Each week this summer, we’re trying to ask the single biggest question about the program we’re profiling. And, as has become routine, we’ve got Adam Butler of Pachoops.com along to help us answer those questions. Without further ado, here’s the burning question facing the Oregon State program this summer.
Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson appears to be one of those coaches that brings in a highly touted recruit every once in a while, pulls a few big upsets every year, has an up-tempo offense, and will take his team to the NCAA Tournament once every six seasons or so. The question is, should this be good enough for Oregon State? Once a program that went dancing eight times from 1980 to 1990, the Beavers haven’t made it back to the NCAA Tournament since that 1989-90 campaign. What are reasonable expectations throughout this decade for Robinson, the man charged with bringing the program as close as possible to the heights reached during the 80s?
Adam Butler: Sounds about like you’re describing a mid-major and that’s about the peak of expectations in Corvallis. The problem is: They don’t play other mids night-in and night-out. They play Washington and UCLA and Arizona and while that hasn’t been the most frightening lineup (along with anyone else in the conference) for the past few years, it sure isn’t Pepperdine and San Diego. This is ultimately a blessing in disguise. Robinson doesn’t need to set lofty expectations. The general resume for a major conference team to make the Tournament is pretty straight forward: 18-23 wins, RPI in the 50s or better, a couple of quality Ws, and no glaringly awful losses. That’s realistic every few seasons. But one hurdle of late has been this down conference in which there are no save-all resume games, that immediate RPI booster that drops you onto the committee’s radar. A nothing to lose victory over a Top 10 squad can go a long way in helping a team and a program, and helps to set the barometer for the conference’s lesser teams like OSU. But when there are no Top 10, let alone Top 25, programs going, it’s tough to make the Dance when the cards are already stacked against you. Ultimately, I think the overall conference up-tick will help Robinson build what can be a solid, something-to-be-proud-of program.