Here we sit, 4-5 and tied for 6th place in the Pac-10 standings. We have wins over USC and Cal (both ahead of us), but this second go-round of the conference carosel is not going to be any easier. We have the 3 best schools in the conference on the road (UCLA, UW, USC). However, the team's learning curve since the beginning of the season has been exponentially enormous, as seen by my very scientific exponential curve:
Proof of our team's growth needs to be looked no further then these dates: November 14th and December 20th. On Nov 14th, Oregon State lost to Howard (currently 4-16) 47-45 in the first game of the season and the first game for new head coach Craig Robinson. We appeared to be heading towards another poor season. But then on Dec 20th, Howard came to visit Corvallis, and we won 90-54. We lost by 2, and then a month later won by 36! This team gets better every game, and look for us to make a splash with at least keeping it close against UCLA or UW. Robinson has the boys confident and will not let them fold up and die.
MVP: The first thought may be to give it to Schaftenaar as he was instrumental in getting the team's first sweep of the Bay Area in 16 years and has become somewhat of a fan favorite. But after looking over the whole season, there can be no other conclusion than by giving it to Calvin Haynes. The sophomore guard has been the most consistent player on the team, averaging 16.1 points per game and 3.5 rebounds in nearly 33 minutes each game (I think it should be noted that he played in 39 minutes against Oregon. Incredible). In the two losses to Arizona State and Arizona, he had 3 and 9 points, respectively. I think it's safe to say that Calvin Haynes is the current face of the program and the most important person on this team.
(Image via cache.daylife.com)
Most Improved Player: This one definitely has to go to Roeland Schaftenaar. After playing sparingly the last two years, averaging 3.2 and 4.6 ppg and under 1 assist per game his first two years, he is now averaging 9.1 points and 3 assists per game. While it's to be said that Haynes is our most valuable player, the offense is always run through Roeland.
Biggest Surprise: Coach Robinson promised the student body that we would win one Pac-10 game. Nobody ever would have thought we would have four IN THE FIRST NINE GAMES! Nobody really knew much about CCR before this year, and he was probably 4th or 5th down the line in terms of prospective coaches. But he truly is a diamond in the rough.
Biggest Disappointment: Hard to be really disappointed after last year's debacle, but for the sake of writing something, I would have to say that, while it's been great that we have won some games, the manner is which we have lost our Pac-10 games has been embarassing. Our five Pac-10 losses have come by an average of 22 points. Take the four point overtime loss to Washington State, and it comes painfully close to 27 points. But again, it's all relative. We were losing games by 30-40 points last year. Improvement has been tremendous.
What's Next: A tough remaining schedule, don't be surprised to only win two more Pac-10 games. However, if we continue to play the way we have been playing, four more wins is not out of the question. If you had asked me at the beginning of the year if I would have been happy with a 6-12 Pac-10 record, I would have told you I'd be ecstatic. An 8-10 record? I'd be thrilled! A 9-9 record for .500? I probably would have laughed you right out of your shorts.