Oregon State at Oregon / 7:30PM, MacArthur Court / TV on FSN NW
Today's Civil War-- the final one to be played at Eugene's MacArthur Court-- matches two teams that seem to be headed in opposite directions at this juncture. The Beavers have lost three straight, and the Ducks have won six straight.
The Oregon State Beavers (6-8, 0-2), lost two close games in the state of Washington to start conference play, two games that they could have won had a shot or two more gone their way. Then the Beavers returned home to Corvallis to play Seattle U. on Wednesday, and basically washed the semi-good feelings we all had after the Washington road trip away.
The good news is that the Beavers have now had a few days of extra practice, in which I'm sure Coach Robinson ran them into the ground for their lack of effort and desire (that we really didn't see until Wednesday night). Perhaps it will motivate them in tonight's rivalry game. Maybe it won't.
The Oregon Ducks (10-4, 2-0), are already light years ahead of where they were last season. They've already won more games (10) than they did all of last season (8), and they're looking to be a contender in the Pac-10 race. Or at least, they have to be included in that conversation sine they are leading the conference with a 2-0 record after the first week and a half.
Reason number one why the Ducks are experiencing this resurgence, in my opinoin, is the emergence of 5-10 sophomore Malcolm Armstead, a junior college transfer. Armstead, who runs the point, is making Duck fans feel like it is 2007 again, when Oregon featured Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter in the backcourt. Armstead has relieved Porter of much of the ball-handling duties, allowing Porter to move without the ball but most importantly score the basketball.
Porter doesn't have stellar offensive numbers thorugh the first 14 games, but he's leading the team in points per game with 13.5. A big reason why his average is lower than you might expect is because Armstead is scoring the ball as well-- at an 11.7ppg clip. Armstead is a penetrator, yet shares the ball as well: he leads the team with 4.5 assists per game.
A player who has shown drastic improvemnt for the Ducks this season is 6-10 sophomore center Michael Dunigan, who is scoring 12.3 points per game and grabs nearly six rebounds per contest. He's recorded double-doubles in the two conference wins the Ducks have over WSU and UW.
Two other sophomores, Teondre Williams and Garrett Sim, are also making solid contributions as role players. Sim is averaging seven points and Catron has been effective on the boards, forming a formidable combination with Dunigan. Catron also nearly grabs 6 rebounds per game.
Key to the Game:
Rebound. I'm not talking about on the glass here, although the Beavers need to do that too. Oregon State needs to bounce back from the last three losses and grab a win to boost confidence. They've put in a lot of hard work just to come up short in the two conference games in Washington, so the Beavers need to get on the winning side of things.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)