The Beavers will present an interesting challenge, in a tournament format in lovely East Rutherford, New Jersey, no less. Paris in the Spring has nothing on Newark in the Fall.
This game will feature Texas speed, skill, and youth against Oregon State's size, length, and experience. Both teams have some quirky aspects and it should make for an interesting contrast.
Oregon St was miserable last year, but they're vastly improved (currently 3-0, best win: Hofstra), and several basketball guru types think they're a dark horse to make a move in the Pac 12. They're led by Craig Robinson (yep, that's Michelle Obama's brother) and he has been able to recruit pretty effectively to Corvallis. This could prove to be a helpful RPI game for both teams later in the season.
Oregon State throws a 1-3-1 trap, man, and matchup zones at your offense and I'm sure we'll see all of it. Can our freshmen run credible offense against those looks? Can we knock down the shot when they trap J'Covan with a 6-8 and a 6-4? We'll find out. Oregon State excels at forcing turnovers, but once you get past their initial pressure, they're not particularly great at defending outside the paint. They're about blocks, steals, and guarding the rim.
Oregon St is huge across their frontline - 6-8 215, 6-7 280, 6-10, 245. They should own the boards on us and they'll get plenty of second chance points (shooting 54% on the year). They were a pretty slow pace team last year, but they seem to be making a more concerted effort to pick it up in 2011 (averaging 87 ppg). Probably indicative of better overall talent and improved quickness at spots 1-3.
Interesting mix of attributes and skills - two hybrid forwards, no true point, great size at 4 spots. They're not strong from the 3 point line, but they're murdering people from 15 feet in.
6-4 junior guard Jared Cunningham is their best player and he's averaging 22.3 ppg after lighting up Hofstra for 35. He's an elite athlete slasher and can be a quality defender when focused. Average shooter, great scorer. Not a creator - he's looking to get his. Good in transition. Long and springy. Seems to have overcome his history of knuckleheadry. See here:
5-9 Ahmad Starks is a small point guard who really isn't. He's not a creator (2.7 apg) but he has a nice mid-range stroke. He leads the Beavers in steals. A defensive liability if he's not picking your pocket. On the break, look for him to rise and fire from 15. If Kabongo doesn't torment him, I'll be disappointed.
6-7 280 forward Joe Burton is a strange cat. Built like a defensive lineman, but with a point guard's court awareness. Not athletic, but very coordinated. Not a shot blocker. He averages 7 assists per game (not a mistype), can handle a little, and excels at hitting cutters from the post or wing. He's an OK scorer and uses his big body to get space for his shot. Weird and effective player.
6-8, 215 forward Devon Collier is their 2nd best pure talent and he's long. He played for Bob Hurley at St Anthony and was a four star recruit so I'm sure he'll look to go off for his Homecoming. He's a shot blocker and an effective scorer. He should be a much better rebounder than he is, but I'm sure being guarded by a guy five inches shorter will help him there. He can face up and has an OK handle.
6-10, 245 center Angus Brandt is from Australia. He'll be able to score inside on us and he'll give them a solid 15-25 minutes.
They're not a terribly deep team, but big man Eric Moreland (6-10 215) will play at 4 and 5 and Australian Rhys Murphy is a 6-7 forward who can shoot 3s. Roberto Nelson is a creative guard who offers them some playmaking ability.
How We Match Up
We should struggle with their size and some of their defensive looks. They'll look to scheme to cope with our quickness. Similarly, they'll struggle to defend the 3 point line with J'Covan and Kabongo creating when they go man-to-man. Oregon State will have to hide Ahmad Starks in whatever defense they play and I expect Kabongo to have the awareness to exploit that match-up to get into the lane and score. Will J'Covan struggle with Cunningham's size? Or will he put 2 fouls on him in the first 10 minutes?
Defensively, we need to keep them off the offensive glass as best we can and that means Bond and Wangmene need to come to bang. We can't match their height or size, but we can block out. It's tempting to go bigger to cancel some of their advantages, but I'd prefer we stay small and force them to guard us. I have no idea how we handle their two big forwards on the glass with a 6-3 or 6-4 wing.
Should be an extremely entertaining game with neither team really capable of getting a handle on the other and strange match-ups all over the court.