20.Nov.2011 Craig Robinson: Good Coach?

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As many people who follow this blog know, I've loved Craig Robinson since day one, mainly due to this recruiting ability and understanding of sports psychology. However, last season tested even my patience. In March I wrote:

Personally, I'm more disturbed that I've become so emotional about Craig Robinson. I started out loving the guy for his recruiting prowess, then the love turned to anger after his dubious substitution patterns, and now I'm just up and down with every win or loss. It can't be this way…we need to choose sides. I'm withdrawing into the "needs one year with his own recruits" corner and staying there this time…

Last season was a roller coaster. Robinson seemed to "regress" as a coach. So, my question this morning is this: how much of this game is talent, and how much is coaching? Was Craig a bad coach last year, and suddenly he is a good coach this year? That seems so unlikely. It's more plausible to say athletic talent trumps coaching, and that the truly great teams have both.

I think we struggle with the question of coaching vs talent on this blog. Many of us blame coaches (e.g. this year with football), but are their poor results due to a lack of talent? When we call for a guy's head, are we being emotional, irrational fans? I try so hard not to be that guy.

Maybe I woke up in a good, forgiving mood today since yesterday was one of the best days ever to be a Beaver fan. Granted, very possible. But I think of how Calvin Haynes, Omari Johnson, and Lathan Wallace held back CR last year. And it makes me wonder if Grant Johnson, Mike Remmers, and Burke Ellis are doing the same to Riley et al. Probably. For various reasons (outlined in my chess analogy post), I still think Craig Robinson's ceiling is higher than Riley's, but Riley is probably better than he looked this past season. He's an eight win coach when he has adequate talent. Whether eight wins is good enough is the real debate.

Anyway, that's my feeling on it. Something to think about….

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  • BeaverBill BeaverBill says:
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    I love what Okie U coach Stoops said after losing yesterday. We were out played and out coached today, bottom-line. I respect that greatly. My problem with Riley this year is he has not taken any responsibility for the poor coaching this year but has consistently laid out the players.

    The players may cause a game to be lost but the coaches cause a season to be lost IMO.

  • JackBeav says:
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    I think it was Bear Bryant who responded to similar ideas about him just being a master recruiter (as opposed to a great coach) by saying something to the effect of you need chicken to make chicken salad. But other things he said were more relevant to what a coach does to prepare a team and how he molds them in his image.

    Coach Rob does have better talent on this roster than we’ve seen in 20 years, so a lot of the credit has to go to the players themselves. And he will say that ALL of the credit goes to the players. That’s what a good coach does. But the late game mental toughness this team shows is borne from coaching. The smart plays late in the game are borne from habits gained in practice.

    Bonus material… the hoops team wasn’t the only Beavs team to top 100 points yesterday:
    http://www.gazettetimes.com/sports/beavers-sports/osu-roundup-ruggers-blank-oregon/article_00047dd4-134a-11e1-9b80-001cc4c002e0.html

    • angry angry says:
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      Robinson seems to get the psychology involved in this. He doesn’t make weak statements like, “we hope to figure out who we are”…he’s more along the lines of (paraphrase) “we want to run and play fast” etc. Pushes his vision onto the team and recruits the players needed to match that vision. That’s why I like him. He’s also a straight shooter, which is refreshing.

      It’s impossible to absolve Riley, even if it is a talent deficiency, because those are the players he recruited, and most fit his image/personality. I’m getting more frustrated as the day progresses, and as I think about it more. Hahah.

      • mckalk says:
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        I should dig into the Ralph Freigden/Marlyland situation as it seems there might be something there to think about with OSU currently..

        I think Maryland was 2-10 in 2009, but the administration kept Ralph for 2010, he won ACC coach of the year and then they fired his ass. They get up and comer Randy Edsall (who looks the part of a HC). Everyone thought he would be the perfect fit and then they fall flat on their faces this year. Maybe the AD knew the cupboard was bare and held Ralph responsible even though he got the team back to a “8 win season”.

        I wonder how honest Riley has been with BDC over the obvious lack of talent on the O-Line and Linebackers and the substandard recruiting classes of a couple of years back? It just seems like Riley let it happen, instead of proactively doing something about it. Keep in mind this team was only truly blown out against Wisconsin. I just don’t see any vision, it’s a victim mentality. Problem is that I don’t know how engaged BDC is either.

      • slamadam says:
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        to me one of the best things about robinson is that unlike riley, he seems to dictate his teams identity. riley has trouble doing it with the same conviction for whatever reason.

