Oregon State Facing Another Lost Season After Arizona LossPosted by Rockne Roll on January 14th, 2013
Rockne Roll (@raroll) is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s game between Arizonan and Oregon State in Corvallis.
Coming into this season, things were looking up for Oregon State. Its senior core was comprised of solid players; it had a contingent of younger players with high potential; and all signs pointed to the team as ready to turn things around in Corvallis. A significant remodel of Gill Coliseum and the reappearance of the Beaver Dam, OSU’s student section, seemed to be harbingers of the Beavers finally making some serious noise in the conference, or at least posting a winning conference record, something the school hasn’t done in 20 years.
But after a promising start (including smoking Niagara by 19 in the opener), things have slowly been growing glum in Corvallis. First, senior center Angus Brandt tore his ACL in the Beavers’ win against Purdue. Brandt, a 6’10″ center with a solid three-point stroke, had been averaging double-figure scoring this year, and his injury was a massive blow to the team’s overall talent base. Things got worse when OSU announced that Brandt’s backup, Daniel Gomis, would lose the entire season to a leg injury. Their replacement in the starting lineup, 6’7″ senior Joe Burton, routinely has issues dealing with the size and athleticism of opposing centers.
Since then things have only gotten worse. A loss to Kansas on the road wasn’t altogether shocking, much unlike a one-point home loss to Towson, a team that won a single game last year. They retaliated by wasting Texas-Pan American in the non-conference finale, but there were deep concerns about this once-promising squad heading into conference play. Those concerns were confirmed when the Beavers blew a six-point halftime lead to intrastate rival Oregon to lose by 13. Shortly before their next game, against Arizona State, the program announced that it had indefinitely suspended Eric Moreland and Victor Robbins for violations of team rules. Robbins shot less than 30 percent and had notched all of 10 points this season, but Moreland currently leads the team in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage.
Down four players, they lost by 10 to the Sun Devils on Thursday to move to 0-2 in conference. Then, things got worse when their next draw was Arizona, fresh off its first loss of the season and looking to squeeze a win out of its two-game road trip to the northwest. The Beavers obliged the Wildcats, dropping their fourth home game in the last five by a final score of 80-70. Oregon State kept it close throughout the first half, but the Wildcats flew out of the locker room to build a margin as high as 17 points before OSU could rein it in. Now the once-promising Beavers appear on the verge of another lost season. Moreland’s absence was obviously cited as a factor in the lost weekend, but the Beavers’ issues are much bigger than the suspensions.
“I was really pleased with our execution about 85 percent of the time, which is not good enough,” said head coach Craig Robinson. “We didn’t play that poorly.” Robinson brought up an old analogy from early in his tenure at OSU, saying, “This game was like kissing your sister, you had some good things but it doesn’t do it for you, and that’s what this game is like and we haven’t had any of those in a long time. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”
“It’s definitely, obviously a tough start,” Ahmad Starks said of his team’s 0-3 conference season thus far.” But the Pac-12 calendar is young, and there are still opportunities to turn it around. “We’ve just got to lock in, we can’t let teams come to our house and take advantage,” said Devon Collier. Collier highlighted turnovers, giving up offensive rebounds and the Beavers’ lack of length as big factors in the loss to the Wildcats. “We miss Eric, We miss Angus, Gomes, too,” he explained.
But when asked what the most important factor to turning the season around might be, Starks’ answer was simple and direct. “Focus, focus at all times on both ends of the floor,” he said. They’ll need all the focus they can muster, as they go on the road to red-hot UCLA next week, a game for which they will still be without Moreland, who may return Saturday at USC. While with Moreland back in the lineup, the match-up against the Trojans may well be winnable, taking a road win out of Pauley Pavilion is an onerous task, and as one reporter at the post-Arizona press conference said, the Beavers are “staring 0-4 in the face.” As a result, any potential resurgent season could be headed straight down one of the many storm drains that dot their home town.