OSU focuses on post play, limiting turnovers for crucial weekend in Arizona
Published: Friday, January 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 11, 2013 02:01
After opening conference play at home with two losses, the Beavers are in Arizona today for the first of two road games.
Tonight’s game against the University of Arizona, at 6 p.m. in Tucson, will be the first conference road game for the Beavers (6-8, 0-2 Pac-12).
The Wildcats (9-4, 1-1 Pac-12) are on a five-game winning streak against the Beavers, with Oregon State’s last win occuring back in 2009 at Arizona.
Oregon State is working on points in the paint and better ball handling to get a win on the road. It is an important time for the Beavers to turn things around, as they have dropped their last five games — OSU’s last win came on Dec. 13.
The Beavers struggled last weekend with giving up points on turnovers. Against UCLA, they committed 24 turnovers, and the Bruins converted 23 points from those turnovers.
“[Turnovers are] something that has been a work in progress for us,” said head coach Scott Rueck. “That’s going to be a heavy emphasis as we prepare for the games, and that’s a hurdle this team has to get over.
While Arizona’s high-pressure defense is averaging 11 steals per game, the Beavers need to remain composed in face of a double-team and the Wildcats’ quick speed.
Oregon State was outscored in the key by an average of 10 points a game. In practice this week, the Beavers worked on post defense.
“They have athletic posts and great passers,” said freshman guard Jamie Weisner. “So we just have to know the personnel on the team and know where they are at.”
Defensively, the Beavers are second in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense (.338) and 20th in the nation. They play an effective combination of both man and zone defense, which holds their opponents to low shooting percentages.
“I am encouraged by both,” Rueck said. “I think they are getting a lot better. We are pretty good in both. We held [USC and UCLA] to a really low shooting percentage”
The team has also been working to slow down opponents on the transition. This is important against the Wildcats considering their high number of opportunities to score as a result of steals.
“We have been working a lot on our transition defense,” said sophomore guard Ali Gibson. “So making sure teams don’t get easy baskets, then just keeping doing what we are doing. We are holding teams to good shooting percentages.”
The Beavers will also need to be aware of Arizona’s outside shooters. Arizona’s Kama Griffitts and Davellyn Whyte are shooters that can knock down 3-pointers.
“They have elite shooters from that outside [who] will shoot NBA threes,” Weisner said.
The Beavers surprised many in the 2011-12 season, but they have failed to continue riding the momentum from their 20-win season a year ago.
The weekend slate against Arizona and Arizona State could be a prime opportunity for the team to turn around their season.
Sarah Kerrigan, sports reporter