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Young Beavers look to make their mark

by James Miller

 

After nearly ten years of futility, Oregon State Beavers fans finally have what they've been coveting for so long:  Athletes, died in the wool, quick jumping, fast running, end to end…Athletes.

 

Unfortunately, out of the 14 players on this year’s edition of the Beavers’ roster there are no seniors, count ‘em up, zero.  There are four freshmen, one redshirt freshman, three sophomores, and five juniors.  Ten of these players did not see meaningful division one basketball experience last year.

 

This team has shown real promise under second year coach Jay John.  Last year’s team was stocked at the post positions with two seniors who played at all conference levels.  However, Brian Jackson and Phillip Ricci were unable to completely carry their team because of the lack of experience and talent at guard.  Teams would sink back on Ricci and Jackson daring the guards to beat them.

 

It seems that Jay John has found the formula though.  For the first time in a long time the Beavers are stocked with athletic big men with long reach and quick floor savvy guards that know their way around the game.  John, who apprenticed under Legendary U of A coach Lute Olsen, teaches hustle, defense, and rebounding.  Hustle will not be the problem however.  The problem will be the lack of experience and leadership.

 

In the post the Beavers will look to quickly emerging junior forward David Lucas to lead the way on offense.  Lucas, the son of former Trailblazer Maurice Lucas has added about fifteen pounds of muscle weight most of it visible on his upper body.  Also of interest will be quasi forward Jim Hanchett (Pronounced Han-set).  At 6’5” inches Hanchett is drastically undersized for Pac-10 basketball but appears to be a gamer and a scrapper who always coming up with loose balls and rebounds, Hanchett appears to have good ball handling skills as well.  The Beavers will also look to athletic true freshman Kenneth Hooks for some major help on perimeter defense and rebounding, along with scoring in the open court.  True freshman Kyle Jeffers will be called upon to provide the beef in the middle.  Jeffers has a great set of hands and has a nose for the ball but struggles finishing around the basket.

 

The Beavers’ most improved area this year is guard.  Point guard Lamar Hurd and off guard JS Nash will look to provide the floor leadership for this young bunch.  Hurd, a certain academic all American this year, is the finest point guard seen on Ralph Miller court since Gary Payton.  Nash has struggled throughout his career but looks more confident and ready to play than ever.  Also in the mix will be newcomer Angelo Tsakaragis (pronounced sock-a-rock-us) who will be able to add much needed fire power from the arc.  Chris Stevens will look to be a presence from beyond the arc as well. 

 

All college teams have young players; it is the nature of a game played by 18-22 year olds. Most teams however, are allowed to ease their youngsters in rather than throwing them into the fire.  This will likely be a frustrating year for Beaver fans as this team will show tremendous athleticism and ability but will also make foolish mistakes that will cost games.  According to point guard Lamar Hurd “this could be a ten win team or a seventeen win team.”  Who knows?  The only thing for sure is that the future looks bright.      

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