Eric Moreland’s prolonged suspension damages Oregon State’s hopes of ascending in Pac-12

Oregon State coach Craig Robinson was already under fire from fans for being one of only two current coaches from power conferences to have failed to make the NCAA tournament in the first five seasons of his tenure.

The challenge of preventing that streak from stretching to six now looks more daunting than ever.

The suspensions of forwards Devon Collier and Eric Moreland are indefinite no more as Robinson revealed the length of both of them Tuesday afternoon at Oregon State's media day. Collier will sit for only the Beavers' regular season opener because of his undisclosed team rules violation but Moreland will be held out of the first 14 games of the season since this was his second offense.

The prolonged absence of Moreland is a damaging blow considering the 6-foot-10 junior may have been Oregon State's best player last season. Moreland briefly flirted with entering the NBA draft last spring after nearly averaging a double-double as a sophomore, tallying 9.4 points per game and grabbing more than 10 rebounds per game.

Oregon State will have to find a way to replace that production during the entirety of a non-conference schedule that includes challenging road games at Maryland and DePaul and three games at the Diamondhead Classic. Moreland will also miss the opening weekend of Pac-12 play before returning Jan. 9 against Stanford.

Without Moreland, Oregon State's frontcourt depth will be tested, not an encouraging sign considering Robinson's recruiting hasn't been consistent recently. The 6-foot-8 Collier averaged 12.6 points and six rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game last season, but center Angus Brandt is returning from a torn ACL and the other options at forward are mostly unappealing with veteran Olaf Schaftenaar likely the best of the bunch.

"They know what they've done has sort of put us in a little bit of a bind," Robinson told the Oregonian on Tuesday.

"If we end up having a good season despite all of this, hip-hip hurray. And if not, that's the result of what happens when you do stuff you're not supposed to do."

Credit Robinson for his willingness to hold players accountable even at a time when he is under pressure to win, but it will be interesting to see if the Oregon State fan base is as forgiving as the Beavers coach.

Oregon State has produced only two winning records since Gary Payton's final season in 1990 and has finished higher than eighth in the Pac-12 only once under Robinson. Beavers fans are starving for a winner, and Robinson's hopes of providing one next season just got a little bit bleaker.

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