America has been the undisputed leader in professional basketball for many years. Playing basketball overseas may offer consolation for college athletes. But Kramer Knutson talks about his time playing ball in Europe as some of the finest times of his life.
“The best part is I lived in the country I [played] in. I got to experience all the customs and the different things that they do. I don’t think you get that when you are just visiting but I was actually living there,” Knuston tells us.
After a successful four years (2007-2011) of starting on the University of Portland Pilots Men’s Basketball Team, Knutson ranks second all-time in games started (118) and sixth in both blocked shots (80) and field goal percentage (.548). Not only did Knuston have a successful career with the Pilots, he also created a strong bond with head Coach Eric Reveno. After senior year, it was Coach Reveno that got Knuston a position overseas to play basketball. He played one year in Switzerland, one in Romania and two years in England. Although he learned a lot about cultures around the world and improved his game, foreign basketball doesn’t come without a few burdens.
“If they are bringing you over from America, they expect you to be ‘the man’. They expect you to score points and be the MVP because they are bring you all the way from the U.S. [So I had to] adjust my game so that every time I touch the ball I’m expected to shoot and score.”
Even with these high expectations, Knuston was able to live up to the title of “the American Man.” Two years in a row, Knuston was voted the Fan MVP – once when he was with the London Lions and once with Surrey United. Knutson has a clear reason behind what got him this recognition.
“I was the only guy in the league that dunked the ball. Last year I led the league in rebounds and second in blocked shots.”
This year, Knuston was brought back from Surrey to Portland to run Basketball Operations for the Pilots. He got his job from none other than head Coach Reveno who he played for only four years prior. The Pilot’s team has been less than stellar in recent times. This year, they ended with a record of 12 wins and 20 losses, losing their last game 67-92 to Gonzaga.
“Part of the reason I was hired was to bring back some of the culture of past wins. I know what it is like to win because when I was at UP (University of Portland) we had three years where we won 60 games which is 20 wins a seasons. That’s pretty good for college basketball. [I] know the culture that is needed to win games.”
Although this may seem obvious, the culture of winning is based around the way the group plays as a team. The Pilots used to have the best three point shooter in the nation and one of the best rebounders. They are fast and smart but what they have in skill they lack in other parts of the game.
“It’s about team basketball. Everyone doing their role. If your job is to score, that’s what you do. If you’re the guy who sits on the bench and cheers on your teammates, that’s what you have to do. [We are trying to bring back that] culture of everyone doing their job and playing as a team.”
The past three seasons have all proven to be rocky for the Pilots and no doubt the reason behind the firing of Coach Reveno just a few weeks ago.
What does the Director of Basketball Operations do?
“The most important thing is making sure that all the players have what they need. I facilitate everything. If anyone has an issue, I take care of that for them and work with all the other departments to make sure that everything is running smoothly whether that is working with clients at an NCAA standpoint or making sure that marketing is as needed or working with schedules (etc.) I’m not the head coach but I try to take care of business best I can.”
About KramerAge?: 27Family?: “[My] Mom and Dad still live in same house in Mesa, Arizona. I have one younger sister and two older brothers.”Where did you grow up?: Mesa, Arizona
Hobbies?: Cooking, hiking
Fun Fact?: Drive a smart car at 6 foot 9.