Craig Robinson and Angus Brandt represented the Oregon State Beavers at Media Day. - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
From Pac-12 Media Day, Craig Robinson was bombarded with questions about his brother-in-law so Angus Brandt could barely get a word in as the Oregon State rep. From Oregon, Dana Altman and EJ Singler told us about some of their newcomers and the evolving role Singler would have to take on for this team.
There's no denying that Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson's relationship to the President is a discussion point. Four of the seven questions asked of the man were Obama-related. Now we know that four seven-footers called the coach following the Democratic National Convention and that he received eleven calls from people who said they were almost seven feet tall.
But we now also know that his team will be newly dedicated on the defensive side of the ball, "We're a better defensive team from a team standpoint...guarding the ball as a team and not as an individual. That's first and foremost." That's a good sign considering last year's squad was a top-50 offense.
The Beavers have since lost their leading scorer in Jared Cunningham, but still have Ahmad Starks. "[Starks] could easily replace all of Jared's points if we asked him to do that. But we need him to run the team," said Robinson. This is a team that has some very good returning parts and is expecting big things from the likes of Roberto Nelson and what Robinson calls "the best front court since" he's been there. He'd continue to say that this is the best and deepest team he's had since arriving in Corvallis, lofting expectations to presidential levels.
Meanwhile, in Eugene, there's been turnover like many other Pac-12 schools. The Ducks introduce seven newcomers and coach Dana Altman thinks its vital to have a guy like EJ Singler around to help out, "E.J.'s been an anchor for us the last two years. He's done a great job of stabilizing our team. He's going to have a great year for us, as are the other two seniors for us," explained Altman. That's what seniors do; they help usher in the new, make them feel comfortable and get a program from middle of the pack to, perhaps, championship caliber.
Amongst Altman's newbies, he expects Dominic Artis to have the best shot to contribute immediately, "He'll have an opportunity to play a lot early. He's really worked hard this summer; he's had a great fall, so I anticipate he'll be a big part of our team." Beyond that, this is an intriguing team. They too are a mix of old and young and will be learning on the fly. But just as Altman said, it never hurts to have a guy like EJ Singler around.