Oregon State Basketball moves into 2011: Venturing into the Unknown?

RVM posting a story?  Can it be?

Ok, seriously I wanted to share some of my thoughts about the OSU non-conference basketball season before we moved into Pac-10 play and 2011.

Haynes_layup_02_mediumBut first I wanted to wish everyone out there in Beaver Nation, and other "Nations", a Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year.  I especially wanted to extend my warm greetings and thank you to the crew here on BtD.  There have been some great moments and some not so great ones in OSU athletics this last year and it has been a pleasure sharing all of them with Jake, AndyPanda, ConnorOSU, and ArbyOSU.  I have enjoyed everyone's contributions and looking forward to more from BtD in 2011.  And also a big thank you to everyone who reads and comments on the site.  Go Beavs!

For my thoughts about the basketball season so far I wanted to include some general thoughts, a breakdown of what I see as possible keys to success in Pac-10 play, and then offer up the stats to date.

Let's begin with general thoughts.  Ah, hmm, actually not really sure what to say.  The team as a whole I think most of us agree is young and talented, and overall there has been the problem of not playing as a team and establishing true on-the-court leadership.  At the same time we have seen some glimpses of what I really do believe could be a very good team in the wins over Illinois-Chicago and Charlotte.  But on the flip side we have had some mind-boggling flat losses to teams a Pac-10 team has no reason to lose to.  Overall I have been about that we all have to be patient with this team and indeed with the losses against Montana and George Washington my own patience was tested.  That said I think the team ended on an excellent note by easily handling Illinois-Chicago and showing that indeed this talented group of players can play as a team.

My "keys to success: in 2011 and stats to date are after the break here.

Below is a photograph I got from the game against George Washington of Roberto Nelson attempting a LONG three-pointer.  He didn't make it but I love the reaction of the bench for they sure thought he was going to make it.  Cunningham has the three-pointer fingers in the air jinx going and I'm not sure how Angus Brandt is trying to will the ball into the net and I guess it must be an Australian thing!

Nelson_for_three_01_medium

"Keys to Success"

Robinson_and_nelson_02_mediumNow I'm not going to in anyway claim that these are coming from an expert, these "keys" are just my impressions of what I have seen from this team so far.  I am also looking forward to other people's thoughts.
 

1.  Leadership =
I have thought a big issue, especially noted in the closer losses, so far this season has been the lack of the end of the game step it up leader.  Calvin Haynes at times looked ready to step it up as a senior and at other times looked lost and/or frustrated.  I think that Haynes can still be this player at certain times, but at the same time there needs to be a much stronger presence on the court in every game and in every situation.  From what we have just barely seen so far I am convinced that yes Roberto Nelson is going to be that player.  As I mentioned in some other comments here on BtD I really think Coach Robinson needs to give Roberto much more sustained playing time to get his game legs and experience going.  I think Nelson's 14 points in 16 minutes in the Illinois-Chicago game was a step towards this.

Boxing_out_on_offense_01_medium2.  Defense = Ah, this goes without saying doesn't it?  In the losses the Beavs 2-3 zone has looked porous and flat-footed at best.  Player rotation has either left perimeter shooters with open looks or has not rotated back down into the paint and as such leaving players wide open paths to the rim.  We need more of the aggressive and at the same time very focused play we saw in the wins this season like the Illinois-Chicago game.
 
3.  Rebounding =
Again goes without saying really, but some of the Beavs rebounding has been terrible on both sides of the ball and getting out rebounded 399 to 366 so far isn't going to cut in in conference play.  Omari Johnson and Devon Collier have both shown they know how to box out strongly and this needs to now carry over to other players, especially Joe Burton who has a habit of getting himself out of position.

4.  Inside Game Offense = I honestly think the outside game is going to come around with Nelson, Cunningham, and Starks.  But I'm still a little concerned that we don't Burton_layup_01_mediumseem to have a strong post up player to go to in the paint.  Brandt and Burton both have shown some glimpses of this, but they also seem to be a bit more inclined to be more finesse players. In any conference and possible post-season play we are going to need people who can post up and bang it around in the paint.

5. Basic Good Ole Fundamentals and Focused Play = Usually I'm harping more on energy and fire, but really I thought the lack of focus and fundamentals has been more of an issue so far.  I think also this flat and poor mental play led directly to a lack of fire on the players part.   In this category I'm thinking a bit beyond turnovers, which the Beavs are actually doing very well within the stats (165 to 210), and thinking about how the team makes very lazy passes, plays out of position on both sides of the ball, can't properly inbound the ball or break a full court press, and all of which leads to a general playing aesthetic of frustration and confusion.  Mistakes happen of course, but this team needs to play mentally like those mistakes are slight blips on the radar instead of the norm.

