2) 

Even though Oregon lost six of its seven leading scorers from last year’s Final Four team, there was reason to believe the Ducks could still be nationally relevant again this season. They added an influx of talented freshmen and transfers and coach Dana Altman has consistently shown an ability to reload on the fly. Oregon may yet be a player in a wide-open Pac-12 race, but this weekend showed the Ducks have a ways to go. They were outplayed down the stretch against UConn and Oklahoma and they were fortunate to survive against DePaul in overtime. All five Oregon starters are averaging double figures, but the Ducks’ defense has some holes. They’re at their best when freshman Kenny Wooten avoids foul trouble long enough to provide a boost with his shot blocking. GRADE: C 


Three losses by a combined 59 points were the expected outcome for a Portland team that’s loaded with freshmen and sophomores. The Pilots finished last in the WCC in Terry Porter’s debut season and have nearly an entirely new roster this season as they look to rebuild post-Alec Wintering. The play of Franklin Porter, one of Terry’s two sons on the roster, was an encouraging sign for Portland. The younger Porter averaged 16 points per game against North Carolina, Oklahoma and DePaul, though he also showed his youth by committing too many turnovers. GRADE: C-MINUS


For a program that finished seventh out of eight teams in its half of the bracket, Portland State had a heck of a weekend. The Vikings led top-ranked Duke at halftime, pushed Butler to the final buzzer in a two-point loss and outgunned Stanford behind the sweet-shooting backcourt of Bryce Canada and Deontae North. Portland State’s revved-up tempo, lethal outside shooting and willingness to crash the offensive glass make it a challenging matchup for opponents. The Vikings have the look of a Big Sky contender and a potential tough out in an opening-round NCAA tournament game. GRADE: A-MINUS


Hailed as a potential breakout team entering the season, Stanford has utterly failed to live up to that hype. Three straight losses in Portland dropped the Cardinal to an underachieving 3-5 this season, a mark that includes a pair of upsets against Big Sky opponents. Bruising all-Pac-12 candidate Reid Travis averaged 21.7 points and 8.3 rebounds at the PK80, but once again he didn’t have enough help. The Cardinal turn the ball over far too frequently because they still don’t have a reliable point guard. Talented but inconsistent center Michael Humphrey had three quiet, foul-plagued games in Portland and the Cardinal missed the outside shooting and perimeter defense of injured wing Dorian Pickens. GRADE: F

TEXAS (1-2) 

Off-target outside shooting and inept point guard play were key culprits in Texas’ 22-loss nosedive in Shaka Smart’s second season in Austin. The Longhorns won’t scare anyone with their outside shooting this year, but the arrival of freshman Matt Coleman and Tulane transfer Dylan Osetkowski makes their offense run more smoothly. Coleman gives Texas a true point guard and Osetkowski is a slick-passing forward the Longhorns can play through in the high post. Did Texas leave Portland disappointed that it couldn’t close out Duke or finish off its comeback against Gonzaga? Sure. But this is a Longhorns team with an improved offense and an elite defense, and that’s an encouraging combination. GRADE: B

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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