Author gives scathing assessment of Oregon State basketball

Jeff Eisenberg
February 17, 2011

As perpetually rebuilding Oregon State has stumbled its way to a disappointing 9-15 record riddled with exasperating losses, third-year coach Craig Robinson has continued to request patience from fans.

"All I can say is if the fans are frustrated then I can say they are a little bit - what's the word? - premature," Robinson told the Oregonian last week. "I mean, we're three seasons away from not winning a game in the Pac-10."

One interested observer who is quickly losing patience with Robinson is author George Dohrmann, who has followed the Beavers closely this season because of the presence of redshirt freshman Roberto Nelson on the team.

Nelson was one of the most decorated prospects in Dohrmann's book, "Play Their Hearts Out," which followed a group of highly touted young players from middle school until they're ready to select a college. Dohrmann attributes Nelson's low shooting percentage and lack of impact this season to poor coaching from Robinson, though the author acknowledges he watches the Beavers more as a frustrated parent would than as a journalist.

"Oregon State has to be one of the worst major conference teams in the nation," Dohrmann wrote on his blog this week. "Worst of all, they remind me of one of Joe Keller's team: No discipline, poor fundamentals, a lack of leadership, and a coach on the sideline who doesn't appear to have any answers."

The crux of Dohrmann's argument is that a structured Princeton-like offense and a 1-3-1 zone defense may not be the best way for Robinson to take advantage of the edge in athleticism the Beavers have over most opponents. Players like Nelson, Calvin Haynes and Jared Cunningham might be better suited to an up-tempo offense and an aggressive man-to-man defense, especially considering what Oregon State is doing now has resulted in nine losses in its past 11 games.

Dohrmann also places some of the blame on Oregon State's players for poor shot selection, a lack of discipline and a me-first mentality. He acknowledges that even the normally team-oriented Nelson has succumbed to this sort of mentality, especially in a 4-for-11 shooting night in a loss to UCLA on Saturday.

"It hurts to see Roberto playing that way," Dohrmann wrote. "That is not who he is. We have talked about it, and he is frustrated and unhappy, mostly with the losing. He wants to help his team win, but he knows that if he goes out there and plays one way and all his teammates are playing another, it is not going to make a difference."

What does Dohrmann recommend in order to help Oregon State's rebuilding process get back on track?

He thinks Robinson needs to abandon zone defense, speed up the tempo on offense and give playing time to his underclassmen like Nelson who represent the program's future instead of seniors Calvin Haynes and Omari Johnson.

"Oregon State's mistakes and mediocrity shouldn't bother me as much as it does," Dohrmann wrote. "What do I care if the Beavers suck? Well, here is why: Before he went to Oregon State, Roberto was a good shooter, a great passer, a very good rebounder for a guard, and a solid one-on-one defender. Most importantly, he was consummate team player."