Column: Some positives, mostly negatives
Published: Friday, January 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 11, 2013 04:01
Two home games, two losses, and a ticked off Arizona team on deck.
I’m not sure there’s a worse way to start conference play than dropping three at home, but it looks like that’s where things are headed for the Oregon State men’s basketball team after last night’s 10-point loss to Arizona State.
• After OSU’s loss to Oregon on Sunday, Robinson said the Beavers need their scorers to score in order to win games.
But it’s relevant because OSU relies heavily on just five players offensively.
Of those five, the only one who had a good game against the Sun Devils was junior forward Devon Collier, who led the way for OSU with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Junior guard Ahmad Starks was 3-of-11 from the field, and junior guard Roberto Nelson (eight points, one rebound, two assists) and senior forward Joe Burton (0 points, five rebounds, three assists) played poorly, too.
The fifth player, sophomore forward Eric Moreland, didn’t play due to a suspension.
OSU needs three or four of those five to play well in order to beat most Pac-12 teams, so the fact that only one played well last night pretty much explains why the Beavers lost.
• The good news: Thursday, I ran a column questioning OSU’s depth.
I don’t know if the Beavers’ bench players read it, but they played like they did.
Freshmen Jarmal Reid, Olaf Schaftenaar, Langston Morris-Walker and sophomore Challe Barton scored 23 of OSU’s 62 points — not a substantial number, but sure better than the zero points (on 0-of-10 shooting) those four combined for in Sunday’s Civil War loss.
More than that, they brought OSU back to life when it appeared the Sun Devils were dangerously close to blowing the game open midway through the second half.
Trailing 52-37 with 13:29 remaining, Robinson went with a lineup Barton, Morris-Walker, Reid, Schaftenaar and Devon Collier, and a 14-3 OSU run ensued.
“They were tremendously outmatched at that time from a talent standpoint and an experience standpoint, and they just hung in there and I couldn’t have been more proud of them,” Robinson said.
Reid’s numbers speak from themselves: six points, 11 rebounds, five assists in 26 minutes.
Barton, four days after playing five minutes and registering zero statistics against Oregon, played arguably the best game of his career, given the stakes.
His numbers don’t jump off the page — six points on 3-of-4 shooting, two assists, one steal — but he played a career-high 28 minutes and didn’t turn the ball over. Two of his three buckets came on impressive drives to the bucket, and the other was a silky smooth jumper from the top of the key, just inside the 3-point arc.
I can’t remember the last time we saw Barton do either of those things prior to last night.
“Challe has been under a dark cloud this season, he’s just had a tough season and it was great to see him break out of that a little bit in a game where it really mattered,” Robinson said.
Finally, as if Robinson had read my column in yesterday’s paper, he closed his comments about the bench with this:
“What you can take away from that is we have a bench,” Robinson said. “Those guys are going to be good, they just need a little bit more experience.”
• I was surprised to see Collier briefly come out of the game with 4:25 left and the Beavers down four.
Collier was easily OSU’s most effective player offensively, and had just scored on consecutive possessions. The Beavers failed to score on their three possessions, and by the time Collier reentered the game at the 2:14 mark, ASU had extended its lead to eight.
I asked Robinson about this, and he said Collier was cramping up “bad” and they needed to get some fluids in him, so that settles that.
• Moreland and freshman guard Victor Robbins were “suspended indefinitely” for a “violation of team rules” just prior to Thursday’s game, but little is known about the situation beyond that.
Both players are expected to practice today, but their status for Saturday’s tilt with Arizona remains unclear.
Robbins was dressed in uniform on the bench, but I did not see Moreland at the game.
“[Moreland] will be back, I’ve been told, but I don’t know when,” Robinson said.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of that quote, but it sounds like this all unfolded rather quickly on Thursday and Robinson was still sorting out the details.
I don’t see OSU putting up much of a fight against Arizona on Saturday if Moreland’s services aren’t available.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation going forward.
• Beaver Nation, where were you?
The announced attendance was 4,796, roughly half of Gill Coliseum’s capacity.
I understand that this team can be frustrating to watch at times, and I understand that an 8:30 p.m. start isn’t ideal for those who have early class or work the next morning, but a crowd of less than 5,000 is pathetic for a Pac-12 game.
In fact, it was one of the few times I can remember that Robinson didn’t make a point to thank the fans during his postgame press conference — he almost always does, win or lose.
The last thing the Beavers need right now is for their fans to throw the towel in on the season, and if Thursday was any indication, that may happen sooner rather than later.
Grady Garrett, managing editor