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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Best YouTube Moments in Oregon State Basketball: The Nominees

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on February 10th, 2014

Last month we introduced our new project, which is centered around determining the top YouTube moment in Pac-12 basketball history. We continue the nomination portion with Oregon State.

[ed note: These are just the top moments we could find on YouTube, which has a vast number and array of videos, but we won’t be able to cover the entire 99 years of the conference.]

 

We open with perhaps the most explosive dunk in Beavers basketball history, courtesy of shooting guard Jared Cunningham. With three minutes left in the opening week of conference play, Oregon State was hanging onto a two-point lead against vaunted Arizona. Getting a running start from the three-point line, Cunningham read Joe Burton’s missed jumper perfectly, rising over a pair of Wildcats and one of his own teammates to slam the ball home one-handed. If you were watching the game live, you’ll remember how officials just stopped the game for a good 20 seconds because no one was quite sure what they just witnessed. There was no foul or timeout called, everyone just stopped playing. I thought that was pretty cool. If the Beavers wouldn’t have pulled the upset, then the play would have just been remembered as a nice moment in an otherwise tough loss. But the offense continued to thrive down the stretch, and by the end of the night the Beavers were tied atop the league standings and owned the #6 play of the day on SportsCenter.

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An Unexpected Detour For PJ Hairston on His Way to the NBA

Posted by Chris Kehoe on January 15th, 2014

Most every high school star and prominent AAU recruit dreams of the traditional ascent to the professional ranks. That typically includes playing for a shoe-sponsored AAU team, getting recruited at the highest level, and ending up at a powerhouse program before their name is called at the NBA Draft. However, as history shows us, only a small fraction of these players make the big time, and often it can be some of those who were least expected to do so. For some prominent collegiate stars, there might be a number of road bumps and bouts with adversity standing in the way of their ultimate dreams.

PJ Hairston is missed dearly in Chapel Hill (Getty)

PJ Hairston is missed dearly in Chapel Hill. (Getty)

Anyone familiar with ACC basketball this season has heard ad nauseam about the P.J. Hairston scandal and the hits that UNC’s basketball program has taken as a result. Regardless of what occurred and how it was handled, it is clear that his collegiate playing days prematurely came to an end. As a result, Hairston and his team of advisors and family recently made it known that he plans to spend the rest of the season in the NBA’s Developmental League (D-League). Hairston is not eligible to be called up to the NBA (if a team was so inclined) in the 2013-14 season, but he will be allowed to put his name among the entrants for the 2014 NBA Draft.

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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: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 15th, 2012

  1. With the departure of Tony Wroten, Jr., Washington is currently without a defined leader on the team. When asked who might be the face of the team after the second day of practice, senior guard Abdul Gaddy replied “The team is the face of the team.” That’s a stark change from last season, when Wroten was the go-to guy whenever the Dawgs needed a late bucket or to break out of a dry spell on offense. There’s certainly no problem with having no set leader going into the season; after all, it’s one of the bigger clichés in college sports that every team needs one of them. As long as someone, whether C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs or whoever, is willing to have the ball in their hands in the waning minutes and has the ability to make a play, there’s no problem. However, there is such a thing as being too unselfish, and close wins will soon become losses if that happens in Seattle this winter. The Huskies will play their one and only exhibition game on October 24 against Western Washington.
  2. Oregon State finished the month of March last season with a record of 6-2, an eight-game stretch in which leading scorer Jared Cunningham didn’t play very well. With Cunningham now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, that stretch gives Beaver fans the hope that players like Ahmad Starks, Devon Collier, and Angus Brandt can keep up the same offensive output without their star guard. Even more important than the trio above, however, will be the play of junior shooting guard Roberto Nelson. Nelson will be the Beavers’ only non-starter-turned-starter from a year ago, but he did play in all 36 games. According to head coach Craig Robinson, Nelson has matured and built on the experience gained from playing in each and every contest as a sophomore, and is ready to take the next step needed in 2012-13.
  3. Just one year removed from a cancer scare before the start of practice, California head coach Mike Montgomery is healthy and ready for the 2012-13 season to tip off. The tone was much different last year at this time, as Montgomery underwent surgery October 19 for bladder cancer, and subsequently he was declared cancer free and able to work the entirety of his 31st season as a head coach. The Golden Bears were the only Pac-12 team to gain an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament last season, and if they are to return it will be behind the play of sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow and junior guard Allen Crabbe. Both are strong shooters but need to show the ability to get to the free throw line more if the Bears are to compete for a Pac-12 championship.
  4. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and practices across the nation are beginning. That means it’s time for some preseason predictions. Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, like everyone else around the country, said that he’s been wrestling on whether to put Arizona or UCLA at the top of the Pac this year. He eventually went with Ben Howland’s Bruins, with Arizona and the two Bay Area schools rounding out the upper third of the league race.
  5. We close with some recruiting news, and some big news at that. Class of 2013 small forward Jabari Parker, largely considered to be the top recruit in the nation, named Stanford as one of his final five schools on Friday. Parker’s ability to score from anywhere on the offensive end of the floor makes him this year’s can’t-miss prospect. The Simeon Career Academy (IL) product is also considering BYU, Duke, Florida, and Michigan State. Noticeably missing is Kentucky, who just got verbals from the second and fourth best players in the country on October 4 in the Harrison twins.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Oregon State Beavers

