Reading through fellow Rant scribe David LaRose’s Pac-12 rankings, I was surprised to see Oregon State ranked in the Top 5. I double-checked the rankings, did a double-take, and sure enough, the Beavers are 8-2.
Of course, I wanted to dismiss their schedule and beating the likes of Purdue, Portland State and Chicago State made me ready to question their mettle. But looking at their two losses, they only lost by three to Alabama and six to Kansas. The Beavers gave the Jayhawks a tough game in both halves and even though Kansas pulled away, their toughness showed this isn’t the same Oregon State team that’s struggled the previous years.
In his fifth year, head coach Craig Robinson has his squad playing a more uptempo style and it’s translated to the Beavers being ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in points scored, barely behind Arizona. They’re also second in the conference in 3-point percentage (39.5%)
The Beavers suffered a huge loss when center Angus Brandt, who started the team’s first four games, went down with a season-ending knee injury. Yet they’ve seen great play out of their front court, especially in sophomore Eric Moreland (10.7 rebounds per game – No. 2 in the conference) and Devon Collier (15.4 points per game off the bench before starting Wednesday against Howard).
When I saw them against Howard, I was really impressed with Moreland, who at 6-10 made his presence felt inside the paint. There’s some good potential in the guards but I’m waiting to see what happens when they face Oregon to open conference play.
It’s hard to tell how good the Beavers are until then. But their confidence is soaring and if they can get some consistent play in the backcourt, don’t be surprised if they sneak up on a few teams who may take them lightly.