Beavers face three-game test to open season

2009-11-12T23:45:00Z Beavers face three-game test to open seasonBy Kevin Hampton, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
November 12, 2009 11:45 pm  • 

Three days, three games.

That's what the Oregon State men's basketball team faces this weekend at the Duel in the Desert tournament at Texas Tech University.

The Beavers take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi today, play South Dakota on Saturday and host team Texas Tech on Sunday.

Guard Calvin Haynes said the Beavers are itching to get on the court for regular season games.

"Very, very hopeful. Very, very excited," Haynes said. "We're all ready to get the season kicking off and playing and showing the entire country that we belong. But we also have to perceive that way to ourselves, to our coaches and bring it to practice and pretty much let everybody know that we're ready for business."

It will be a good test for the Beavers to start off the season.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi is expected to compete for the Southland Conference title and the Islanders were picked to finish second in the preseason media poll. South Dakota was selected as the favorite to win the Great West Conference.

The Red Raiders are not expected to make a serious run at the Big 12 title, but should be tough in Lubbock.

"So it's going to be a tough tournament," coach Craig Robinson said. "All the games are away, it's our first road trip so you have to get used to the travel and all of that kind of stuff. It's not going to be a walk in the park. But you need these kind of games to prepare for the league."

Robinson said the tournament was already on the schedule when he arrived at OSU, so he isn't sure what the driving factor was for making the trip, whether it was the possibility of expanding recruiting in Texas or another reason.

Either way, it works out well for the Beavers. Robinson said he likes the idea of competing in early-season tournaments.

"I think it gives you three games, three data points to compare and contrast how your team's doing," he said. "To get three games right in a row like that, I've always liked it. I don't necessarily like playing back-to-back-to-back, but I do like having the empirical data, the film, the stats, all that from three games to kind of see in what direction we're headed."

The unusual aspect of the weekend is playing three games over the three days. That leaves little time to get ready and less recovery time.

It should be a good way to get ready for the Pacific-10 Conference schedule, which will require the Beavers to play two games over three days or so.

"You don't actually play three games back-to-back in the Pac-10, but it does test your will, it does test your conditioning," Haynes said. "Do you have a bench? Can somebody step up and not just have it on one person's shoulders? Can we play as a team? Can we execute every game and not have a level of drop-off?"

Those questions will be answered by the end of Sunday's game.

Playing three games in three days does seem to fit this season's team just fine. The Beavers are deep and Robinson can play as many as 14 members of his roster if needed.

"I probably won't do that, but if we need to, we can," Robinson said. "So having depth like that will make this tournament be a little bit more realistic of a basketball team playing in a tournament as opposed to if we played this kind of tournament last year, we could do well in the first game and horribly in the second two because we'd be exhausted."

Adding to OSU's depth will be freshmen Angus Brandt, Jared Cunningham and Joe Burton. The tournament will be a good way for them to get used to playing on the road.

"The on the road stuff is not what I'm worried about. We have a very good mentorship program set up on our team," Robinson said. "We've got a lot of senior guys who've been on a lot of road trips. So their comportment will be just fine. I think on the court they're going to be nervous just because it is their first college game. So there's not too much you can do about that. I'm hoping they can get in there and get bumped around early so it snaps them out of it."

The Beavers would love to win all three games, but it starts with the Islanders. Win the first game and then move on.

"We're not worried about the game after Friday right now, we're just worried about Friday itself and once we find out the outcome, we'll worry about Saturday," forward Omari Johnson said. "Hopefully, the outcome will be a win, but we just focus on one game at a time. We're not worried about the whole thing, we're just worried about game by game."

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