Assessing an Awkward Coaching Situation in Corvallis

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on April 2nd, 2014

Craig Robinson said these words following Oregon State‘s season ending loss against Radford, a game played in front of fewer than 1,500 fans in Corvallis.

That game ended his sixth season in Corvallis, with no single campaign resulting in a postseason finish higher than the CBI, and comprising the lowest attendance totals in Gill Coliseum history. Needless to say, Beaver fans aren’t happy and would like to see a change. Still, with that all laid out on the table, I thought Robinson’s joke was hilarious. Timely, self-deprecating, and unexpected — a perfect combination for a laugh in my book. Unfortunately, his boss, athletic director Bob DeCarolis, did not find it as humorous, which is understandable since he has been in Robinson’s corner since day one. “A bad joke at a bad time,” he said the next day. A little over a week later, DeCarolis penned a letter to his biggest boosters, telling them that he had chosen to retain Robinson as head coach for another season.

The relationship between Robinson, the athletic department and Oregon State fans has grown incredibly awkward. The coach needs fans to buy tickets in order to attract recruits. The fans have stopped coming until they start to see a winning product. And there won’t be a winning product until the recruits head to Corvallis. It’s a vicious cycle, one that Robinson has been tasked with breaking. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that his mouth is getting him in trouble. And I’m not talking about his joke to reporters last month. It’s the other quotes like, “Next year’s team could be ranked in the Top 25.” Not likely when he loses Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, and Angus Brandt. Or, “If Eric Moreland returns, we will be one of the top teams in the conference.” He’s already building in excuses for next season six months before practice even starts. No one wants to hear that. And then there is his agent, Rick Giles, saying that the 2013-14 Beavers were “two wins away from the NCAA Tournament.” Um, try two wins away from the NIT — maybe. The empty promises, excuses, and over-inflated expectations aren’t cute anymore. It’s annoying and a waste of time.

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Pac-12 M5: Valentine’s Day Edition

Posted by Drew Murawa on February 14th, 2014

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  1. We’ve got a rare Friday night Pac-12 game tonight and, first off, I’m not sure how to feel about this. After years of Thursday/Saturday games and maybe the occasional Sunday game, I’ve had a hard enough time getting used to Wednesday games and 6pm weekday tip-times. And the unbalanced conference schedule is a non-starter. But a Friday night game? And on Valentine’s Day of all days? Suffice it to say I’m not feeling the love. But, my opinion doesn’t matter and so Arizona and Arizona State will go at it tonight. Arizona keeps plugging along in the wake of the Brandon Ashley injury, but what we thought we be one of their biggest weaknesses coming into the season – perimeter shooting –  is now exacerbated. As Steve Rivera of Fox Sports Arizona points out, against Oregon last week, the Wildcats couldn’t hit anything outside of 12 feet or so. But against Oregon State, the perimeter shooting was strong. For the Wildcats to live up to their Final Four dreams, they’ll need to find a way to regularly knock down enough perimeter shots to keep opposing defenses honest.
  2. Meanwhile, for Arizona State, senior center Jordan Bachynski is not only the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week and newly crowned career blocked shots leader, but he’s arguably the hottest player in the conference. This kind of play bordered on unimaginable as he was struggling through his freshman season little more than a tall body getting pushed around and showing no offensive skill. His offensive rating (per KenPom) was 91.6 as a freshman, he was shooting below 50% from the field and right at 50% from the line. This year, that ORtg is over 116, he’s at about 60% from the field and pushing 70% from the free throw line. And, he’s become a better shotblocker and rebounder over the years too. His head coach Herb Sendek goes so far as to call him the most improved player in the nation over the last three and a half years and it is hard to argue with him.
  3. The other rivalry game this weekend is Oregon State at Oregon, a game that could feature some trash talking. And, for Beaver star Roberto Nelson, that talking is welcomed. Last week against Arizona State, after a lackluster first half, Nelson responded to Sun Devil Shaquielle McKissic’s trash talking with a 24-point outburst after halftime, an explosion that Nelson partially attributes to his response to the talk. However, if you’re looking for a similar situation to occur this weekend against the Ducks, don’t hold your breath, as Nelson says this Oregon team is largely free of trash talkers.
  4. Another big factor for the Beavers this weekend will be the play of senior big man Angus Brandt who has bounced back nicely from last year’s ACL injury. However, despite a strong start to the season, his three-point shooting, something he was well-known for prior to the injury, had not entirely returned. But, over the last three games, Brandt has hit four of five from deep. If he can continue to knock his shots in from deep, he’ll help Oregon State stretch out the defense for guys like Nelson to penetrate and for big men Devon Collier and Eric Moreland to work in the paint.
  5. Below is our panel’s selections for this weekend in Pac-12 basketball. We head to the desert for our game of the week, where both Drew and myself are taking upset-minded Arizona State in a rare Friday conference game. Adam is sticking with his Wildcats in the Territorial Cup.
    Game Connor (17-3) Drew (12-8) Adam (11-9)
    Arizona @ Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona
    Utah @ UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA
    Colorado @ USC Colorado Colorado Colorado
    Stanford @ Washington State Stanford Stanford Stanford
    California @ Washington Washington California California
    Oregon State @ Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
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Pac-12 Roundup: Week One

