The Beaver's Jay John served notice this weekend that his team will have to be reckoned with in years to come. After giving Stanford all they could handle on Thursday, OSU clawed back into the game last night against California before seeing the Bears finally escape with a 5-point victory.
Perhaps to be expected, Cal struggled to maintain the intensity it displayed against the Oregon Ducks. For short bursts, especially at the end of the first half, the Bears demonstrated the crisp offense and the "take no prisoners defense" that led to Thursday's victory. However, on Saturday, and in sharp contrast to that previous game, Cal lost the battle inside, giving up numerous low post scores and offensive rebound put-backs to the Beavers.
The situation might have been even more dire had the Bears not had the good fortune of fouling out OSU's impressive freshman point guard Lamar Hurd early in the second half, followed by their senior leader Brian Jackson late in the game. Yet no matter what players the Beavers had in the game, they had no answer for Mr. Shipp.
What made Joe's night so impressive was that he posted 35 points while taking only 14 shots. Not only was he hotter than a pistol, Joe wasn't forcing any shots. From downtown, off the dribble, and down low, Shipp just could not be stopped. Braun even lamented after the game that Shipp took too few shots. Perhaps Joe will work on remedying that shortcoming next week in Washington.
Cal's freshman class got their most extensive opportunity of the year. Five Bear freshman combined for 58 minutes and the results were encouraging. Erik Bond, in 19 minutes of play, continues to be mired in shooting slump but was able to add six crucial rebounds. Richard Midgley had an impressive game running the point, accumulating six assists with no turnovers in 25 minutes of play.
It was hard not to be impressed with Oregon State. Demonstrably undermanned, Jay John has this team playing with a remarkable level of confidence and consistent intensity. The last minute 3-point shots aside, this team was patient on both ends of the floor, kept the mental mistakes to a minimum and never wavered even when faced with a 15-point deficit.
Lute Olson has always had a remarkable talent for getting his players to believe in themselves, even when they are freshman in Arizona's program. During his tenure in Tucson, Jay John obviously absorbed this formula as his team last night looked down right Wildcat-like even with only a fraction of the talent. Not only did they out rebound Cal, they had 19 assists and hit over 48% of their shots from the field. It is clear that Jay John and the Oregon State Beavers will be formidable opponents in games and years to come.