There seems to be at last one proven way to beat Oregon State in the last two years: have former UW assistant coach Cameron Dollar on the sidelines.
Not that the Washington Huskies necessarily need Dollar's presence to win, but their seven game winning streak started during Dollar's tenure as an assistant and during Dollar's first two seasons across town at Seattle University, he's figured out how to handle OSU with considerably less talent than UW possesses.
For Seattlites, it might seem that the Nov 17 loss to Seattle U would be a good barometer for how to beat OSU - the Redhawks carved up their 1-3-1 zone and used a 24-5 second half run to win the game 80-63. However, despite having reservations about excessive use of that zone defense back in November, Travis Margoni of Beyond the Beat suggests that they've dramatically improving their implementation of the zone.
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Defense Evolving: Credit OSU Coach Craig Robinson for not being over-committed to his trademark 1-3-1 defense. The trapping zone was largely the reason for several non-conference losses, so the Beavers are only applying the defense situationally now. Against Arizona State, OSU sat back in a 2-3 zone and used the 1-3-1 sparingly, stealing the ball only 6 times in the game. OSU is averaging roughly 11 steals per game on the season; against Arizona on Sunday, that's exactly the number of steals the Beavers tallied, 11. OSU used the 1-3-1 more frequently against the Wildcats, and Jared Cunningham, the Pac-10's leader in steals, finished Sunday's game with 5 steals.
And as Oregon found out on Thursday, shooting efficiency could make the difference in this game.
How they choose to deploy their zone could make all the difference in how they stop the Huskies' offensive attack.