Grambling St. (0-5) at Oregon St. (4-2) / Gill Coliseum / 1 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KPOJ 620 AM
Fall term finals are over, so the extended hiatus that many teams, including the Tigers and the Beavers, have taken is over, as Oregon St. returns to action in an early afternoon game.
The Beavers have been off a week, since dropping an 84-78 decision to tenth ranked Kansas in Kansas City last Friday.
The Tigers have been off even longer, with their last action a 91-56 blowout loss against Texas Tech.
This is a game Oregon St. not only should dominate, they had better, even if coach Craig Robinson chooses to use the bulk of the game as an experimental scrimmage to try out more combinations of the freshmen.
Grambling St., from Grambling, LA, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is a very weak team from a small school (enrollment is only about 5,000) in a very weak conference. The winless Tigers' closest loss this year was a 26 point loss against a sub-.500 Miami of Ohio team. Grambling is 347th in the country in points per game, scoring on average only 51.4 points per outing. The Tigers are 335th in rebounding and 323rd in the country in field goal percentage (as of Thursday night's stats update).
Last year, the TIgers went 4-24, and 4-14 in the SWAC, a conference that only saw 2 of the 10 members post a winning record. Currently everyone in the conference are below .500, and only 1 team has more than 2 wins.
Further, Grambling is a "dial a visitor" program, one people schedule to pad their w-l loss record, and the Tigers are a willing participant. Grambling didn't win a non-conference game last season, and won't play a home game this season until Jan. 6. That's right, the Tigers do not play a home non-conference game.
Grambling St. does have a 7' senior center, in Peter Roberson, but he and 6'8" junior forward Steven Dandridge are the the only Tigers taller than 6'5". 6'4" freshman guard Terry Rose is Grambling's leading scorer, posting 16 points per game, but after that, offensive production goes off a cliff, Roberson is the team's second leading scorer, but at just 6.4 points per game. Roberson is also their leading rebounder, but with only 4.8 per night.
There are 3 seniors and 1 junior on the roster, to go along with 4 sophs, and 4 freshmen.
Robinson, who relied on a more experienced lineup against the Jaykawks, in which 5 or the multi-year veteran all played 25 or more minutes, and only Challe Barton, Jarmal Reid, and Olaf Schaftenaar saw significant minutes at all beyond the elder 5, will return to playing more players, and in more combinations, as he works toward determining the most effective combinations and rotations to use come the conference season in January.
It will be the 3rd game without center Angus Brandt, who had his surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee yesterday, for the Beavers, and finding a front-court scoring presence remains the priority. Only Devon Collier, who came off the bench to score 12 points, had more than 7 from among the front court players in Kansas.
Consistency of performance in the back court is also something the Beavers still will be working on. Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson combined for 42 points, but Starks shot < 50%, and never got to the line, though he did hit 7 of 11 3 pointers. Nelson made 13 of 14 free throws, but only 2 of 11 shots from the field.
Getting to the boards will also be something Robinson will be looking for, particularly against a weak rebounding opponent, though they do have a 7 footer. In Kansas City, Eric Moreland pulled down 16 rebounds, 10 on the defensive end, but no one else had more than the 5 Collier collected.
The rested Beavers should find their stride early, and get a December schedule that is anything but inspiring off to a good start, a must for maximizing their post-season prospects.