    • mckalk says:
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      Against the Ducks no less.

      • JackBeav says:
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        I know… how many times have you heard of a 115-0 win against your rival… going into rivalry week?

  • Gash says:
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    What’s impressive is that they won 3 games in 6 days, whatever the competition given our history against weaker out of conference teams, and then went to the east coast 3 days later and looked hungry, eager to play.

    unlike my Riley stance, I was ready to give up on Robinson if we weren’t able to beat the state-poly-techs this year, passing him off as yet another coach who was able to motivate under talented teams to surprising wins but who could not build a program. This looks like a team that has turned the corner, though a run of ugly losses could still derail it. My main concern is that, win or lose, there isn’t a post Vandy hangover. But right now there is every reason to be excited about the direction of this team and program.

  • ean says:
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    I always felt like last year Coach Rob wasn’t really trying to win games but trying to lay out the ground rules. We worked a ton on zone which is paying dividends this year by being able to throw a pretty polished 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones at the opponent while playing mostly man as a base D. Also suspending all the guys for the tourney showed them that the rules must be followed and guys must be held accountable. I think playing the seniors last season was a bit of a duel edged sword. Sure it might have made sense to go with the more talented under classmen and we probably should of but at the same time I think there is some benefit in sending the message that hard work, persistence and dedication will be rewarded. Also on Coach Rob I was saying this last year and possibly the previous year that he is learning on the job too. He used to work in the real world then he ran a Princeton and 1-3-1 team so this is new to him coaching in a league were different offensive and defensive looks are necessary to win games and this is a level of talent he has not seen before. Do I think Rob is the best? no. But I love the pace at which he continues to grow and develop as a coach.

    As far as Riley I have never really called for his head. I listen to people that do and understand the argument. Maybe he is putting some of the similar building blocks into place that Coach Rob did last year. I don’t know…. but I do know that a team in OSU’s position best shot at a truly remarkable season is to take on unbalanced recruiting classes and build on a 4 or 5 year cycle. It is disappointing that the low has been so low but when you look at the number of juniors and seniors on the team compared to redshirts, freshman and sophs it is looking like we could have a fairly deep and talented team in 2 to 3 years. But it is tough to have patience.

  • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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    I think Craig is a good coach. Last year he stuck with the seniors too long. I think he knows that and regrets that. I think he just wanted to see them do well. He gave them their shot and they were bad. People have to remember Craig is a young head coach. This is his 6th season as a head coach. He’s learning himself. I think he is getting better. The talent is better for sure, but he’s also doing a better job this year. He’s the one that has helped the Beavers play better against the zone defense. He’s implemented some high low this year to take advantage of Burton and Collier’s skills. He’s putting the Beavers in position to succeed. Talent always helps, but he’s putting them in position to take advantage of their talent.

    Not saying he’s saying the next Coach K or anything, but look at Coach K’s first three years at Duke. 17-13, 10-17 and 11-17. That looks somewhat familiar huh? Some wanted him gone I believe. His fourth year him and Duke put it together and went 24-10. They haven’t looked back since. I think Craig and the Beavers are putting it together and will have a big season. I don’t know how much success the Beavers will have in the future, but I like where the program is headed.

  • mckalk says:
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    I think it’s kind of complicated. When Robinson had a couple of leaders in Seth Tarver and Ricky Claitt the teams did ok for having marginal overall talent. I think as it turns out the “bad guys” were virtually uncoachable. Is Robinson accountable for that? Some of the those guys actually regressed. Is that CR’s fault?

    The team had some injuries last year, so maybe that is why Robinson stuck with them. If Moreland and Murphy had been healthy, I would have hoped CR would have cut his losses and given those guys a lot of minutes. And then even with the cluster that was last years team, they still beat Arizona and Washington.

    I think we have always said, this is the year and it’s all his own guys. So far, so good. I just hope it does not end up being the Cunningham show and then the program falls back again.

    • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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      I think Jared will still be back next season. So, we won’t have to worry about Cunningham leaving too soon. Also, Nelson will figure it out. From what I’ve heard Nelson’s ankle injury is nowhere near 100% and still bothering him. Hopefully when the ankle finally heals he will be able to take off. With playing almost every other day he hasn’t had much time to let his ankle heal. He’ll have 4 days to do that after the Vanderbilt game. If Roberto figures it out it will take pressure off Jared and the team will be better. I don’t think Jared will have to carry the team. He’ll still going to have a monster season.

