Monthly Archives: January 2014

Unionization? Be careful what you wish for.

I had to vomit through the daily sports talk radio recap of the unionization talk coming out of Northwestern University. Simplistic comments like “The NCAA makes Billions” or “Million Dollar Coaches are the issue” is silly — and takes one small nugget of the whole college football world and makes it simple.

Unionization of anything does more than give players a voice. Depending on how it is set up, it can force them to pay dues for that voice, elect officials who have to represent all of the NCAA, and brings up questions of being taxed for their income, of costs per student athlete to schools, and the reality that the NCAA and schools in general have to support more than just football and men’s basketball.  In order to comply with Title IX, there has to be an equal representation and compensation for female athletes as well as male.

So what are these programs and players fighting for? The right to a guaranteed scholarship?  That is not available to other students. If you don’t reach the minimum requirements of your scholarship, you forfeit it. For instance, if you get a full ride for academics that requires you get a 3.5 accumulative grade point average, not complying with that means you lose your scholarship. While many might say, “But look at how much money sports generates for the school,” — I say it is not much.

Oregon State’s athletic department owes the university $19 million because it had to borrow money to fund its programs. At the same time, the campaign for OSU has raised almost $1 billion for the school itself. Even schools that are top 10 football schools such as the University of Oregon require donations from non athletes to fund their Go-Bot-looking facilities playground.

When the term “$9 billion industry” gets thrown around, it is not thrown around responsibly.  The entities that could pay for the changes in athlete status are schools, the NCAA, TV networks, network distributors, and the NFL.

Schools:
Schools are not a viable option as I have mentioned above. Outside of schools such Alabama and Texas, most schools use football and basketball to pay for their whole athletic department. In Oregon State’s case, football makes between $16 million and $20 million profit a year after expenses. The remainder of that money goes to funding all the other sports on campus. If they had to pay things like workman’s comp or medical benefits post graduation for all students, that would bankrupt the program.

Here is an article on what the top 25 schools generated in income from football from Forbes online. Considering that most of these programs have to fund all the sports on campus, you will see that the number of schools generating enough revenue to do this and pay their coaches and pay their athletes, or even cover the additional union costs, which might include workman’s comp and extended medical coverage, means that most of these schools would probably have to cut sports to stay in the black. In order to do this and stay Title IX compliant would mean that many schools might consider cutting sports all together.

NCAA:
The NCAA made roughly $70 million in profit last year. The NCAA also supports all college athletes across all sports, not just football and basketball. If they had to spread that across the 400,00 atheletes within the NCAA, that would equate to about $177.50 student athlete. For more on this, check out this amazing post on Beaver Blitz that outlines a lot of the numbers and issues related to the NCAA sponsoring unionized student athletes.  The NCAA is not a viable option regardless of what the media says.

Networks/Network Providers:
Networks and Network Providers make the largest piece of the pie. ESPN is on pace to become a $9 billion company. Networks make a lot of money off college football, but it is hard to nail down how much. The issue is that ESPN just broadcasts what is there. As sports ebb and flow in popularity, ESPN makes it money presenting it to the masses. The network has the second most to lose by this proposal because college football is very important to their revenue model, which is why the narrative of ESPN and other sports networks is going to be one of the “Greedy NCAA” and “Greedy Colleges” that overpay coaches. Networks will even report on concussions and the lack of supervision at colleges for student athletes. It is in their best interest to keep this topic hot and to force the focus on the schools and NCAA because it deflects the fact that the main money makers in the billion dollar industry that is college football is them.

Unfortunately for the athletes and universities, those media outlets are not going to pay for anything for the same reason that radio stations don’t pay musicians for music. They pay for licensing to play the music and the people they pay are responsible for finding and funding the talent. So while ESPN, CBS, and Fox Sports seem like they should be on the hook more since they are the main money makers, they are not.  And they really shouldn’t be, because they are just the outlet, not the creator of the content.