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on November 19th, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the first full week of Pac-12 basketball.

Roberto Nelson, Oregon State

Roberto Nelson Poured In 31 Points In Oregon State’s Upset Win At Maryland (credit: Andy Cripe)

Best Game – Oregon State @ Maryland: Arizona-San Diego State would be a fine pick here as well, but the Wildcats held a comfortable lead for nearly 35 minutes in that one. In College Park, things were exiting and intense from the outset. The whole atmosphere, bolstered by an appearance from the President of the United States, made this feel like something much more than a mid-November game. And on a day when Indiana State won at Notre Dame and Belmont upset North Carolina, it was the Beavers’ turn to pull the shocker. The knocks on Craig Robinson‘s team remain; it is largely a two-man offense without a great rebounder, but it has a solid distributor in Challe Barton and two capable three-point shooters in Angus Brandt and Olaf Schaftenaar. Who knows where the unpredictable Beavers go from here, but the Maryland win provides a boost of momentum that the program desperately needed.

Upsets – There were three upsets in the conference this week, starting late last Monday night when BYU walked into Maples Pavilion and hung 112 points on Stanford. Junior Chasson Randle scored 33 points for the Cardinal, but it was nowhere near enough after a horrific showing on the defensive end of the court. Three days later, UC Irvine destroyed Washington on its home court, taking a 38-36 halftime lead and turning it into a 14-point win. And of course, the Beavers topped Maryland to close out the week. Oregon State went on an 8-0 run to start the second half and never trailed in the final 20 minutes, winning by a final of 90-83.

Power Rankings (As voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa, and Adam Butler):

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Pac-12 M5: 11.06.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 6th, 2013

