Win four games and you’re headed to the NCAA tournament.
Crazy things, these conference tourneys.
One of the Oregon State men’s basketball team’s goals going into the season was to get into March Madness.
Even though the Beavers finished at 7-11 in the Pacific-12 Conference, they have a shot.
Win the Pac-12 tournament and they’ve got a spot in the NCAAs.
The Beavers enter the tournament on a two-game win streak and are optimistic about their chances.
“You’ve got to play your best game,” OSU guard Jared Cunningham said. “Anything can happen in the tournament in four days. Somebody’s going to win the tournament and it’s going to come down to execution and plays down the stretch.”
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Beavers need a win over Washington State today in order to get the right to face Washington.
The Beavers lost 81-76 in Spokane and 83-73 in Corvallis to the Cougars.
Despite the 0-2 head-to-head, the Beavers like the matchup.
“We lost to Washington State twice, but you know what they say, you can’t beat the same team three times in a row,” OSU forward Joe Burton said.
“We just need to finish the games off. Both games we kind of fell apart at the end and I feel we need to do a better job with the chemistry at the end of the game and have each other’s backs and play together.”
To win, the Beavers have to keep Brock Motum under control.
Motum, a 6-foot-10 all-Pac-12 forward, averages 18.1 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.
He has been a handful inside against the Beavers, scoring 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the first game and 24 and nine in the second.
What makes him so hard to handle?
“Just his size and he can shoot off the dribble,” Burton said. “He knows how to play the game real well, he knows how to use his body around the basket. Just a smart player.”
Burton said the Beavers have to be aware of Motum’s whereabouts at all times.
“Don’t let him get wide open shots and box him out on the rebound, offensively and defensively,” Burton said. “Those are the keys.”
Faisal Aden is also a scoring threat for the Cougars, with a 14.5 points a game average.
Guard Reggie Moore runs the show for WSU. He leads the conference in assists with 5.33 a game.
“He’s very good at breaking down defenders and finding open teammates and they do a great job of making shots,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham was a first team selection to the Pac-12 all-conference team on Monday.
He leads the conference in scoring at 18.2 points a game and steals at 2.57.
“It means a lot,” Cunningham said.
He was also selected to the all-defensive team.
Cunningham was considered to be among the top candidates for player of the year, but Jorge Gutierrez of California was chosen.
“I wasn’t really disappointed at all,” Cunningham said. “It’s all the people’s opinions and the coaches vote, so they voted who they thought it was.”
OSU coach Craig Robinson was also diplomatic when asked about the choice.
“I think if we had won more games, I would have better argument. Put it that way.” Robinson said. “I understand how these things go. It’s hard to give player of the year to a guy whose team is not at the top of the charts battling for the conference title. But I thought he had a terrific year under terrifically hard conditions. The way I look at the MVP is if you take him off our team, we couldn’t have done anything that we did this year.”
Robinson, by the way, voted for Gutierrez (coaches can’t vote for their own players) and Colorado’s Tad Boyle as coach of the year.
Beavers headed to Madison Square Garden
OSU will participate in the 2K Sports Classic next season, along with Villanova, Purdue and Alabama.
The four teams will host regional games on Nov. 9-11 and then head to New York City for the championship rounds on Nov. 15-16 in Madison Square Garden.
Stewart to Brown?
OSU assistant coach Doug Stewart is a candidate for the head coach position at Brown.
The job opened up on Monday when coach Jesse Agel was fired.
Stewart played four seasons at Brown and graduated with a B.S. in economics in 1994.
He was an assistant coach at Brown from 2006-08 under Robinson.