Jared Cunningham leads the Beavers into the 2011-12 season as one of the best players in the Pac-12. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Despite all the woes of the football team, basketball season has started in Corvallis. This is an important season for the Beavs as the rebuilding phase should be over, and this team should be ready to compete. The regular season started last Saturday against the Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield, and the Beavers played a decent game against them. This year's team is much more athletic than the last few years, and so talent should not be a reason for any more losses. I have been waiting to make any sort of judgements until I got to see them play, but now here are some thoughts about each player.
He is the best player on this team. He has a solid handle, is a pretty good shooter, and is ridiculously athletic. He is a really good player but he has some issues that have happened throughout his time at OSU, sometimes the offense gets stagnant and he will force a drive where there is no driving lane. He also occasionally has trouble finishing at the rim, but both issues looked alright in the game.
The diminutive guard is mostly a shooter, he was billed initially as a point guard, but he seems to be more of a shooting guard. When his shot is on he can be a weapon, but if it is off he can be a bit of a liability. Defensively people can just shoot over him, so when OSU plays higher quality opponents it might be more of a problem. Rebounding is also tough, if he tries to box out, then opponents can just grab the ball right over him. He can be good, but there are games where he'll be less effective.
Joe can be quite good at times, and at other times he can be pretty awful. The fulcrum for his effectiveness is his creativity, sometimes it works really well, as he has a terrific passing touch, but sometimes he overthinks and throws a pass that should not have been thrown. He is a decent shooter and demonstrated during the game that he has improved his shooting range to 3 pointers as well. He'll have good games and bad games, but the good games will be important for an OSU victory.
More profiles after the jump.
Collier is immensely talented, and possibly the most talented of the entire team. He has a good scoring touch and can clean the boards very effectively as well. For all his talent though, he seems to disappear for stretches. There were times during the game where I honestly forgot he was on the court. He either needs to be more involved or else he needs to be more assertive, but it seems like a waste of his talent either way right now.
The Aussie center is a solid player, but is just that, solid. If he is left open he can make the shot and he is useful on the defensive end. He will not do anything spectacular, but he generally has a positive impact when he is on the court.
Nelson is an interesting case, he seems to have some creativity with the ball and has considerable shooting ability. He is on a very short leash though, he made a single mistake in the game and was immediately pulled. He won't beat anyone just purely on athletic ability, and if he's not using his creativity then he's in trouble. Hopefully throughout the year he can start to show more of his talent and he will live up to the high rank he had as a recruit.
Moreland plays the game with fire, he is extremely active and just constantly makes plays. He is a long 6' 10" and is very effective defender and rebounder. On the offensive end he is alright too, I haven't had seen as much of him yet, but what I have seen is pretty exciting, he will probably be a fan favorite by years end thanks to how much energy he plays with.
The walk-on turned scholarship player is there entirely for his energy. He won't beat anybody, but he'll get some rest for the other bigs.
Barton got a surprising amount of minutes during the game. He had some flashes, but also showed that he was a freshman as well. He seems to be a solid shooter, his motion looks great and is very fluid. He will play some off the bench this year, but I expect very little minutes for him come Pac-12 play.
No one else really stands out, the biggest recruit was Daniel Gomis and he's recovering from an injury. Rhys Murphy is still kind of an unknown quantity, center Chris Brown did not play, I did not hear anything about an injury, but hopefully there is a reason he did not play. All the others are walk-ons and probably won't play unless something goes terribly wrong.
This team has the talent necessary to do something in the Pac-12 this year. If they do not, the blame will probably fall on coach Craig Robinson. If they do play to the best of their abilities, they could break the NCAA tournament drought that has plagued OSU for years. Hopefully the Beavs are able to reach that goal.