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 10th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release are the Oregon State Beavers.

Strengths: Oregon State returns four starters from last year’s squad, all of whom had terrific finishes to the 2011-12 season. Ahmad Starks, a shoot-first, pass-later point guard, will be the key to making the Beaver offense run in the post Jared Cunningham era. As Cunningham’s offensive control began to wear down in postseason play last March, Starks stepped up and averaged 11.3 PPG in his final seven outings. If he is able to show that lights-out ability once again, defenses will have to give Angus Brandt and Devon Collier some space in the post. Both can go to work on either side of the hoop, and Brandt also has the luxury of a soft jumper to extend defenses even more. The Beavers should once again shine in the stealing and shot-blocking facets of the game, even if they do lose arguably the top defender in the conference. Starks will take Cunningham’s role of the feisty, energetic man up top, while Collier and Eric Moreland’s long wingspans make it virtually impossible for anyone to float up a shot in the lane.

Weaknesses: After Starks, the guard position gets downright scary for Oregon State. Junior Roberto Nelson will join Starks as the other starter in the backcourt, and while Nelson can certainly shoot the ball, doing it with consistency and becoming a triple threat are completely separate issues. Freshman guard/forward Victor Robbins will be next in line for backcourt minutes, and he is the player most like Cunningham on the current roster. Robbins’ athleticism and ball-handling ability made him a great late get in the 2012 recruiting class, but it’s never good when you might have to count on a true freshman at significant times throughout a game.

Roberto Nelson’s (right) Ball Handling Left Something To Be Desired Throughout The 2011-12 Season (Jae C. Hong)

Non-conference Tests: The Beavers loaded up their slate with five challenging non-conference opponents in 2012-13, four of which will be played away from home. Starting off the list is a visit from New Mexico State on November 11, followed just four days later by a matchup with Alabama in New York City. They’ll face either Villanova or Purdue the next day at the same site, then get a small break before playing a top five Kansas squad in Kansas City on November 30. The final “test” will be the easiest of the five; a 90-minute road trip up to Portland to face Portland State on December 12.

Toughest Conference Stretch: The Beavers will play arguably five of the toughest six teams throughout a 19-day stretch in January. The stretch starts off with a visit from Arizona on January 12, and continues five nights later with a trip to Pauley Pavilion to face vaunted UCLA. A tricky USC team is next, followed by a pair of home games against the Washington schools. Finally, they’ll face California in Berkeley on the last day of January. If Oregon State can come out of these six with a 3-3 split, the schedule lightens up enough for the Beavers to make a run at a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Anything less and coach Craig Robinson proves once again his team isn’t ready to hang around with the conference’s elite.

