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January 25, 2009

Beavers Sweep Bay Area

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 3:56 am

If you’re sick of hearing about the Oregon State Beavers, I apologize. I can’t stop talking about them.

After Thursday’s post–full of wild, cock-eyed optimism–I saw a note on Wazzu blog CougCenter.com pointing out that the Beavers were still behind the rival Oregon Ducks in the Pomeroy Rankings. I suspected this had to do with Oregon State’s terrible start adapting to Craig Robinson‘s system, which included losses to Howard, Yale and Montana State. Alas no. Strictly in-conference, the Beavers’ efficiency differential was still worse than Oregon’s because of a series of lopsided losses.

At that point, I was willing to concede having put too much stock in one win, even one very impressive win. After all, one of the core tenets of my philosophy of basketball analysis is that a wider view almost always tells us more than isolating a hot or cold streak.

This is starting to look like one of the scenarios that requires the “almost” qualifier. How else to explain Oregon State beating Stanford 77-62 Saturday to sweep its road trip to the Bay Area–one I described just a few short weeks ago as “challenging USC-UCLA as the hardest trip in the conference.”

Having won Thursday with solid interior┬ádefense and timely scoring, the Beavers used a different gameplan tonight–lights-out shooting and tempting the Cardinal at the three-point line. Oregon State shot 62.0 percent from the field in scoring at an Offensive Rating over 120. Meanwhile, Stanford–playing without starting point guard Mitch Johnson–took an insane 33 of its 54 shot attempts from long distance, hitting eight for 24.2 percent accuracy. The looks were often open, but the Cardinal seemed unwilling to venture inside despite making 15 of 21 two-point attempts. Oregon State also forced 15 turnovers in a little over 60 possessions.

The common denominator between the Beavers’ Pac-10 wins, as astutely noted by FSN, has been scoring production from center Roeland Schaftenaar. Oregon State runs its offense through Schaftenaar in the high post or beyond the three-point line, and when he is hitting defenses have far more options to consider. Schaftenaar had 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting against Stanford and is averaging 19.3 points per game in Pac-10 wins. In losses, that number drops all the way to 4.2 ppg.

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