Dec 6, 2011, 11:30 AM EDT
Oregon State’s off to its best start in years. But the minute anyone starts talking about making the NCAA tournament or winning the Pac-12, Craig Robinson will tell you to shut up.
“It won’t be hard for me to tune you out,’’ the Beavers’ coach told The Oregonian. “I’ll hear you, and I’ll be trying to focus our guys on one day at a time. I’ll probably use that as motivation to help them tune it out: ‘Everybody’s talking about you being 10-1 or 11 or whatever and one you can possibly be. That’s when you start to play differently and lose games.’”
He’s got a point.
Oregon State (6-1) entered the last couple seasons with moderate expectations and ending up with losing records both times. Heck, they lost to teams from the SWAC, Great West and Big Sky. That’s not something Robinson wants to go through ever again. Ever.
He might just luck out, too. The Beavers’ defense has improved (opponents are turning the ball over at ridiculous rates), though they’re still fouling too much and a little soft on the perimeter. They play fast, which plays to the strengths of guys like Jared Cunningham. That’ll make the rest of the non-conference schedule a breeze.
When Pac-12 play rolls around, they might even have a shot at finishing in the top three. Perhaps Robinson’s fourth season will be when the Beavers break through.
But he’s not thinking about any of that. At least until April.
“I should be enjoying it, but I’m not,’’ Robinson told the paper. “Not yet. … I take that back, I’m enjoying it. But you know what I mean, it’s still nerve-wracking. It doesn’t get any easier.
“Now I’m like, I’ve got to watch film, I can’t possibly make a mistake, because these guys are doing such good work on the court.’’
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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