Top 65 Team Previews: #57 North Carolina State

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By Ryan Feldman

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oregon State Beavers
Last Season: 18-18 (8-11)
Key Losses: Rickey Claitt
Head Coach: Craig Robinson

Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jared Cunningham 6-3 Fr.
SG: Calvin Haynes 6-2 Jr.
SF: Seth Tarver 6-5 Sr.
PF: Joe Burton 6-7 Fr.
C: Roeland Schaftenaar 6-11 Sr.
Key Reserves: Lathen Wallace 6-3 Jr. SG, Omari Johnson 6-7 Jr. SF, Roberto Nelson 6-4 Fr. SG, Daniel Deane 6-8 Jr. PF, Josh Tarver 6-3 Sr. PG, Angus Brandt 6-10 Fr. C

Last season, Oregon State rose from the ashes of basketball irrelevance. Craig Robinson inherited a team that failed to reach .500 overall in each of the previous three seasons. Though they failed to reach the NCAA and NIT tournaments, Oregon State finished strong with a CBI championship. This season, they plan to combine last year's success with a top 25 recruiting class and make a push to greener pastures.

Craig Robinson has done what nobody thought was possible: he has secured elite talent in Corvallis. Projected starting point guard Jared Cunningham and shooting guard Roberto Nelson headline this class. Both players are four-star recruits who show incredible promise. The Beavers also secured another Rivals Top 150 recruit in center Joe Burton.

The Beavers will have a battle at the point guard position going into this season. Josh Tarver saw valuable time last year and has an excellent shot at cracking the starting lineup. Competing with Tarver will be Cunningham, a one-time Arizona State commit who will give the Beavers a strong defensive point guard with excellent size who is capable of scoring and distributing the ball.

Last year's returning scorer Calvin Haynes will likely regain his spot in the starting lineup. Haynes is another solid defender and will be expected to bring consistency from outside. Spelling Haynes will be a combination of returning reserve shooting guard Lathen Wallace and incoming four-star freshman Roberto Nelson. Wallace was one of the most productive 3-point shooters from last year's team and should be even more effective this season as the team has added size in the post to rebound his misses. Nelson was a highly sought after California guard who can provide depth at the two-guard or even move up to the small forward position if necessary.

Seth Tarver returns to the starting lineup this year at small forward. He will certainly provide experience as well as another scoring option. Look for Tarver to bring even more defense and rebounding from the wing. He led the team last season with 1.7 steals per game and should continue to produce steals in Robinson's 1-3-1 zone defense.

One area that will be a major improvement this season is the Beavers' post players. Roeland Schaftenaar excelled last season in the CBI and will likely be a go-to guy this season. Schaftenaar is an excellent ball-handler for a center and can even step out and shoot the three. If there was one weakness in his game last season, the senior-to-be was less than reliable as a rebounder (4 rpg). To help out inside, the Beavers have added two reliable big men. Joe Burton, a Glen "Big Baby" Davis clone, could give the team a dominant power forward. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound big man was rated as the Rivals No. 130 player overall. His power should more than make up for Schaftenaar's weaknesses. If this doesn't do the trick, Australian Angus Brandt will provide depth and power. Brandt is an adequate rebounder and a solid low post scorer.

In one year, Robinson turned a team that won zero conference games into a team that could compete with anybody in the Pac-10. This year, with star power coming in, the Beavers should continue their ascent to the top of the Pac-10 conference.

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