NFL:
The NFL should definitely be on the hook  The NFL has gotten away with a FREE minor league for years. College football takes kids that are not physically ready for the demands of the NFL and gives them training and coaching that prepares them for the next step. Of the roughly 6000 draft eligible players every year, 250 of them will get drafted. Not all of those 250 will be retained past the first year or even through training camp. So that means of the 10,000 Division I football players playing every year, only 1/10th of them will even get a shot at the NFL. So the NFL gets to hand pick the few great players for its league without spending a cent on their development. If players need compensation or a change in status or health care benefits, the NFL would be a good place to start. Right?

Well, probably not. How many future employers are responsible for the scholarships and health care of potential employees, or all employees that could potentially work for them while they are in school? Does Google pay medical expenses for all computer science students in hopes that some of them come their way after graduation?

Conclusion:
The reality is that while the industry itself is worth millions, there is no mechanism that can sustain paying student athletes in a fair and complete way. No single institution in the game can afford the bill that the unionization of players might incur. Even the ones that could, really shouldn’t because it is not their responsibility.

While there are aspects of being a college football player that seem unfair, compared to other student athletes, they are getting a great deal. They get free education, free meals, free boarding, free books, and free tutors. If they are in the lucky and hard working 10% that can make a career in the NFL, they will be taken care of financially in their career just like every other student who finds work related to his/her degree. There are health risks to the players of the game, but they also get free health care while they are an athlete. Can they lose their scholarship for poor performance? Yes.  Just like every other student at their school.

Ultimately, the problem with college football and the football system in itself is that people outside of the institution are using it to get money. (For example, vendors jacking up their prices because the Olympics are in town.) College Football has its share of leaches and hangers on that make a lot of money off the backs of other people’s work, just like most big businesses.

What college athletes are getting is an education in how the world works.  Anyone that has a job knows that you get paid to do a job for someone else, unless you are the business owner.  If you are the business owner, then you have to provide for everyone that works for you so that you can make a profit. There are no easy or fair jobs out there. Some people get lucky, but the majority of us have to work and watch our labor make money for others.

Unionization is not something to be taken lightly or that can be taken back. You need all the facts in this case and cannot just say this is a huge industry and they can afford it. “They” is a wide array of institutions and not all of them are capable of meeting those demands.  The changes you seek might not be the ones you want, but the knee jerk, simplification of the problem is dangerous — and knowing that most people get their information from people given talking points from their outlet is scary. If you don’t believe me, listen to ESPN radio from the morning to the afternoon and see how many people say the EXACT same thing.

Very few issues are that universally obvious, otherwise they wouldn’t be issues.

Quick Recruiting Hits

1.  Huge final weekend for Oregon State football recruiting, literally!  With two giant defensive linemen (Nifae Lealao, a defensive end prospect who recently de-committed from Stanford and  Kammy Delp, a defensive tackle who recently de-committed from ASU) coming in for the Beaver coaches to give their final pitch, as well as committed local hero Ryan Nall (potential TE/H-Back from Portland).

If OSU can get through the weekend with one commitment from Lealao or Delp, that leaves them with two final spots for junior college corner Demarlon Morris and Big Country (Kaleb McGary) their cornerstone Offensive Tackle prospect.

If Oregon State can do this, or pull two this weekend, and either McGary or Morris, this class will be on par with the last two strong classes OSU has put together.

2. With the departure of Danny Langsdorf, it’s nice to see Ryan Gunderson on the road.  I am a big “Recruiting is the life blood of the program” and to get a guy like Ryan out there just improved OSU’s recruiting. He is a motivated, young, and exciting personality that will relate well with kids. He also knows firsthand what Riley expects and what he teaches his QB’s.  Ryan is a quality communicator and will benefit OSU in many ways if he can find his way on the staff.

3. Currently, according to Rivals, Oregon State has the seventh-ranked class in the Pac 12. They are 300 points behind USC and about 40 points ahead of WSU. It will be a wild finish, but if Oregon State can pull out a few coups the last few days, and keep who they have, it could be a great recruiting class.

Don’t blink because recruiting can go from amazing, to miserable, back to amazing in the blink of an eye!

