HOOPS: Beavs season opener tonight!

ERIC MORELAND WON'T be displaying his high-flying ways Sunday night when the Beavs open the season vs. Coppin State (TV: Pac-12 Networks, 5 p.m.) Indeed, the forward won't play until Game 15 this season while under suspension by Craig Robinson. Devon Collier has also been suspended for the opener. But someone else will be back out there on the court for the Beavs, all 6-foot-10 of him.

The biggest return for the Beavs, both figuratively and literally, is 6-10 senior center Angus Brandt. He missed virtually all of last season with a torn ACL, after averaging 9.4 ppg the year before.

Brandt is expected to join point guard Roberto Nelson, shooting guard Challe Barton and forwards Jarmal Reid and Victor Robbins in the starting lineup against Coppin State on Sunday night.

Forward Olaf Schaftenaar could be first big man off the bench or maybe, forward Daniel Gomis, who broke his leg two seasons ago and has never played in a regular season game for Oregon State.

When OSU plays Portland Wednesday, Collier is expected to rejoin the starting lineup.

Moreland and Collier were suspended by Robinson for unspecified violations of team rules. Moreland considered going pro at the end of last year before his suspension, after he nearly averaged a double-double with 9.4 points and 10.4 rebounds. He also averaged an impressive 2.5 blocks per game for last season. Collier, meanwhile, averaged 12.6 points and six rebounds this past season.

But the Beavs will need to make do without Moreland for the entirety of the non-conference slate -- and for the season opener, Collier too. So how do they do that?

Brandt was lost last season in the fourth game, and many thought that was the biggest factor that led to OSU's disappointing 14-18 record in 2012-13. The year before, the Beavs were 21-15 and looked to be on an upswing. It was the most wins for the Beavers since notching 22 in 1989-90.

Before his injury last season, Brandt was averaging 11.3 ppg and 8.5 rebounds.

But Oregon State will need to get quality points, defense and minutes from Reid and Robbins this season. Neither of the duo, Schaftenaar or Langston Morris-Walker averaged more than 3.8 points as a freshman last season.

But defense might be most important of all. Oregon State's D last season allowed 1.07 points per possession -- 11th in the Pac-12.

Oregon State under Robinson first employed the Princeton 1-3-1 defense early but last season went more to man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone. Will there be further tweaks this season?

Keep an eye out for three newcomers: 7-foot freshman center Cheikh N'Diaye and guards Hallice Cooke and Malcolm Duvivier.

Duvivier scored 17 points in the Beavers' final exhibition game against Concordia. (Nelson scored 36 in an uncomfortably close 104-94 win over the Cavaliers on Tuesday. OSU did not lead until midway through the second half, 56-55 at the 12:53 mark.)

Out of Dakar, Senegal, N'diaye averaged 13.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game at Army-Navy Academy in Carlsbad last season.

Cooke, a 6-3 guard out of New Jersey, has turned Robinson's head in the practices leading up to the start of the 2013-14 campaign, with the OSU head man saying he could be the first guy off the bench this season.

Oregon State lost center Joe Burton to graduation and starting guard Ahmad Starks, after losing his starting job to Barton midway through last year, transferred to Illinois after last season.

Coppin State returns four starters but from a team that went 8-24 last year. They were blown out by Cal in their opener 83-64 on Friday in a game that wasn't that close.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • "You can't replace an Eric Moreland," Robinson said earlier this week, and said it was admirable the way Moreland was handling his benching. "What we have to do is we have to replace his production as a team. So I'm asking Roberto, and I'm asking Angus, and I'm asking Daniel Gomis and Jarmal Reid all to replace his production until he gets back."

  • There's been increasing chatter in the media that this may be a make or break year for Robinson. He enters his sixth season at the helm and since Ralph Miller retired in 1989, none of his successors has made it more than six seasons. Robinson is 78-89 at Oregon State, with four years left on a contract worth a total of $5.2 million. The Beavs were tied for last at 4-14 in conference play last season.

  • Oregon State hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1990, Gary Payton's senior year.

  • The Beavers return five players who started at least 11 games last season.


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