Robinson_on_bench_medium6.  Coaching = Ok, guess I'm calling out Coach Robinson a bit here and yes I know I have no idea what happens in practice and behind the scenes, but I agree with some of the comments here on BtD and I feel Robinson tends to come across as over thinking stuff.  Yes, he's an intellectual type of guy and I find that refreshing as heck, but I think at times this plays into things like some strange substitution rotation decisions.  I may be a totally naive arm-chair coach here but at times you need to leave players in the game to gain experience about how to overcome mistakes within the game, and not instantly rotated out to then sit and stew about it on the bench. I'm a little surprised too that a Robinson coached team can be so sloppy at times with the basics.   I also believe that Robinson is in a position that even though he is coming into a losing program it still has been a bit of wake up call of his coaching skills being part of a larger D1 conference.  That all said I have the utmost respect for Coach Robinson as a coach, mentor to the players, and in general as a person; and I look forward to watching him learn the ropes along with his players.

Cunningham_freethrow_01_medium

Conclusion

So the big question:  Where is this team headed?  Personally I think a winning Pac-10 record and the NIT are not out of the question.  But at the same time I think a losing Pac-10 record and no post-season are also not out of the question.  My gut feeling is that this team is going to pleasantly surprise us in Beaver Nation.  It won't be a run at Duke in the NCAAs that's for sure, but I really do think we will get some nice glimpses of the type of success that this program seems to be headed towards under Robinson's leadership.  I think in the end we will still need to be patient at times, but at the same time need to be supportive and excited for we are indeed looking at the future of OSU basketball this season.

Post_game_huddle_01_medium

Stats Summary

(full stats available here: http://www.osubeavers.com/sports/m-baskbl/stats/2010-2011/teamcume.html)

RECORD: OVERALL HOME
AWAY
(5-6) 
(4-3) 
(1-3)

SCORE BY PERIODS: 1st 2nd Total
Oregon State 393 418 811
Opponents 364 419 783

INDIVIDUAL SUMMARY: GP-GS Min/G FG% 3PT% FT% R/G A/G STL BLK PTS/G
Cunningham, Jared 11-11 29.3 .489 .385 .789 2.5 1.9 34 4 13.4
Haynes, Calvin 11-8 27.1 .448 .258 .787 3.4 2.8 15 1 11.2
Johnson, Omari 11-11 29.2 .500 .343 .600 6.9 1.3 19 1 10.5
Wallace, Lathen 11-3 21.8 .397 .217 .744 2.7 0.6 16 0 9.2
Nelson, Roberto 4-0 15.5 .500 .300 .818 2.0 0.8 0 0 8.5
Starks, Ahmad 11-3 21.5 .365 .370 .882 0.5 1.5 8 0 7.8
Burton, Joe 11-10 25.7 .523 .000 .483 5.3 3.1 16 4 7.5
Brandt, Angus 9-2 14.0 .442 .417 .615 2.6 0.7 4 3 5.7
Collier, Devon 11-7 11.8 .556 .000 .692 2.4 0.5 6 3 4.4
Brown, Chris 5-0 2.8 .222 .000 .500 1.8 0.0 0 0 1.2
McShane, Kevin 11-0 9.3 .444 .000 .500 1.6 0.4 5 1 0.9
Jones, Daniel 3-0 1.7 .500 .000 .000 0.3 0.0 0 0 0.7
Moreland, Eric 4-0 3.0 .333 .000 .000 1.3 0.3 2 3 0.5
Deane, Daniel 6-0 3.0 .000 .000 .500 1.8 0.0 1 2 0.5
Murphy, Rhys 4-0 7.5 .000 .000 .000 0.5 0.0 2 0 0.0
Total 11 .451 .311 .700 33.3 12.9 128 20 73.7
Opponents 11 .445 .385 .685 36.3 14.5 67 25 71

Cunningham_basket_01_medium
TEAM STATISTICS: 
OSU
OPP
SCORING 811 783
Points per game 73.7 71.2
Scoring margin +2.5
-
FIELD GOALS-ATT 276-612 270-607
Field goal pct .451 .445
3 POINT FG-ATT 65-209 97-252
3-point FG pct .311
.385
3-pt FG made per game 5.9
8.8
FREE THROWS-ATT 194-277 146-213
Free throw pct .700 .685
F-Throws made per game 17.6 13.3
REBOUNDS 366
399
Rebounds per game 33.3
36.3
Rebounding margin -3.0 -
ASSISTS 142
160
Assists per game 12.9 14.5
TURNOVERS 165
210
Turnovers per game 15.0
19.1
Turnover margin +4.1 -
Assist/turnover ratio 0.9
0.8
STEALS 128
67
Steals per game 11.6
6.1
BLOCKS 20
25
Blocks per game 1.8
2.3

 































Photos (from top to bottom)

  •  Calvin Haynes scoring on a lay-up, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Robert Nelson shooting a 3-point attempt, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Craig Robinson talking with Roberto Nelson on the OSU bench, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Calvin Haynes scoring on a lay-up, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Joe Burton and Calvin Haynes boxing out, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Joe Burton scoring on a lay-up, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Craig Robinson on the OSU bench, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Jared Cunningham shooting a free throw, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • Jared Cunningham scoring on a lob pass, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
  • OSU post-game huddle, Oregon State versus George Washington University, December 18, 2010
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