Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 10/30/14
Searching for Solace It’s been a mediocre start to the season for the Oregon State Beavers‘ basketball team, and you can tell they are suffering from some post Jared Cunningham withdrawals. What is there identity? Who’s the go-to scorer? Where is Cunningham’s replacement? These are the questions that have been left unanswered most of the season, as different players have shown up, or disappeared, at numerous times throughout the beginning of this ’12-13 campaign. Craig Robinson and the Beavers have had a tough start to Pac-12 play this year. The Beavers were 10-4 in out of conference play, while preparing for the Pac-12 schedule to start, and underwhelmed as their weak schedule dragged on. An early win over Purdue, coupled with the close losses to Alabama and Kansas, seemed like ages ago once they took to the court for their Pac-12 opener against rival Oregon. After dropping the opener to Oregon, and subsequent matchups against Arizona State and Arizona, the Oregon State Beavers are left scratching their heads in search of an identity for the rest of the season. Two more losses at the hands of UCLA, and USC, did nothing for this teams confidence and 0-5 in conference play was the last place they thought they’d be coming in to the season. So who’s done their part, and who hasn’t? Let’s take a look at the three players who have overachieved this year, as well as one player, in particular, who has underachieved. The Overachievers Devon Collier  26.1 min./gm, 14.4 ppg., 6.8 reb./gm, 19 total blocks, 20 steals The Junior forward from the Bronx is showing solid signs of progression this year, and fans are starting to see why he was such a highly touted recruit from basketball powerhouse St. Anthony High School. His activity on both ends of the court have allowed Collier to dominate the competition early on. If he continues to increase his workload, and shows he can sustain the production, we might see Collier be the go to scorer for Oregon State during conference play. Roberto Nelson 29.6 min./gm, 16.1 ppg., 2.7 ast./gm, 3.0 reb./gm, 45% 3pt percentage, 21 total steals With the departure of Jared Cunningham to the NBA, many Beaver fans expected Roberto Nelson to instantly pick up the slack and display, on a nightly basis, his incredible potential. A pure scoring mentality is what Nelson operates with, and it’s easy to see why he could find more success without another “alpha” guard on the roster. Devon Collier has had an impressive start to his 2012-2013 campaign. (Photo: Jason DeCrow / AP) He’s shooting the best from long range on the team this year (I’ll get to Ahmad Starks in a second) and is the leading scorer on the team. He may not be overachieving, as he was expected to shoulder more of a load this year, so this recognition really is a tribute to his ability to not fold under the pressure be the leader this team so badly needs. Eric Moreland 29.5 min./gm, 10.3 ppg., 10.9 reb./gm, 61% FG percentage, 38 total blocks, 13 total steals The only player on the roster averaging a double double (by a long shot, too), Moreland has been a pleasant surprise for Beaver Nation this year. Coming off of a 2011-12 campaign in which he broke the freshman record for blocks in a season, as well as the record more most blocksby any class in a season, Eric Moreland was poised to have a breakout sophomore season. Aside from a brief suspension for violating team rules, Moreland has been mainstay in the Beavers lineup, night in and night out. A consistent top tier defender, Moreland also attacks the glass like none other on this Beaver roster. His potential is sky high, and we are beginning to see what just one year of maturation does for something with Moreland’s kind of ability. The Underachiever Ahmad Starks 29.7 min./gm, 11.9 ppg., 1.9 ast./gm, 2.5 reb./gm, 39% FG percentage, 41% 3pt. percentage, 18 total steals Starks has been maddening for the Beaver basketball team this year. There are stretches where he can display his lights out shooting from long range, and then even longer stretches where he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. At the beginning of the year, Starks went several halves without registering a single point; something that caused coaches, players, and fans alike to wonder what happened to the shooting prowess of the 5’9″ guard out of Chicago. His 39% field goal percentage is downright awful, something his 41% from long range hardly makes up for. And seeing as how he registers more rebounds than assists per game, Starks is hardly living up to his potential for this team. Last year may have spoiled Beaver fans with the high level of play Starks displayed, especially towards the end of the year, and it’s apparent he’s having a hard time adjusting to life post-Cunningham. Even with a scorer like Roberto Nelson next to him, Starks isn’t having the same success from years prior. Maybe a breakout game, or two, will help kickstart Starks. But whatever it is, Beaver Nation is hoping it happens soon, or else this team may be in for a long rest of PAC-12 play. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE BEAVERS CLUBHOUSE PAGE AT NWSPORTSBEAT!
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