Visionary Part I: Selling to recruits

There has been a lot of talk about selling Oregon State to recruits. In many cases, a lot of fans feel that the Beavers just need a great closer who can come in and sell recruits on what Oregon State has to offer. In other cases, people think that the coaches should sell OSU’s style of play and how well it translates to the NFL. Others wonder why just pointing at future top draft picks Brandin Cooks and Scott Crichton isn’t resulting in recruits drooling about the coaching they could get at Oregon State.

To me, one of the biggest hurdles that The Beavers have to overcome in order to attract recruits has nothing to do with the coaches or their methods for talking to recruits.

It has to do with selling vision.

Right now, the vision being portrayed by the athletic department is, “We would like to build new things, but we have a lot of debt and not much money — so we have to make do with what we have for at least five or six years.”  While that vision is a stark and honest description about the reality of the situation OSU’s athletic department faces, it is not a vision that  screams, “Come here and you will be a part of something special.”

Selling a vision is not about now, it is about getting people to see what we want and do what it takes to take care of today’s issues. It is about saying “We ARE doing these things and you can be a part of it RIGHT NOW!,” rather than giving seemingly insurmountable obstacles for something that no recruits will get to see until the the 2016 class signs their LOI’s (Letters of Intent).

The reality is that in the past two years, OSU improved its record 100 percent.  (8-16 from 2010 through 2011 to 16-10 from 2012 through 2013), yet, the mood of Beaver Nation in regards to program direction is as apathetic as it was in 2011.  I believe that this is largely due to the upgrades we see and hear about everywhere else and the lack of tangible evidence of upgrades happening at Oregon State.

If your locker rooms are not great, have the vision for what they will be when taking recruits on a tour of the current locker rooms. When they ask when it will happen, tell them that you are already raising the money for the project. If your football offices are antiquated (meaning more than two years old these days) have some images of projected designs to show off.

Here is the most important part of my whole premise: What is happening on campus, or not happening, is not the issue. How it is being presented is.

Many casual fans know that there are plans for a new Valley Football Center and Reser Stadium West Side remodel. What they don’t have is a clear way to donate to those efforts, or a images, even if temporary, that they can pass around and share with friends.

These shortcomings are being used against Oregon State by other coaches when it comes to recruiting, and that is the biggest crime about not selling a vision. If a player the Beaver coaches covet chooses to go elsewhere because that school points out OSU’s outdated facilities and that there’s no plans to change them, then we should all be irate.

Langsdorf Reaction

Well, that came out of nowhere.  While at one time I might have celebrated Danny Langsdorf leaving OSU to become the QB coach for the New York Giants, I am torn by the move. I’ve come to realize that I was too harsh on Langs in the past.

First things first, congrats to Langsdorf on the new job. He’s a class act who has forever endeared himself to Beaver Nation when he stepped up to help Cav’s wife. He gets a chance to work under a revered coach and with a good QB.

Simply put, though, lot of people overlooked Langsdorf’s contributions to OSU.

His work with Matt Moore, Lyle Moevao, Sean Canfield, Ryan Katz, and most recently Sean Mannion was impressive. Two of them made the NFL, and there’s a good chance Mannion will in 2015.

He also was an underrated recruiter. I think it’s fair to give him a lot of credit for landing James Rodgers, which no doubt played a huge role in Jacquizz Rodgers coming to OSU. And don’t forget Mannion.

Unfortunately, Langsdorf also was a scapegoat for many OSU fans, myself included. For me, it was all the empty backfield formations on third down and a yard or two to go, or all the deep passes when a simple out or slant would’ve got the necessary yards. Or the lack of balance this past season.

But here’s a funny stat, under Langsdorf, the Beaver offense had 8 of its top best offensive seasons in program history. The numbers don’t lie. So I guess I’ll eat my heaping plate of crow now.

And how much can we really blame Langsdorf for the Beavers’ offensive imbalance this past season, or for that matter, during his entire tenure? Because we now know just how heavy-handed Mike Riley is when it comes to the offense.