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  1. Arizona received a big boost Tuesday when sophomore stretch forward Zach Peters was cleared by medical personnel to begin practicing with the Wildcats. Peters transferred from Kansas last November before playing a game with the Jayhawks but was sill waiting on clearance after suffering multiple concussions while in Lawrence. The addition is an important one for head coach Sean Miller. Peters is a big body that has the ability to shoot the ball from the outside, and he’ll likely be called upon to fill the absence left by Grant Jerrett. Arizona is losing its top four three-point shooters from the 2012-13 campaign, so there is certainly more than enough room for another shooter on the roster. Peters will open the season behind Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Aaron Gordon on the depth chart, but expect him to play solid minutes once he gets a couple weeks of practice in with the Cats. They open the season Friday night at home against Cal Poly in a game to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
  2. The guys over at Building the Dam met in roundtable form last weekend to discuss what excites them, worries them, and their expectations heading into Craig Robinson‘s sixth season at Oregon State. The return of senior center Angus Brandt is definitely high on the list for excitement in Corvallis after the Aussie missed the majority of last season with a torn ACL suffered against Purdue. As RVM points out, however, there are plenty of question marks with this team, beginning with the fact that there is no proven point guard on the roster.
  3. Andy Enfield takes over at USC after the Trojans finished last year with a 14-18 record, its second straight losing season. Conquest Chronicles previews the 2013-14 team in this piece, focusing on the biggest offensive threats and the keys to getting back to relevance out west. All signs from preseason camp seem to point to the Trojans adjusting well to Enfield’s up tempo, high-flying system, but producing results early on against a challenging non-conference schedule will be difficult. They open the season Friday night at Utah State, and before the month ends they will face Villanova, and possibly, #5 Kansas, in the Bahamas. Keying the offense will be senior guard J.T. Terrell, whose ability to take, and make, tough shots will be of great value for Enfield and company. Expectations are small for this team, but I wouldn’t count a coach like Enfield out at any time.
  4. UCLA put a bow on its exhibition season Monday with a 109-79 win over Cal State San Marcos. Everything went through a slimmer and quicker forward/center Tony Parker as the sophomore finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Parker dropped about 20 pounds over the summer and is playing with more confidence, and if the early signs prove to hold true throughout the season, he is a legit post threat in the Pac-12. The Cougars held tough with UCLA for about 12 minutes, and actually only trailed by two just over halfway through the first half. A quick scoring burst later in the half put any thoughts of an upset to bed, and Steve Alford‘s team ended up cruising to the 30-point win. Next up for them is a visit from Drexel late Friday night to start the regular season.
  5. Sophomore Jahii Carson and Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall will be the leaders of Arizona State‘s deep backcourt unit this season. That much you probably know. But there are four other guards on the roster that will don the maroon and gold this season, and House of Sparky breaks down that depth in this preview. Redshirt freshman Calean Robinson will run the offense when Carson leaves the court, and he may be the most intriguing Sun Devil behind Carson. Arizona State meets Maryland Baltimore County to open the season Sunday evening at Wells Fargo Arena.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 30th, 2013

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  1. While the main focus right now for basketball fans around the country may be the return of the NBA regular season, we continue to check off the final days before college basketball returns for real. But, in the meantime, if you’re dying for any kind of action, we do have some exhibition games to pass the time. Tonight, for instance, the Steve Alford era at UCLA gets underway as the Bruins will host Cal State San Bernardino at Pauley Pavilion, giving fans a first glimpse at what the Alford offense is going to look like and whether Kyle Anderson can live up to his hype as the floor general for this squad. As for the new head coach, he’s most looking forward to that first trip down the tunnel from the locker room to the floor.
  2. Meanwhile, Alford has notched his first commitment for the class of 2014, a 6’9″ native of Hungary named Gyorgy Goloman. Given that the Bruins are expected to lose four of their five players who are taller than 6’7″ (those four would be the senior Wear twins, walk-on Sooren Derboghosian, and Anderson, who is expected to leave for the NBA Draft following his sophomore campaign), scoring a big man – even a three-star big man like Goloman – is a major priority. Still, Alford will need to up the talent level in order to get things rolling again in Westwood.
  3. Meanwhile, Oregon State’s first of two exhibition games came last night as the Beavers hosted Corban at Gill Coliseum. Playing without the suspended Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, Oregon State led by as many as 31 before Craig Robinson emptied the bench. Roberto Nelson led the Beavers in scoring (get used to that phrase), but the highlight may have been senior center Angus Brandt’s return from last year’s ACL injury. Brandt only played 13 minutes, but scored eight points and, most importantly, looked healthy. But really, just about the only thing these exhibition games are good for are to remind us that were getting real darn close to games that count.
  4. Stanford and head coach Johnny Dawkins face a daunting challenge this season. Unless the Cardinal make their first NCAA Tournament since 2008 (behind this improbable Brook Lopez last-second jump-hook), Dawkins will be looking for new employment and the Cardinal’s talented senior class will have gone oh-fer-their careers at Stanford. Dawkins points to Stanford’s close misses (six losses by five or fewer points) as reason for hope that a turnaround would not be that drastic. But Stanford will need to significantly improve its shooting (it was last in the conference in field goal percentage at just 41.6 percent last year) in order for that improvement to happen.
  5. Lastly, news came down earlier this week that former USC head coach Kevin O’Neill has landed a job as a college basketball analyst with Fox Sports 1 for the upcoming season. While O’Neill has a gruff persona and is not exactly a beloved former coach a la Seth Greenberg or Bruce Pearl, the guy has something of a dry sense of humor. And, of course, he knows the game. Unfortunately, with Fox Sports 1 only locked into broadcasting Big East games, Pac-12 fans won’t get to hear O’Neill’s opinions of the cast of characters he coached for and against in recent years. Still, we see a strong future for O’Neill as the next Billy Packer – you can decide for yourself whether or not that is a good thing.
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Pac-12 Team Preview: Oregon State Beavers

