As part of Testudo Times’ basketball coverage, staffer Alex Kirshner is corresponding throughout the season with beat writers and bloggers from the opponents’ on the Terps schedule. The hoops Q&A feature, "Shot Clock," starts with Connor Letourneau, an Oregon State Beavers' beat writer for The Oregonian. (Full disclosure: Connor is a 2013 Maryland graduate and a good friend from his days as the sports editor at The Diamondback.)
TT: Craig Robinson, the Beavers' head coach, has achieved some fame for being President Obama's brother-in-law. He's well-known for that, but I don't think he's nearly as understood as a basketball coach. What's Oregon State's system like, and what kind of coach is Robinson?
CL: Robinson, a Princeton alum, traditionally runs a modified Princeton offense. Last year, though, it was often difficult to tell that the Beavers ran a version of the Princeton. The backdoor cuts and ball reversals that are fundamental to that offense rarely materialized. This year, Robinson hopes to do a lot of things that I saw Maryland do last year. He wants to lean on inside-out fundamentals, though OSU will likely limit its 3-point attempts a bit since that's hardly one of their strong points this season. Defensively, Robinson traditionally ran a zone. But last year he used much more man-to-man, which OSU struggled to execute. The Beavers finished last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense in 2012-13, but Robinson believes they'll be much improved this year. Through two games, they've been up and down.
TT: What's the general tenor surrounding the basketball program this year? Positive? Negative?
CL: In terms of the fan base, the mood surrounding the basketball team is pretty negative. Fans are disillusioned with a program that hasn't reached the NCAA Tournament since 1990 and hasn't made the NIT since 2005. After OSU's season-opening loss to Coppin State, fans' frustrations with Robinson reached an early crescendo. They're very vocal about wanting him fired, but that likely won't happen this season because a budget-strapped athletic department can't afford to buy out Robinson's contract. Still, it'll be interesting to see what happens. Attendance is starting to hit a new low, which may force the athletic director to figure something out.
TT: Senior guard Roberto Nelson literally scored half the Beavers' points in their season-opening loss to Coppin State, and through two games, he's averaging twice as many points as any of his teammates. Is this guy a Stoglin-style volume shooter, or is there more there? Who else can score the ball on this team?
CL: Nelson is a much more complete player than Stoglin. He crashes the glass and gets his teammates involved. With that being said, though, I expect him to average more than 20 points per game this season. Outside of Nelson, OSU's top offensive options are center Angus Brandt and forward Devon Collier. Brandt, who played just four games last season before tearing an ACL, is a solid shooter with a growing arsenal of low-post moves. Collier can be a terror down low when he gets his motor running.
TT: The Terps looked lackluster on the glass against UConn after hounding the boards last season. I guess losing Alex Len can do that to you. Is Oregon State going to be a strong rebounding team this year?
CL: OSU was a solid offensive rebounding team last year, but it had a tough time nabbing defensive boards. Overall, the Beavers ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in rebound margin. Improving in that area this season should prove difficult. OSU's top rebounder, forward Eric Moreland, will miss nearly half the season for an unspecified violation of team rules. His absence really hurt the Beavers in the opener, when the much smaller Eagles outrebounded them.
TT: Last, Connor, what's your score prediction? And if you don't do score predictions, how do you think the game unfolds?
CL: Maryland is the much better team. I think the Terps have no problem scoring points against the Beavers and cruise to an 80-62 win.