These Are Exciting Times for Oregon State BasketballPosted by Connor Pelton on November 21st, 2011
Coach Craig Robinson told anyone who would listen in the preseason that the Beavers finally had the talent to compete in every game in which they play this season. Guess he was right. Oregon State is now 4-0 going into tonight’s game against #18 Vanderbilt in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as part of the Legends Classic. The Beavers opened up the season with a pair of expected, easy victories against Cal State Bakersfield and West Alabama. On Wednesday they faced their first real test against a tough Hofstra team, a game that the Beavers surely would have dropped in the past. But after getting down late in the first half, OSU climbed back for a ten-point win. However, the Pride are a middle-of-the-pack CAA team, not a Big 12 powerhouse like Texas. Due to their weak non-conference schedule, these two games in New Jersey are absolutely huge if they want to go dancing come March.
OSU knew that coming in and responded superbly against a talented Texas team. The Longhorns, led by J’Covan Brown (25 points, nine assists), stretched the Beaver defense to the max with hot perimeter shooting early on, but Oregon State would not go away. It seemed as if Jared Cunningham had an answer when his team needed it most, including five huge free throws in the final 2:50 of regulation to force overtime. From there it seemed to be destiny for Oregon State. The center was draining threes, the Horns were missing wide open looks, and in the end Robinson’s team escaped with a five-point win and a spot in the Legends Classic Championship.
For a program that dropped games to the likes of Seattle, Texas Southern, Utah Valley, and George Washington last season (don’t forget the 51-point loss at home against the Redhawks two years ago), this 4-0 start is significant. And if the Beavers can finish off this 11-day road trip with a win against Vandy and another at Towson next Saturday, you can bet Gill Coliseum will be rocking, truly rocking, for its next home game on Dec. 4. Fans in Corvallis have been starving for a good basketball team for years now, so don’t be surprised when the attendance numbers shoot up from the current average of 4,167.
So in the end, the question is whether or not the Beavers can keep this going. Despite Vanderbilt’s one loss to Cleveland State, they are still a talented team that loves to shoot the three. Expect Oregon State to deploy a number of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone traps to try to disrupt the Commodore offense. Regardless of the outcome of the Vandy game, there is no reason for the Beavers not to run the table on the rest of their non-conference slate. But Pac-12 play begins on Dec. 29, and that’s when we will begin to find out if this team has the talent to make a run at the conference crown and an NCAA Tourney berth.
One thing is for certain this year, no matter how the rest of it turns out; Oregon State basketball is exciting again.