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 26th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Oregon State Beavers

Strengths. Oregon State boasts one of the finest frontcourts in the conference. Starting the group off is senior Devon Collier, a strong small forward who can score either driving to the hoop or with a nifty little jumper. Senior center Angus Brandt missed the majority of last season after tearing his ACL in the fourth game of the year, and his ability to score from both inside and behind the arc took away a big threat from that team. Finally, there’s Eric Moreland. Moreland’s career in Corvallis has been an up-and-down one, including two “violation of team rules” suspensions in the past 10 months and a declaration for the NBA Draft (which he later pulled out of and decided to return). Now he is serving that second suspension and will miss the first 14 games of the 2013-14 campaign, but will provide a monster boost on both the glass and the defensive end of the court when he returns.

Devon Collier Can Beat Defenders Playing Either As A Physical Small Forward Or Face-Up Four (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

Devon Collier Can Beat Defenders Playing Either As A Physical Small Forward Or Face-Up Four (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

Weaknesses. This team has very little experience on the bench. The backup point guard is Malcolm Duvivier, a true freshman who was originally in the Class of 2014 but reclassified to join the team immediately. Backing up Roberto Nelson at the two will be the newcomer that Beaver fans should be most excited about, Hallice Cooke out of St. Anthony High School (NY). And the best option to spell Brandt will be sophomore Olaf Schaftenaar, who shot a completely unnecessary amount of three-pointers his initial season in Corvallis, and at a 30.9% clip to boot.

Non-Conference Tests. A trip to College Park to face Maryland awaits Craig Robinson’s team just seven days after its season opener. DePaul isn’t exactly a “test,” but the Blue Demons present a challenge at home against the Beavers on December 1. The toughest stretch comes in the four games before Christmas break, beginning with a visit from Towson, a team that came from 19 down last year at Gill Coliseum to top the Beavers in overtime. After that they head to the Islands to face Akron in their Diamond Head Classic opener. Either Iowa State or George Mason will be on tap in the second game, and a solid group of choices, headlined by Saint Mary’s, are in play for the Christmas Day finale.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.15.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 15th, 2013

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  1. With Wednesday’s season-ending, 64-58 loss to Colorado, Oregon State dropped 15 of its final 19 games in the 2012-13 season. For a coach in his fifth season that hasn’t taken his team to a postseason tournament better than the CBI, that’s enough for some serious hot seat discussion. Grady Garrett hits it right on the head in this column, stating that while Craig Robinson may not deserve a sixth year, blowing up the team with so much potential is not worth it. So Robinson has one more chance. Roberto Nelson returns. So do Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, and Ahmad Starks. The pieces are there, and it’s up to Robinson to put them together.
  2. Ken Goe has an interesting piece up on the move from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament, and more specifically, the move to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. All 12 teams are staying at the MGM Grand, and with the hotel operating a sports book accepting bets on Pac-12 Tournament games, one wonders what kind of trouble a player could get into with a little downtime and close proximity to sports book, boosters, and gamblers. The league office said that it’s not something they have even talked about, especially in light that the players aren’t allowed in in the sports book. Still, an interesting situation that only the Pac-12 and WCC (playing at Orleans Arena) find themselves in.
  3. With California‘s overtime loss against Utah on Thursday night, it’s time to panic for Golden Bears fans. The general consensus is that the bad loss dropped Cal squarely back onto the bubble, and while that may be true, I still like their résumé over most of the other bubble teams. The only worrisome item at play is the loss of their final two games. Teams like Tennessee (winners of its last three) and Mississippi (won its last two) are hot and can make a reasonable case over Cal because of the way they completed the regular season.
  4. After one of his worst first halves of basketball ever, Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi wondered if he’d get a chance to redeem himself in the final 20 minutes against Washington on Thursday night. Kazemi only had one point at halftime, but once he got on the court again, the energy was at a level rarely seen. Feeding off fellow big man Tony Woods, the pair answered everything Washington threw at them and eventually pulled out a three-point win in overtime. Woods and Kazemi ended up combining for 17 rebounds and 33 points on the night.
  5. We close with an update from our Pac-12 Tournament Pick’Em, where our regular season champion is taking it to the rest of us again. Parker leads everyone with nine points, with the next closest competitors being Adam and I at seven. Drew is currently in last place, struggling to get past the five-point mark. The two projected champions by the four of us are still alive (UCLA and Arizona), but of course, one of those teams will be eliminated when they face off tonight.
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Celebrating Oregon State Senior Joe Burton

