Men's Basketball Outlook
Jay John embarks on his first season with 10 returnees, and five promising newcomers.
Oct. 2, 2002
Corvallis, Ore. - It's human nature for fans, players, and coaches of every program to be excited about a new season, but the sense around the Oregon State University men's basketball team is that this could be a special year. First-year head coach Jay John has brought a refreshing philosophy to the program, and the players have responded with a recommitment to the game and to the university.
"This is as positive as I have been for a season since I have been at Oregon State," senior forward Brian Jackson said. "It's been mentally tough around this program for a few years, but the new coaching staff has created a fresh attitude and the guys are excited again to play basketball."
Added senior guard Mike Cokley: "The team is looking forward to playing a different style. The fans of the program are going to appreciate Oregon State basketball this season."
Senior guard Jimmie Haywood agreed. "This team is fully together as one; we're more relaxed around each other. The attitude is one-hundred percent different."
Those three seniors, who are with their third coaching staff in four years, are part of 10 returning lettermen. The 12th-winningest program in the nation also welcomes back four starters and four talented newcomers.
"When you look for the strength of this team, it's our senior class," John said. "These guys are interested in finishing their careers on a positive note. When I was at Arizona we recruited three of the four seniors on this roster, so these individuals are capable of playing at a very high level."
The senior duo of Philip Ricci and Jackson form one of the best inside tandems in the Pacific-10 Conference. Ricci, a postseason honors candidate, averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while being double-teamed a majority of the time. The 6-foot-7 forward was selected the team's Most Valuable Player in 2002 and was among the conference leaders in several statistical categories.
"Philip has a great feel for where the defense is, and combining that with his strength, it makes him very difficult to defend," John said. "We need Philip to be more effective in terms of hitting jumpers from the top of the key area, but overall I certainly expect him to have a better year than he did last season - which was pretty good."
Jackson, also an honors candidate, is poised to be the 29th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. The 6-9 forward improved his numbers in almost every category last year from his freshman and sophomore years, and he is expected to flourish under the new system.
"Brian has worked extremely hard during the offseason, he is in the best shape of his life, he's comfortable with the new philosophy, and he is showing solid leadership skills," John said. "He is going to have his best season by far this year."
Playing behind Ricci and Jackson in the paint are junior Jarman Sample, sophomores Derek Potter and David Lucas, and true freshman Kevin Field. The 6-7 Sample is a quality athlete who expects to see his minutes increase from just under seven per game last season. Potter has been hampered by injuries throughout his first two years in the program, but is expected to enter fall practice healthy. Lucas has gained strength and will see minutes, and Field is also expected to see action as a true-freshman.
"I fully expect Jarman to be a major contributor this year," John said. "He has worked hard in the weight room, he is a good athlete, and he has a full year of experience at this level. He can help this program make great strides this season.
"I know Derek has struggled with injuries, but I like what I have seen and what I have heard from the other players on the roster. David will certainly see his minutes increase as he develops and I want Kevin to get a taste of playing at this level this year. I'm not anticipating redshirting anybody on this team."
Oregon State's roster on the perimeter is both loaded with experience and youth, a combination that should benefit the program this season and in future years.
A three-year letterman, Haywood, leads the cast. He has long been considered one of the top athletes in the Pac-10 and should see his contributions greatly enhanced with John's system.
"Jimmie needs to shoot the ball more," John said. "He always played very well against Arizona when I was on that staff, and I see no reason why he is not going to have his best season of his career. His ability to hit jumpers from the outside will open up some spacing around the court for other players, which will make our offense much --improved."
Cokley and sophomores J.S. Nash and Floyd North III return with experience. Cokley has played 50 games and has 12 career starts, while Nash and North combined for 30 starts as true freshmen.
"Mike is a tremendous benefit for this program in terms of leadership, experience, and his ability to help out at the point," John said. "Mike understands what it is to work hard and be a team player, and that is very important.
Nash played as well as any Beaver at the end of last season, making 17 consecutive starts. He is expected to play more at the shooting guard this season, but will also see action at the point. North also played well late last season at small forward, and should continue to contribute at that position.
