The Beavers return to action tonight to take on Washington State at Gill Coliseum. Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver are gone from last year's team that went 26-9 on the season, qualified as a #4 seed for the NCAA Tournament, and eventually lost to #1 seed North Carolina.
This will be Washington State's first conference road game of the year. It's difficult to win in the Pac-10 on the road-- which is why the Beavers must take advantage of the home court. The Cougars dropped their conference opener to the Huskies, lost to California, and beat Stanford-- all at Friel Court. They'll travel to Eugene to play the Ducks on Saturday.
The Cougar defense is relentless-- they lead the Pac-10 and the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 51.4 points per game. The Beavers like to slow the game down with their Princeston offense, so it will be interesting to see if the Oregon State offense can find penetration against Tony Bennett's squad.
With Low and Weaver gone, much of the responsibility has fallen onto the shoulders of senior guard Taylor Rochestie, who is averaging a team high 11.5 points per game on the season, and 17.3 ppg in league games.. As his conference point totals suggest, he's been improving as of late. For more insight, here's Nuss of CougCenter:
But after taking Taylor Rochestie to task for the team's struggles to score points, nobody is happier than me that he seems to finally be finding his place within the offense.
Yes, Rochestie averaged 20 points against the Bay Area schools, but as you can probably guess, I'm not a real big proponent of just looking at points scored and proclaiming a performance as a success or failure. Instead, I looked at his offensive rating in the two games compared to the games against other "like" competition.
In short, Rochestie comes out golden. In a stat where 100 is about average, Rochestie averaged a robust 116.4. Contrast that with an average of 70.75 in the first six games, as our supposed offensive leader was very nearly 30 percent worse than an average offensive player.
Washington State's big man in the middle is 6'10" Aron Baynes, who is averaging just over 10 points and six rebounds per game. I'd imagine much of the Beaver's game plan will include stopping the man who led the Cougars in scoring last season. I don't think the Beavers have a defender who can beat him 1-on-1, so look for a lot of zone schemes from Coach Robinson and the Beavers.
Tipoff is just a few minutes away... it's scheduled for 6:02 on FSN.
For the Washington State perspective, head over to CougCenter.