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 23rd, 2013

Remember just a couple of weeks ago, when basketball games scheduled to be played on aircraft carriers were getting condensationed out, Illinois magically stormed through the Maui Invitational bracket, and Arizona defeated Florida, Miami (FL), and San Diego State, all in the course of 10 days? Well, it may seem like just yesterday, but in reality another college hoops season has flown by. Today, two Pac-12 teams will honor their seniors in their final home games of the regular season. We’ll do the same, highlighting the guys that will be missed the most over the next few weeks.

Joe Burton's No-Look, Over The Shoulder Passes Have Become A Staple In Oregon State's Offense. (credit: Washington Post)

Joe Burton’s No-Look, Over The Shoulder Passes Have Become A Staple In Oregon State’s Offense. (credit: Washington Post)

We look today at Oregon State, as the Beavers’ Senior Day comes when they host white-hot California. Joe Burton will be the lone honoree, as the only other senior on the roster, Angus Brandt, sat out the majority of the season with a torn ACL and hopes to return in 2013-14. Burton was head coach Craig Robinson’s first commitment of his initial recruiting class, and ironically, he’s the only one playing his final game in Gill Coliseum tomorrow. Roberto Nelson had to sit out his first season in Corvallis due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue, Jared Cunningham left after his junior season for the NBA Draft, and Rhys Murphy transferred to Chaminade after the 2011-12 campaign. Burton made history when he signed with Oregon State, becoming the first Native American men’s basketball player to ever earn a scholarship at a Pac-10/Pac-12 school. After a quiet freshman season playing outside of Robinson’s seven-man rotation, Burton became a regular on the court from his second year forward. But without question, this final season with the Beavers has been Burton’s finest.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.12.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 12th, 2013

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  1. The rumors were out there. The transfer guard out of Wake Forest by way of community college had a nice stroke, and along with the return of Jio Fontan from injury, would be the spark to ignite the long-dormant USC offense. And for the first eight games of the 2012-13 season, J.T. Terrell was that guy. But when Terrell began to slump, head coach Kevin O’Neill finally had cause to bench the player who didn’t completely fit with his team-first mentality. Terrell averaged just 3.3 points over the next seven games, but found new life when O’Neill was relieved of his duties and Bob Cantu took the reins. Now, Terrell is again shining for the resurgent Trojans, who have played themselves into some postseason whispers over the past two weeks. Even more important than the recent three-game winning streak and Terrell’s increased scoring output is the fact that he’s earned the team’s respect and has become the go-to guy in late-game situations. That bodes well for the future, as the 2013-14 version of the Men of Troy will need a vocal and respected leader once Fontan graduates.
  2. Some other news out of Corvallis, as Oregon Live revealed that Oregon State forward Daniel Gomis has had everything cleaned from his left leg and is feeling the best he has felt in two years. Gomis won’t return this season as he still needs to return to full strength before participating in basketball activities, but barring any setbacks, he will play his first organized basketball for the Beavers next October. As John Hunt notes, the Beavers will have quite an imposing front line in 2013-14, consisting of freshman Cheikh N’Diaye, the sophomore Gomis, junior Eric Moreland, and senior Angus Brandt.
  3. The Monday news day of course means the release of the weekly rankings, and the Pac-12 was represented by Arizona and Oregon in the AP Top 25. UCLA was the only other team to receive votes, coming in at #38 overall. In the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll, Arizona fell to ninth, while Oregon dropped out completely to #27. And as we enter the part of the season where “good wins” are critical to a team’s NCAA Tournament chances, the Pac-12 has posted three victories against Top 25 teams — Arizona against Miami (FL) and Florida and Colorado against Colorado State.
  4. After dropping six of its last seven games, Washington has not only free fallen from the NCAA bubble, but is now on very thin ice for the NIT as well. Poor defense and the inability to get key players going at the same time has Husky players and coaches claiming that a sense of urgency is needed for the final month of the season. It wouldn’t be impossible for LoRo and company to make the NCAAs via the league’s automatic bid, but for that to happen they will need to cut back on turning the ball over and manufacture some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tourney. Also of help would be a top four finish in the regular season standings, giving the Huskies a first-round bye in Las Vegas. That looks unlikely at this point, but if the Dawgs win out at home and pull off a split in the desert, it’s a reasonable possibility.
  5. Teams that rebound well out of zones have given Arizona fits all season long, and the same proved true on Sunday night when California went into the McKale Center and upset the Wildcats. A big key for the Golden Bears was the off night of senior wing Kevin Parrom, who was turnover prone and cold from outside. The team’s self-proclaimed zone-buster only managed seven points despite numerous open looks in his 21 minutes of action. Colorado will look to copy the blueprint left by the likes of Oregon, UCLA, and California on Thursday when the Wildcats come calling in Boulder.
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Oregon State Facing Another Lost Season After Arizona Loss

