Lucy tells Charlie Brown not to worry. This time she will hold the football as he attempts to kick it. Chuck walks back excitedly. This time he is going to do it. It’s really going to happen this time. He revs up, speeds toward the kick and then right at go time … Lucy pulls the ball away. Charlie Brown goes flying and falls on his back. Splat. Duped again.
It is one of the iconic moments in Charlie Brown’s illustrious career as king of the blockheads. Sometimes a cartoon can feel like real life.
So why should I change my name to ol’Chuck? Why do I feel like a blockhead lately? Look no further than the Oregon State men’s basketball team. Every time they get close, it is as if Lucy is pulling the football right out from under me or us. Often it is difficult to aptly describe a team without seeing them in person. Before the holiday, my soft prediction for the Beavers this year had a bright outlook.
Well, did not take long for things to change. I was fortunate to see the Beavers while on vacation in Las Vegas right before Christmas. The team played the San Diego Toreros of the West Coast Conference in the Garden Arena at the MGM Grand. Luckily I was staying in that hotel during my stay. Travel time was down significantly and a sparse crowd on hand made for easy viewing. Not to mention my calm but slightly noticeable tantrums of disgust were made with ease as I watched the clearly superior talented Beavs almost blow a 16-point lead. Five times the Toreros had inbounds passes underneath their own basket for no defender baskets. San Diego climbed to within two points before finally succumbing, 86-79.
Then, OSU dropped a HOME game to the Towson Tigers, 67-66. Towson is a suburb of Baltimore, MD. Most people have never heard of it or do not know where this school is located. They play out of the Colonial League with the likes of Hofstra, James Madison, Drexel and Old Dominion. Their RPI (ratings index, schedule difficulty) is 138. In other words, they are not exactly Duke or North Carolina.
Following a pasting they put on Texas-Pan American, 84-59, came a home loss to arch rival Oregon, 79-66. The Beavers were ahead by six at halftime, yet lost by 13. At home. If you watched the game, it was basically a layup drill for the Ducks. In the first half, Oregon scored 28 points - 20 of those in the paint. Oregon State gave up so many easy baskets I almost called Corvallis High School to see if they could send over any players interested in playing defense.
In their most recent game, last night, UCLA sent OSU to its fourth straight loss (74-64) and five of the last six. A promising 9-2 start has now sent the season spiraling in the wrong direction with their record standing at 10-7. With a road game at USC next, I wish I could say things are looking up, but it sure does not feel that way.
From what I have seen, their interior defense is softer than a goose down pillow. More consistency from the entire bench is becoming a necessity, but heading toward hope and a prayer. And Beaver nation would like to believe the starters don’t need to play all forty minutes. Opposing teams will see right through that and do everything possible to get Oregon State starters in foul trouble.
Why do I feel like wearing a yellow shirt with a oversized black zigzag on the front, a.k.a. Charlie Brown’s everyday attire? Because here we go again. It seems each time I get my hopes up, they get crushed like a grape in the middle of a four lane highway. C’mon Beavs, wake up.
This is probably the most talented OSU team I have seen in years. Center Joe Burton is shockingly mobile and needs to take it to the hole more often. Freshman Olaf Schaftenaar is supposed to be sharpshooter, but 0-for-7 performances will not cut it. And if you see 6-10 sophomore Eric Moreland his agility is absolutely stellar. He could take over a game if the plays are designed to favor his strengths. The backcourt has steely juniors in Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson. And freshman Jarmal Reid has already thrown down a few ‘where did that come from’ dunks.
Which leads me to more than likely the most valuable player on this squad: junior forward Devon Collier. In the games I have seen, this guy is pure athlete with such great basketball awareness. Against UCLA, he had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. He does everything. And he comes off the bench.
While football is not basketball, it is getting tiresome of feeling like we are in a Charlie Brown cartoon and Lucy keeps yanking that football away in regards to the basketball program. I hope this season flips to the upside. I really don’t want to write an end of the season letter to Coach Craig Robinson.
I hate saying this, but I think it's time for Robinson to go. There is too much talent on this team for them to play so poorly. Last year I thought it was the lack of leadership on the floor from Cunningham. Now I see that it's a lack of leadership in general that hurts the team. It is such a 'team' concept, that you end up with 5 individuals doing their own thing on the court. It never seems like anyone has any idea what they're supposed to do with the ball on offense, or what they should be doing on defense.