ConnorOSU from SB Nation's Oregon State blog, Building the Dam, was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about the Beavers before tonight's epic showdown in Corvallis. My answers to Connor's questions are here.
1. Compared to Stanford, which doesn't have a senior on its roster, the Beavers aren't lacking for experience. What's been the main reason for the team's struggles this season?
There are three main reasons. One, we suck at shooting. Once a game, for about a two minute stretch, we will get really hot. But then we will just clank them off the rim for the remainder of the game. It's not like most of these guys weren't good shooters in high school, something has just happened in between their senior year of high school and now.
The second reason is the team's chemistry. In December and early January, it at least looked like these guys liked each other. But now they just appear to want to end the season as quickly as possible and get away from each other.
The final reason is coaching. Craig Robinson is a great recruiter, but he can't do anything with the talent he gets. He persists on playing a zone after the opponent has hit four three pointers in a row, he can't teach a fast-break situation to save his life, and worst of all, the team appears to have lost his respect. I don't know how this happened so quickly, because it felt like just yesterday we had swept Arizona and Arizona State and were on top of the Pac-10 (Actually, that was the third day of January). But if he doesn't gain the players' respect back quickly, then the Beavers could be looking at much bigger problems heading into off-season workouts and non-conference play of next year.
2. Who has been the most pleasant surprise for OSU this season? Who has been the biggest disappointment?
Biggest Surprise -- Devon Collier. Collier's stats aren't overwhelming (6 ppg, 4 rpg), but he is tough to control on the offensive glass. He also will continue to improve as his Oregon State career progresses, as he is still learning Robinson's offense. Another surprise, which will be a surprise to everyone reading as well, is freshman center Chris Brown (not the same person, nor is he related). Brown has only played in 12 games this season, and I will be honest, I forgot he was on the roster until the second Washington game, but I am quickly developing a man crush on him. Unlike Collier, he looks comfortable in our offense, and he is very smooth with the dribble. For all you Rule of Tree readers, look for Brown's name to be a big one in a couple of years.
Biggest Disappointment -- Boy, are there a lot of candidates for this one. My original answer was Nelson, until I saw your question below. So I'd have to go with Calvin Haynes. Haynes came into the season with lofty goals for himself, saying that he wanted to be Pac-10 player of the year. In reality, all Beaver Nation was hoping for was OSU player of the year, and if not that, just to step into a leadership role. Instead Calvin has not been able to find his shot, and has found himself on the bench at many pivotal points in the course of a game.
3. What's your assessment of Roberto Nelson in his much anticipated first season?
Overall, it's been pretty disappointing that he hasn't been able to produce more and play more. Some of that is to be expected after sitting out a season, but after Robinson consistently telling reporters that Nelson was our best "practice player", hopes were high. But some games, Nelson hasn't been able to find his shot at all, putting him back on the bench quickly and leaving Beaver fans to scratch their heads. I'm sure Nelson will improve greatly by next year, and maybe even turn into an all-conference player. But as of right now, his stock is pretty low as Coach Robinson would say.
4. Craig Robinson has asked OSU fans to be patient as he continues to rebuild the program. Are you buying that? Does he deserve to be on the hot seat?
Before I answer this question, I'd just like to say that usually I don't come off as the "fire everyone, tear apart the program and start from scratch" type of fan. But most, if not all of these same feelings are shared by Beaver Nation, so it's not just me. Thank you. You probably gathered my opinion earlier in the first question, but I'd say that he does deserve to be on the hot seat. Oregon State doesn't have the biggest, most rabid fan-base in the country, and all most fans want is improvement from year to year and a 5th or 6th place finish in the Pac-10. As far as improvement goes, Robinson's first season here was great. But ever since then, we have been going backwards, now at a more rapid pace then ever.
If you look back at Jay John's last year, we were getting blown out in pretty much every Pac-10 game. The only difference from then and now is that we pull an upset every now and then, but the thrill of victory is quickly erased after seeing the players play un-inspired, awful, selfish basketball the next night. Like I said earlier, the most dangerous thing is that the players have lost respect for him, and that could carry over into off-season workouts and pre-season practices next season, leading to more of the same results wise as we have seen in the past. Beaver fans have been patient. Unlike in football, it doesn't take forever to re-build a basketball program. I mean, just look what has happened over at Oregon. They could barely field a team back in August and now they are tied for fourth in the Pac-10. All it takes is a good coach and players that hustle. I'd say that the time is now for Robinson to start winning, because the feelings that have been talked about on blogs and message boards will soon reach the minds of major donors, which means less money to help a program in dire need of some help.
5. What's your prediction for the game?
Stanford-70, Oregon State-63. The Beavers are down early and make a run in the final few minutes, but Stanford knocks down their free throws (Ed. You heard it here first!) and gets out or Corvallis with a victory.
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