Posted 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.

Solomon Hill sidesteps Roberto Nelson on his way to the basket.

Solomon Hill sidesteps Roberto Nelson on his way to the basket. (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

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.

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Pac-12 M5: 12.20.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 20th, 2012

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  1. Larry Drew II‘s collegiate career will come to a close this season, and UCLA head coach Ben Howland regrets not having Drew for a longer amount of time in Los Angeles. While in the middle of his senior season at Woodland Hills Taft High School, Howland offered Drew a scholarship but only kept it on the table for “roughly one week.” Wanting to keep his options open, the kid that grew up a Bruins fan decided to wait out the recruitment process. He eventually landed in Chapel Hill, a place Drew “never really liked.” Five years later the point guard is back in the City of Angels, and as I pointed out a few weeks ago, has been one of the few bright spots for the Bruins in 2012.
  2. If you felt like you were dreaming while watching Arizona knock off a top 10 Florida team last Saturday, it’s probably because of this statistic: The last time a Pac-12/10 team beat a top 10 non-conference opponent was back in 2009, when USC beat #9 Tennessee. A lot of things have happened in those three years, including the slow demise of our conference’s national reputation and RPI rankings. Perhaps that’s why coaches from all around the league were excited by the Wildcats’ triumph. It had already been a disappointing November and December with losses to the likes of Albany, Cal Poly, and Sacramento State dotted throughout the league, so hopefully the rest of the Pac-12 can follow Zona’s suit and keep the quality wins coming.
  3. With Ahmad Starks slumping and Angus Brandt out for the year with a torn ACL, Oregon State has desperately needed the energy provided by Devon Collier, both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Collier has been doing a terrific job coming off the bench so far this season, but he actually got the start last night against Howard as Craig Robinson was looking for more energy to begin the game. The plan worked, with the Beavers jumping out to a 14-2 lead, including six points from Collier. They still couldn’t escape their early lull, however, as the Bison jumped right back to pull within three at 20-17. It will be interesting to see how Robinson plays with the lineup in the future as Pac-12 play nears.
  4. Oregon State’s rival was also in action Wednesday night, but instead of playing 48 miles to the south, Oregon nearly went south of the border to face UTEP.  Remember when we were discussing how the conference was beginning to turn around? The Ducks set that back a bit, giving away opportunity after opportunity against the Miners before UTEP finally pulled out a triple-overtime victory. As David Piper mentions at the end, this is a bad loss. Sure, UTEP nearly beat UNLV on Monday, but that’s a Runnin’ Rebels team that Oregon had already posted a victory against. On the road. Also noted was UTEP’s 24-point loss to Vanderbilt, a team Oregon destroyed by 26. Bottom line, Oregon’s shooting woes were going to cost them eventually at some point, and that happened in El Paso last night. You hate to make assumptions bubble-wise this early in the season, but this makes the Ducks’ New Year’s Eve date with Nevada a near must-win to keep its at-large hopes alive.
  5. We close with our weekly Pac-12 Hoops Pick’em selections. Adam and Parker continued to cruise last week and now lead the competition with records of 31-6. I am currently a game behind, while Drew is stuck three games out. For our games of the week, we have chosen Stanford’s trip to Evanston on Friday night and the Kansas-Ohio State showdown on Saturday.
Game Connor (30-7) Drew (28-9) Parker (31-6) Adam (31-6)
Cal Poly at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
UC Irvine at USC USC USC USC USC
Northern Arizona at Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado
Stanford at Northwestern NW 71-69 Stan 77-59 Stan 65-58 Stan 74-61
Washington State vs Buffalo Washington State Washington State Washington State Washington State
Cal State Northridge at Utah Utah Utah Utah Utah
USC at Georgia Georgia USC Georgia USC
Arizona State at Texas Tech Texas Tech Arizona State Texas Tech Arizona State
Houston Baptist at Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
Kansas at Ohio State OSU 80-75 OSU 65-63 KU 78-73 OSU 80-77
Prairie View A&M at California California California California California
Northern Illinois at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
Oregon State vs San Diego Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State
Arizona vs East Tennessee State Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona
Fresno State at UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA

