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No Need to Panic

Although the box score may cause some alarm, there is no reason for Beaver fans to panic just yet. This team is still capable of winning games and making the tournament, they just lost to a more talented team. It is far from the end of the world, the Beavs were fairly competitive except for the beginning and until things fell apart in the endgame. There are weaknesses in this squad and they were exposed in this matchup, but the majority of those weaknesses can be rectified.

The same problems from old games resurfaced in this one, poor free throw shooting being one of them. The Beavs left a lot of points on the court because of missed free throws, there were a couple missed on the front of a one and one, so really even more points were lost than just the eight missed free throws. When playing as talented a team as Washington, the Beavers cannot afford these small miscues, the way to beat more talented teams is to execute better than them, and against the Huskies the Beavers failed to do so.

Rebounding is becoming more and more of an issue as well, it was hard enough to get defensive stops, but when Washington did miss, the Beavs often let them have second chances. This problem is a little simpler to fix than free throws, free throws are sort of a mental game, but rebounding is more of a matter of a focus. Every player needs to make sure they are boxing out somebody, unless they are supposed to be leaking out for a potential fastbreak opportunity. It was a disheartening to see the good defensive efforts be wasted by letting the Huskies get the offensive rebound and put it back up.

Another issue is the lack of one guy willing to try and take over on the offensive end. When things get tough, someone has to create some offense, either through set plays or through individual efforts. The first player you probably think about to put the team on his back is Jared Cunningham. He has all the necessary skills barring his lack of a pull-up jumper. He has a solid handle, has a knack for getting to the basket and pretty good court vision. When it came down to the tough parts of the second half though, he disappeared. If Cunningham is going to be the star player for OSU then he has to play like it when it counts. Another guy who is not afraid to attempt big shots is Roberto Nelson, he is more then willing to put up a 3 in a big moment, as is Ahmad Starks. Nelson has more of the tools to take over though than Starks, where Starks is almost purely limited to being an outside shooter. Nelson has more of the size and shooting ability to create in more ways than Starks. My personal wish is that Devon Collier could step up to become that guy, because of his incredible body control and how skilled he is for a forward, but it seems that his personality is more towards shying away from the spotlight.

Although those are the glaring weaknesses, it was a good learning experience to play against a Pac-12 opponent instead of the cupcakes the Beavs had played the last few weeks. Despite the loss, it was at home to possibly the best team in the Pac-12. The best part about this OSU team is that they still had a chance to beat Washington, it is finally a team where fans can actually believe that the Beavers will win regardless of the opponent. That sort of optimism was much harder to find during football season, where losses became expected. Although if the Beavs lose to WSU after the Cougars were thoroughly decimated by the Ducks there might be more concern required, but at this moment in the season feel free to believe that OSU can and will win.

Go Beavs!