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.14.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 14th, 2012

  1. Class of 2013 power forward Aaron Gordon has narrowed his list of schools down to five, with Washington, Arizona and Oregon making the cut. Gordon had a home visit with the Wildcat coaching staff on Monday and Washington will take a home visit this coming Tuesday. Gordon will also take official visits to the schools, with Oregon’s on September 21, Washington on September 28, and Arizona on October 19. His tremendous athleticism and force inside makes him a player that will be ready to produce results immediately at whatever school he chooses. The Archbishop Mitty prospect is also considering Kansas and Kentucky.
  2. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson received a one-year contract extension Thursday, meaning Robinson will be in Corvallis through at least the 2016-17 season. While the decision may seem a little odd (Robinson has led the Beavers to no other postseason tournament than the CBI in his first four years), it is obvious athletic director Bob De Carolis wants to Robinson to have a public show of confidence and knows that the road back to national prominence is indeed a long and winding one. “Coach Robinson has done a remarkable job in building our men’s basketball program into something all of Beaver Nation can be proud of,” De Carolis said. “I’m thrilled to have him on our sidelines for many seasons to come, and to help him achieve the goals he has set for the program.” The key for Robinson to stay through that 2015-16 campaign will be developing the good recruits that he has produced year after year. He did that with guard Jared Cunningham, now playing with the Dallas Mavericks, but two huge prospects in forward/center Joe Burton and guard Roberto Nelson have unimpressed in their Oregon State careers. This is coach’s second extension in his tenure with Oregon State.
  3. Sean Miller continued his blistering recruiting pace on Thursday, landing five-star small forward Rondae Jefferson, the second piece in Arizona’s 2013 class. Jefferson is regarded as the #14 player in the class, according to ESPNU, and the third-best small forward in the class. The lefty is a lights-out athlete who excels on the break, hits the glass, handles well for his position and has a monster first step. His perimeter jumper remains lacking, but if he can dial that in, he’s a star in the making, capable of potentially stepping into that point forward role that Solomon Hill has manned in recent years. After landing three big men in the 2012 class, the Wildcats’ 2013 class looks to be adding pieces on the perimeter, as Jefferson joins Elliott Pitts – a 6’5” shooting guard out of De La Salle High School in northern California – in Miller’s third full recruiting class.
  4. The future of USC’s roster underwent a bit of a shakeup this week as, on the same day that news broke that Maurice Jones intends to transfer out of the program, Kevin O’Neill received a commitment from 7’2” Rice transfer Omar Oraby. Jones, last year’s leading scorer, was ruled academically ineligible back at the start of the month, but had initially been expected to return to the program in 2013-14. However, O’Neill confirmed to ESPN that Jones intends to transfer, although he is leaving the door open for a change of heart. As for the newcomer, Oraby, a junior from Egypt, was a solid, if under-utilized player for the Owls in 2011-12. In just over 10 minutes a game, he averaged six points and almost four rebounds, grabbing a quarter of his defensive rebound opportunities and nearly one in 10 offensive rebound opportunities, all while shooting better than 62% from the field and 71% from the charity stripe. USC will petition for immediate eligibility for the transfer, and if granted, Oraby could have a major impact right away for the Trojans.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week I took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Utah State over Utah and UCLA over Nebraska) to extend my lead. Neither of us correctly picked Oregon State to beat Wisconsin, however. So, as it is I’ve got as four-game lead heading into week three. Drew hopes to ride the Sun Devils, Cardinal, and Utes to get right back in the thick of things, while I played the more conservative approach. It’s another typical September week in the Pac-12, as we have a few games of intrigue (WSU-UNLV, Cal-tOSU, USC-Stan) and more than enough snoozers to cancel them out. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (18-5) Drew’s Pick (14-9)
Washington State at UNLV Washington State Washington State
California at Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
Tennessee Tech at Oregon Oregon Oregon
Portland State at Washington Washington Washington
Arizona State at Missouri Missouri Arizona State
USC at Stanford USC 35-24 Stanford 23-21
Colorado at Fresno State Fresno State Fresno State
BYU at Utah BYU Utah
South Carolina State at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Houston at UCLA UCLA UCLA
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Wrapping Up The Pac-12’s Summer Exhibition Tours

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 13th, 2012

Seven Pac-12 schools took a foreign exhibition trip this summer. We recap them below with Drew taking UCLA, Utah, and Colorado, and Connor taking the rest.

