The Ralphie Report sat down with the great Oregon State blog on SBNation, Building The Dam, to discuss tonight's game in Boulder. Thanks to Andy for the answers.
You can check out Parker's answers to their questions here.
Give us the recap of the Oregon State season so far. They seemed to start fast and then hit a bit of a wall, but they got a huge win over the Ducks last week. Are fans happy with the performance to date?
The Beavers got off to a fast start, though some of that was at least partially a product of a relatively soft non-conference schedule. However, they hadn't been able to handle such a schedule in the past, so it wasn't a bad choice. However, they are a young team, sometimes prone to slow starts, which got them beat in the conference openers in the state of Washington.
There were also issues with defending outside shooters if teams would make 2-3 passes, and once better competition in the conference came along, it caught up with them a little. The Beavers missed multiple chances to win the 4 overtime game against Stanford, and then again in overtime at Arizona the next game out.
Fans are a little frustrated with some of the mistakes the team has made, as much as the losses, but most recognize that the team is still going through some learning moments. A good finish will mean a season most Beaver fans will consider a success.
Is Jared Cunningham the biggest scoring threat on this Beaver team? Who else do the Buffs need to watch out for on Thursday?
Cunningham is without a doubt Oregon St.'s best threat, both offensively and defensively, and leads the Pac-12 in scoring. Devon Collier has emerged as the Beavers' best front-court scoring threat, and leads the conference in fg%. Point guard Ahmad Starks is a streak shooter, and is second on the team, just ahead of Collier, in points scored. If Starks gets hot, he can really light it up with 3 pointers. However, he can go really cold from outside as well.
Eric Moreland isn't usually a major scorer, but he leads the conference in blocked shots, and is 5th in the Pac-12 in rebounding. He has a 7'5" wing span, and can get to balls you wouldn't think he has any chance to get a finger on.
What kind of offensive schemes should we expect to see against from Oregon State against one of the best defenses in the conference, especially in Boulder?
Oregon St. is a good passing team, and leads the Pac-12 in assists. Most nights most baskets have an assist. They are also unselfish, and so they will look to make as many passes as necessary to find someone with an open shot. Forward Angus Brandt will step out and shoot the 3 pointer at times, and all 3 guards in the rotation, Cunningham, Starks, and Roberto Nelson are not bashful about taking a 3 pointer.
The Beavers aren't exclusively an outside shooting team though, and will send cutters to the basket with a high post. Center Joe Burton is tied with Cunningham for the team lead in assists.
Oregon St. also lead the conference in steals, so they will look to nullify the Buffs' defense on some possessions by getting out in transition off take-aways.
This Oregon State team has won three in a row, leads the Pac-12 in scoring without a senor on the roster. Is the future bright for this team?
Actually, there is one senior, reserve forward Kevin McShane. But he's 9th on the team in minutes played. And you are right, next year should be a very good season, when Cunningham, Brandt, and Burton are seniors. Coach Craig Robinson has improved the athleticism of the team with his recruits, so there shouldn't even be a big dropoff the year after next.
The Beavers just pulled off a huge win over the Ducks in Eugene. Are they better than most Pac-12 teams have been on the road?
With a 1-4 conference road record, obviously not. Relative inexperience still causes problems in hostile and unfamiliar environments. They do have the speed and scoring ability to give themselves a chance in any given game, though.
Why does the Pac-12 seem to be so down this year, and when do you see the conference turning it around and becoming a player on the national scene again? Can we expect a big improvement next year?
The old Pac-10 teams in recent years have sent several pretty good players to the NBA early, and as a result, there has been a lot of premature turnover of the best players. Next year should be better (it couldn't get much worse), but with California graduating some of their best players, and talk of more early departures already circulating, I don't expect to see the Pac to become a major player nationally for a couple of seasons. For one thing, there aren't many dominant big men in the conference, and so a powerful inside game doesn't seem imminent at most schools. Good guard play can always win any given game, but it doesn't win against good teams with consistency without a solid game in the paint to go with it.
Once exposure improves with the Pac-12 Network, and a better deal with ESPN, recruiting conference wide should be helped, and then real progress should follow. I won't be surprised if it takes 3 years or so before we see multiple teams making noise on the national level.
Predict the outcome.
If Oregon St. can avoid a slow start, I think the Beavers' recent momentum will carry them to a 74-65 win. But I don't trust the combination of unfamiliarity and elevation. Starks even got sick last year when the Beavers went to Boulder. If I had to bet the Beaver Dam on it, I'd have to go with Buffs 80-70.