Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Senior Week: So Long Korey Thieleke

By Wally Jeter

Where Korey Thieleke was from, life wasn't always easy... Coming out of Bakersfield, California Korey was known as an all around athlete with crazy wingspan. He definitely stood out in the Pilots layup line in his Freshman season. I remember thinking, who is the kid with tattoos getting above the rim during layups, and why is he not getting any playing time. Although he didn't get much run during his Freshman season, he also doubled as a member of the Portland Outdoor track and field team, where he did get plenty of run (Korey's high school track numbers).

In Korey's Sophomore season he continued to see only occasional looks in garbage time and it wasn't until his Junior year (2012-2013) where found his role as Portland's energy guy. Whether it was because Nemanja Mitrovic graduated and left some open minutes to take or whether Thieleke really blossomed over the Summer is unclear, what was clear was that Korey would not be kept off the court this season. He was even thriving against big time competition (12 points against UNLV and 9 against Kentucky). Against New Mexico last season, he definitely played the game of his life filling up the box score like only he can:

Portland Pilots
Ryan Nicholas, F252-100-14-539020158
Thomas van der Mars, C173-60-01-215000337
Korey Thieleke, G374-100-23-4263442011
Kevin Bailey, G212-100-37-8133012511
David Carr, G151-50-21-101110023
Tanner Riley, G131-30-10-011000142
John Bailey, F20-00-00-000001000
Riley Barker, C231-20-00-016010112
Derrick Rodgers, G253-71-11-100200318
Bryce Pressley, G121-20-00-001100122
Jake Ehlers, F10-00-00-000000000
Oskars Reinfelds, G90-10-00-000000130
New Mexico Lobos
Chad Adams, G-F211-20-13-402310235
Alex Kirk, C266-100-02-40110113114
Jamal Fenton, G274-131-53-4011302112
Tony Snell, G231-41-44-414400127
Hugh Greenwood, G203-80-54-7261202310
Demetrius Walker, G151-30-21-201211323
Kendall Williams, G253-80-23-300300019
Cameron Bairstow, F230-50-09-10511002019
Kory Alford, G40-00-00-011001000
Cleveland Thomas, G70-30-00-011000000
Nick Banyard, F90-10-00-000000020
Technicals: 1 NEWMEXICO ( ) PORTLAND ( T Riley 1 )
Officials: Larry Spaulding, Mark Whitehead, Scott Thornley 
Attendance: 13,487

The end of the 2012-2013 season also saw the rise of Bryce Pressley, which slowly cut into Korey's minutes. After having a breakout season like he did, it took a lot of character for Korey not to pout when he lost minutes to the new kid. Instead he took the Summer to yet again reinvent his game and carve out a new niche for himself on the team, defensive stopper (check out Jim Beseda's article about embracing his new role).

This season Korey's been in Tyler Haws face, he's been in Kevin Pangos's face, he's been in Anthony Ireland's face, he's been in a lot of faces, which is not always the job that receives the most credit. But that's just the kind of dirty work he embraces.

With all this talk about defense, I shouldn't fail to mention that Korey is also the Portland Pilots leader in highlights per minutes. Not an officially kept stat but one that I'm sure he will dominate when future Pilot historians review the game films. This guy has too many memorable breakaway dunks and put backs to count and is looked upon to bring the emotion when the team is coming out flat.

Korey it's been a pleasure watching you over the years, your energy has been the key to a lot of our comebacks and it will be hard to replace. With the great leaps (literally and figuratively) you have made since joining the team, I can't wait to see where you end up next, because you still have room to grow and your definitely a next level player (go see the world bro!). Start hitting those corner threes like Bruce Bowen and your bank account will flourish my friend.