Not Every Team Went Tropical, But All of Them Learned Something

Arizona

  • Where: The Bahamas
  • When: August 11-13
  • What: The Wildcats swept their two games against Bahamian competition.
  • Why: As Arizona transitions from an NIT one-and-done to having at least NCAA Third Round expectations, this trip was all about integrating instant-impact newcomers Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, and Mark Lyons into the rotation. Setting lineups and seeing what groups of players meshed well together was much more important than the actual play against less than stellar competition.
  • Who: Lyons and fellow senior Kevin Parrom were the stars of the trip, each averaging 18.5 PPG. The most anticipated freshman to don the cardinal red and navy blue in a while, Tarczewski, scored eight points in each game on the trip. Arizona absolutely destroyed their lowly competition, winning both games by a combined 112 points.

Colorado

  • Where: France, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • When: August 11-22
  • What: The Buffaloes went 2-3 in five games against European professional teams.
  • Why: With CU breaking in six scholarship freshmen, the trip gave head coach Tad Boyle a chance to build camaraderie between the talented new guys and their six returnees from last year’s Pac-12 championship team. The trip also gave the freshmen a chance to build an identity of their own, evidenced by the fact that Boyle sat out the core returnees from last year’s squad – Andre Roberson, Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen – in one of the games, allowing five of the freshmen to start the game together.
  • Who: While Roberson was his usual magnificent self – he averaged 14.4 points and 13.8 rebounds – freshman Josh Scott eliminated any doubt that he could be an immediate impact player. Scott led the Buffs in scoring in four of the five games, coming up a point short of the leaders in the opening game; he averaged 17.4 point per game for the trip. His classmate Xavier Johnson also made a statement, averaging more than ten points to go with seven rebounds for the game.

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Oregon State Week: Q&A With Building The Dam

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 27th, 2012

As part of our Oregon State week, we wanted to reach out to the guys at Building The Dam for their takes on the upcoming Beaver basketball season. Andy Wooldridge was kind enough to spend some time with us and give us his thoughts.

Rush The Court: Let’s get the most important topic out-of-the-way first. Jared Cunningham was the team’s top defender and threat on offense. How do you replace him, and is there any chance at improvement with him gone?

Building The Dam: There’s no one player who can replace Cunningham on this team. He was a rare player, the type who only comes along once every decade or so at programs like Oregon State. That doesn’t mean that the Beavers can’t collectively step up to the challenge, though. Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson must both find better consistency, and more consistent offense from the frontcourt wouldn’t hurt either. Defensively, Cunningham wasn’t a lockdown defender, and it wasn’t that unusual for some of the better guards in the conference to break him down with the dribble. Cunningham wasn’t that great at denying the perimeter shot either. These are two things Oregon State needs to improve on this season as a team, and that would have been the case even if Jared had returned for his senior season. But what he did have was both the anticipation and the acceleration to make opponents pay for a mistake, often explosively. It wouldn’t just be a four- to five-point swing, it would be a momentum changer. That’s going to be the toughest thing to replace. Challe Barton has a huge opportunity to step up and fill the void Cunningham left; we should know by Christmas whether he’s up to it.

Barton Will Have A Huge Opportunity To Step Up in 2012-13 (credit: Amanda Cowan)

RTC: Considering he’s churned out good recruiting class after good recruiting class and is already four years into his tenure, is there any pressure on Craig Robinson to make at least an NIT appearance in 2012-13?