With that in mind, as much as Beaver Nation would love a splashy, big-name hire, I am starting to think that such hire’s talents could be wasted. So maybe it’s a smart move to promote from within.

OSU won’t ever be able to pay like USC or UW, so to keep talented assistants such as Brent Brennan, maybe you promote them. So Brennan to OC, Ryan Gunderson to QBs, and a young, energetic recruiter who maybe coaches, say safeties, makes a lot of sense.

At the same time, with all of his connections and how widely-respected he is, don’t be surprised if Riles lands someone out of left field who will end up impressing Beaver Nation, similar to Rod Perry.

And don’t be surprised if Sean Mannion ends up a Giant next season.

Turning the Corner

The 87-81 loss to Washington last Saturday stung. Not just because the Beavers were attempting to be 4-3 for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Or that they blew a double-digit lead.

The Beavers once again failed to win a “turn the corner” type game.

I’m a Craig Robinson supporter. I think he does things the right way. His student-athletes graduate and stay out of the police log. He also was instrumental to getting the new practice facility built. And most endearingly, he’s reached out to OSU legends such as AC Green and Gary Payton and gotten them involved with the program.

But there’s no denying that he just hasn’t be able to get the Beavers around the corner — the one they desperately need to get past not just for the sake of his job, but for the program.

Apathy is at an all-time high. Chatter around the program is nonexistent and Gill looks barely 1/4th full during most games.

But the Beavers just can’t seem to play consistent. Blowing double-digits leads is something they can’t afford to do. Sure, basketball is a game of runs, but sooner or later the Beavers need to be able to hold on and finish games consistently. Or at least come out of the half playing stronger.

And that’s on Robinson, he just hasn’t made the adjustments he needs to make to get the Beavers over the hump. I know, he can’t ensure that players make their shots or play great defense every position. But he can do a lot to put them in better positions to succeed.

What’s frustrating is that this team has plenty of talent, enough to be at least NIT squad. The Pac-12’s leading scorer, one of the top rebounders/shot-blockers, and one of the best inside-out players in the conference. But yet, they can’t win when they need to.

For a program as starved as the Beavers, don’t underestimate a 3-game winning streak. Sometimes the little things make all the difference, right?

Bottom line is that the Beavers need win games like the Cal and Washington games, or they will continue to be a team that climbs just enough to get hope but never quite gets over the hump. And as anyone in Beaver Nation can attest: It stings.

And at this point, it’s safe to wonder if the Beavers can do that under Robinson.

Recruiting tidbits

1. Be sure to check out BeaverBlitz as they have a lot of great information on the HUGE recruiting weekends coming up for Oregon State. They also just hired my favorite local writer not named Raju, Brooks Hatch, to write about the upcoming baseball season and offer some other sporting insights.

2. The Shane Bowman decommitment and ensuing poach attempt for Washington seems to have woken a sleeping giant.  I don’t ever assume that the coaches are not doing whatever they can to get the best kids possible to their school, but I also know that sometimes a little torching by a recruit can give them a little extra edge to their message.  Now we in the media (or I guess over glorified stalker fans) don’t really know what has been going on in the Valley Football Center, so all I have to go on is rumors and communications between commits and the folks at Bliz or Pure Orange.

That being said, OSU went from looking like a wounded animal with the exodus of Bowman, to sewing up the commitments of three of the top prospects from Hawaii, a great find in wide receiver from Tennessee and now look to be a legitimate target for a few players that have left their previous commitments.

Things change and with the new 25 player cap on all classes, including gray shirts, OSU is in position to land some premium talent that were otherwise looking elsewhere.  These last two weeks could be the most dynamic and exciting in recent memory.  While the last two seasons have seen a rapid increase in the talent OSU has been able to draw in to Corvallis, if this class ends well, it could give them three straight quality classes and give them the foundation for some real sustained success on the field.

