Oregon St. men's basketball coach Craig Robinson was happy to finally be able to talk about a couple of his recruits for next year, as National Letter of Intent day for basketball has arrived, and so did the letters from Langston Morris-Walker and Maika Ostling.
Morris-Walker is a 6'5", 200 lb. small forward from Berkeley High in Berkeley, CA, that the Beavers got out from under the nose of Cal.
"Langston is a terrific get for us," Robinson said. "He is an off-guard, wing player, and will be the sort of heir apparent to Jared (Cunningham) as a big guard who can defend. I think his outside shot is better than Jared's was when he first got here."
Ostling is a 6'10", 230 lb. post player from Dayton High in Dayton, OR.
"We couldn't be more excited about a guy like Maika," Robinson said. "First of all, he's an in-state kid. Secondly, he's 6 foot 10, and he's really put together for a high school kid. He'll hit the weight room and chisel his body up. But, most of all, he's a very hard worker and a quick learner. He's come down quite a few times on unofficial visits, and worked out with our guys, particularly Angus Brandt," Robinson added. "Angus put him through some of the workouts that we do. While I can't watch, it sounds like he is a hard-working, really fast learning kid."
Thursday morning, the recruit count went up to 3, when Robinson received the paperwork on Jarmal Reid.
Reid is a 6'7", 225 lb. small forward from Decatur, Ga., who helped lead Columbia High School to back to back state championships during his sophomore and junior seasons.
"He's a winner," Robinson commented. "He's won in AAU, and he won in his high school. That mentality is sort of the same mentality as Devon Collier and Ahmad Starks who have also won a lot."
Womens' Hoops Handle Pacific
Much as the men's team did, coach Scott Rueck's womens' basketball team got their season off to a good start at the expense of the Pacific University Boxers from up the road in Forest Grove Tuesday night.
Freshman Ali Gibson from Woodridge, CA, got her Oregon St. career off to a good start, with a team high 18 points, as the Beavers buried the Boxers 83-34 in a non-counting exhibition game.
"It was really exciting," Gibson said. "I was really excited to play and the leaders on the team made me comfortable."
Those in town this Veterans' Day weekend can catch both hoops squads in their first counting contests.
The women take on Division II Western Oregon Friday, Veterans Day, at noon in GIll Coliseum.
The idea for a weekday game actually came from last year's game at Weber St., where local schools were invited to the game.
"It was actually the second largest crowd we played in front of," Rueck explained. "It's a unique opportunity to reach out to the kids that are the future."
The Beavers have invited local school and youth teams to the game, as well as other students, since there is no school for the holiday on Friday.
The men tip off the second annual Nike N7 game (this is the one where the turquoise unis come out) presented by Spirit Mountain Casino at 1:30 Saturday. (Yes, it will be tight getting in front of a tv for the first part of the Oregon St.-California football game that starts at 3:30, since there's no tv for the basketball game. [Can we please get the Pac-12 network up and running])
The Beavers will be taking on California State-Bakersfield in the annual cultural exchange contest honoring native Americans, a cause particularly close to the heart of Oregon St. forward Joe Burton, a native American himself.
The women wind up the weekend with a game Sunday afternoon at 2 PM at Gill Coliseum against Montana St.
A double header, with the Nike N7 game following at 5 or 6 Sunday night would have probably been a better format, rather than sacrificing much of the support for Saturday's game. Perhaps next year???
Football Takes To The Grass
With Saturday's game against California scheduled for the grass surface San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park, where the Golden Bears are playing their home games this season while their own Memorial Stadium is renovated, the Oregon St. football team has been practicing this week on the grass on Prothro field, a surface they usually abandon for the Truax indoor center and Reser late in the season.
"We didn't handle the grass surface well late in the season last year at Stanford," coach Mike Riley explained. "So it's a good idea to get some work on grass. In the old days, you never talked about this, it was just football, and it was what it was. But when you play most of your time on turf, and most of the games are on turf, it's good to get back out on it. And we know it's supposed to rain a lot on Friday in San Francisco. Yesterday we had a lot of slipping, but we had less today."
Oregon St. brought in some portable lights (Prothro field has no permanent lights yet), and started afternoon practices a little earlier, due to the early darkness that standard time has brought. The players seemed to enjoy the change up.
"It reminded me of high school, with the shadows," DT Andrew Seumalo said. "It was fun."
Riley said it reminded him of his days as an assistant coach at Linfield.
"We used to move over and practice under a street light. I coached the defensive backs, and when the ball went up in the air, it could have hit me in the head and I wouldn't have seen it coming," Riley said of those days.
Center Grant Johnson will miss the California game, as a result of the ankle problems Johnson is still struggling with.
"It doesn't look good," Riley said. "He's better off saying he's out and resting until next Tuesday."
Jordan Bishop, who missed the Stanford game with an ankle injury of his own, is back practicing though.
After jogging during Tuesday's practice, MLB Kevin "Feti" Unga practiced for the first time in more than three weeks today.
"I don't know if that means anything," Riley said of Unga practicing. "It was a test. We'll see if he can come back Thursday."
Unga injured his left leg on the first play of the BYU game back on Oct. 15 when he planted and hyperextended and twisted his knee.
Ligaments in his calf that attach the calf to the back of his knee were strained. Initially, even walking was difficult, but surgery was not required, only time to heal, and now rehab.
"I'm feeling a lot better now," Unga said. "Before, I couldn't do much. It's has been frustrating, knowing this is my first year starting, and I'm out of it. I'm just worried about coming back and having more success than I have been. I'm trying to rush back as soon as I can."
Unga's loss has impacted the Beavers in recent weeks as much as anything. He was the leading tackler in the Pac-12 at the time of his injury, and his presence wold have made a major difference against the running game of BYU, Utah, and Stanford, all of whom ran for well over 200 yards to pave the way to their wins over Oregon St.