BTD: Pressure? No. Expectations, yes. By that I mean there isn’t immediate pressure from the Athletic Director or the University President, who are the ones who matter. Remember, Robinson just delivered the best season in 22 years, and only the second winning record in that time frame. And they played an entertaining, high scoring style of ball in doing so. Both Bob De Carolis and President Ray remember the Jay John days very clearly. But fans are having expectations of even better things to come, at least the newer generation of them. Continued growth in attendance, which translates to continued growth of income, will only come with wins, and actual quality non-conference opponents, which only wins and fuller houses can deliver. If Robinson suffers another fallback as happened in the 2010-11 season, then the pressure will start to mount in the 2013-14 campaign in direct inverse to ticket sales and donations. Oregon State does not have a “quick hook” management style, so Robinson, like most coaches on campus, has more time to work with than would be the case at several other schools in the conference in any number of sports.

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Oregon State Week: Five Newcomers Arrive In Corvallis

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 25th, 2012

Oregon State loses its top scorer and defender from 2011-12’s team, but the Beavers welcome in three incoming freshman and a transfer to try to fill the big hole left by Jared Cunningham. Along with those four small forwards/combo guards is a 6’10” forward who redshirted his freshman season due to a broken leg. Below, we’ll take a look at the five newcomers to Robinson’s program, in roughly the order in which they’ll impact the team next season.

Robbins’ Long Arms And Quickness Make Him The Top Newcomer To Replace Cunningham’s Defensive Prowess (credit: Cali High Sports)

Victor Robbins, Freshman, Small Forward, 6’6” 195 lbs, Compton High School, Compton, CA – While junior shooting guard Roberto Nelson will certainly get the first opportunity to replace Cunningham’s minutes, Robbins looks to be the newcomer most fit to acquire a backup role behind Nelson. We’ll start on the offensive side of the floor. His speed and natural athleticism will remind fans of Cunningham, especially when he’s running the lanes in transition. Robbins can go to either side and knock down a pull-up jumper, although he’s much more comfortable going to the right. On defense, his lateral quickness and length will deny opponents entry into the lane, not to mention passes and shots will be difficult to get off. With all of that said, the biggest thing Robbins will need to work on throughout the summer is being more engaged without the ball. Once the rock is in his hands, his speed and athleticism opens up many doors for him. But as he makes the jump from high school to Pac-12 ball, getting open and creating opportunities for himself will become much more difficult. If he improves on that, and also adds a three-point shot to his game, Robbins will undoubtedly be the Beavers top newcomer in 2012-13. Almost to demonstrate that, Robbins led all newcomers with five points in limited playing time against St. Charles Basketball Club in Oregon State’s first European Tour competition.

Daniel Gomis, Redshirt Freshman, Forward, 6’10” 225 lbs, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA – Gomis was set to earn solid minutes as a freshman before a broken leg while overseas ended any of those aspirations. While Gomis’ offensive skill set is limited to dunking and just about nothing else, he makes up for it on the defensive end of the floor. He has a lean frame with broad shoulders, making him athletic and a monster on the glass. He is also quick enough to guard multiple positions on the floor. While his limited offensive game will likely keep him off the floor in conference play, it will be interesting to see what he can do earlier in the season when the Beavers aren’t going to have to put up 80 points night in and night out to win ball games. Craig Robinson can certainly use all the help he can get on the defensive glass, and a few cheap buckets here and there via offensive rebounds picked up by Gomis would help as well. We haven’t even talked about his shot-blocking ability, which combined with Eric Moreland and Devon Collier down low could be absolutely lethal. Gomis is one of the rare cases where his playing time could rest on the shoulders of his teammates. With the departure of Cunningham, Oregon State will need all the help they can get from the newcomers and players that came off the bench last season. So if Nelson finds his jump shot and Moreland builds off a strong finish to last season, there could be times in big moments when the Beavers need to go big on defense and sacrifice some points for a big block or rebound. Gomis scored one point on a free throw in the Europe opener as he continues to play tentatively after the broken leg.

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Oregon State Week: Running Down The Returnees

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 23rd, 2012

Six significant Beavers return for Craig Robinson this season, a group that will be called upon to quickly meld with four freshmen and a newly eligible transfer. Below we’ll break down those returnees in order of their per-game scoring averages last season.

