1. I was watching the Pac-12 coach's show and was surprised to see Craig Robinson in a hard hat, participating in some sort of basketball facility improvement event. With the university ponying up for improved digs, how much longer are they willing to tolerate mediocre performances from Robinson's team?
AndyPanda: Coach Robinson was the driving force in getting the new basketball practice facility built, and he also produced the best year in Oregon St. basketball in over 20 years (its been a long time since Gary Payton was here; perhaps Oski could throw another cake at someone in Ahmad Starks' family?) last season. He'll survive this year's disappointing down turn, and next year will become an important one. There are a growing number of vocal fans that are becoming impatient.
However, there is also still a substantial number of aging season ticket buyers who are still reliving the Orange Express days when they come to the games, so the financial pressure isn't that great yet to force an athletic department that doesn't like to shake things up to make any changes.
rvm: For the most part I don't have a lot to add. I think that he has a couple years before he will be on that "hot seat." I will add that Coach Robinson is a difficult one to assess for in many ways he brings things to a REALLY down and out program, such as what Andy mentioned above plus talking about Payton getting Gary back and active with the program is huge, and there is the darn good recruiting. But of course if this does not add up to wins and being more competitive in conference play then sooner or later his place here will have to be evaluated. I totally agree that next year will be a warmer one for where he's sitting, only losing one senior so no excuses about inexperienced guys and really it will be the opposite.
2. Oregon State's defense appears to be the weakness of the team. What have most teams been able to exploit?
AndyPanda: Oregon St. has actually played good defense at the point of attack, but they are still notorious for losing track of players away from the ball. Teams that pass the ball well and have the patience to do so will find someone standing unguarded on the weak side, just waiting to take a wide open shot.
rvm: I would say also that there are some times I feel the coaching calls hang on to defensive schemes longer than they should. In the UW loss last week I really thought the 1-3-1 was a bad call to stick with, the match ups were not working on the outside where it all has to happen for that scheme to work. But they held on and I felt helped let UW keep their roll going. So yes being patient and quick in passing can very much exploit the Beavs defensive match ups.
3. Roberto Nelson has done an admirable job filling the void left by Jared Cunningham, and he lit up Cal for 25 points at Haas. Any advice on slowing him down?
AndyPanda: Don't foul him. He's been dynamite at the free throw line, and has also made an art form of drawing a foul while shooting a 3 pointer, and then making all 3 free throws. Opponents are better off trying to exploit his defensive lack of speed, and getting him on the bench for a few minutes for defensive purposes.
rvm: Yep, totally exploit him on the defensive side of things for Roberto. He is a step slow a good amount of the time so get him in foul trouble and put him on the bench.
4. Last time around, I recall OSU playing a decent amount of zone and basically daring Cal to shoot a bunch of threes. Cal obliged by throwing up 26 of them, which must be close to a season high. Do you expect OSU to employ the same defensive strategy this time?
AndyPanda: I'd expect so. A lot of switching between the 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones, and some man to man, has kept a lot of teams off balance, not knowing which defense is coming on any given possession. If Cal can knock most of those 3s down, it could force Oregon St. into more man.
rvm: Nothing to add here, and see above about exploiting the schemes.
Towson Men's Basketball opens up at home against Oregon State with a loss, 66-46 (via TheTowsonTigers)
5. After Nelson, which Beaver should we be most scared of? I'm always worried that Starks will hit 5 threes, personally.
AndyPanda: Starks did become the all-time leader at Oregon St. in 3 pointers made last weekend in Seattle, but overall, he struggled on the Washington trip. He seems to find the range more often at Gill than away.
The other Beaver who could really alter the day is Eric Moreland. He's had a number of double doubles, and when he does, Oregon St. almost always wins. When he gets only rebounds, but doesn't score much, the Beavers have had a lot of trouble finding wins.
rvm: Well in the pre-conference part of the season I would have said Starks, but I am not totally sure where he has gone of late. I would also say yes to Moreland since of his rebounding and defensive play-making. But to be a bit more radical (hey we are playing Cal here!) I am going with Challe Barton for of late he has shown more offense and a bit more control on the defensive side of things. I have the sense, maybe 'slight' sense, that he could be aligning for a breakout type of game. Will it be this week, next, or even next season? I don't know but he is showing some signs of life on offense and very much looking more comfortable out there.
6. What does OSU have to do to beat Cal?
AndyPanda: Finish the game. Oregon St. has blown several large leads, and messed up multiple end of game situations.
rvm: Yep, finish, finish, finish. Also they need to play 38 minutes of smart, aggressive, and energetic basketball WITH the two minutes of letdown happening at a time, like say the midpoint of the second half, where they can use that letdown to fire themselves up again to finish the game out. I would argue the coaching staff needs a bit of this fire too. I see so many of these losses as mental and that is both on the team and the coaches.
7. What does Cal have to do to beat OSU?
AndyPanda: Make the extra passes. Whether it be to find an open shooter on the perimeter, or to force Oregon St. out of the 1-3-1 by getting the ball to probably Soloman down low, the Bears will find ways to score.
rvm: So I'll refrain from the push comes to shove crack here (oh, yeah I see I did that), but really it is as simple as Andy and I have implied. Cal cannot go out and beat themselves, they need to play patient and fairly quick passing ball and go in with the attitude of playing smart basketball. This OSU team has not proven they can wins games mentally and if Cal can grind it at the Beavs then OSU will lose pace and confidence down to the wire. Hope the guys in Orange and Black prove me wrong but right now it seems pretty easy, if you can keep grinding away against them, to have the Beavs beat themselves. Plus Cal can play some pretty darn dynamic basketball, it could be a bad mix for this OSU team right now.