Oregon State Basketball Preview

Over the next few weeks DevilsDigest.com will endeavor to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of the upcoming 2003-2004 basketball season in the Pacific-10 conference. The first part of this multi-part series looks at the Oregon State Beavers.

Oregon State Beavers (Corvallis Oregon)
2002-03 Record: 13-15 (6-12)
Postseason: None
Returning Starters: 1
Head Coach: Jay John (second season)

Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning Starter(s) In BOLD)

PG: Lamar Hurd, 6-3, 174 So. (6.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.9 rpg, .421 FG% .667 FT%)
SG: J.S. Nash, 6-1, 200 Jr. (5.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .329 FG%, .195 3PT% .690 FT%)
SF: Jim Hanchett, 6-5, 235 Jr. (Utah Valley State JC HM All-American)
PF: David Lucas, 6-7, 230 Jr. (6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, .510 FG%, .667 FT%)
C: Derek Potter, 6-11, 260 Jr. (7.1 minutes per game in 2002-03)

Key Returning Reserves:

Kevin Field, 6-10, 260 So. (3.8 minutes per game in 2002-03)
Vic Remmers, 6-4, 203 Jr. (5.3 minutes per game in 2002-03)
Chris Stephens, 6-1, 185 So. (9.8 minutes per game in 2002-03)

Recruiting Class:

Jim Hanchett, 6-5, 235 Jr. (Utah Valley State Junior College)
Jason Fontenet, 5-9, 170 Jr. (New Mexico State; will sit out the season)
Kenny Hooks, 6-7, 203 Fr. (Moss Point HS, Moss Point, Mississippi)
Kyle Jeffers, 6-9, 230 Fr. (Montgomery HS, Santa Rosa, California)
Angelo Tsagarakis, 6-2, 195 Fr. (Casa Grande HS, Casa Grande California)
Liam Hughes, 7-2, 306 Fr. (Modesto Christian HS, Modesto CA)

Recruiting Class Grade: B-

This is essentially a total overhaul of the program by second-year head coach Jay John. As such, there will be a lot of new names asked to play an immediate role. While some of these players should prove to be valuable down the road, any immediate impact is likely to be moderate at best.

Hanchett and Fontenet are patchwork maneuvers meant to allow the younger recruits a bit more time to develop. Hanchett will play this year; Fontenet must sit out a year. Jeffers is a promising post-forward with a developing skill package; down the road he could be a real talent. Hughes is a beast of a man; someone who could eventually be the Pac-10 conference's next version of Chris Christoffersen, the former Oregon center. Tsagarakis is a smooth-shooting foreigner who played his first year of American ball at the high school level last year. Hooks is someone who'll add legitimate high major athleticism and compete for immediate playing time at small forward.

Team Overview:

In his second year since coming over from an assistant's job at Pac-10 powerhouse Arizona, Jay John is certainly experiencing the inherent difficulties associated with rebuilding a major conference basketball program. A season ago Oregon State performed quite well at times, finishing at or above media expectations with a 6-12 record in conference play.

This year will be more of a struggle. Gone are three of John's best players in starters Phillip Ricci, Brian Jackson and Brandon Haywood. Also gone is guard Floyd North, who elected to transfer after the season, leaving John with point guard Lamar Hurd as his only returning starter.

Hurd is a talented, intelligent point guard, long and lean; he performed quite well as a freshman last season and in fact led the team in minutes played. In the year ahead, Hurd will be forced to quickly put behind him the transition period associated with the jump to big-time college hoops and become an improved leader. He'll be asked to score more and be a vocal presence on the court and in the locker-room as well. For Oregon State to have any real success whatsoever in the Pac-10, Hurd will have to step into a role as one of the conference's upper-echelon point guards.

The player most likely to be on the receiving end of Hurd's distribution is rapidly improving junior David Lucas, a player who made huge strides in the second half of Pac-10 play this past spring. Lucas is an inside-outside presence with long arms and a nice skill package. He can score, rebound and defend and his production should dramatically increase with the extensive playing time he will garner this season.

Outside of Hurd and Lucas, expect the other three starting positions to be relatively up for grabs early in the season. J.S Nash will likely have the early advantage at the off-guard position because of his familiarity with the John-led system, having spent a lot of time on the floor last year. Junior College transfer Jim Hanchett is an inside-outside hard-nosed competitor who should mix it up defensive and do a good job on the glass despite being undersized. His age gives him a leg-up on the competition, most notably freshman Kenny Hooks, vying for the starting small forward slot. At center, Derek Potter and Kevin Field will split time. Both are tall, big-bodied players that move well but need to improve skill-wise.

At guard, expect Chris Stephens and Angelo Tsagarakis to see varied amounts of playing time until John settles on a rotation. John could go to a small lineup at times with Vic Remmers as a swingman and Lucas at one of the interior positions, or he could go big with Lucas or freshman Kenny Hooks on the wing and freshman Kyle Jeffers on the inside.

Oregon State will try to push the ball up the court offensively and get as many easy baskets as possible in transition. The fact that this was not a particularly effective shooting team from long-range last season might precipitate this philosophy, particularly if Hurd has not added a three-point shot to his arsenal (1 of 8 last year on the season) and the frontcourt proves to be inefficient in the post.

Defensively expect the Beavers to present a lot of different looks ranging from straight man-to-man to a match-up 1-3-1 zone defense and even a straight half-court zone. It is on this side of the court where the influence of John's former boss Lute Olson is most easily recognizable. The Beavers do a lot of things on defense in a quite similar fashion as Arizona.

Interesting Factoids:

- Lucas is the son of former Marquette University and NBA star Maurice Lucas…Oregon State loses more offensive production (68% of its scoring) than any other team in the conference…The top returning rebounder on the squad is point guard Lamar Hurd…The Beavers were the worst three point shooting team (29%) in the Pac-10 last season…Oregon State has two incoming recruits originally from Europe. Liam Hughes is from Hullbridge, England. Angelo Tsagarakis is originally from Auffreville, France…Hurd led the Pac-10 in minutes played as a freshman last season…Oregon State finished the year tied for first in the conference in turnovers per game (11.7)…Jim Hanchett enrolled this past spring, making his scholarship retroactive to last year and thus allowing the Beavers six new players on campus…The team was the worst free-throw shooting squad in Pac-10 play last season at .675%

Best Case Scenario:

Hurd becomes a top-tier point guard in the conference, Lucas explodes, the combination of Potter and Field is enough to hold down the middle and the Beavers get an unexpected windfall of production out of a player(s) like Jeffers, Tsagarakis or Hooks. This could lead to 6-7 wins in the conference and an outside shot at a post-season NIT Tournament berth.

Worst Case Scenario:

The newcomers aren't ready to contribute in earnest, the center position becomes a huge void, Hurd turns out to be just an average point guard in a conference of great ones, and the Beavers shoot the ball as poorly as last season from long range. This could lead to a near-winless conference record, particularly when factoring in Oregon State's tepid home-court advantage.


The Beavers should quickly prove to be a two-man team clearly out-matched at three of the five positions on the court and often outmatched even at the two spots where they are actually pretty good. It will be a rough transitional year hopefully made better, or at least more tolerable, by flashes of real growth from at least a couple of freshmen newcomers.

Pac-10 Prediction: 2-16
Postseason Play: None

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