      • mckalk says:
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        Jared is starting to show as an elite player, so I think an even bigger test of CR’s coaching abilities will be how well the team does post Cunningham. The expectations and pressure should never let up when you coach at the D-1 level! It comes with the territory.

  • CraigBeav says:
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    We lost Tyner to the Ducks
    http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2011/11/thomas_tyner_five-star_prospec.html

    “… I went down to the Sacramento State game … and that wasn’t too pretty. I ended up leaving at halftime. It seems like their sports are going down, and Oregon, I don’t know, I just like it down there. It’s awesome.”

    Sad face.

    • BeaverBill BeaverBill says:
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      Every game counts in more ways then we know.

    • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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      Tyner says he gave up on OSU after watching the first half of the Sac State game (leaving Reser at halftime), and now prefers the “awesome” environment in Eugene.

      Not sure Tyner is thinking clearly about any of this. Tyner comes across as young, naive, and easily manipulated. Has Tyner talked to Lache Seastrunk about his experience at Oregon? Has Tyner considered the possibility of serious NCAA sanctions, and what that might mean for the Ducks? Or is Tyner just another kid being dazzled by Nikegon and its marketing department?

      If the Ducks do get hammered by the NCAA, don’t be surprised if Tyner turns his back on the Ducks as fast as he appears to have turned his back on the Beavers…..

  • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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    Off topic, but Dennis Erickson is stepping down as head coach of the Sun Devils after the season. ASU, WSU, Arizona and possibly UCLA will all be looking for new coaches.

    • mckalk says:
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      That didn’t take long after last nights debacle. Now, I just need the Bears to beat ASU and USC to beat UCLA and then unbelievably the Utes will be going to Autzen (unless they lose to Colorado). I am still of course hoping the Beavs can pull the mother of all upsets and then I guess the Utes would go to the Bay Area and smack Andrew around a little. Please forgive me, I am following the Utes a lot closer since they have something to play for..

    • KC says:
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      How would you like Erickson back at OSU as a coordinator lol? That’ll never happen, but one can dream.

  • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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    When CR took all Jay John guys and won that loser tournament (but still all winning teams, except us) in his first year, to me that showed coaching ability.

    It seems to be coming out again now. Great win for our young team.

    For Riley, he loosens up the play book only a few games a year?? Sorry, but he is giving the kids a loser mentality. His only reprieve from me comes only if he branstorms and wins the Civil War game. Lets see it, Riley — you a great coach…or not?

    For me, I hope OSU is also looking for a new football coach.

  • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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    I would have to say CR is a good coach. It’s a beautiful thing to see OSU at the tops of these lists.

    http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/conferences/standings/_/id/21/year/2012/pacific-12-conference

    http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/rankings/rpi/index1

    It’s possible we’ll crack the AP and Coach’s top 25 lists when they’re released for this week. And if we’re not in the top 25 lists this week, you can bet on it next week if we’re able to upset Vanderbilt tomorrow and take out Towson. By the way, Towson has had a horrific non-conference schedule thus far. Has to be one of the toughest schedules played so far this season by any team.

    In short, yes, I think it’s fair to call CR a good coach. Can he be great? I’ll enjoy watching this team to find out.

  • StarcraftSquall says:
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    Here’s the thought on Riley: after this much time, shouldn’t he be reloading, not rebuilding?

    • mckalk says:
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      That’s a good thought and kind of how I feel. Like I’ve said numerous times before, a lot of those 8 to 10 year tenured HCs with some minor bowl success end up losing their jobs when they can’t take it to the next level and the program shows regression..

      In the bizarro world that is Oregon State football, MR is not even feeling any heat that I know of. I would hope he goes into next season scared shitless with an implicit warning from those above him (and I don’t care if it is made public) that if he lays an egg again, he is gone. Losing seasons are not tolerated with OSU football anymore.

      • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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        You are spot on. Happened here at Minnesota with Glen Mason. Epic, WTF ways to lose games that were won also helped.

        • mckalk says:
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          On the outside looking in, I thought Minnesota was a bit hasty in dumping Mason, but wasn’t there an embarassing free fall in a bowl game that led to his dismissal.

      • oneoldbeav says:
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        Cliff is pretty sure Riley is feeling heat.
        cliffkirkpatrick.mvourtown.com/2011/11/20/washington-aftermath/

  • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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    St Louis is merdering Washinton right now. 43-21 a few minutes before halftime. Pac 12 is embarrassing this year. The top spot is there for the taking. Cal is the only team who’s played consitently well, and they haven’t played anybody yet this season.

    • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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      Just realized I wasn’t watching a live broadcast and saint louis has beaten washington already. 77-64. Oh, and they were “murdering” them, not “merdering”. Stupid smart phone keypad…

    • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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      That’s a reply. St. Louis won 77-64. It was 50-25 at halftime. UW looked really bad for most of the game

      • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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        Replay*

      • mckalk says:
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        I remember reading a Majerus interview after last season that this seasons team would be much improved and poised to make the tournament.

  • HopefulBeav says:
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    I know I may be jumping the gun a little bit here but I was just looking at our schedule and if we can pull this off tomorrow night we have a realistic shot at being 12-0 heading into Pac 12 play. I really don’t see this team having the problem of playing down to their opponents level of play (unlike our football team).

  • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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    Jabari Brown appears to be transferring away from Oregon. Wonder if this is a “Seastrunk” esque departure amid the ongoing NCAA investigation?

    • HopefulBeav says:
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      Where did you see that?

      • brownale9000 says:
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        It’s all over twitter…

        Sources say that freshman guard Jabari Brown cleaned out his locker after the Ducks’ last game on Thursday vs. Eastern Washington

        and…

        Apparently Jabari Brown has left the Oregon program. Looking to confirm it.

        Jerry Allen has mentioned this on his radio program.

    • angry angry says:
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      There will likely be another (hoops) player or two leaving, too.

      • brownale9000 says:
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        Agreed.

        I wouldn’t be shocked if Dominic Artis decommits now as well.

        What’s going to be VERY interesting is watching how many football players transfer this offseason. I’m guessing there will be a few big surprises.

      • mckalk says:
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        Is Brown leaving because he is not getting along with Altman or is it related to recruiting stuff? I was reading some things about his immature behavior.

        • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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          Something more that we don’t know. Yes, his attitude was a real issue. During the Eastern Washington game he was throwing tantrums and acting immature but to just up and leave the program immediately afterwards? That’s strange. Altman may have told him after the game he was suspended for his actions but I don’t think he would leave the program. Something was going that nobody knows about yet. I hope the truth of why he left will come out soon.

    • brownale9000 says:
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      It’s interesting that Oregon pulled his name off the roster on their website already. They also removed the team poster which had Brown on it from the bookstore. Jabari deleted his twitter account, just like DeAnthony Thomas did when he was being investigated by the NCAA. Meanwhile, Taylor Henry is still listed on the Oregon State football roster. Now, maybe whOregon is just better at keeping up with this kind of stuff…or maybe they’re already trying to distance themselves from a kid.

      My guess is that they know they’re in deep shit with him because he’s under investigation by the NCAA. If Dominic Artis tries to get out of his LOI, I think it’s plausible that the rumors of Brown and Artis’ AAU coach accepting money from Nike to guide those two players to whOregon is true.

      Who’s next to leave? Bruce Barron probably.

      • angry angry says:
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        Who’s next to leave? Bruce Barron probably.

        Based on what I’ve seen, yes.

  • homefry homefry says:
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    ESPNAndyKatz Andy Katz tweet:

    Major blow as Oregon announces Jabari Brown leaves. I had Oregon as my sleeper. May have had wrong school in state if OSU beats Vandy.
    42 minutes ago

    • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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      I said the same thing before the season. I never thought Oregon was anywhere near as good as the media was saying they were. Even with Jabari Brown they were average at best.

      • mckalk says:
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        Yeah, I was getting tired of the Duck hoops love. SI had them as making the tourney, I thought they were a year or two away.

  • KC says:
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    What’s the latest on Darius Powe and Devian Shelton? Should I be disappointed they didn’t commit today?

  • Beavocalypse says:
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    I planned on commenting on this post earlier when it was first put up but I realized that I needed to eat a small helping of crow. I hated on CR for a large part of last season and had some choice comments about him because of what I perceived to be more of the same stuff from the Jay John era. So far they have shown signs of improvement so I will back off from my hater status – but I will say this : until CR gets us to either the NIT or NCAA tourney I will only call him an ‘average’ coach

    • angry angry says:
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      Well, it is still early so any stance can still be right. Plus, I am not sure the idea is to prove who is right or wrong. That’s interesting and all, but the reason I made the post is to show that feelings toward a coach can change with the personnel…and, will that happen with Riley over the next couple years as he gets better OL/recruits? That’s an interesting question. As I’ve said 100 times, I think he caps out o at 8 wins in a good year and 9 in a great year, but…CR is showing so far talent goes a long way.

