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Washington Vs. Oregon State: Q&A Preview With Building The Dam

Washington and Oregon State kickoff the Pac-12 conference season this Thursday at Alaska Airlines Arena. Here is some background information on the 10-2 Beavers leading into tomorrow's game.

SB Nation Seattle partnered with Andy Wooldridge of SB Nation's Building The Dam to preview Thursday's Pac-12 opening game featuring Oregon State and Washington. You can read our answers about the Huskies over at their blog.

What can we expect from this year's Beavers team? They've switched out of their zone defense that Head Coach Craig Robinson employed his first couple of seasons. What is the alternative and is it seeing success?

Oregon St. has switched to mostly man to man defense, though they do still mix in some zone. The degree of success will be measured against the conference schedule. Total points allowed is up in some cases, but total possessions are as well, a product of a faster tempo game on both ends of the floor. There have been signs that it has helped with defense against the 3 point shot, and it has also produced more transition opportunities.

Win production is up, and so is the enjoyment for the players, so they seem to be playing better overall. Which is the ultimate measure of any tactic.

Soft non-conference schedule. Good or bad for the team?

That's been a subject of some debate, and a couple of games being changed out for a better opponent in hindsight probably would have been better. But as Coach Robinson has pointed out, the Beavs haven't been able to consistently win these games they should win until recently. They needed to learn how to win these games, and develop some confidence with a change in scheme, before moving up to the next step.

Under the circumstances, the schedule was probably a good one.

What is this team's biggest weakness and biggest strength through 12 games?
Inconsistent outside shooting, sometimes coupled with a tendency to take early three pointers, often to the surprise of the rebounders, has been a problem at times. It could come back to bite the Beavs against the most efficient opponents.

The biggest strength is the teams ability and willingness to pass the ball. The majority of the team's scores are off assists, and sharing and distribution of the ball has allowed the team to withstand any given player having an off night.

Who is one player to watch besides Jared Cunningham? Anybody in particular that might cause problems for Washington?
Devon Collier. He's the team's second leading scorer, is second in the conference in shooting (.657%), and leads the team in offensive rebounds. He also leads the team, and is second in the conference, in blocked shots. He is very active around the basket, and his athleticism makes him a tough matchup for most teams to keep up with.

The Beavers are averaging a league best 83.4 points per game; what's been the prime cause for this output?
The willingness to share the ball, and take the points from where ever they can get them. Four players average in double figures, but the important stat is the assist column. Four players average from nearly 3 assists per game up to nearly 4 assists per game by Joe Burton. As a result, the Beavs are getting a lot of good shots, both inside and outside.