Is Cal Men's Basketball Ready for the Beavers?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The ever-pesky Beavers are scurrying into town. Previously known for their infuriating 1-2-2 zone and glacial Princeton offense, they completely re-invented themselves last season into one of the league's most high-octane attacks. With eight returning veterans from their primary rotation, this year was supposed to be the breakout campaign. The 11-2 pre-conference record seemed impressive enough...if you like beating up on cupcakes with an average RPI of 200+. Once Pac-12 play began, those sharp, nasty Beaver teeth were relegated to bloodying ankles. It was an 0-5 start before getting an inexplicable split this last weekend by tripping up the Washington Huskies.

Oregon State likes to play uptempo and are one of the best teams in the conference at passing the ball. It's a balanced lineup with all five veteran starters averaging in double figures.

Although they're primarily a man team now instead of zone, they still like to gamble for steals and blocks. This aggressive stance is exciting, but also makes their overall defense rather sieve-like. So far, their offensive production hasn't been enough to offset their lack of defensive discipline. They're also not particularly good on the glass despite starting a trio of bigs.

In a contest between their inconsistent defense and our often anemic offense, something's got to give, right?

The difference in this one may very well come down to energy. The Huskies overlooked OSU, came out flat, and dug themselves too big a hole. Of course, this type of thing never happens to Cal. Let's hope the home crowd has a good showing to support our guys and keep them fired up.


Starters:

F Joe Burton(Sr), 6'7, 295 lbs, 10.8ppg, 6.0rpg
F Devon Collier(Jr), 6'8, 215 lbs, 14.4ppg, 6.6rpg
F Eric Moreland(So), 6'10, 215 lbs, 10.2ppg, 10.6rpg
G Roberto Nelson(Jr), 6'3, 195 lbs, 16ppg, 2.7apg
G Ahmad Starks(Jr), 5'9, 165 lbs, 12.1ppg, 2.3apg

Bench:
F Jarmal Reid(Fr), 6'7, 225 lbs
G Challe Barton(So), 6'3, 193 lbs


Burton and Collier are both highly capable interior scorers. Rumor has it that big men are allowed to convert more than 40% of shots around the basket. Collier has an array of polished moves while Burton knows how to use his assets effectively to carve out space. Eric Moreland is raw offensively, but is their high-motor rebounding specialist. He's also a dangerous shot-blocker particularly when he can float off his man as weak side help. Nelson steps into Cunningham's old role as their athletic all-around scorer. He is quite capable of putting it on the floor and attacking the basket, but has a reliable jumpshot if you play off of him. Starks is shifty and quick. He's not much of a threat to finish at the rim, but will kill you from deep if you lose track of him.

Keys to the Game:

1) Transition Defense.

The Beavers give up a lot of offensive boards. However, our backcourt has to be aware that OSU likes to get out and run. If our bigs are crashing, someone needs to rotate back defensively.

2) Active hands, smart feet.

Our activity on defense recently has picked up and has been producing steals. The Beavers are good at sharing the ball and will make you pay for jumping out of position. Because all of their starters are capable scorers, you need to do your work early in establishing good position and denying dribble penetration.

3) Play team basketball.

Be judicious with shot selection. OSU is a poor defensive team. You don't need to settle for contested three-pointers or off-balance pull-ups. Making a decent percentage of open looks would certainly help, too.


Go Bears!

Game Time: Thursday, January 31, 7:00(PST)
TV: ESPNU
Radio: 910AM

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