3. Currently, according to Rivals, OSU has the 7th best class in the conference.  While that doesn’t seem that exciting, should they land some of the better players they are looking at, they could move up a spot or two, depending on any changes to the schools above them.  The exciting part of the equation is that the north only has two teams ahead of them, the ducks and Stanford.  The ducks are ranked 6th.  Now there is a pretty big difference between them, even though they are just one rank behind, but considering there are three 4-star players visiting OSU in the next two weeks as well as some highly ranked 3 star players, there could be a huge shift in their score.

The key for OSU is to stay close or above the teams in the north. The Pac 12 south is on the rise, and keeping up with the Cardinal and the ducks, and keeping WSU, Cal and UW in the rear-view mirror, is very important.  Win the north and OSU could be in line for at large births to major bowls.  The south is tough and there are no ‘gimmies’ down there, but win the North and you get an extra game for the championship game.  That is a huge deal and if the Beavers keep recruiting like they are and improve every year, they will be in good position to take shots at the title.

WSU Game Thoughts

Just wanted to share some quick thoughts from OSU’s 66-55 victory over Washington State on Wednesday. It was a big win for the Beavers — as it moved them to .500 (3-3) in Pac-12 play. And they will need the momentum of two straight wins when they face Washington on Saturday.

Wednesday’s game wasn’t pretty, but the Beavers shot 52 percent from the field. Largely due to the fact that they didn’t force too many shots. Instead, they made the extra pass to get high percentage shots. Roberto Nelson (26 points), Angus Brandt (14), and Devon Collier (10) led the way for the Beavers by proving a nice mix of inside-out on offense.

Defensively, the Beavers had several embarrassing breakdowns, which led to easy baskets for WSU in the paint. However, their perimeter defense again was solid and didn’t leave shooters wide open as often. Several of the 3-pointers the Cougs made were kind of lucky shots.

I wouldn’t be surprised as the players get more comfortable playing man defense to see the Beavers’ defense really improve. Even Nelson appears to be playing better defense when he’s playing man to man.

And considering subpar nights from Eric Moreland and Hallice Cook, it’s impressive that the Beavers were in control early on in the game and were never really threatened the rest of the way. Yes, the Beavers were expected to beat WSU, but as we all know nothing comes easy for this team, especially on the road.

Just as important, it was great to see no letdown from the Beavers after their big Civil War win on Sunday. In past seasons, the Beavers have played well enough that it seemed  as if they had finally turned the corner, only to falter.

So a victory against the Cougs, no matter if they are one of the bottom teams in the league, was big for the Beavers. And Saturday, they will be trying for their first 4-3 conference start since the 1992-93 season.

Go Beavs!

Recruiting is not for this year.

I posted this in Blitz, but wanted to expand on it here as well. Many people are looking for recruits to be factors this season.  In the case of the big programs getting top-10 classes, that might be the case.  The problem is that most top programs get top-10 classes every year. So if a player comes in and starts as a freshman, that means the program in question missed on some players the two or three classes before.

Recruiting is for the future.
If you get a player that starts right away, then you landed a star. The reality is that most classes of 20 or 25 players have just a handful of guys that actually see the field the same year that they signed. And usually most of those players only play on special teams. A true freshman that starts has to either be elite like Jaquizz Rodgers or James Rodgers were.  Both of them are Oregon State Hall of Famers who started as freshmen, and both of them started because they were great players coming into a team that had openings at their positions. Had Yvenson Bernard been there Quizz’s first year, he might never have seen the field (and OSU would have beaten Stanford).

To view recruiting as help for the coming season, outside of JC recruits and transfers, in my opinion, is not realistic. OSU had to use Sean Harlow in 2013 because of a lot of injuries, but also because they only got two linemen in two years from 2010 – 2011. Had Darryl Jackson turned out to be the four-star stud we had hoped, he would have started and maybe for two years. But his degenerative hip injuries forced him to retire from the sport. So instead, you had Roman Sapolu and Justin Addie as the only remaining scholarship players and neither of them was a tackle.

