Cal Men's Basketball looks to avoid a Beaver trap

USA TODAY Sports

Glorious as it may be, our sturdy Golden Bears can't afford to spend time resting on their laurels. Up next are the always-dangerous Oregon State Beavers. (Big, nasty teeth. Etc.)

If the past few seasons have taught us anything, it's that you have to throw the records out the window whenever Cal travels to Corvallis. For some reason, the empty bleachers at Gill Coliseum must be lined with Monty's kryponite. Even if we win more often than not, it never seems to come easy and the basketball can be downright ugly.

Although Coach Robinson came into the league favoring deliberate half-court sets using the Princeton offense, he's largely re-invented himself the past few seasons. He still uses Princeton-based principles, but couples it was a more uptempo transition game. It may sound odd, but they've been one of the more potent offenses in the league when everything is clicking. On defense, they're best known for that pesky 1-3-1 zone. However, Robinson will switch to 2-3 or even man at times for variety.

Now that suspended power forward Eric Moreland has been conveniently re-instated just in time for conference play, the Beavers actually boast one of the more experienced front lines in the conference. But by and large, it's a one-two punch of Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier that lead the Beavers. Each of them has almost as many shot attempts as the rest of the team combined. And for a good reason; the two of them are playing some great ball.

But it's the loss of diminutive point guard Ahmad Starks (transfer to Illinois) which may stop this team from finally getting off the schneid. After leading the league in assists and scoring last year, the Beavers just can't seem to take care of the ball. They're one of the worst teams in the nation with regards to turnover percentage and are dead last in the Pac-12.

Overall, the team stats are a bit misleading because Oregon State played a cupcake non-conference schedule. (and still barely managed to stay above .500) Their one quality win is a road upset over Maryland. Let's just hope that we don't add to their collection of pelts this weekend.


Projected Starters:

C Angus Brandt(Sr), 6'10, 246 lbs, 11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F Eric Moreland(Jr), 6'10, 218 lbs, 3.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
F Devon Collier(Sr), 6'8, 216 lbs, 16.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg
G Challe Barton(Jr), 6'3, 197 lbs, 5.3 ppg, 1.8 apg
G Roberto Nelson(Sr), 6'4, 198 lbs, 21 ppg, 3.7 apg

Bench:

G/F Victor Robbins(So), 6'7, 197 lbs, 4.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
G Hallice Cooke(Fr), 6'3, 185 lbs, 5.9 ppg
G Langston Morris-Walker(So), 6'5, 216 lbs, 3.8 ppg
F Daniel Gomis(So), 6'10, 223 lbs, 2.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg
G Malcolm Duvivier(Fr), 6'2, 205 lbs, 2.9 ppg

Brandt is back from injury and provides a steady scoring threat down low. Moreland is more of a defense and rebounding specialist, but he does both very well. He's especially formidable as a help-side shot blocker. Collier has really broken out as a senior. He's their most savvy post player and is finishing (63.3% FG) very well inside. Challe Barton brings the ball up, but has more turnovers than assists. Roberto Nelson is the straw that stirs the Beaver's milkshake. In fact, he might be the cup and lid, too. As good as he was last year as a slashing playmaker, he's even better this year. He's added a reliable three-pointer to his arsenal and is most dangerous when he can get himself to the line. (86% FT) Reserves Cooke, Morris-Walker, and Duvivier are young, but can all shoot the ball from deep.


Key Matchups:

1) Zone offense

The strength of our team has been the duo of Solomon and Kravish inside along with Cobbs' clutch playmaking. Since our three point shooting has come and gone, we need to make sure that our bigs still get their touches. When Cal has struggled against the 1-3-1, it's because we turn the ball over with sloppy entry passes or reversals.

2) Transition offense

Although our young wings have been inconsistent with their jumpers, they've been good on the break. Taking advantage of Beaver turnovers for early offense is a good way to avoid having to break down their zone.

3) Effort

If we can duplicate the effort shown against the Furds, we'll be fine. Besides showing better rotations and close-outs on defense, we won all of the hustle plays. We'll need to bring our own energy to what is an otherwise dreary road venue.


Go Bears!


Tip-Off: Saturday, Jan 11th, 5 pm
Television: ESPNU
Radio: KGO 810 AM

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