Looking for Their First Pac-12 Road Win, The Beavers Take on Cal

Looking for Their First Pac-12 Road Win, The Beavers Take on Cal
January 31, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Coach Robinson hasn't won at Berkeley since his first season with the Beavers. Now, with a 1-6 conference record, 2009 seems very much in the past.

The Beavers have battled through the toughest part of their season, coming just one or two plays from victory against some very, very good teams.

I asked Coach Robinson if the easier road ahead took some weight off his guys shoulders to improve their record. Not exactly. His guys aren't frustrated. They have to talent to win, the will to win, and now, the urgency to win.

"We feel like we know how to win games and are capable of it.” "It's just having the stomach to put it all together. By stomach, it could be guts, it could be courage, it could be character – just a lot of things that go into winning a game at this point.''

With that, he has a lot on the line in this game, but so does Bears coach Mike Montgomery. With a win tonight, he will be the 5th head coach at Cal to win 100 games.
(The Bears are 11-8 overall, 3-4 in Pac-12).

Currently, Oregon State is giving up a league-high 69.5 points per game and their  opponents are shooting 46 percent against them.

On the bright side, OSU is one of only six teams in the country to have five players on the team to average double-figures in scoring. And one of those players is the newly reinstated Eric Moreland, who surpassed Steve Johnson last weekend to sit second in all-time blocked shots with 115. ( Scott Haskin holds the highest with 172 career. But remember, Moreland is only a sophomore.)

Against Washington, he posted his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, then had seven points and seven rebounds against Washington State before fouling out. According to Oregon State's release, the eight double-doubles ties him for the lead in the Pac-12 with Colorado's Andre Roberson and is just four shy of moving him into Oregon State's single-season top-10.

Earlier this week, Moreland said being out rebounded was his team's achillies heel. If he has anything to do with it, that will change. And looking at his stats, he has the power to make it happen. (Moreland is second in the Pac-12, 11th in nation with 10.6 rebounds a game.)

Moreland told me Tuesday, "We've got to turn this thing around, and we've got to do it fast.” "It's getting tiring to say, 'we're right there.' We've just got to go and do it.''

This week, Mike Montgomery told the Daily Californian, “They are very long. They can cause problems shot-blocking and on the offensive glass. They are a very dangerous team.”

Dangerous offensively? Indeed. Tonight, the Beavers will need the scoring prowess of Roberto Nelson , who continues to lead the Beavers in scoring - averaging 17.4 points over the past five games.

Dangerous defensively? That remains to be seen. On Tuesday, Coach Robinson emphasized the importance of limiting Cals junior guard pair of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs-  the highest scoring duo in the Pac-12. Combined, they are averaging 34.7 points per game.

According to Cal Athletics, Crabbe leads the Pac-12 in scoring and ranks as the 14th highest scoring player in nation at 20.0 points per game. Cobbs ranks 10th in the conference with 14.7 points.

The pair has combined to score essentially half of their team’s points as they have scored 659 of California’s 1,301 points this season (50.7 percent).

Someone else with a lot on the line is Langston Morris-Walker. The Berkeley native and freshman will return home for the first time to play in front of his family and friends. “I actually feel more pressure playing at Gil,” he said.

Coach Robinson said he hoped Langston could buck the trend of his guys playing poorly when they get in front of their hometown crowd. (Watch Morris-Walker talk about the pressure here)

Devon Collier was the first to break that spell this season,  playing a career-best against Purdue with 27 points and 14 rebounds at Madison Square Garden, just minutes from his home in the Bronx.

I asked Collier what advice he would give to Morris-Walker. “Hmmm. I guess I'd just tell him to get rid of distractions. I liked playing in front of everyone. Just focus.”

Focus; Something the Beavers must shore up if they want their first conference road "W."