(Ed. Note: Sorry for the weird formatting and odd pictures, guys. This guy just downloaded a WordPress app on his phone that is workable, but not ideal. Forgive me.)
The Oregon State Beavers edged the UCLA Bruins 87-84 despite the Bruins shooting at a 57 percent clip and rallying late to bring the game close.
What the hell, you say. We shot 57 percent and lost?
I feel your pain, brother, and so does head honcho Ben Howland who said as much after the game.
How did we do that? The only way you can have an incredible offensive performance and still lose: Shoddy, scrambling, horrible defense.
Because, as you’ll note in the game’s final score, Oregon State put up 87 points while shooting 58 percent from the floor. The troubling, damning, ironic thing about it all? The Beavers dominated the paint while the Bruins played to shut down Oregon State’s vaunted (by Pac-12 standards) backcourt. So with big bodies like David and Travis Wear, and with a huge body like Josh Smith, trying to help play man on the gaurds, the inside penetration came from OSU’s bigs.
Of course, Howland had his Bruins play man all game, allowing the Beavers to spread our defense thin. In the game of basketball, the last thing you want to do is get spread out defensively.
The cries for zone defense are getting louder, and more so after this pathetic defensive “performance.” It’s easy to see why Howland’s reluctant — without the proper personnel and against the wrong team, the zone is prone to break down pretty consistently. However, it’s clear that we have some serious deficiencies on defense, and the zone defense masks poor defenders with constant, albeit quick and minimalistic, shifting.
Sadly, I’m going to assume Howland’s a little too prideful to abandon the beloved and once-wildly-successful man defense.
We’ve got one more game coming up this weekend against Oregon. This loss has us scrambling with eight losses on the season, and 3-3 in the Pac-12. Another loss anytime soon, and we can kiss our NCAA tournament chances goodbye.