When we look at this year’s recruiting class and people lament the players poached, the reality is, with the quality of the previous two classes, there is likely no one that is going to come in and start right away.  Bowman and Torain  would have had a hard time beating out the players around them. Bowman may be great, but Joshwa James and Dylan Wynn would start ahead of him. There’s no doubt in my mind. His only way of being a starter this year would have been injury or sickness. He might have been in the rotation, but Torain had no chance with the depth at offensive line. In fact, there are very few holes on the Oregon State team has that are not going to be filled by incumbents because the coaches recruited very well from 2011 to 2013.

Some things stay the same
Everything seems so fast these days, yet developing talent still takes the same amount of time. Getting players ready to play, even the most motivated ones, is not easy.  Had OSU recruited better in 2009-2010, Dylan Wynn would have been a sophomore this season. We all have lamented a player coming in for two plays in a season (Kevin Cummings) or playing on kick offs and blowing their redshirt year for a handful of snaps. If you recruit well year in and year out, that is not a worry because players just redshirt. Unless they are amazing.  And then you have no worries because, hey, you have an amazing player.

Hand-wringing about this class because of its effect on 2014 is misplaced angst. Next year would be fine if this class was ranked 30th or 80th. The worries should be in three years when these players that are seen as either diamonds in the rough or projects have to start showing their diamond shine or project compete status.

Ultimately, even if this year ends up being a step back in overall recruiting rankings, if OSU can win next year and get a solid class, it should be OK. One bad or lackluster class won’t kill you.  It will force you to look hard at JC players in the future and it will give extra urgency to the results on the field in the coming season. For Oregon State, the biggest thing the coaches need to do after February 5th, is to work super hard to make sure that they beat Portland State, that they take care of business against SDSU, and that they dominate Hawaii in Hawaii so that they can roll into LA 3-0. Then they need to make sure that the next time they go to California after the Trojan game, they are no worse than 5-1. Do that or better, and recruiting will get a heck of a lot easier.

And the future a bit brighter.

Let the Poaching Begin . . .

This time of the year is like a roller coaster ride. You best hold on tight because it’s going to be wild ride full of ups and downs.

Yep, that’s what the countdown to Letter-of-Intent Day feels like the diehard college football fans who follow recruiting. Happiness can turn to feelings of wanting to puke in less time than it takes Victor Bolden to run the 40-yard dash.

Unfortunately for Beaver Nation, the ride hit a major bump Monday as defensive end Shane Bowman switched his verbal commitment to Washington. (Pretty sure Peter threw up over that — after all, we know how much he hates UW.)

It was disappointing but not surprising. Bowman hails from Washington and preps at Bellevue High School, which is practically in UW’s backyard. Poaching recruits is part of the game when it comes to recruiting,

And Chris Petersen is desperately trying to salvage UW’s class which fell apart after The Sark bolted for USC.

Bowman, a 3-star defensive end was one of OSU’s top-ranked verbals, and with Scott Crichton leaving for the NFL and Dylan Wynn entering his senior season, Bowman would’ve provided, at the very least, some needed depth for the future.

Recruiting is not an exact science. Plenty of four-star recruits end up busts, while there’s a lot of two-star recruits who end up being impact players. But I think stars do get one thing right, potential. And Bowman definitely has that.

His size reminded me of former OSU star Bill Swancutt. If his motor is half as good as Swanny’s was, he’s going to be a good one. But he could also turn out to be just another defensive end.

The larger picture is this: with less than a month until LOI Day, OSU’s class is filled with uncertainty.  At first glance, it appears as if the coaching staff has reached on a few players so far, when they probably could’ve waited to offer. Several other players could be poached.

Plus, all is quiet when it comes to surprise recruits the Beavers might be able to land or poach. Almost too quiet. Hopefully, that’s not a bad thing.  But after following recruiting for more than a decade, I am not liking the vibe.

But that’s the funny thing about recruiting, you never know who and that you are going to get. After all, who knew the Rodgers brothers would turn out as good as they did? Or that Rodney Landingham and David Ross wouldn’t pan out? Or that last minute additions such as Derrick Doggett would turn out to be awesome?

