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Beavers face Portland for Beaver Invitational Crown

With the Pilots of Portland knocking off Idaho State 76-52 last night, the Beavers and Pilots will be playing for the tournament championship in today's game, which officially will begin at 4:06.

The Beavers, who beat Idaho State 56-41 on Friday, should get all they want from the Pilots. They're 2-3 on the season, with wins over Liberty and Idaho State, but losses to Fresno State, San Diego State, and Oregon. They actually led the Ducks for most of the first half until they blew it open in the second. Portland is led in the scoring column by 6-9 sophomore forward Robin Smeulders, who is averaging 13.8 points a game-- off the bench. Sherrard Watson, their 6-6 senior forward is averaging 11 points a game, and Nik Raivio is averaging 10.

The Pilots are outrebounding their opponents by about eight boards a game, and they're led by Luke Sikma, who gets an average of 10 boards a game. He's their biggest force on the glass, but Smuelders also gets in there, averaging seven boards a game, again, off the bench.

The Pilots are scoring 68.4 points a game, which is well above Oregon State's 59.2. The Pilots are being outscored by their opponents, however, who are scoring just over 70. Oregon State has a 4.8 point advantage over their opponents.

The Pilots are also a poor three point shooting teams, so we could see a lot of zone defense played by both teams in this game.

The Beavers are being led in points by sophomore guard Seth Tarver, who sparked the Beavers offense last game as they snuck by Idaho State in the second half. He's averaging 16.3 points a game, just slighly better than Marcel Jones' 15.3. After those two, there's a significant drop in scoring. The next best average is Josh Tarver, at 6 points a game. Josh does lead the team in steals and is second in assists.

Speaking of assists, Ricky Claitt leads the Beavers with 19. He's started every game along with the Tarver Brothers, but he only has nine points on the season. When you have a guy like Ricky who will play defense and not hurt you on offense (opposite of Sasa Cuic from years past) it's hard to pull him from the lineup. Jay John has kept him in there-- Seth Tarver is the only Beaver who has played more minutes than Ricky. If you watch the game today, (FSN) keep your eye on the 6-2 junior college transfer.

In this game, Oregon State needs to jump out in front in the early part of the game. They're being outscored by their opponents in the first half, but then manage to outscore them my about eight points in the second half. Since we've only been through four games, the data isn't the best, but the Beavers need not to lay an egg early today.

So, things to improve on, and keys to the game:

Defense. Up the tempo, don't allow UP to control the game. Force turnovers, get fast breaks.

Shooting. If Portland comes out in some sort of a zone, we need to shoot the ball well to get out of it. Going 0-13 in the first half on three pointers in not going to win ballgames when we get to Pac-10 play.

Rebounding. It's been keeping us in games so far this season, and a strong effort on the glass from guys like Roeland Schaftenaar and Seth Tarver really help out.