Tonight Cal faces the most hard-luck team in the nation, and I’m pretty sure I’m not really exaggerating all that much. After all, the incredibly destructive and abusive reign of former coach LaVonda Wagner resulted in the departure of every single player on the roster except for El Sara Greer and Angela Misa. Greer and JC transfer Earlysia Marchbanks constitute the only two upper classmen on the roster. 64% of the players on the team are freshmen.
But beyond the incredible hardships facing the players and coaches to overcome such an extreme rebuilding process, the Beavers have been just plain unlucky. Considering the situation, the Beavers have played shockingly well. The team went 7-4 in the non-conference and didn’t lose a single game by double digits. Then Pac-10 play started, and Oregon St. hasn’t gotten any good fortune. Seven times the undermanned Beavers have competed against more experienced, more talented conference foes. Seven times the game ended with a margin of defeat of 12 points or less. The average margin of defeat is just 6 points. Oregon St. has to be the most competitive 0-7 team in conference history. And I’ll be cruelly rooting for defeat number 8 tonight.
Oregon St.’s offense is an interesting combination of one efficient low post scorer in El Sara Greer and a bunch of three point bombers. Greer, a 6’2’’ forward, leads the team in rebounding by a large margin and is shooting nearly 60% from the field. Meanwhile, Alyssa Martin, Sage Indendi, Earlysia Marchbanks, and Alexis Bostick are all willing to launch three pointers at any time. Fully 40% of OSU’s shots are threes, so perimeter defense will be the order of the day. Martin and Indendi in particular shoot often and shoot well.
Because of OSU’s extreme roster turnover they typically use a 6 or 7 woman rotation. The Bears should have no problem rebounding and getting open looks. The key will be defense. It was poor defense that allowed Washington St. to shoot 50% from the field and sink 12 threes in Pullman. A repeat of that kind of defensive effort would play right in to Oregon St.’s strengths and likely result in another shocking loss. But if the Bears contest every three pointer and do a good job on Greer the Bears should be able to pull out a win.