      • Beavocalypse says:
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        Completely agree with you man. I am pleased with our progress and one can’t complain when we’re winning. At least CR isn’t a completely passive b**** like Riley. And I think you have a compelling point that maybe our seniors last year were a cancerous lump that has been removed and talent is able to shine.

        • mckalk says:
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          And for better or worse, CR was not shy about commenting on the talent level of Jay John’s recruits. I’m sure he did it for a multitude of reasons, good and bad, but I kind of liked the honesty.

          Can you imagine Mike Riley saying, something like that about the O-line. Of course, the difference is that they are Riley recruits, so again he would have to take responsibility.

  • Geoff Whittier says:
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    if talent trumps coaching how exactly did CR get Jay Johns players to go 18-18 and win the CBI in his first year? I think it’s a little bit of both. These are all CR’s players now. I think it was good to get the last of the JJ players graduated after last year. I honestly believe that some of them were a cancer that never bought into CR’s system. There are no more excuses. Can CR coach? Absolutely! We’ve seen it. We’ve also seen him get out coached. This is where having more talent can sometimes mask that I think. Either way, If I ever see Jay John or Ritchie McKay in public I will kick them in the junk for how bad off they left this program.

    • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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      The 18-18 mark was mostly because of Roeland, Seth Tarver and Ricky Claitt and coaching by coach Rob. How he won as many games as he did was amazing. Ricky made so many big shots. He was a perfect in the offense. He was a deadly three point shooter and was a great cutter. The Beavers really missed him when he left. They didn’t have a consistent shooter once he left. Lathen Wallace and Omari were frustrating to watch no doubt, but Calvin Haynes was far and away the biggest problem. He seemed to have gotten worse his final year and brought down the team. I have no doubt that he was also a major issue in the locker room. The players talk about better chemistry this year. I believe they’re referring to the locker room being better without Calvin.

      I share your feelings about Ritchie McKay and Jay John. They were awful. It amazed me that Ritchie got a head coaching job after OSU.

  • JackBeav says:
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    I can’t remember who it was, but the quote was something like:
    “I discovered I was a better coach when I recruited better players.”

    Two words:
    Chicken salad.

  • WFO WFO says:
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    I’ll add:

    You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

  • OneEyedKing says:
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    Ellis, Johnson, etc, were Riley’s players; Craig inherited the crap he had to work with.

    Otherwise I’d agree, but it’s hard to feel bad for them, or give them an excuse, when they recruited or allowed those bad players on the field in the first place.

  • JD says:
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    OK, so I know polls this early in the season are meaningless but WTF is up with the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Beavers received not one vote for the top 25 while mighty Texas is the fourth other team receiving votes or 29th.

    I hope the Beavers kick the shit out of Vandy.

    • angry angry says:
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      Gotta earn that respect. It’ll happen if they beat Vandy.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I hope we win for the sake of winning. I don’t care about polls right now. I’ve long believed that every sport should wait until a month into each respective season to start any polls. While I do like the way the RPI looks right now, it will shake out like all the other polls do in the end.

      Just be thankful that those polls don’t decide Tourney selections and seedings. They’re simply a guide which suggests perception. The real rankings come after March.

    • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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      We received a few votes from the AP voters at least. And Texas received fewer votes. I think they got it right for the most part. If the Beavs can stay undefeated after this week, then I think you should see a top 25 ranking.

      http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/rankings

  • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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    No respect. Coach’s polls are a joke anyway. They don’t even watch the other games going on so they have very little to base their opinions on. Hopefully the AP gives the Beavs a little credit. It doesn’t help that none of our games have been on TV yet. (ESPN3 does not count)

  • Beav16 says:
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    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/949689-college-basketball-power-rankings-top-20-naismith-award-candidates-nov-21 some respect for Cunningham right here.

  • OrangeExpress says:
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    thing i love most about coach rob is his determination in getting beaver hoops back to where it was when he was himself playing basketball at princeton in the early 80’s – when the orange express was rolling and on top of the college basketball world. i have a mountain of respect for this. he has brought together former greats for meetings on how to get OSU hoops back on the right track. i really think he genuinely cares about the school, its fan base and alumni – and most of all it’s basketball program – getting the beavs back in the top 25 and to the big dance – something that used to be so routine…..

    • angry angry says:
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      Agreed, his comments about Gill when he played there were good.

  • Quatre Quatre says:
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    Burton is ridiculous. I’m keeping track of the times when he’s had dominant position to get a rebound and didn’t even bother trying for it. The counter is at four for this game, to go along with the six from the Texas game.

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