Here is Part II of the mega preview! Featured here are Oregon and Oregon State. Enjoy!
Head Coach: Craig Robinson (2nd year, career 48-46)
Change we can believe in, amirite? With more or less the same players who lost 21 straight games to finish the 07-08 season, Robinson and the Beavers won the CBI in 08-09. So Robinson can coach, or at least wins fans over by "not being the last guy," something his brother-in-law can relate to. Can he recruit? Will his offensive system continue to work as the rest of the Pac 10 has had an offseason to analyze it? Answering these questions positively would go a long way towards establishing "Craig Robinson, famous relative" as "Craig Robinson, darn good coach."
Roeland Schaftenaar (SR, 10.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 30 blocked shots)
This guy is the living embodiment of the term "point-forward." The Netherlandian (hmm, Dutchman?) doubled his scoring output from his sophomore year under Robinson, and looks to make a similar step forward this year. He also led the Beavers in assists and has been a constant pain in the you-know-what for less mobile bigs (like Baynes). If he can increase his defensive presence beyond help-defense-shot-blocking, he could make a play for an All-Pac-10 team in his final collegiate season.
Seth Tarver (SR, 8.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 spg)
Tarver is a great athlete and excellent defender. He'll need to increase his scoring to help turn "close losses" into "clutch wins."He's a good all-around player and senior leader for the Beavers.
Calvin Haynes (SO,13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.5 apg) led the Beavers in scoring last season despite missing the first several games due to academic issues. I guess you could say the impact of the suspension was... academic? Sorry. He scores in bunches and will look to develop his all-around game this season. He could be the most dangerous player on the team.
Roberto Nelson (Santa Barbara HS/Santa Barbara, Calif.) is probably Robinson's first solid recruit. He can play either the 1 or the 2, but at this point he likes to shoot more than he should. Definitely a spark-off-the-bench type of guy who can catch fire from deep, but could also hurt the flow of the offense like Tajuan Porter often did for the Ducks last season. He's apparently fairly adept at driving to the hoop and creating scoring chances for others, which may be what the Beavers need more this year.
Blue Ribbon Outlook:
Robinson never doubted he could win in Corvallis. The Beavers are ahead of schedule, and Robinson hopes to build on last year's success. With the exception of Claitt, all the key pieces are back from last season. Add what is considered a strong recruiting class to the equation and the ingredients are there for OSU to make some noise in the Pac-10. "It's certainly possible," Robinson said. "It's really gonna depend on how deep we are."
Head Coach: Ernie Kent (13th year, 219-157 at Oregon)
Many in the media call Ernie the latest victim of heightened expectations. Sure, you took the team to the Elite Eight just a few years ago, but what have you done for me lately? Oh, you lost 23 games last year? tsk tsk, you are on the hot seat my friend.
No major ones, minor: Kamyron Brown (transferred)
Tajuan Porter (SR, 15.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg)
I think the word "enigmatic" fits here. Last year, Porter was thrust into a leadership position and appeared to do poorly with it. Everyone knows he can shoot 3s and go off at any time, but the mature leader the Ducks were hoping for never appeared. Kent calls him "the glue to this team" which must be a scary thought for Duck fans. If he learns from last year's mistakes and picks up his defensive play a little, he can be an impact player and give the Ducks a chance to win on any given night. I don't think Oregon has another Aaron Brooks waiting in the wings to let TP shift over to his preferred 2 position, so how TP responds to his abysmal junior campaign will be critical.
Joevan Catron (SR, 7.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Similarly to Porter (and probably the rest of the Ducks too), Catron couldn't replicate his excellent season coming off the bench for the Ducks two years ago. He only shot 37% last year (!!!) but this time has a bit more frontcourt help to alleviate double teams. He's legitimately capable of a triple double as he's a big post player who can also rack up the assists. But the excellent performances were buried amongst the dismal results last year, and Catron needs to become more consistent for the Ducks to make the NCAA (heck, even the NIT).
Josh Crittle (SO, 3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 16 blocked shots). Crittle looks like an NBA player but doesn't yet play like one. He's 6-8, 260, and impatient. While only getting 15 minutes a game last year, he still managed to lead the team in fouls. But that's a typical freshman problem - he'll get big minutes for the Ducks if he keeps out of foul trouble, because the rest of his game could become pretty good.
Jamil Wilson (FR, 21.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.8 bpg, Horlich HS/Racine, Wis.). Wilson could be the top recruit for Ernie Kent this year. He's a 6-7 forward, and "he has great athleticism," Kent said. "He's really skilled in his ability to see the floor."
Blue Ribbon Outlook:
If past is prologue, Oregon should rebound this season. In the three previous seasons under Kent that the Ducks failed to finish with a winning record, the 1998-99 squad went 19-13 and reached the NIT Final Four, the 2001-02 team went 26-9, won the Pac-10 championship and advanced to the Elite Eight, and the 2006-07 team was 29-8, won the Pac-10 tournament championship and made another Elite Eight appearance.
"We've had to reload before and here they came," Kent said. "There's a nucleus of eight players in the program that will be with us for the next three years, and that's how you make those runs." The Ducks will be improved, but how much depends on the impact of the incoming recruiting class and last season's freshmen. The NCAA tournament seems like a reach, with the NIT a more realistic destination.
Well, the schools from Oregon have probably a little lower ceiling overall than the Washington schools. Both Oregon and OSU will hope to outclass the Cougs and fight for that top seed in the NIT.
Oregon has major issues with personnel, primarily focused on the young talent while still having good older players who are not playing as well as they have in the past. They still have no particularly adept point guard, so the offense is likely going to be some mixture of pounding it inside or letting Porter do his thing. If they do the former, along with good ball movement and solid defense, this team could be pretty decent. I fear (for them) that it will be the latter, with Porter either unwilling or unable to take a more distributive role on offense.
OSU could be pretty decent this year, and I think they have just as much reason to hope for the tournament as WSU does. They're more athletic than you think, and with a year of Coach Robinson's system under their belts they could very well have their own version of Bennett Ball. Patient offense will almost always result in good shots, and fundamental rebounding and defense could carry them a long way. We'll see how much they've matured since 2007-08.