 

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Rushed Reactions: Oregon State 79, Portland State 74

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 13th, 2012

Connor Pelton is an RTC correspondent and Pac-12 microsite writer. He filed this report from tonight’s Oregon State-Portland State game in Portland.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. 100 Wins. Tonight’s win was Craig Robinson’s 100th victory in his career, just seven seasons in. While there have certainly been some struggles along the way (an 11-18 year at Brown and a 10-19 campaign with the Beavers in 2010-11), it is becoming more and more evident from the finish to last season and the start of this year that Robinson will be in Corvallis for a long time. And that’s a good thing for Beaver fans. What plagued him and Oregon State early on in his career were three things; halftime adjustments, correctly picking a defense to match up with the opponent’s strengths, and getting the team up for games against lesser opponents. It was fitting Robinson did all three of these things correctly in his milestone win. The Vikings quickly built up a 16-7 lead against the Beavers, and recognizing a need for energy and disruption, OSU went to its signature 1-3-1 trap. That forced three consecutive PSU turnovers, and in a matter of minutes the Beavers went on a 18-8 run to gain the lead for the first time.
  2. The Emergence of Joe Burton. As Joe Burton goes, so do the Beavers? That would have been a crazy statement to make at the beginning of the season, but ever since the season-ending injury to fellow center Angus Brandt, we’ve seen a new and more confident Burton. That was especially true tonight, as the big man led all starters with 20 points. Big Joe is now looking to shoot more instead of instantly going into pass-first mode, and tonight he rolled off four straight buckets after missing the first three he took. If Burton can continue this type of production, the sting of losing Brandt will be lessened significantly.
  3. Stopping Starks. Oregon State’s leading scorer only put up four shots from the field on Wednesday night, and missed every single one of them. Normally the junior point guard gets his pull-up threes off of screens on the perimeter, but instead of switching on those screens, the Vikings did a terrific job of fighting through them and doubling Starks before the screen even came. This worked for the first ten minutes, while the Beaver bigs couldn’t put anything away inside the paint, but eventually the shots would fall and Portland State was killed in the paint. Regardless, the strategy more or less worked. Anytime a team that hasn’t beaten a Division I opponent all season can hold one of the Pac-12’s top scorer to only four points, you’re doing something right.
Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (Photo by Connor Pelton)

Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (This photo, apparently found in the LOST hatch, is from  Connor Pelton)

Star of the Game. Devon Collier. We’ve already discussed Burton’s exploits, and he’d make a great pick as well, but Collier’s buckets came at the biggest times. The junior would go on mini-runs all by himself, salvaging the Beavers from offensive droughts and igniting not only the team, but large contingent of Beaver fans in attendance. His post moves were spectacular, consistently putting down shots and drawing contact in the process. The big man finished with a team-leading 23 points, and came up huge on the offensive glass as well.

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