You can say this about the Oregon State Beavers basketball team. At least they try hard. Which is better than last year, when the only thing they did well was pick fights with their opponents. Like that one time, in Corvallis, when the Huskies came to town and were victimized during their afternoon shootaround, greeted by a gaggle of Beavs who wanted to take things out into the parking lot for no real reason at all. They even followed the Husky contingent back to the team hotel, willing to spar seemingly wherever necessary in order to prove their point. That beautiful moment was all of one season ago, but the Beavers are a changed organization these days.
These days, the once-proud program is coached by a relative newbie, one Craig Robinson (pictured left), who you may have heard is Barack Obama’s brother-in-law. It may be a neat, fun fact, but the reality is Robinson was Oregon State’s last hope to take over the floundering program. Everyone else approached about the job was hesitant to commit to a team of supposed thugs who couldn’t play basketball nearly as well as they could throw haymakers. But Robinson, previously head coach at non-scholarship Ivy League school Brown, couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to advance in the coaching ranks. From a school not really known for their basketball prowess to a school that, at the very least, could claim their place in one of the nation’s power conferences, Robinson jumped at the opportunity to take over a Pac-10 program.
Now, after an entire decade of futility, the Beaver basketball team actually looks to have some purpose and direction each time they take the floor. After four unproductive years of over-confident, underwhelming swingman Marcel Jones, the Beavs have turned to a younger, better, more athletic star in sophomore guard Calvin Haynes (pictured right). Haynes, a 6’2″ score-first type of player, is averaging 15.3 PPG for OSU after a quiet freshman campaign last season (5.5 PPG). Unfortunately for Robinson and Co., Haynes is the only player averaging double-figures scoring in the newly-implemented slow-down offense. Right now, the team resembles Washington State circa 2005, meaning they’re destined to lose for the rest of this year at the very least.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not headed for greener pastures. Like the Cougars, if the Beavers can buy into Robinson’s style of play, they may find a fair amount of success in the coming seasons. Already, they’re doing much better than last year’s team that finished a miserable 0-18 in conference play. In just their second Pac-10 game of the year, Oregon State managed to knock off a powerful USC team in a 62-58 overtime nailbiter. So what if they haven’t won a game since. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
The Dawgs shouldn’t have too much trouble in dismantling the Beavers. Talent should reign supreme in this matchup of less-than-epic proportions. But for Husky fans who get a chance to see this game, take a good look at Oregon State. Who knows, they may be the future of the Pac-10.