Oregon State: 2011-12 Post-MortemPosted by Connor Pelton on April 24th, 2012
Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Oregon State.
What Went Wrong
The calendar turned to February. In a month that can make or break seasons, the Beavers went 1-6. And it wasn’t as if they were playing bad basketball; they did compete and make games close. But when you are on a multiple-game skid it’s tough to finally break through, and the Beavers could just never do that. Of course, there were some key reasons as to why it all went south so quickly, mainly youth, inconsistency, and inexperience. Junior forward/point center Joe Burton lost all sense of touch in his usual silky, smooth offensive game, leading to what appeared to be a rift between he and coach Craig Robinson. Sophomore shooting guard Roberto Nelson had a few good games throughout conference play, but you can’t have your purest shooter on the roster only scoring one and four points against teams like Washington and Oregon. It was that type of inconsistent offensive production that made the Beavers a tough to figure out team throughout Pac-12 play.
What Went Right
The calendar turned to March, and the Beavers turned into a basketball team. Oregon State began the month with a pair of dominant wins over the Rocky Mountain schools before traveling to Los Angeles for the Pac-12 Tournament. While there, the Beavers played their best basketball since November as they began the tournament with wins over both Washington schools. That set up a semifinal game with fourth-seeded Arizona, and while the Beavers played well (leading by as many as eight points), fatigue caught up with them midway through the second half. Despite the setback against the Wildcats, Oregon State bounced back with a pair of huge wins against solid competition in the first two rounds of the CBI. The season would eventually end with a loss to Washington State in the CBI semifinals, but a 6-2 month of March was nothing to be ashamed about for Robinson’s Beavers.
No doubt about it, this award goes to the Pac-12’s second leading scorer in Jared Cunningham. Cunningham was the only player on the Oregon State roster that could consistently drive and get to the bucket, and while his outside shot abandoned him at times throughout the year, he made up for it by leading the league in steals.
Cunningham decided earlier this month to forgo his senior season in Corvallis and enter his name into the NBA Draft pool. The only other departure will be that of senior Kevin McShane, which isn’t a huge loss for Robinson and staff. Look for Challe Barton and Rhys Murphy to garner the minutes left behind by Cunningham and McShane.
Players Coming In
Guard Michael Moyer and forward Daniel Gomis sat out the 2011-12 season, and while Moyer will most likely never see meaningful minutes for the Beavers, Gomis will be put to use immediately. OSU has three signees for this year’s recruiting class and are looking to add one more. The signees consist of small forwards Langston Morris-Walker and Jarmal Reid to go with center Maika Ostling. They are also going after three-star small forward Jordan Tebbutt, whose interest in the Beavers may have piqued after Cunningham left school. Tebbutt is also interested in Boston College and Washington State.
Reason For Hope
Although the Beavers lose the top defender in the conference, they should still be near the top of the league in each defensive category. Ahmad Starks will take over Cunningham’s role of sneaking around the perimeter and picking the ball out of the opponent’s hands from behind, while the mix of Eric Moreland, Daniel Gomis, and Devon Collier’s long wingspans will prevent most shots in the paint from ever reaching the hoop.
Reason For Concern
Oregon State has had a history of struggling to find a leader, and now that Cunningham is gone that job will get even tougher. They will also be without a combo-guard that has enough size to get to the rack consistently, which will leave the already stagnant offense even more one-dimensional.
C+. The goal was the NCAA Tournament, and less than three weeks into Pac-12 play it was clear that a spot in the Big Dance was virtually unobtainable. Still, the Beavers played good ball down the stretch and had a shot at making the NIT, which would have made for a solid season.