Basketball notebook: Robinson announces that Moreland, Collier violated team rules, still allowed to participate in off-season workouts
After a subpar season in which the Oregon State men’s basketball team finished last in the Pac-12, some pointed to 2013-14 as a make-or-break year for Craig Robinson.
Well, it’s off to a horrendous start, and the Beavers’ first game is still months away.
Tuesday morning, Robinson released the following statement:
“Senior forward Devon Collier and junior forward Eric Moreland are suspended indefinitely from competition for a violation of team rules,” the statement read. “They will be allowed to participate with the team in summer workouts and strength/conditioning activities while attending summer school classes.”
No further information was provided, and players and coaches were not made available for comment.
Moreland, who submitted paperwork for the NBA Draft in March before deciding to withdraw and return to school, led the Beavers in rebounding last year at 10.6 per game. Collier was the team’s second-leading scorer (12.6 PPG) and third-leading rebounder (6.0 RPG).
If Moreland and Collier are forced to miss games, that’d leave the Beavers with one established starter in the frontcourt: senior center Angus Brandt, who’s recovering from a torn ACL. Sophomores Olaf Schaftenaar, Jarmal Reid, Daniel Gomis and freshman Cheikh N’diaye are the team’s only other forwards/centers. Reid started 17 games last year, Schaftenaar started one, and Gomis and N’diaye have yet to suit up for the Beavers.
The suspension is Moreland’s second this year. In January, Moreland and teammate Victor Robbins each received three-game suspensions for a “violation of team rules” that was never specified.
In February, guard Langston Morris-Walker missed one game after he was stopped for allegedly trying to steal a Nike T-shirt from the campus bookstore.
Before Moreland and Collier’s suspensions were announced, the Barometer caught up with Robinson on Monday to talk about his team’s offseason. Robinson did not bring up Moreland or Collier.
The Beavers’ freshmen class — 6-foot-3 guard Hallice Cooke, 6-foot-2 guard Malcolm Duvivier and 7-foot center Cheikh N’diaye — arrived in Corvallis earlier this month and are getting acquainted with their new teammates on and off the court.
Robinson, who spent most of July on the road recruiting, likes what little he’s seen of the new crop of talent.
“It’s a little too early to make any types of predictions, but I like that they work extremely hard,” Robinson said. “I think all three of them will compete for some kind of playing time, I think. At this point, that’s what it feels like.”
Because the Beavers are thin in the backcourt, Cooke and Duvivier’s window of opportunity figures to open sooner than N’diaye’s. Senior Roberto Nelson (17.8 PPG in 31.3 MPG last year) and junior Challe Barton (2.9 PPG in 16.9 MPG) are established starters, but a void was created by Ahmad Starks’ decision to transfer to Illinois. Robbins and Morris-Walker, sophomores, played sparingly as freshmen, leaving no clear-cut favorite to be OSU’s first guard off the bench.
“I think [Cooke and Duvivier] have an opportunity, because we have Berto and Challe and after that we’ve got guys who have played limited minutes,” Robinson said.
Last year, Starks and Barton split point guard duties. Robbins and Morris-Walker are combo guards known more for their defense and athleticism than their ball handling and scoring ability.
Someone will have to back up Barton this year, though Robinson said Nelson is capable of running the point if need be. Cooke and Duvivier, who was added to this class when Starks’ departure opened up a scholarship in April, figure to be in the mix.
“Hallice is a taller, more controlled guard, and is a better spot-up three-point shooter,” Robinson said. “Malcolm can come off ball screens, more of a real point guard.”
N’diaye, OSU’s only 7-footer, could provide the Beavers with an interior defensive presence they sorely missed last year when they finished second-to-last in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense (43.1 percent). But he’ll have to compete with Brandt, who’s started 58 games in his OSU career, and Gomis for playing time. Both centers are coming off injuries that forced them to miss most or all of last season.
At the very least, N’diaye figures to be nice insurance in case injuries strike the Beavers’ frontcourt two years in a row.
“Any time you got a kid who’s almost seven feet tall and athletic, I think he’s going to push guys for some playing time,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Brandt, who tore his ACL in OSU’s fourth game last year, is a little more than a month away from a full return. He won’t practice with the Beavers in August, but is expected to give it a go in September.
“I would imagine that if we wanted to, we could let him go right now,” Robinson said. “It would be a pretty quick turnaround, and that’s why we’re going to hold off another month.”
Known in part for his work ethic, Brandt’s speedy recovery has surprised few.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s strong and he takes his rehab very seriously,” Robinson said.
Aside from senior leadership and an important body in the middle on defense, Brandt’s shooting ability will be a welcome addition when he returns. He shot 49.2 percent from beyond the arc two years ago, and OSU returns just two players (Nelson and Schaftenaar) who made 30 or more three-pointers last year.
“He’s been working on his shooting a whole lot, but that was already good,” Robinson said. “What I always tell people is when you have to sit out and watch us play, it helps you understand what you need to do when you get back in there. That’s what I’m hoping happens with him.”
Gomis, who has yet to suit up for the Beavers since arriving in Corvallis two years ago, is entirely healthy for the first time in his OSU career. He sat out as a freshman during the 2011-12 season after breaking his leg the summer prior, and missed last year after it was discovered that he needed to have the rod that was initially inserted into his leg removed.
“Daniel Gomis has been working out with these guys, running, playing pickup,” Robinson said. “He looks good.”
Barton and Schaftenaar not in Corvallis yet
The only two players not yet back on campus are Barton and Schaftenaar, who played with their respective national teams (Barton is Swedish, Schaftenaar is Dutch) over the summer. Robinson told them to spend some time at home before returning to Corvallis.
Robinson to China
Robinson will travel to China this week to help lead a series of coaching clinics in Shanghai from Aug. 1-9 as part of the Pac-12’s plan to go global. Robinson will meet with Chinese basketball coaches to talk about different aspects of coaching.
“We’re going to be over there a week doing clinics and having discussions with [Chinese coaches],” Robinson said. “It’s part clinic, part goodwill trip. And it’s also an introduction to the Pac-12 to all the people over in China.”
Robinson said he’s never been to China, and that he’s honored the Pac-12 asked him to go.
“I’m looking forward to talking and meeting coaches over there, and hopefully recruiting some players from over there,” he said.
Grady Garrett, sports editor
On Twitter: @gradygarrett