Beavers hope to turn season around at Cal
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 01:01
The Oregon State men’s basketball team hasn’t won a true road game since defeating Portland State 79-74 on Dec. 12.
In fact, that’s the Beavers’ only true road win this season. Every other win has come in Gill Coliseum or at a neutral site.
That statistic doesn’t bode well for the Beavers (11-9, 1-6 Pac-12) as they prepare to face Cal tonight in Berkeley, Calif.
Cal (11-8, 3-4) is in the bottom half of the conference standings, but head coach Craig Robinson said that doesn’t mean anything for his struggling Beaver squad.
“It doesn’t take any weight off because, with our record, you have to win now,” Robinson said. “You have to put together some wins and turn this thing around. Our guys are handling this about as well as they can.”
Freshman Langston Morris-Walker, who scored a career-high nine points in last Saturday’s loss to WSU, expressed his dissatisfaction with the Beavers’ record, but seemed to be handling adversity with poise.
“I definitely didn’t picture us being 1-6 at this point, but Coach likes to say we’re just the little things away from being a very good team,” Morris-Walker said.
Cal, an NCAA Tournament team last year, was picked third by the media in this year’s Pac-12 preseason poll. But the loss of 2011-12 Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez, who is currently playing in the NBA D-League, has affected the Golden Bears more than most anticipated.
Robinson knows this is still a capable Cal squad, though.
“They are always a tough team to play at their place,” Robinson said. “They are not the team that they have been in the past, but they are still capable of putting together a good string of games, especially at home.”
Despite their losing conference record, the Golden Bears come into tonight’s game with two of the top offensive players in the league — junior guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs.
Crabbe is the leading scoring in the Pac-12, averaging 20 points per game, and Cobbs is 10th in scoring (14.7 PPG) and fourth in assists (4.2).
The Golden Bears don’t have a player in the top 10 statistically in rebounds per game in the conference, but neither does Washington State — and the Cougars still managed to out-rebound OSU 33-22 last Saturday. Rebounding has been a struggle for the Beavers in Pac-12 play this year, and they enter tonight third-to-last in the conference in rebounding margin.
“We work on it a lot in practice, but it’s really just more of wanting the ball,” said sophomore forward Eric Moreland. “We’ve just got to go get the board and try to go, and that’s going to be our Achilles’ heel, if we don’t start getting rebounds.”
At the beginning of the season, Robinson and his players said their goal was to make it to the NCAA Tournament. However unlikely, Robinson said that is still the goal for this squad.
“The goal is still the same, but the shorter-term goal is to win the next game you play,” Robinson said. “Our game is still the same, and because we play a conference tournament, we still have an opportunity to do that.”
The Beavers might still have lofty goals, but right now they are just trying to get over the hump, and break out of a slump that dates back to a nonconference loss to Towson on Dec. 29.
“We’re right there,” Moreland said. “You can only get so much from saying that, but we see it and we believe. We believe in the coaching staff and we believe in each other so we just got to keep on grinding it out.”
Alex Crawford, sports reporter
On Twitter @dr_crawf