Oregon State will take on Oregon in the 347th meeting between the Ducks and the Beavers, college basketball’s most contested match-up in history (Oregon State leads the series all-time, 186-160). We chatted with Sean Larson, managing editor of Oregon’s SB Nation blog, Addicted to Quack, about the upcoming game and future expectations of the Duck’s season.
1. Alright so elephant in the room: Dillon Brooks. With all of the controversy surrounding tripping (Grayson Allen) and kicking (Draymond Green) permeating basketball culture, what is your official editorial stance on what happened with Dillon Brooks?
At first glance, it looked suspicious to me. But after watching the replay, I believe Brooks was simply protecting himself on the play, and Josh Hawkinson was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brooks' leg was at an awkward angle and had he not swung it up and out from under him, it likely would've resulted in an ugly injury. Refs around the nation are on high alert for this type of stuff because of Draymond Green and Grayson Allen, but I don't think an ejection was necessary here. I think a simple warning would've done the trick.
2. The season got off to a slow start for the Ducks, but the ship seems to have righted course now. What changed?
While the Ducks didn't lose too many players from last year to this year, there is always a transitional period when new guys come in. Oregon has a few new faces, most notably Payton Pritchard, a freshman who has already contributed in a big way. I think at the beginning of the season you saw them just figuring out chemistry, needing to settle into a groove.
In their loss against Baylor, they played like they'd never seen a zone before and shot 3-of-21 from beyond the arc. Poor shooting plagued them again in their next loss to Georgetown, but they have seemed to settle down and their offense is starting to click.
Having a healthy Dillon Brooks is also vital. I don't think they realized just how much they missed him until he came back and finally started producing again.
3. What are the keys to keeping the game close for Oregon State?
They need to find a way to keep the score down and turn it into a defensive battle. Oregon's offense has scored at least 80 points in four of its last five games and don't show any signs of slowing down. Their two losses early in the season came from poor shooting performances and struggling against the zone. If Oregon State can find a way to slow down the tempo and force Oregon to shoot from the outside, they could have a chance.
4. Oregon and Oregon State have split the series 3 of the last five years. Do you see that happening again this season?
Rivalry games are always tough and I never pay attention to records or rankings when they roll around. I think there is an added level of intensity that is always fun to watch. I could definitely see a series split happening again this year, but Oregon State's win is going to have to come in Corvallis. The Ducks are simply too good at home.
5. Oregon has a couple guys on the roster that could make the early leap next year to the pros. Do you predict a lot of talent will be declaring for the draft, or do you think they stick around after the tournament?
It's definitely possible that we'll see a few of Oregon's top players leave early for the draft. It's too early to say now, but if Oregon has a similar season as last year, or goes even deeper in the tournament to the Final Four or national championship, I think Dylan Brooks and Chris Boucher have the best chances at being drafted, maybe Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell as well. Brooks has proven how valuable he is to this team and Dorsey is another offensive weapon. On the defensive side, Boucher and Bell could provide some much needed help for an NBA team in need especially in the shot blocking department.
6. Can you give us a final score prediction? Actually, make that two. One if Tres Tinkle plays and one if Tres sits out another game.
I think Oregon takes care of business decisively in this game, with or without Tres Tinkle on the floor. I think even if he did play, he'd be in a more limited role than we're used to seeing and wouldn't have much of an impact, much in the same way Dillon Brooks struggled to contribute when he returned to the court for Oregon. So, I'm going 81-63 in favor of the Ducks, with or without Tinkle in the game.