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Ben Ball Roundup: Oregon State Notes

So apparently we are playing against a team on Thursday night that has some kind of connection to President Barack Obama or something. Before I get to today's hoop notes, does any one here want to sent an over/under for how many times will mention the word "President" (not re. PAA) and "Obama"?

Seriously notwithstanding the tired Obama references, Coach Craig Robinson is quietly putting together a nice little basketball program up in Corvallis. And it all actually started with our game on January 2nd. Those who remember just the final score will think that we had an easy time with the Beavers as we beat them by 23 points. What lot of folks forget though was how tough they battled in the secondhalf against UCLA. UCLA went up by a 37-16 score at halftime in Robinson's Pac-10 debut but it was Oregon State thate came back and fought really hard in the second half in which UCLA outscored the Beavers only by 2 (32-30). That second half performance seemed to give the Beavers the confidence they needed to pull off a victory against Trojies in the following game, which eventually set them up for a 7-8 conference record after their blowout lossees against UCLA.

More from the LA Times on Oregon State's discernible improvement during this Pac-10 season:

Much of Oregon State's improvement can be traced to first-year Coach Craig Robinson, who played his college ball for Pete Carril at Princeton.

Keeping the middle of the floor open, the Beavers run their offense through Roeland Schaftenaar, a big man who ranks among the conference's guards in total assists and averages 3.6 a game.

They take their time, make lots of passes and look to backcut when opponents pressure on defense.

"You've just got to be real patient on defense," UCLA swingman Josh Shipp said. "They're going to run down the shot clock and wait for you to break down."

The Beavers average 60 points a game, led by Calvin Haynes at 15.5.

On defense, Oregon State shows a fair amount of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone. The Bruins have struggled at times against the zone, though they had success attacking Oregon State in January.

I am not sure if the Bruins have "struggled" against the zone this year given the we are performing from the 3 point line and offensively over all. However, I do think we have to be very weary of Oregon State's deliberate and patient offense, which has the capability to break us down with buzzer beating shots (think back to our games against Arizona State and Washington State).

It will be extremely important for our guards to stay patient and put effective on ball pressure on the Beaver guards. As usual Howland is going to ask Jrue to take up a key defensive assignment:

Holiday could draw a familiar defensive assignment in former Taft High of Woodland Hills guard Calvin Haynes, now a sophomore at Oregon State after spending one season prepping at South Kent (Conn.) School. Holiday, who played at Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, said he faced Haynes plenty of times.

"He's really fast, really athletic and really quick," Holiday said.

The 6-foot-2 Haynes is averaging a team-leading 15.5 points per game.

If JH can't step up I wonder if ML will available. Here is the latest update on team health per the LA Times:

Forwards Nikola Dragovic and James Keefe have recovered from flu and back spasms. Both participated in practice.

But Tuesday, freshman guard Malcolm Lee sprained his left ankle and had to sit out. Lee, whose role has expanded recently because of his defensive play, was listed as probable for today's practice.

Guess we shouldn't worry too much though because Dohn blogged that ML's injury is "only a mild sprain" and that "he is probable" for today's practice.

Hopefully these guys are practicing the same way they did following the losses against Arizona and Washington State in last two weeks. We will need these guys to show the same sense of urgency they showed during crunch time v. Stanford and Cal. Hopefully though time around we will get off to a better start at home, especially considering it's the last week for our three seniors and sustain the momentum for entire 40 mins.