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Q&A With Building The Dam: The Bruins In Corvallis

In advance of our game tomorrow night against Oregon St. at Gill Coliseum up in Corvallis, ConnorOSU from Building the Dam and I exchanged some questions about each other's teams to get an idea of what we'll be up against tomorrow night. Thanks to Connor for answering these questions for us and helping us get a feel for what Oregon St. will bring to the table considering it's unlikely that more than a handful of us really know what the Beavers have to offer.

1. In Craig Robinson's first season it looked like the Beavers had taken a step forward and then brought in one of the better recruiting class the program has had in a while, but it hasn't resulted in wins the last couple years. What's gone wrong?
Last season, we were just plain young. The Freshmen contributed, but they were in-experienced, so that was the main problem.
This year, Joe Burton and Jared Cunningham have grown up, and the Freshmen have played fine. I think the main problem has been coaching. Robinson is a great coach, but he has trouble getting our team ready for non-conference games. I mean, we lost to Utah Valley, Texas Southern, and George Washington in OOC play, yet we played great against ASU and Arizona. I'm not a coach, and I'm not trying to do his job, but CR has got to figure out a way to win non-conference games, or else this will never be a NCAA Tournament team.
 2. Oregon St. is giving up 80 points per game this season. Where have all the problems on the defensive end been?

It is a staggering number, considering most of our games were played in the 50's or 60's last season. This year our offense has turned into an "up-tempo, run at every opportunity" style, which of course means more possessions for both teams and more points.
But, there still have been some problems. Because we love to play the 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones, it means we leave open a lot of three point shots. Now sometimes, as was the case against Illinois-Chicago, Arizona State, and Arizona, those threes don't go down and we usually win the game.
But against good three-point shooting teams, or teams with single players that can light it up from outside, the Beavers get into trouble. Ever heard of Lawre Johnson-Danner, Isiah Williams, Nemanja Mikic, or Tony Taylor? Neither had Beaver fans, until they torched Oregon State behind the arc and led their respective teams' to upsets. It's guys like those who get the Beavers into trouble. 

3. The Beavers are 6-3 at home, but only 1-5 away. Is this a matter of the Beavers being a good home team or really struggling on the road? Is playing at home going to be enough to get the Beavers playing at their best on Thursday?

Well for one thing, Oregon State's toughest games have been on the road. We have faced Seattle University, Colorado, Montana, Washington State, and Washington in their gyms. We are a pretty good home team, and even though our attendance numbers are low, Gill Coliseum can get pretty loud when we are playing well.
To answer your question, like I said above, Craig Robinson usually gets the team ready for Pac-10 games, home or away, but it seems like we do always play better at Gill.

4. Joe Burton was well thought of out of high school and is shooting 55% this year, but averaging only about eight points per game. Is his limited production a matter of Burton not getting position or the other guys not getting him the ball and do you think he'll be a focal point of the OSU offense Thursday?

Burton had a VERY rough start to the season, but ever since Pac-10 play has begun he has become a force down low. He loves his new role coming off the bench, and he has definitely been the focal point of the offense when he is on the floor. Burton is averaging 11 points per game in Pac-10 play, and came up clutch time after time with 16 points in the Beavers upset against Arizona.

5. Calvin Haynes and Jared Cunningham are both scorers. How have they coexisted in the same back court and as the two leading scorers, how do they play off each other in the OSU offense?

Calvin Haynes controls the ball for the most part in OSU's offense, with Cunningham's points either coming off steals, backdoor cuts, spot up threes, or sky-kissing tip-dunks. Haynes' job is basically to pass the ball to a big man, or stop on a dime and create his own shot.

6. What do you think are the keys to Oregon St.'s success on Thursday and what does UCLA need to focus on shutting down?

The main key will be a big night from Joe Burton. Like I said above, he has had a great start to Pac-10 play, and when he gets going like he did against the Arizona schools, it's tough to see us not winning the game.

For UCLA, the keys will be keeping the ball out of Burton and Angus Brandt's hands. If you force the ball to the perimeter and our few three-point shooters (Cunningham, Ahmad Starks, and Haynes) can't make their shots, then the Bruins have a great chance of getting out of Corvallis with a victory.

7. Any predictions?

Oregon State-77, UCLA-72 in an Overtime thriller.