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Pac-12 preview: Oregon State University

This is the second of a 12-part series previewing the Pac-12 teams.

Rebuilding takes time, and as Oregon State is seeing now, it goes in phases.

The program collapsed in 2009-2010, as player after player left the team amid allegations that former head coach LaVonda Wagner verbally abused athletes. Wagner was fired after the season ended, and only two players were left. Scott Rueck was named the new coach in late June, and he quickly set about finding players. He signed four and got four others from an open tryout.

Though Oregon State’s overall 9-21 record for the 2010-2011 season wasn’t the best, it was far better than anyone imagined for a team of unknowns. At times during the year, they looked solid and strong.

But now it looks like the Beavers will have to do more rebuilding, as they lost five players from last year and have six newcomers.

El Sara Greer, the team’s third-leading scorer last season and one of the two players who stayed after the fall out, graduated. Angela Misa, the second player leftover from the Wagner era, transfered to Portland State University last spring. Three other bench players quit the team: Classye James, Tami Brown and Courtney Wetzel.

The good news for Oregon State is that four starters are returning for 2011-2012. They include sophomore guard Alexis Bostick, junior guard Sage Indendi, senior guard/forward Earlysia Marchbanks, and sophomore guard Alyssa Martin. Sophomore guards Jenna Dixon and Katie Shrock also return. Martin was the Beavers’ leading scorer last year with 12.4 points per game, Indendi averaged 10.7 and Marchbanks, 8.7.

Rueck and his staff went for experience in their recruiting, as five out of six of the newcomers are junior college transfers.

Adding much-needed height will be Patricia Bright, a 6-foot-4 forward/center from Pensacola State College, and 6-foot-7 center Thais Pinto from Western Nebraska Community College. Three new guards include Mollee Schwegler from Lower Columbia College, Quortni Fambro of Northwest Florida State College, and freshman Ali Gibson, who hails from St. Mary’s High School in Woodbridge, Calif. Forward ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley, who is 6-foot-2, transfers from North Idaho College.

The Beavers’ pre-season schedule is still appropriately conservative for a budding program. Opponents include Pacific University, Southern Utah, North Texas and Corban University. Their toughest challenges before conference play will be Montana State, Cal State Northridge, Pepperdine and Cal State Bakersfield.

Rueck also added his third assistant coach this past spring, in Megan Dickerson. Assistants Mark Campbell and Eric Ely each return for their second season.

Again this year, Oregon State is fielding relative unknowns. But this season they will be taller and more experienced than last year. Along with the change from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12, the field seems wide open for the Beavers. Maybe this year they will find their identity.

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