Game Preview: Oregon State

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by: Griffin Bennett

The Huskies are on top of the Pac-10 and don’t look to be coming down anytime soon. Even though the first half that the last place Oregon Ducks put up on Thursday was respectable, the Dawgs eventually made them look like bottom feeders. They had to find their new groove after losing Abdul Gaddy and freshman Terrence Ross was more than willing to pick up the slack. Heading into Saturday’s game against the Beavers, the Huskies will find a unique task in trying to attack a 1-3-1 defense while Craig Robinson’s offense will try something new: a high speed offense.

After a brutal loss to WSU on Thursday, the Beavers will try to regain their momentum against a Husky team that seems unbeatable at home. The Beavers are statistically a terrible road team that struggles to enforce their style of play, especially against fast teams. OSU plays a zone defense that has always bothered the Washington offense. While the Huskies won’t see anything new, let’s take a look at what the Beavers are bringing.

Oregon State 101:

It all starts with Jared Cunningham. He has been their emotional and statistical leader through their hot start out of the Pac-10. His dunk against Arizona has everyone nationally seeing his skills. Not only is he their statistical leader with 14.1 ppg, but he sparks the whole team with his athleticism. When it comes to sidekicks, Cunningham has some good options. Fellow guard Calvin Haynes has his back but his stat line shouldn’t scare any Husky. His 11.2 ppg, and 2.6 apg are not anything to worry about, but he has been known to have big games at times while his defense remains underrated. Next upon the OSU mediocre list are Omari Johnson, Joe Burton, and Lathen Wallace. While those options’s are as funny as head coach’s Craig Robinson’s stand up, his offense has yet to perform consistently. They’re win over Arizona might have been a turning point, but they still have many doubters as their non-conference losses still stain their record. They can still get hot, however,  on defense which leads to a great fast break with their new found speed in transition.

Starting Line-up:

PG: Calvin Hayes – 6’3″

SG: Jared Cunningham – 6’4″

SF: Devon Collier – 6’7″

PF: Omari Johnson – 6’9″

C: Angus Brandt – 6’10”

If we’re all being honest, the Huskies shouldn’t have a problem with Oregon State. They should continue their Pac-10 winning streak to four while not blinking. The Beavers have other players that will contribute who I haven’t mentioned (Ahmad Starks, Roberto Nelson, Angus Brandt, etc) but the bottom line is that the Husky bench is far too deep for any Dawg fan to concern themselves with any of the names. The true task for the Huskies will be to continue to adjust without Andul Gaddy and let the depth of the Dawgs dominate throughout the game. There is no real secret. Are you worried about the 1-3-1? Let me break it down for you.

The 1-3-1:

The best way to attack it is to have an aggressive point guard who can pass as well as penetrate. When an offense approaches the 1-3-1, you want to make two defenders commit to the ball handler at the top of the key while a perimeter shooter gets open or a post player gets into a weak spot of their defense. Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Terrence Ross, and every other bench player plays right into this strategy. The weak spots in the the 1-3-1 are the elbows and the blocks. UW dominates the three-point line while also destroying teams in assists. If there was a recipe to beat OSU, UW would have it written on their forehead. Regardless of Terrence Ross’ recent coming out party, the Huskies have the perfect anti-1-3-1 team. If the Huskies get hot beyond the arc and MBA is able to establish himself in their weak spot, the Huskies will roll.

Huskies Win if they:

  • REBOUND – I will never not include this key. The winning team usually always wins the rebounding battle and this game is no different. The Dawgs should always beat a zone team in rebounding as they will be out of position to box out all night. I fully expect MBA to have 10+ boards as his new-found aggressiveness should lead him to the promise land.
  • Offensive Execution – Without Abdul Gaddy, the Huskies will have to execute against the zone efficiently. Isaiah will need to adapt his game while being able to score. Sometimes we depend on their three-point shooting, but someone has to step up to be the “X-factor” against the zone.
  • Transition Defense – Even though the Huskies best execution might be enough, the Dawgs still need to hustle back on defense on every play. If the Beavers get multiple stops, it can fuel their confidence to the level that helped them beat Arizona.
  • Create your own energy – With tip-off being at 3:30, and most of the Seattle area being obsessed with Seahawk Fever, there might be a late arriving crowd. Especially if the ‘Hawks are in it to the end, there might be a lack of fans to start.

Prediction:

With this being “Game Two: Post Gaddy”, I don’t see the Huskies falling victim to Robinson’s defense. Too much speed, too much scoring, and too much home-noise. The Huskies win this in a blowout, 86-64.