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Sunday, June 26, 2011

From Orange Express To Mere Lemons

It hard to believe it has been 30 years since the great Oregon State Beaver basketball team of the 1980-81 season.

Known as the "Orange Express", the Beavers not only captivated the west coast, but the nation that year, going 26-2, being the number one ranked team in every poll you can think of for 25 straight weeks and then stunning everyone,  by losing to Kansas State in first round of the NCAA tournament. A horrible ending to a great regular season.

And speaking of horrible, that is exactly what the Beavers have been almost year in and year out, since the retirement of Ralph Miller in 1989. Miller was not only a great winning coach in his 18 years at Oregon State, but he also thrilled all Oregonians in his tenure,  by seeming to get almost every year,  the top high school players in the Beaver State, to join his Beavers.

Since the Ralph Miller days at Oregon State, starting in 1990, the Beavers have had six coaches, including present coach Craig Robinson, not one of those coaches having a winning record. Hard times to say the least in Corvallis, of which nothing was harder than the short stint of  Kevin Mouton, who replaced Jay John in the middle of season and painfully the Beavers closed out the year going 0-13 under the direction of Mouton.

Hard times might not even come close to describing the Beavers in basketball since 1990. Telling is the fact despite the awful times in the last 20 years, Oregon State still has the 16th winningest all- time program in NCAA history, despite the fact the last appearance for the Beavers the 'big dance' was 1990.

Fast forward, to 2008, the first year of present coach Craig Robinson and expectations became high again as a new coach brings a fresh start and hopefully changes for the better.

I fully realize you have never heard this before, but Robinson is the brother-in-law of the President of the United States. To be fair we should not judge his coaching on that, but also to be fair, it should be a HUGE advantage to him when it comes to recruiting. We would be foolish to realize a person should not  capitalize on the fact he is very close to the President of the United States, anyone of us would take full advantage of that, but with that you would also think it might transcend onto some success in that person's  profession, in this case a head coach at a Pac-12 school.

Robinson begins his fourth year on the gorgeous Oregon State campus in the 2011-12 season and it is time for the Beavers to step up. Hopes and dreams should no longer be acceptable. Robinson also needs to take a hard look at his offense. He loves the Princeton system, but with the players he has and their athleticism, the Beavers need to speed up, it is that simple. Kids today are not into running the 35 second clock down to 32 seconds on almost every offensive play.

Robinson by almost all accounts is a nice person. He has three players on his team, that I think have the potential to be Pac-12 stars in Jared Cunningham, Chris Brown and Devon Collier, but paper only looks good when you write on it. I actually do think that Coach Robinson can bring the Beavers back to some success in basketball, the big "IF" is that in his fourth year, it is time to PROVE it.

In Corvallis, even though the EXPRESS is gone,  there still is plenty of ORANGE in Gill Coliseum, sadly that orange is all the seats that are painted that color and have no one sitting in them the during basketball games. Will the glory days of Oregon State basketball ever return? I guess it is possible, but for it to happen no longer can continual coaching changes be the answer and renewed hope, the answer comes from producing right now and getting the mojo back. One can only HOPE.

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1 comment:

  1. Good point was made on my article by a great sportswriter, which even more so documents the Beavers decline in basketball, Oakland and Tennessee Tech have been to the "Big Dance" several times since Oregon State last went in 1990.

    I might also add on the west coast, Portland State and Montana have been more than once since 1990 to the NCAA tourney.