Column: Are the Beavers deep enough to contend?
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 04:01
When Craig Robinson met with the media in mid-October to discuss the upcoming men’s basketball season, he used the phrase “embarrassment of riches” in reference to his team’s depth.
Fourteen games into the season, I’m wondering if he was fibbing with us. At the very least, exaggerating ever so slightly.
Sure, the Beavers have since lost starting center Angus Brandt for the season, but Robinson maintains depth isn’t an issue.
After watching Sunday’s Civil War, which the University of Oregon won, 79-66, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Are the Beavers deep enough to contend for a top-half finish in the Pac-12?
Five Beavers scored against the Ducks. Those same five, who played 166 of a possible 200 minutes, have done the bulk of the scoring all season long.
By comparison, nine different Ducks scored on Sunday.
I asked Robinson if that concerned him.
“We have five guys averaging double figures,” Robinson said. “We have enough guys who can score.”
Offensive production is only part of it, and it would be naïve of me to assess a team’s depth solely based on scoring distribution.
There’s more, though.
Aside from Ahmad Starks, Roberto Nelson, Eric Moreland, Devon Collier and Joe Burton, here’s a breakdown of who did what on Sunday:
• Freshman Jarmal Reid: 14 minutes, 0-3 FG, 1 turnover, 3 fouls (no other stats)
• Freshman Olaf Schaftenaar: 12 minutes, 0-7 FG, 1 turnover, 3 rebounds (no other stats)
• Sophomore Challe Barton: 5 minutes (no other stats)
• Freshman Langston Morris-Walker: 3 minutes, 2 fouls (no other stats)
Now that’s just one game, and you can’t put too much stock into it because all four of those guys have had better days. It’s also worth noting that Robinson said he didn’t use his bench as much as he will in the future because it was OSU’s only game of the weekend, so it’s not like those guys got a chance to get into the flow of things.
It’s too early — there’s a whole lot of season left — for me to feel comfortable saying that this team isn’t deep enough to win at least half of its conference games.
But there’s no denying the Beavers’ depth — or lack thereof — is worth discussing.
I’ve formulated two arguments — one for the Beavers’ depth, one against the Beavers’ depth.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
The Beavers are deep enough
Like Robinson said, the Beavers have five guys who are proven scorers at the Division I level.
In fact, OSU is just one of two teams in the Pac-12 (Oregon being the other) with at least five guys averaging double figures.
Schaftenaar, eighth on the team in minutes played, is a capable 3-point shooter who shot the ball worse (I’d be willing to bet) against Oregon than we’ll see him shoot it again this season.
If Schaftenaar is knocking down shots, OSU has six scorers: three outside threats (Starks, Nelson, Schaftenaar) and three inside threats (Collier, Burton, Moreland).
You could argue that six scorers are plenty, and the Beavers can get by if their other guys contribute in different areas.
Reid and Morris-Walker are natural defenders. Robinson has compared Morris-Walker’s defensive tenacity to that of Jared Cunningham’s, when Cunningham was a freshman. Reid, who starts in place of Collier because Robinson likes to bring a player who can score off the bench, has guarded the opposition’s best player at times this season.
Barton is also a good defender, and is a floor general who knows what he’s doing when he’s on the court.
Freshman Victor Robbins, who didn’t play Sunday but will probably play more as the season progresses, has shown flashes of ability.
Robinson doesn’t ask Reid, Morris-Walker, Barton or Robbins to score. He asks them to play strong defense, and that’s what they’ve been doing — Reid in particular.
As with any successful basketball team, the role players are fulfilling their duties, according to teammates.
“I’m not worried about our depth,” Nelson said after Sunday’s game. “We have really good freshmen who can contribute and do a lot of good things.”
“As far as depth, the freshmen are coming along,” Moreland said after Monday’s practice. “Olaf had a rough day [Sunday], but he’ll bounce back. And we have Challe as a back-up point guard, so I feel like our depth is there.”
Bottom line: If the Beavers struggle this year, it won’t be because they lack depth or role players — it’ll be because their best players don’t play their best basketball.
The Beavers aren’t deep enough
Yes, the Beavers have five proven scorers, but it’s alarming how much they rely on just five guys in comparison to every other team in the Pac-12.
If you subtract the 45 points that Angus Brandt scored before his injury from the 1,079 points OSU has scored this season, OSU’s top five scorers have accounted for a staggering 88.6 percent of the team’s offense this season.
The Beavers are putting all their offensive eggs in a rather small basket.
By comparison, the Ducks’ top five scorers have accounted for 68.7 percent of their total points this season.
To put it another way, Oregon’s sixth leading scorer and below have scored a combined 340 points this season while OSU’s sixth leading scorer and below have scored a combined 118 points.