(INSERT BEAVER JOKE HERE) - OREGON ST. BASKETBALLOregon State, once one of the leading programs in the conference, has struggled of late. After an NIT appearance in 2004-5, the Beavs fell back last year and finished 13-18. The school has confidence in Jay John, but can Cool Hand Lute's former assistant bring the Beavers back to the postseason?
Good News: Josh Tarver (right) is back. The redshirt freshman missed all of last year with a broken foot, and OSU never developed a suitable replacement. He's healthy, and will be a good scoring option from the point. The Beavers also return their entire front court, led by PF Sasa Cuic (left - 13.5 ppg) who led the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting at 49.3%. Together the Beavers' front court returnees (Cuic, C Kyle Jeffers and SF Marcel Jones) combined for 29.0 points per game and 15.4 rebounds per game.
Bad News: OSU is searching for an answer at the off-guard spot, where Josh's little brother Seth Tarver - a true freshman - is one of several options. Wesley Washington may be the starter based on experience, but he's pretty ordinary. While Josh Tarver was highly heralded coming out of Portland Jesuit, he has not been tested over a full season. Depth is not great once you get past the starters, especially in the frontcourt. That's bad news for a team whose starters have a history of injury troubles. OSU's frontline is experienced, but a bit soft inside with the exception of Jeffers.
New Faces: Serb Vojin Svilar will back up Tarver at the point; C/F Roeland Schaftenaar (Netherlands) could contribute depth in the frontcourt.
Prediction: 7th place. The Beavers have enough up front to have an outside shot at a postseason berth, provided they stay healthy and the Tarver brothers can protect the basketball and provide some scoring punch. An NIT bid wouldn't exactly bring back memories of Ralph Miller and his never-ending pack of More cigarettes, but it would represent progress.