Change the Beavers need: Craig Robinson takes over Print
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Friday, 31 October 2008 05:24
NCAAB Headline News


 CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - Oregon State coach Craig Robinson could well adopt his brother-in-law's campaign slogans, albeit with a little tweaking. Like, ``Change The Beavers Need,'' or even, ``Change the Beavers Can Believe In.''
Robinson, who is Michelle Obama's big brother, is taking over as the head coach at Oregon State - a once-proud program that went winless in the Pacific-10 Conference last season.
And, like Barack Obama, Robinson is all about change.
``Everything that they're doing now is brand new compared to what they did last year,'' Robinson said of his players. ``It's a clean slate for them and for the program. We're going to build it from the ground up.''
That won't be easy.
The Beavers went 6-25 last season, including 0-18 in the Pac-10, becoming the first team to go winless in the league's regular season since it expanded from eight schools in 1978.
The decline followed the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Ralph Miller in 1989.
In the 1980s, Oregon State won the conference championship three times and shared it twice. A series of teams that featured such stars as Gary Payton, A.C. Green, Lester Conner and Steve Johnson went to the NCAA tournament eight times during the decade. As a result, Oregon State remains the 13th-winningest program in NCAA history.
Last season was mostly an exercise in futility for the Beavers. Coach Jay John was finally fired Jan. 21, and assistant Kevin Mouton served as interim coach the rest of the season. John went 72-97 over five-plus seasons at Oregon State.
Robinson was not the first choice to succeed him. Saint Mary's Randy Bennett and San Diego's Bill Grier both turned down the daunting job.
Robinson, however, relished the prospect of coaching in the Pac-10 even if it meant moving across the country.
He coached for the past two seasons at Brown, where he was 30-28. The Bears went 19-10 last season and finished second to Cornell in the Ivy League. It was Brown's winningest season.
Before that, Robinson was an assistant at Northwestern for six seasons under Bill Carmody. He took that job after nearly a decade working in investment banking.
Robinson played at Princeton under coach Pete Carril from 1980-83 and was twice named Ivy League player of the year.
onnected with the student-athletes and was a role model for all students. Craig made this a better basketball program,'' Brown athletic Director Michael Goldberger said when Robinson resigned.
Robinson already has put some much-needed positive light on the Beavers. In August, Robinson spoke at the Democratic National Convention, introducing his little sister, and he plans to be with her in Chicago on Tuesday. It was Michelle Obama who encouraged him to leave his career on Wall Street.
``And when I wasn't happy doing what I was doing, she was the one who encouraged me to go back to my first love, teaching and coaching,'' he said at the convention. ``And today I'm proud to be the coach of the Oregon State men's basketball team.''
Dressed in school colors with a black blazer and a bright orange tie, Robinson punctuated the statement by raising his hand and calling out ``Go Beavers!''
Following the coach's nationally televised speech, touted shooting guard Roberto Nelson of Santa Barbara, Calif., reportedly gave his verbal commitment to the Beavers.
Among Robinson's changes at Oregon State will be instilling a system based on the motion offense using backdoor cuts and a high number of passes that Carril popularized.
Practice? That's at 5:30 a.m.
Oh, and no more earrings.
Players seem to be embracing Robinson's philosophy.
e fire to our players,'' said guard Josh Tarver, one of 10 returning players. ``His passion for the game is going to help us out.''
But probably the biggest challenge of Robinson's own campaign will be mental - convincing his players they can win.
``It was just an unfortunate situation,'' Robinson said. ``I don't think they are blaming anybody, which is very mature of them. They realize that they don't want to be in that situation this year, which is making them work harder for this season.''
The Beavers open the regular season Nov. 14 against Howard in Washington, D.C., and will be looking for their first win since Dec. 19, 2007, when they beat Northern Colorado.
``When we come to work, we want to be better than we were the day before,'' Robinson said of his mantra for this season. ``Tomorrow we want to be better than we were today. Those are the goals we are setting.''
 

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