Pac-10 Tournament Action Slated for Thursday

March 10, 2003

Corvallis, Ore. -

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TOURNAMENT ACTION: Oregon State travels to the Staples Center this week to participate in the eight-team Pacific Life Pac-10 Conference Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Beavers are the No. 6 seed, playing No. 3 seed California in the final game of the first round. Oregon State did not qualify for last year's event. The program is 3-3 overall in the tournament's history, reaching the championship game of the inaugural 1988 event at the McKale Center in Tucson. For more information regarding OSU's history in the Pac-10 Tournament, please refer to pages 111-115 in the OSU basketball media guide.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Oregon State head coach Jay John will be available at the Staples Center immediately following Wednesday's practice at 11:55 a.m. The practice, which begins at 11 a.m., is closed to the media and public.

SIXTH PLACE: Tied for sixth is a modest placing in the Pac-10 Conference's overall standings, but it is a nice start to the Jay John era at OSU. Tied for sixth is the best the program has finished in the league since a tied for fifth showing during the 1992-93 campaign. The team was selected ninth in the preseason Pac-10 poll.

PUT THEM IN THE BOOK: Oregon State could finish the year with four players starting every game, the most since the stat was kept at OSU beginning in the 1984 season. Brian Jackson, Philip Ricci, Jimmie Haywood, and Lamar Hurd have been introduced in all 27 contests. In four of the last six seasons, the program has had zero players start every game.

SHOOTING TWO: Oregon State's deficiency in perimeter shooting is at times painfully clear, but credit the coaching staff and team for knowing its strength -- in the paint. Thus, the Beavers have been earning trips to the free throw line. The team has actually converted more free throws (429) than its opponents have attempted (427). OSU has also attempted 29 or more from the line in five of the last seven contests. Individually, Philip Ricci has attempted 160 for the season, second in the Pac-10 to only Arizona State's Ike Diogu.

SERIES: According to Pac-10 Conference records, California has a 65-54 advantage in the series. The Bears have also won 10 straight over the Beavers, the longest current run by any program vs. OSU, and 15 of the last 16 overall. This is the first meeting for the two programs on a neutral site since OSU's 79-66 victory in the first round of the 1989 Pac-10 Tournament at The Forum in Los Angeles. In the most recent encounter, Feb. 6 at Gill Coliseum, Amit Tamir scored 27 points to lead the Bears to an 84-71 win. Tamir had 20 of those points in the first half, which included a sizzling 6-for-7 from three-point range. Tamir had seven threes for the game, which tied the Gill Coliseum record with former Beaver Gary Payton. Philip Ricci led OSU with 16 points. California held off a late Beaver run to win the season's first encounter, 78-73, at Hass Pavilion. OSU was down by as many as 17 points in the second half before the late rally. Joe Shipp scored 35 for the Bears, while Ricci tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds for OSU. For the two-game series, Cal shot a combined .523 from the field, including .462 (18-39) from three-point range. For the previous boxscores and OSU's cumulative statistics vs. Cal this season, please refer to the end of this release.

'IT'S A VERY SIMPLE GAME': A quote from the late Ralph Miller, and it pretty much sums up Oregon State's struggles of late -- it's comes down to the simple fact that this team just doesn't shoot very well. The Beavers have shot 40 percent or less in six of their last eight games. OSU is 0-8 when it shoots under 40 percent. The Beavers entere the Tournament eighth in the Pac-10 with a .427 overall field goal percentage, and are last for three-point field goal percentage at .308. The .308 percentage would be the program's second-lowest (.300/1994) since the three-point shot was introduced to college basketball prior to the 1987 season.

LUCKY OR NOT: With one more victory, Oregon State can eclipse the 13-win plateau for the first time since 1993. The program has ended the year with 13 victories three times in the last five years.

EIGHTY IS A GOOD GOAL TO HAVE: Oregon State has scored 80-plus points in four conference games this season, the most since the 1995 team had 10. The Beavers are 4-0 when they hit 80-plus.

CONSIDERING THE PAST, THIS IS A GOOD AVERAGE: Oregon State enters the tournament sixth in the Pac-10 for rebounding, averaging 36.3 per game. If that average holds, it would be the third-highest since the 1973-74 season (37.0). The program has finished 10th for rebounding in the conference the last two seasons.

MORE ON THE BOARDS: Oregon State was allowing an average of 14.2 offensive rebounds in its first nine Pac-10 games. Through the last nine games, the average decreased to 10.7.

FRESHMEN IN THE PAC-10: Beaver point guard Lamar Hurd entered the week leading the Pac-10 Conference for average minutes played by a freshman at 33.4 per game. Hurd has played at least 30 minutes in every contest this season, except at California where he fouled out after playing 21 minutes. Arizona State's Ike Diogu is second in the conference at 31.9. Hurd will end the season as the first freshman to lead OSU in minutes played since Carson Cunningham (30.8) during the 1996-97 season, and average the most minutes by a Beaver freshman since Gary Payton (37.2) in 1987.

PRIZED POSSESSIONS: Oregon State enters Tournament action ranked second for turnovers per game average in the Pac-10 Conference at 13.9. The Beavers are tied for first (Cal) in the category in league games only at 13.2. The 13.9 average could be the program's second-best mark since the 1990 season.

RICCI CONTINUES HIS STELLAR PLAY: Beaver senior forward Philip Ricci continues to make a case for being the school's first all-conference selection since Deaundra Tanner in 1999. Ricci entered the week tied for fifth in the conference for scoring (16.9), first for rebounding (8.3), ninth for field goal percentage (.520), and sixth for blocked shots (1.2). He is second in the Pac-10 for active players with double-doubles with 14 (Luke Walton has 15). Ricci also could be the first Beaver since Corey Benjamin (19.8) in 1998 to finish among the top five scorers in the league.

RETURN TO SENDER: Oregon State entered the week fourth in the Pac-10 Conference for blocked shots, averaging 3.4 per game. The Beavers currently have 93 rejections for the season and will end the year with the most since the 1992-93 team had 111.

WHAT THE INSIDERS KNOW: From the outside it might just look like another typical Oregon State team, but not to the people within the program. First-year head coach Jay John and his assistants deserve credit for changing the attitude of the program and not shying away from a challenge. John likely won't get much attention for the job he has done with this program in the last several months, but he has quietly built a foundation for the future.

THREE RECRUITS SIGNED: First-year head coach Jay John signed three individuals to national letters of intent during the early signing period in November. Joining the Beavers for the 2003-2004 season will be Liam Hughes (7-2, C) from Modesto Christian High School in California, Kyle Jeffers (6-8, F), from Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, Cal., and Jeffree Williams (6-9, F) from Roosevelt High School in Portland, Ore. John and his staff have two scholarships remaining to award during the late signing period, April 16-May 15.

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