25.Feb.2011 Basketball: California @ Oregon State
When researching this game, I came across some interesting notes.
- Jared Cunningham now has the all-time single season record for steals (74) by a sophomore, besting Gary Payton's record of 72. With three games left to play, and then the conference tournament, he could theoretically challenge Payton's school record.
- Devon Collier has 19 blocked shots as a freshman. He should top Gary Payton's freshman record of 20 in this afternoon's game.
When a team has both a freshman and sophomore in the same sentence with Gary Payton, it's hard to make an argument that a lack of talent is causing the Beav's woes. Stats like this will put more pressure on Craig Robinson if he continues to lose games. Add the fact that OSU actually looked like a DI team when in the man to man, and it is becoming obvious the problem is coaching philosophy rather than talent. Many fans have thought this, but the sample is now large enough where we have numbers backing it up.
I'm only willing to forgive such err if the coach learns from mistakes. Said another way, we better see a heck of a lot more man defense today. The players have lobbied for it; fans recognized zone as an albatross months ago; and, even the media has arrived, albeit unfashionably late, to the anti-zone party. Look, there is no denying zone worked well last year, but that's because Seth Tarver was a disruptive, defensive talent. Omari Johnson is not half the player. Craig Robinson's inability to recognize his roster's strengths and adjust his philosophy to maximize those strengths has become a glaring weakness. His assumption that the team would be in foul trouble (if they played man to man) is just that, while the reality of opponents shooting close to 50% against the zone is also just that.
Could the the guys play a full 40 minutes of man defense and get obliterated? Certainly. This is the Beavers, after all–anything is possible. Playing man doesn't guarantee anything except they won't be playing that horrendous zone, and that's a plus in my book.
Bottom line: what I'd like to see this afternoon is more man defense. In order to salvage what is left of the season, fans need a reason to get excited about the conference tournament and believe the team has a shot at upsets. Playing tough man defense and winning 2 of 3 down the stretch would go a long way toward buoying our spirits and giving cause for optimism come March 9th.