For a preview from the other side of the court, check out Building the Dam's coverage.
The last time we had to deal with our good friends from Corvallis, a chain reaction was set off so powerful, so destructive, so irritating that we are just now starting to recover. A quick flash back to January 10th. There we were, minding our own business at home, feeling good about rattling off 6 wins in a row including a road sweep of the Washington schools. Those pesky Beavers had just gotten beat by 51 points to lowly Seattle University! Little did we know that they were lying in wait, ready to spring their trap and blindside us with a 64-57 victory.
The good feelings we had going into that game were immediately crushed. We were thinking possible tourney to even more possible new head coach mid-season as the team lost their next 4 games. Those losses weren't even close either. The death spiral that Oregon State sent us on would only start to turn around against UCLA with a thrilling overtime win.
As we head to Corvallis today to kick off the second half of the conference schedule, I'm forced to wonder if we've, once again, been lured into false hope. Oregon State has lost 4 out of their last 5 games and is at the bottom of the Pac-10 but remember, that means jack this year. The Beavers are at 3-6 in conference and are 2.5 games back of FIRST place. That's how screwy this league is and why we can't allow ourselves to think we're going to walk into Gill and come out with the victory. We have to build on the success from the last 2 games and take that into a hostile environment if we want to come out on top.
Keys to the Game
Take care of the ball to defeat the 1-3-1 defense
In the last meeting, Oregon had a horrible time working around the trapping scheme Oregon State employs. The coaching staff has had a week to help drill in a gameplan to beat the 1-3-1 and it will be up to the players to execute. Guards playing in control will be very important. Tajuan Porter has been excellent the last two games in taking what the defense gives him. If he has patience and works within the offense, the gameplan should come together.
No easy buckets
Oregon's defensive changes have produced some great efforts on that side of the ball during the last couple of games. The Ducks will need to continue that against the Beavers to limit their opportunities. They will look to slow the pace of the game down and keep things close. Cutting out the easy baskets could allow Oregon to build a lead if the offense can produce some big shots
Rebound, rebound, rebound
Both teams are very good rebounding teams. With the pace of the game being slower, Oregon needs to make sure that the opportunities for Oregon State are limited as much as possible. If Oregon can win the rebounding battle, especially on the offensive side of the ball, the Ducks will have a great shot at pulling this one out on the road.
Scary game. I don't think we have done anything the last few games that makes me think we can beat the 1-3-1 trap that the Beavers employ but I could be wrong. Defensively, I think we have found a scheme that works for us and might give us a tiny leg up from our last meeting. I like Malcolm Armstead's development in the last few games and I think the coaching staff has done a better job at managing the games. My X Factor will be Jeremy Jacob. He should get a lot of touches in the offense with the opportunity to score.