UCLA Game Thoughts

Another win, just another day for the Oregon State men’s basketball team. Sure feels good writing that. Made it to Gill for the first time since the WOU game (Are we sure that game wasn’t just a mirage) last night. Again, there’s very few places that I enjoy being more.

I admit that I went into the game prepared for a letdown because there has been countless times since I’ve been a fan that it seemed the Beavers turned the corner, only to revert old form and collapse.

Yet, as UCLA went on a torrid run as closed to within two pints with about three minutes left, I found myself thinking: “BRING IT!” I want to see how the team would respond. Would it fold like so many previous squads. Or would it rise to the occasion?

And it’s fitting that the Beavers sealed the deal at from the line, sinking 11 of their final 12 free throws, an area they struggled in last season. Their improved free-throw shooting is one the testaments to the excellent job Wayne Tinkle and his staff have done, so far.

But more impressive is how calm and composed the Beavers have played this year, especially down the stretch. And it showed against UCLA. They didn’t let turnovers or big shots by the Bruins get them down. They just kept grinding, and finding ways to make plays. Here’s some other quick thoughts:

  • Tremendous trio. I’d put GP II, Malcolm Duvivier, and Langston Morris-Walker against any other group of guards in the Pac-10. They all are athletic and bring something different to the table. GP 11 is a defensive force; Malcolm has become a steady presence at the point, and LMW has a knack for hitting big shots. If one of them was a 3-point specialist, I’d be even more impressed by this trio.
  • Legit playmaker. There’s not much more to say about GP 11, he’s awesome. Since I’ve been following OSU hoops, he’s the most capable of taking over a game, now eclipsing Corey Benjamin (Sorry, Jarred fans. I think he disappeared, too much in the clutch). The impressive thing about GP II is that he doesn’t need the ball to make an impact, He plays within himself and lets the game come to him.
  • Schaftenaar’s Selection. Crow eating time. Earlier in the season, I wondered how Olaf Schaftenzar fit into the offense. He clearly was struggling to get involved down low. But the funny thing is, he’s back to being a perimeter threat. The difference now, compared to previous seasons, is that he’s taking smart shots, and making them. If he can develop a post move for next season, watch out!
  • Gomis’ getting there. Junior Daniel Gomis turned in what I think was the finest performance of his OSU career against UCLA, which was no small feat because he was tasked with slowing down Kevin Looney, who is expected to be a high NBA draft pick. But Gomis snared right rebounds and block three shots, two of which reflected his athleticism. Oh, and Looney didn’t have a very good game. Gomis has the potential, and I think he’ll reach it.
  • Empty seats. It has been talked about before, but something needs to be done about all those orange seats that go unused during games. It looks bad on TV, and in person. What’s the worst that could happen if fans are allowed to move into those seats 10 minutes after tip off? If the ticket holder shows up, the other fan moves back to his/her original seat. Or set up some system to get those tickets into the hands of fans who want to go to games.

Some thoughts about the Beavers’ Saturday opponent, USC. Don’t be fooled by the Trojans being in last place. They are the type of team that can give the Beavers the fits, because they will try to force the Beavers to play beyond themselves, much like Oregon did. So OSU needs to stick to their bread and butter, and slow down USC.

Go Beavs!

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