A lot has changed for the Oregon State Beavers since they played the Huskies in Seattle exactly four weeks ago. Their coach, Jay John, has...
CORVALLIS, Ore. — A lot has changed for the Oregon State Beavers since they played the Huskies in Seattle exactly four weeks ago.
Their coach, Jay John, has been fired, and their hoped-for savior, center C.J. Giles of Rainier Beach, has been kicked off the team.
But two things haven’t — the Beavers are still winless in conference play, and they continue to harbor hard feelings toward the Huskies.
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The latter became apparent Friday when a few Beavers players walked onto the court and began jawing at a handful of Huskies as Washington was completing its practice at Gill Coliseum. A few of the Beavers, led initially by freshman big man Sean Carter, appeared put off at the way UW guard Venoy Overton was playfully throwing up shots in the key, adding a little running commentary along the way. Someone was heard saying that Overton shouldn’t act that way “in our house.” Overton gestured toward the Beavers at one point, appearing to anger them further.
Players on both sides began to move toward each other, prompting UW coach Lorenzo Romar to cut off an interview and race the length of the court to jump between the two groups. No punches were thrown, though it appeared as if some were on the verge.
UW guard Joel Smith, who had been sitting in the stands, appeared particularly animated, jumping up and into the fray before being held back.
As Romar hustled his team away, OSU forward Marcel Jones, who appeared to be one of the main instigators, could be heard yelling, “Don’t let the record fool you.”
A similar trash-talking incident occurred during the pregame shoot-around before the teams’ first meeting this year, an 83-74 Huskies win that was also chippy, featuring three technical fouls. In that game, OSU guard Seth Tarver and Overton got into a brief scuffle while fighting over a loose ball and UW’s Jon Brockman and Giles each received technicals late in the game when a battle over a rebound turned heated.
Jones was apparently at the center of the trash-talking before the first game, as well, with Overton later saying that Jones “was talking a little head and stuff” and continued to do so during the game. Overton said later, “Even his teammates were like, ‘Don’t worry about him. He’s all talk.’ “
Even before the incident Friday, Washington players were expecting a spirited effort from the Beavers today in a game that tips off at 4 p.m.
Oregon State (6-18 overall) has lost 14 in a row overall, tying a school record, and 12 straight in conference play. With just six Pac-10 games left, OSU is in danger of becoming the first team to go winless through a conference season. Four teams have gone 1-17, including three Washington State squads. The most recent was the 2001-02 Cougars, who started 0-14.
The Huskies, who lost at Oregon 71-58 Thursday to fall to 13-12 overall and 4-8 in Pac-10 play to remain in ninth place, know the Beavers likely think UW may be their best shot at a win. Especially considering that the Beavers came close to beating UW in Seattle — the Beavers led by five with 4:59 left before collapsing.
Said Washington forward Jon Brockman, “I think it’s a lot of pressure [on us] just because I know they are looking at playing us, the team that is right above them, and thinking, ‘All right, we can get this game,’ realizing how the game went up there.”
The Huskies looked like mostly dead Dawgs on Thursday in Eugene, never coming closer than 11 after the opening minutes of the second half. It was a dramatic comedown from their effort last Sunday, when they beat UCLA, and one that only added to the frustration for Romar, who has been unable to get a handle on this team.
Romar said the specter of being the first team to lose to Oregon State is “unavoidable.”
“It’s something that you don’t want,” he said. “But at this point, we are just desperate for a win. We had a great game Sunday, but you lose [to Oregon] and it’s back to remembering the four you lost before that one.”
Romar also remembers all too well how Washington has had some unexpected struggles in this building. He is just 2-3 with UW here, including a 73-65 loss here last Feb. 22, OSU’s last conference win.
“They’ve been just a little awkward for us to play,” Romar said, noting that OSU has historically packed in its defense to make it difficult for the Huskies to score inside.
Jones was quoted on Friday in the OSU campus newspaper, The Daily Barometer: “It’s going to be intense just like it was up there. It’s going to be a war.”
The Beavers started the battle a day early.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org