Oregon State opens with a rematch
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 22:03
It is literally now or never for the Oregon State men’s basketball team.
With a losing overall record, it is extremely unlikely that the Beavers (14-17, 4-14 Pac-12) will receive any kind of invitation to even the lowest of postseason tournaments.
Entering the Pac-12 Tournament as the 12-seed, OSU’s only hope is to win four games in a row, beginning with No. 5-seed Colorado (20-10, 10-8) this afternoon at 2:30 in Las Vegas.
Being the underdog in the conference tournament is familiar territory for OSU though. The Beavers have been the lower seed in their last five conference tournament wins. Last season, the nine-seed Beavers pulled off the biggest upset in Pac-12 Tournament history when they defeated top-seeded Washington.
Head coach Craig Robinson said he thinks the Beavers are capable of repeating history.
“We are very confident that if we are playing our game for 40 minutes, we can win four games in a row, absolutely,” Robinson said. “With the start of the Pac-12 Tournament, this is an opportunity for us to move forward in yet another direction.”
The Beavers are coming off their second Pac-12 road win of the season, which coincidentally, came against Colorado just four days ago. The Beavers will have to repeat the success they had on Saturday if they want to make any noise in Las Vegas.
“We know [Colorado] will be coming out for blood,” Robinson said. “They are playing for NCAA Tournament aspirations, so they won’t need any extra motivation. Our guys know that and we’ll be prepared for it.”
Oregon State benefited from the absence of Andre Roberson — Colorado’s 6-foot-7 forward who averages a double-double and leads the nation in rebounding. All reports point to him playing today.
“I would imagine that Roberson is going to play this time around, so it’ll be a different kind of game,” Robinson said. “But we are looking forward to the challenge again.”
The Beavers will attempt to counter Roberson’s tenacity with sophomore forward Eric Moreland, who is second in the conference in rebounding (10.5 per game), blocked shots (2.4), and tied for first in double-doubles (11). He had his 11th double-double against the Buffaloes on Saturday, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds.
Besides the glory of victory, there is a bit of history at stake for Oregon State as well. Junior guard Ahmad Starks needs 17 points to become Oregon State’s fourth player this season to reach 1,000 career points. Junior forward Devon Collier, junior guard Roberto Nelson and senior forward Joe Burton have all reached that mark this season. If Starks can score at least 17 points, this year’s squad will be the first in Oregon State history to have four players with at least 1,000 career points.
The Beavers are the only Pac-12 team to have already played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this season. Led by 20 points and 11 rebounds from Moreland, OSU defeated San Diego on Dec. 22, 2012.
“We were fortunate we got to play in Vegas this year against San Diego. It sort of gave us a little dry run,” Robinson said. “But for our guys, this is a business trip. They want to win. Not only do they want to win but they want to win multiple games.”
If the rest of the season has been any indicator, the Beavers’ season will most likely come to an end on Wednesday afternoon. But Robinson and the players have a belief that they are capable of the kind of string of upsets that make this time of the year so special during college basketball season.
“I think our guys get rejuvenated when we get to this part of the year, because it’s a time to start over,” Robinson said. “We have always gotten better toward the end of the year and it feels that way this year. It’s just a mindset.”