Ralph Miller, Oregon State's head basketball coach, says his team deserves the nation's No. 1 ranking and his players should feel confident after viewing Sunday's game between previously unbeaten Virginia and Notre Dame, won by the Irish, 57-56.
"It ought to be a real confidence builder for our players," Miller said. "Nothing they saw about Virginia should scare them at all."
Miller said that includes the play of the Cavaliers' 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson.
"There is no reason for them to be afraid of the Sampson they saw. I would say that if Virginia had won, too. People shouldn't forget that UCLA beat Notre Dame twice this season, once on Notre Dame's home court."
Oregon State solidified its No. 1 ranking in the United States Press International poll announced today, and is expected to move from No. 2 to the top spot, displacing Virginia, in the Associated Press poll, which will be released Tuesday. "The AP has no choice now," said Miller.
Miller's Beavers, the nation's only unbeaten Division 1 team, lead the Pacific 10 Conference at 14-0 after an 89-63 rout of Washington last night. They routed UCLA, 81-67, earlier this season and the two meet again Sunday in Los Angeles.
Miller said he was unimpressed Sunday with the Cavaliers' man-to-man defense.
"If Virginia wanted to play that same defense against us, it would have some problems," Miller said.
And how would Oregon State's 6-foot-10 1/2 center Steve Johnson fare against Sampson?
"Sure, Steve would have some problems with him, but Steve would give him just as many problems. Sampson likes to play behind the guy he is guarding and Steve would give him trouble that way Steve would get his hook shot over Sampson, no question."