It is pretty hard to fathom that 30 years ago, before a lot of readers of this blog were even born, the Oregon State Beavers basketball team was ranked number one, yes that is right, number one in the country for 25 straight weeks. They finished the season that year 26-2, losing a devastating game to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It also hard to fathom the following about the Oregon State basketball program.
1. The last time they went to the NCAA basketball tournament was 1990.
2. Since 1990, the Beavers have had six coaches, none of them having a winning record as head coach of the Beavers, including present coach Craig Robinson.
3. Even with one of the most consistently poor college basketball program since 1990, the Beavers still rank as the 16th winningest all-time program in NCAA history.
4. Up to the year 2000, the Beavers had the most all time wins of any college basketball program west of the Mississippi, no longer the case.
5. Since 1990, the Beaver have had only two all Pac-10/Pac-12 first team all conference players.
6. There are four D-1 basketball programs in the state of Oregon and all but the Beavers have been to the NCAA tournament at least once since 1990, including Portland State, which brought back their program in 1996 after a 17 year absence from even having a basketball program.
The above says lots about the past, but what about the future.
Beaver head coach Craig Robinson is not on the hot seat, you are not going to fire the President of the United States' brother in law, plain and simple, but Robinson is on the hot seat to produce a better showing than he has since taking over the program in 2008. The last two years under Robinson have been dismal to say the least.
Fast forwarding to this year, on paper the Beavers will have the best and deepest team they have had in years. As I have said in this blog before, paper is only good to look at visually. We are really going to find out this year if Robinson can coach and get out from under the huge amount of publicity he has received for logical reasons.
Plus the Beavers have a real chance to win 20 games this year, they have a pretty easy pre-season schedule, adding to that is they play most of their pre-season games at home and in league play should be helped that they can beat newcomer Utah twice.
Of course all of this has to done with good players as well and Oregon State have good players on their roster. Jared Cunningham should challenge to be an all Pac-12 performer. He has had the great opportunity to work out this summer with Beaver all time great Gary Payton. That will help. Ahmad Starks has year under his belt, should play much better this year and even though he is small, is a lockdown defender. Roberto Nelson is a question mark, if he can play even slightly up to his potential, he can become a big time player in the Pac-12.
The Beavers will be the most weakest at center, which will a committee of centers, with the lead being taken by Joe Burton, who at times has shown flashes of brilliance, but only at times. Two players that could really be keys this year for the Beavers will be newcomers Daniel Gomis and Challe Barton. Gomis is fighting a leg injury, but once he recovers, any player coming out of the famous Oak Hill program, including Gomis, will help any basketball team. Barton could be the surprise of the Pac-12 and a big surprise player for the Beavers. He is really good, even as a freshman, he should see plenty of playing time.
To the credit of Craig Robinson, he for now has ditched the 5:00 a.m. practices, instead the Beavers will practice at 1:30. I never have gotten any college coach scheduling practices before the sun comes up. Sure it sounds real macho for teams to say they do this, I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but these players are still kids and they do like to sleep in, I do not know a kid who does not. You want practices to be productive, not something kids dread going too.
Now for the shocker for Beaver fans and fans of college basketball. I am saying right now, right it down, the Beavers will go dancing this year for the first time since 1990. They have the players, they have deep team and they have the schedule which sets up nicely to make the NCAA tournament.
And last but equally as important, I can guarantee you that if Oregon State is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, no one on the selection committee is going to leave out the President of the Unites States' brother in law. That committee may be foolish at times, but they are forever political.
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