So hold on to your hats, and enjoy the ride! Odds are the Beavers are due for a high soon.

A Few Quick Civil War Thoughts

I made it back to Gill Coliseum on Sunday for the first time since Nov. 10 when the Beavers started off the season with an unfathomable 79-73 loss to Coppin State. Prior to the Civil War game, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Sure, Oregon was in a swoon, but who knew what Oregon State team would show up to play? But I walked away happy — the Beavers built a big lead, weathered a late Ducks rally, and held on for an impressive  80-72 win.

Here’s three things that stood out to my straining eyes up in the nosebleeds. In my defense, they weren’t bad seats. I mean, two rows behind me sat James Dockery, and he was having a blast. Anyhow . . .

  • Man-to-Man Defense: The Ducks shot poorly all game. They shot 37.9 percent from the field and 21 percent from downtown. A lot of that was due to OSU’s defense. The Beavers played man-to-man most of the game and the results were impressive. There was only a handful of wide open shots for the Ducks; most were contested. Most impressively, there only one “Damn it, get out on the shooter” moment that I recall. The Beavers need to start playing man defense the majority of the time. The 1-3-1 is only effective in spurts, and if you have the right players to run it. Also, running different defenses all the time wears on players, and can be overwhelming for inexperienced players. Playing man-to-man defense enables players to rely on their instincts more and not have to worry about over think assignments/positions. It’s about time the Beavers played more man defense. I don’t buy Coach Robinson’s belief that the Beavers were incapable of playing man-to-man in past seasons. Playing man defense is one of those fundamentals that players learn from day one.
  • More Moreland: People can say what they want, but they’ve got to stop underestimating Eric Moreland’s impact on the team. There’s any doubt that if he hadn’t been suspended the Beavers would’ve won a few more games. He’s a beast on the glass and his energy on defense is infectious. While he struggled from the field, he still managed 15 points on 11 of 12 shooting from the free-throw line (Where did that come from?), grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out 5 assists, and block 3 shots, one of which ended up on Sports Center. It’s easily the best block I’ve seen since I started watching OSU hoops in the Corey Benjemin era. And while I think he leaves for the NBA, if Moreland does come back next season and works on his offensive game, he could be one of the top big men in the nation, and help the Beavers offset the loss of Roberto Nelson, Angus Brandt, and Devon Collier. The only thing I didn’t like seeing from Moreland on Sunday (besides the 2 of 12 shooting from the field), was the switching on defense that drew him away from the paint. He needs to be down low where if he can’t swat shots, at least alter them. To be fair, that’s probably not all his fault.
  • As He Goes, The Beavers Go: Maybe he hasn’t lived up to the hype and let’s face it, defense isn’t his forte, but Roberto Nelson is ABSOLUTELY vital to the Beavers’ offense. Every time he went out of the game for more than a few seconds, the offense sputtered.  Despite being double-teamed often and accounted for on just about every possession, Nelson finished with a game-high 22 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Down the stretch, he had two big baskets and had a huge rebound. Moving forward, with the emergence of Hallice Cooke as reliable perimeter ball-hander and scoring threat, I’d like to see Nelson come off screens for shots more, instead of trying to drive and force his way into the lane. Even with Moreland back and Cooke becoming more of a factor, the Beavers need Nelson’s scoring just as much as they did earlier in the season. But shots are getting tougher to come by, so his coaches and teammates need to help Nelson get the ball where he can be efficient.

Overall, the Civil War was great and much-needed victory for the Beavers who are now 10-7 and 2-3 in Pac-12 play. If the Beavers can play like they did Sunday more consistently, they could surprise. And this week is a good one to keep the momentum going, as they take on Washington State on Wednesday and UW on Saturday. But again, especially on just three days rest, which team will show up against the Cougars?

The good news is the Civil War victory proved what many Beavers hoops fans knew all along, this team has the talent to be pretty good. It’s just a matter of putting together for more than one or two games at a time. Maybe this is the week it happens. Go Beavs!