Conference play finally arrived and it didn’t disappoint. There were a lot of standout performances, upsets, etc. And while there’s still a lot of games to be played, there are some conclusions we can make at this point. Here’s some of mine:
It’s a wide open race. Who expected Arizona to lose two games? Or Cal to get swept by the Oregon schools? Or for Utah to lose to WSU, not long after upsetting Duke? We knew the Pac-12 was going to be a dogfight, but the great news is that it appears up for grabs. My pick right now? Washington. But you know, Lorenzo Romar’s teams have a way of underachieving… I still think the Ducks are loaded… and then there’s the Beavers…
Defense won’t be OSU’s forte. Last season, the Beavers scrapped and fought their way to 17 wins, relying on relentless defense. It’s safe to say that they are a little weaker at that end of the floor this year. That’s to be expected as a lot of freshmen are seeing time for the Beavers, but they must get better at defensive position (especially in the post) as the season goes on, or teams such as Utah or Arizona will eat them alive.
More Payton, please. There’s no question about it — Gary Payton II is without a doubt OSU’s best player (and arguably the best in the Pac-12). I love that he’s become such a strong leader and is so unselfish, but he will need to take over more games. Whether it’s off an offensive board, a fastbreak dunk, or a pull-up jumper, Payton can pretty much score at will. And the Beavers will need him to be more selfish to prevent offensive droughts.
Fantastic Froshies. That highly regarded 2015 recruiting class is living up to the hype. Tres Tinkle and Steven Thompson Jr. are the Beavers’ second- and third-leading scorers, while Drew Eubanks is starting at center. They’ve taken pressure off the underclassmen to do as much they had to do last season. They will take some lumps in Pac-12 play, but make no mistake, they will also be the reason the Beavers make the postseason. Look for one of Tinkle/Thompson to start soon.
Schaft-Factor. How great was it to see Olaf Schaftenaar turn in that 13 points, 8 rebounds-line against Oregon? Pretty awesome considering the eight boards were a career high. Plus, he played tough defense. However, in his next two games, he totaled 14 points, and just five rebounds. Consistency always has plagued the senior, and he will never be a great defender, but Schaft remains a key cog to OSU on offense. That’s why his consistency could be the Beavers’ biggest X-factor this season.
What did you take away from the first week of Pac-12 play? Go Beavs! (RW)