Devon Collier, Junior, Forward (13.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG) – Collier graduated from starting all but seven games as a freshman to all but just three as a sophomore. His scoring totals nearly doubled in 2011-12, going from 7.0 PPG to 13.1 PPG. He was by far the team’s best scoring option in the post, and at times when Jared Cunningham couldn’t find his jumper, the best option, period. The next step on the road to becoming an all-conference performer is to finish more of his opportunities off the glass. That should come as he makes the transition to an upperclassman, and he already showed some improvement in the Beavers first European Tour game, going six-for-six from the field against Saint Charles Basketball Club. If he can continue anywhere near that kind of production, he has a solid passer in Ahmad Starks to get him the ball on the block. Collier can also run the court and is a great dump-off option in transition. On the other end of the court, Collier’s defense will be just as important to Oregon State’s success this season. The combination of Eric Moreland and Collier’s long wingspans made it nearly impossible for opponents to have any success in the lane, with Devon himself having one four-block game and three three-block outings.

Once Starks Begins To Get Going, There Isn’t A Better Shooter In The League (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

Ahmad Starks, Junior, Point Guard (12.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG) – Along with Collier, Starks is the only other player from Robinson’s 2010 freshman class still with the team. Starks is a shoot-first point guard, the best of his kind in the Pac-12. Despite only standing a generous 5’9″, he is able to get up and make shots consistently with his unique fadeaway jumper. Starks was the main reason for Oregon State’s late success in 2011-12, as the Beavers went 6-2 in their final eight games. With Cunningham struggling to put down his three-point shot, Starks averaged 11.3 PPG in the seven games he played during that stretch. Not surprisingly, Oregon State’s two losses came in games where Starks scored only four points or sat out. The guard is at his best when he catches the ball on a wing or is able to create separation by stopping on a dime, pulling up, fading away, and shooting. More of this, and less of the jacking up random shots outside of the offensive flow, will result for more offensive production for both Starks and the Beavers.

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Oregon State Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 22nd, 2012

Last year the Beavers only had one senior on the roster, seemingly ensuring that the 2012-13 roster would be made up of the same guys. But one early entry to the NBA and two transfers later, Craig Robinson is indeed losing four players from last year’s squad. Below we’ll break down those four players in roughly the order of the degree to which they’ll be missed.

Jared Cunningham – Despite earning offers from basketball powerhouses San Diego State and California (among others), Cunningham decided to leave his home state and go north to Corvallis. Three years later, he leaves as arguably the most talented player to don a Beaver uniform since Corey Benjamin’s single season in 1997-98. Cunningham instantly played major minutes as a freshman, and by the end of the season was starting regularly and scoring in double figures. As a sophomore, with Seth Tarver graduating, his role and production increased. He started 29 of the 30 games he played in, missing only the third-to-last game of the year for reportedly blowing curfew. That year was when people nationally began to take notice of the athletic shooting guard at OSU. Cunningham averaged 14.2 PPG and 2.8 SPG as a sophomore, and had the top dunk of the year in a game against Arizona. Last season, he led the Beavers to 21 wins with 17.9 PPG and 2.5 SPG. At the end of the year, Cunningham announced he was leaving early for the NBA, a decision that raised some eyebrows around town. Sure enough, however, he was drafted in the 1st Round by the Dallas Mavericks last June.

Cunningham’s Athletic Ability Led To Many Spectacular Dunks, Including This One Over Oregon’s Garrett Sim (credit: AP)

Kevin McShane – After grey-shirting the 2007-08 season at Clackamas Community College, McShane had a rough start to his Oregon State career. The walk-on forward overslept for the first two 5:00 AM practices of the 2008-09 season, which left new head coach Craig Robinson wondering if he even deserved a walk-on spot with the team. But McShane impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and hustle, making him a fan favorite whenever he entered the game. The years rolled by with McShane only playing garbage minutes or the not-so-rare instance when Gill Coliseum was so sleepy, Robinson decided to throw him into the mix just to liven things up. With an open scholarship available, McShane was the first in line to get one during his senior season. He responded by averaging 1.6 PPG, the highest total of his Oregon State career.

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