Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 23, 2009

Change Corvallis Can Believe In

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 5:07 am

On Tuesday, Craig Robinson was front and center during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Two days later, Robinson took his brother-in-law’s words to heart and struck the biggest blow yet in the effort to rebuild his own struggling corner of America–the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavs stunned a California team that entered the game tied for the top spot in the Pac-10, finishing the game with an 18-3 run to erase an 11-point deficit and win 69-65 at Haas Pavilion.

To be sure, Oregon State benefited from some timely and improbable three-point shooting. Calvin Haynes made a pair of threes during the run; so too did Roeland Schaftenaar, the Beavers’ 7-foot jumpshooting center, a 28.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc over the course of the season who was 4-of-4 on this night.

Where Oregon State earned this win, however, was on the defensive end. The Beavers held a Cal team that came in ranked 13th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted Offensive Efficiency to 103 points per 100 possessions. The Bears were lights-out as usual from downtown (11-of-24, 45.8 percent) yet oddly ineffective on twos (11-of-28, 39.3 percent). Patrick Christopher, the Pac-10’s Player of the Week¬†two weeks running, missed seven of his eight attempts inside the line and was limited to 15 points.

The Beavers have reached the point my colleague John Gasaway assigned to a similarly recently-downtrodden Northwestern squad yesterday: Decency. When Oregon State has been bad during Pac-10 play, it has been really bad: Witness losses by a combined 90 points to the conference’s leaders (UCLA, Washington and Arizona State). At other times, though, the Beavers have looked downright feisty. Had a couple of shots fallen during last week’s OT loss to Washington State, we could be talking about an Oregon State team that is 3-4 in conference play. The message to Pac-10 opponents is clear: Don’t take the Beavers lightly.

(BONUS Gasaway-esque Presidential brother-in-law note: As you may have heard (earlier this post, even!), Craig Robinson is the brother of our newly-elected President. At this point, the ceaseless media references to Robinson’s famous (first) family have for me passed the point of annoyance and reached the absurd, where I now go out of my way to drop said notes even where they don’t belong in a parody of sorts. Your mileage may vary.

Know this, though. The better story is Robinson’s coaching and the turnaround in progress in Corvallis. If that is overshadowed by the Obama factor, it’s a shame.

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