A familiar foe is coming to Gill Coliseum today.
Yet there will be plenty of new faces on the court.
Oregon State’s men’s basketball team played Chicago State last season in Chicago, but the Cougars are a different team.
“It’s a program we’re familiar with but this team has only got two guys from that team from last year and they’ve got eight new junior college or freshman guys that we’ve got to be prepared for,” coach Craig Robinson said.
The Cougars are 3-8 so far, but Robinson said they are athletic and physical and will not be afraid to play in Gill when the teams meet at 4 p.m.
They’ve already played at Notre Dame and had DePaul at home, so the Cougars won’t be intimidated by OSU.
“So this isn’t going to be a culture shock for them,” Robinson said. “They’re going to be used to playing against big teams from big conferences and expecting to win the game.”
The Cougars spread the wealth on offense, with Jeremy Robinson, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaging 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds and 6-8 forward Matt Rose (10.3 points and seven rebounds) leading the way.
Robinson said the Cougars have a similar style to the Beavers with a focus on man-to-man defense with a press and a dash of zone.
“This will be a good change from what we’ve had,” he said. “Portland State was actually a good preparation for this game.”
Sophomore forward Eric Moreland has developed into an inside force for the Beavers.
Moreland is grabbing 11 rebounds a game (second in the Pac-12) and blocks 2.5 shots (No. 3 in the conference). He also averages 9.4 points a game.
Robinson said Moreland has matured.
“He’s got the kind of talent that makes a difference year-to-year, so if he keeps getting better, we’ll keep getting better,” Robinson said. “This year he’s made a drastic leap from where he was last year, both on the rebounding front and on the scoring front.”
Moreland’s relentless pursuit of rebounds is a big reason the Beavers are the top rebounding team in the Pac-12 with 41.2 a game.
His intensity on the boards has been infectious.
“It’s also a fact that when people have to worry about him rebounding, other guys get more rebounds,” Robinson said. “So it’s been kind of a snowball effect because he’s getting more rebounds and we’re getting more rebounds and I think they’re both connected.”
Robinson hits 100
Robinson got his 100th career win at Portland State on Wednesday.
It’s a major milestone for any coach, but Robinson wasn’t aware he was on the brink before the game.
“Coach (David) Grace and I were sitting on the day of the game before we were going to the shootaround and he said, ‘So you’re going for 100 today,’” Robinson said. “And I was thinking he was talking about 100 points because we scored 100 on them last year. I had no idea.”
Robinson has 70 wins at OSU.
“It is significant to be able to get to that from where we started out when we were 0-18 the year before I got here,” he said. “It’s really nice that we’re making those kind of milestones.”
Finding offensive balance
The Beavers have four players (Ahmad Starks, Devon Collier, Roberto Nelson and Joe Burton) in double figures and those four have all had turns leading the team in scoring.
It’s a big switch from last season, when Jared Cunningham was the team’s leading scorer in half the games.
“At the beginning of the year I said that I wasn’t too worried about losing Jared’s offense because I thought we had enough people to step up offensively. So it doesn’t surprise me,” Robinson said.
“It does surprise me at the variety of guys. I was thinking we’d get those points absorbed by Ahmad and Roberto, but we’re getting them absorbed by Devon, by Eric some games, by Joe in a couple of games as well as Ahmad and Roberto.
“So that’s going to be great. And you can see where a guy like Olaf (Schaftenaar) could help us from a points standpoint and any one of the freshmen could get six or eight points just from how hard they’re playing on defense. So it’s really nice to have that kind of variety.”