January 2, 2014

Triple Threat: Mountain Madness




Roberto Neslon + Coach Craig Robinson |








DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC/QUINNIPIAC RECAP


The Oregon State Beavers hoped the Diamond Head Classic would provide needed battle-testing and confidence-building results.  Instead the Beavers found themselves with more of the same play that has plagued the 2013-14 campaign.  A one and two return for the Beavers was highlighted by a win over a reputable George Mason club (126 RPI), but struggles to close out possessions and get stops against Akron and Hawaii have Beaver fans concerned for PAC 12 play.









IN THE PAINT
 
OFFENSE

Points: Roberto Nelson (21.4); Devon Collier (18.0); Angus Brandt (12.9)


Field Goal Percentage: Angus Brandt (56.8%); Challe Barton (44.7%); Devon Collier (64.7%)


Assists: Roberto Nelson (4.1); Challe Barton (2.0); Devon Collier(2.0)

DEFENSE

Steals: Roberto Nelson (1.2); Hallice Cooke (1.0); Victor Robbins (0.8)

Blocked Shots: Devon Collier (1.7); Angus Brandt (0.9); Daniel Gomis (1.6)

Total Rebounds: Devon Collier (8.0); Angus Brandt (4.6); Daniel Gomis (3.3)


The Beavers dropped their opener to a capable Akron team (127 RPI) 83-71.  Craig Robinson's team struggled to shoot the basketball (43%) and allowed the Zips 31 points off of turnovers and offensive rebounds.  The Beavers search for a consistent 3rd scorer took a blow, as Angus Brandt re-injured his knee and wouldn't return.  Senior guard Roberto Nelson collected a quiet 20 points.


To Oregon State's credit, they didn't hang their heads, entering a quick turn-around into a morning match-up with Paul Hewitt's feisty George Mason Patriots. The Beavers came out strong, with an engaged Devon Collier (15 points, 6 rebounds) and were able to pull out a hard fought victory 58-54. 


In one of their better defensive efforts to date, OSU had success mixing zone, man, and traps (1-3-1).  Roberto Nelson continued his parade to the free throw line with a perfect 10/10 clip in a 17 point performance.  The Beavers were outrebounded by 9, but overcame the deficiency by coming-up with the key rebounds & stops down the stretch.


An improved and motivated Hawaii team (90 RPI) awaited Oregon State in the fifth place game.  The home team Warriors would jump out to an early lead and eventually seal the game with a 12-0 run in the 2nd half.  The up-tempo Warriors wore-down OSU and pressured them into 44% shooting from the floor, 17 turnovers, and outrebounded OSU by seven. 


Standout Senior Christian Standhardinger proved to be a tough cover for the Beaver frontcourt, scoring 15 points, and drawing numerous fouls.  Robinson's "Big Two" were again solid as Nelson and Collier combined for 35 points & 15 rebounds. The 79-73 loss had a much-needed bright spot, as Challe Barton emerged, finding his touch from long range and chipping in 13 points.


Oregon State returned home with many of the same questions that they left with.  Can this team get key stops (or enough stops)?  Can they find a way to effectively rebound (even for a team that plays a lot of zone)?  Who can OSU count on to make plays and provide a third scoring punch? 


A final tune-up game against the Quinnipiac Bobcats (195 RPI) allowed Coach Robinson one last look under the hood before the PAC 12 season.  With a promise to shake-up the line-up, Coach Robinson inserted sophomore wing Langston Morris-Walker for 6-7 sophomore Victor Robbins


The Beavers responded with a 76-68 win over the visiting Bobcats.  The biggest difference was the return of Angus Brandt and his 21 points & five rebounds.  Oregon State allowed Quinnipiac a brief second half lead, before closing them out at the free throw line.  The home crowd was treated to a career best performance by freshman guard Hallice Cook, who produced 12 points & four rebounds (who in my opinion is has the most upside of any FR/SO on OSU's roster). 


LOOKING AHEAD: HEADING TO THE MOUNTAINS



Oregon State enters PAC 12 play with possibly the most daunting road trip that the league will offer this year.  Colorado and Utah are a combined 16-0 at home, have great home crowds, and leave their opponents gasping for air thousands of feet above sea-level.

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