January 31, 2009

Hoops Preview: Oregon State

A stunning few days down in the Bay Area last weekend for the Beavers. Two wins, over teams that most people gave them no chance to beat. Behind new Coach Craig Robinson the Beavers have caught a little fire. Last weekend's wins bring their record to nearly .500 at 9-10 and their 3-5 conference mark is a full three games ahead of the Ducks.

After opening their season with losses to teams like opened their season with losses to Howard, Nevada, Yale and Montana State, the Beavers have turned it around behind the unlikely emergence of 'point center' Roeland Schaftenaar. After starting the season by having little impact and scoring a few points here and there. Schaftenaar busted out last weekend averaging 20 points in two games and taking advantage of his ball-handling abilities by starting the Beaver offense out on top.

Schaftenaar's skills out there are of course, going to be a problem for the Ducks if Michael Dunigan doesn't show up with a strong defensive effort, move his feet and stay quick. OSU's offensive style of high post offense is perfectly suited to take advantage of Oregon by pulling Dunigan way from the hoop and letting its other players try to get to the rim without a shot blocker to contend with.

The biggest beneficiary of Coach Robinson's offense has been guard Calvin Haynes. The 6'2" junior is averaging over 16 points a game and he'll be a tough matchup for the Ducks whenever he gets the ball. The Beavers of course will run t the Princeton-style offense made famous by Robinson's old coach Pete Hamill.It's a whirling motion offense with cutters coming and going from every angle that wears on the patience of defenders until they make a mistake and the offense capitalizes on it. Defensively, they'll play a lot of zone and rotate between 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 defenses for the most part.

Against those defenses it's important for Oregon to make good entry passes and use the baseline to enter the ball to Dunigan and anyone else who sets up on the block. It's also important for them to move the ball in and out of the key to force defenders to shift and open shots for themselves.

Honestly, it's the kind of defense that former Duck Bryce Taylor would've been salivating all night before he got a chance to step on the court. The open spots will be on the wings and the baseline for mid-range jump shooters and slashers like Taylor. Oregon's most similar player wit that style is LeKendric Longmire right now. His performance on Saturday is key to the Ducks coming out of Gil Coliseum with a victory.

The Civil War basketball series is the most played between any two teams in NCAA Division 1 history. OSU holds a 180-149 advantage in the series and the Ducks have won the last four.

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