Again, it's hard to blame Oregon State coach Craig Robinson for playing zone during the majority of last night's 83-80 win against Seattle University.
The Redhawks had just come off a game against Cal Poly in which a 2-3 zone smothered them and appeared to leave them without answers. They hadn't shot well from three point range or showed the ability to move the ball efficiently without turnovers.
But Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar has spoken repeatedly about improvement and as Travis Margoni of Beyond the Beat describes, Seattle University found a way to perfectly dismantle OSU's zone.
Hardwood Notebook: Defense is a Problem as Beavers Dropped by Seattle Again | November
The Beavers' problem is defense. Coach Craig Robinson's 1-3-1 pressure zone allowed 29 three-point attempts in an exhibition game against Western Oregon on Nov. 9 (WOU only hit 6) and the University of Texas Arlington was 7-16 from downtown against the Beavers Nov. 14. OSU won both games easily after giving up points early.
Against Seattle, the Beavers immediately allowed two threes to freshman gunner Sterling Carter, who finished the game 5-8 from downtown with 20 points. To Robinson's credit, the Beavers moved away from using the 1-3-1 exclusively and moved to a 2-3 half court zone. The result? The Beavers were out-rebounded in this game, 45-40, and on several occasions four defenders were moving toward the Seattle shooter, leaving only one man to attempt to grab the defensive rebound. Simply stated, the Beavers alternated between press 1-3-1 and a sit-back 2-3 zone and got blitzed all night by the Redhawks.
This of course begs the question Margoni brings up later in his post: "Why not move to man-to-man defense?"
At their best moments defensively - particularly in the second half - OSU's best moments were the ones when they used their length and athleticism to bother the Redhawks. They had more size and the depth to keep the pressure up against the guards.
Nevertheless, in terms of the scouting report and what the film must have shown, the strategy of forcing Seattle U to shoot long jumpers was not bad - the Redhawks are just a steadily improving team and finally found some semblance of rhythm when given a few open shots.