When Craig Robinson left the video room after watching Oregon State's tough loss to Idaho, he realized how much impact the death of Fred Thompson had on his players in that game.
Thompson, who was a 19-year-old freshman on the football team, passed away last Wednesday. The Beavers took the court on Friday.
"When I came in here after the game I didn't want to focus on the emotional aspect of where the team's head was," Robinson said. "But when I looked at the tape and I watched how we played, we were psychologically and emotionally drained.
"I think that was the issue."
It affected the Beavers on the court. They struggled with their help defense, rebounding and shooting in the 74-60 loss.
So Robinson set out to shore up those areas in practice.
"We just reinforced some main focus points," he said.
"I'm approaching our last game as an anomaly at this point."
The Beavers have what Robinson called a good bounce-back test tonight against Illinois-Chicago.
The Flames are 3-5 but three of their losses were by four or fewer points.
"They're suspiciously sneaky. The games they've lost have been pretty close," Robinson said.
"So it's an opportunity for us to play against a good team and see how we bounce back from a loss."
The Flames are led by guards Gary Talton (9.9 ppg) and Daniel Barnes (9.8) and 6-foot-9 center Darrin Williams (9.6, 6.6 rebounds).
Robinson said the Flames go with a three-guard offense.
"We have done well against lineups like that because they have to match up with us," he said.
The test will be whether the Beavers can get back to the type of play that got them to 6-1 before the loss to the Vandals.
"We haven't been in this position before," Robinson said. "Usually if we've lost a game, we haven't had a winning record. We haven't had a body of work that's been really positive to fall back on."
Fans who find their seats early enough at home games can check out OSU's new intro video.
It was put together by former OSU football player Taylor Kavanaugh, who produced the Beavers Without Borders Guatemala '11 movie.
It features the players performing various tricks with a basketball and passing it out of frame to teammates who keep the tricks coming. Game action is intercut throughout.
The background music is "Keep Winning" by Archie Eversole featuring Ray Lavender.
"We're very happy with it," Robinson said. "Even compared with the one last year, there's a different feel about the intro video. It looks like guys are having fun doing it and they're together. It really is an extension of what the season has been."
Robinson said they taped it about a month ago and it took very little time for the players to get through.
"I think they're just natural hams," he said.
A lot of the Flames will be from Chicago, so they will bring a hard-nosed game to Gill Coliseum.
Robinson said they will be athletic with quick guards.
"It's a city team, so I suspect they're going to try and play us up-tempo," he said
"The guards in Chicago are known for being very tough. Very defense-oriented, getting to the basket, being able to take a hit and make a basket."
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