"J.S. will play some point this season, but I want him to play more shooting guard and develop his shot," John said. "Floyd has improved a great deal and as his outside jumper improves he will become more of a threat. The biggest change a basketball student-athlete makes is between their freshman to sophomore years -- Beaver fans will notice how much one year has made in the development of J.S. and Floyd."
The Beavers' true freshmen on the perimeter include point guard Lamar Hurd, point/two guard Chris Stephens, and forwards Sal Vance and Michael Johnson. Hurd has impressive credentials and was a highly touted recruit from New Caney, Texas. Stephens had an outstanding prep career in state and should add much needed depth at the point and two-guard. Vance has a reputation for being a superb athlete, and a player who can also play inside. Johnson, the son of former Beaver great Steve Johnson, was a late addition to the roster and he has a bright future with the program.
"Lamar has the opportunity to be the point guard of this team this season," John said. "I don't expect to see Lamar average more than 25 minutes per game, but if we are to have a good season, we need him to be able to shoulder a good percentage of the point guard load."
"Chris has the ability to play the point, but is also equally adept at shooting and scoring the basketball," John added. "He is a talented guard, who will contribute immediately."
"Sal is arguably the best athlete on our roster," John said. "Athletically, he can play with anyone on the Pac-10 Conference."
With the mix of experience, athleticism, and youth, Oregon State fans can expect a somewhat different style of play this year under John.
"We are not going to play with an attitude that we are inferior," John said. "The programs that are thriving possess a certain level of talent and they are playing a style that maximizes their talent. We want to run, but I'm not saying we are going to throw the ball down the court and let everybody break loose."
The student-athletes are genuinely excited about the 2002-2003 year, more so than any recent season. There is cohesiveness around the program, a commitment to Jay John and his staff, and a commitment to do the things that it takes to be successful on and off the court.
"I already get a sense that there is better unity and togetherness than there was the day I was hired," John added. "You want to put together a team of competitors, and then put them in situations to be successful. We have things in place in this program today that will allow this team to improve and be successful."
The first step toward a successful season begins Nov. 23 when the Beavers host the Idaho Vandals to tipoff the season.
Production Returning vs. Production Lost
Category 01-02 Total Return Lost % Return
Points 1,866 1,480 562 .699
Field Goals 643 461 182 .717
3-Pt Field Goals 187 71 116 .380
Free Throws 393 299 94 .761
Rebounds 876 661 215 .755
Assists 401 226 175 .564
Blocked Shots 71 61 10 .859
Steals 129 85 44 .659
Minutes 5,800 3,693 2,107 .637
Starters Returning (4) HT WT CL POS PPG RPG
Philip Ricci 6-7 253 Sr. F 16.2 7.1
Brian Jackson 6-9 244 Sr. F 11.5 3.8
J.S. Nash 6-1 189 So. G 5.7 2.1
Floyd North III 6-4 218 So. G/F 4.7 2.8
Other Returnees (6) HT WT CL POS PPG RPG
Jimmie Haywood 6-2 174 Sr. G 9.0 2.9
Jarman Sample 6-7 206 Jr. F 1.2 1.4
Mike Cokley 5-10 185 Sr. G 0.8 0.2 ast
Vic Remmers# 6-4 186 So. G 0.6 0.0
Derek Potter 6-11 249 So. C 0.3 1.1
David Lucas# 6-7 210 So. F 0.3 0.3
Newcomers (5) HT WT CL POS Last School
Kevin Field 6-10 268 Fr. C Wilson (WA) HS
Lamar Hurd 6-3 174 Fr. G Heritage Christian (TX) HS
Michael Johnson# 6-4 212 Fr. F City Christian (OR) HS
Chris Stephens 6-1 173 Fr. G Madison (OR) HS
Sal Vance 6-6 212 Fr. F Oakland Technical (CA) HS
Lettermen Lost (4) HT WT POS PPG RPG
Adam Masten 6-5 200 G 7.6 3.5
Joe See 5-11 180 G 6.1 1.9 ast
Brandon Payton 6-0 170 G 5.3 1.6
Ian Elseth* 6-7 215 F 1.0 0.7
*two-year LDS Mission -- returns to program for 2004-05
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