Inaugural win takes back seat

Oregon State’s basketball coach said Tuesday he won’t be available to answer questions on next Tuesday’s Pacific 10 coaches’ call.

Reaction: This team went 0-18 in conference last season, finally scrounged up a win this month, and now this first-year coach is big-timing the media?

This had better be really important.

“I’ll probably be standing somewhere outside,” Craig Robinson joked.


Robinson will go from hosting Washington on Saturday to toasting Washington on Tuesday.

Here’s the best part: After checking his Pac-10 pocket schedule, attending Barack Obama’s inauguration as 44th president of the United States fits in perfectly.

“After the Washington game, we will probably practice Sunday,” Robinson said, “and then I’ll head to the inauguration Monday, so I’ll spend most of Monday traveling, and then we’ll have all the inauguration festivities Tuesday, and then Wednesday I’ll be flying straight to Berkeley.”

Just in time for Oregon State at California.

Robinson, in case you live in Siberia, or Pullman, Wash., and haven’t heard by now, is the brother of Michelle Obama, the soon-to-be first lady.

Robinson apologized for ticking off his travel plans like he was ticking off a grocery list.

“I guess I’ve been talking about it so much it sounds like it’s routine,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to be a part of it. I’m just glad it fell during a time where I could make it. It is truly a humbling and honoring experience to be a part of as a citizen of the United States, let alone that the principals are family.”

You want crazy? Oregon State is now a team a head coach might rush back to see.

The Beavers are only 6-8, and 1-3 in league play, but before you can get a program to “great,” you have to get it past “laughingstock,” and Robinson has already succeeded.

Oregon State this season ended a 25-game losing streak with a win over Fresno State, defeated Nebraska and shocked USC two weekends ago in Corvallis.

So what might have happened if the inauguration had fallen on a game day?

“It’s easy for me to say now, my sister probably would have killed me. I can say it now,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t have missed a game . . . [but] that would have been a tough one.”

Robinson then fudged a bit.

“It probably really depends on what game it would have been,” he said.

Dribbles and drabs

Oregon, at 0-4, is off to its worst Pac-10 start since 1992-93, when the Ducks lost their first 11 and finished 3-15. Coach Ernie Kent is simply playing too many freshmen to compete right now and needs to wait for his ducklings to become ducks. A bad combination of numbers: Oregon is last in scoring defense, giving up 76.6 points a game, and last in field goal percentage (41.2%).

Asked if there were any reasons why the Ducks were not shooting well, Kent replied: “Yeah . . . It’s called Alabama, [North] Carolina, Texas, St. Mary’s, Utah on the road. We lost some confidence along the way.”

Jon Brockman is Washington’s leading scorer and one of the Pac-10 top players, but his free-throw shooting is a problem. Brockman has made only 49 of 91 (53.8%), and that could make him a designated player to foul at the end of close games. “Not yet,” Huskies Coach Lorenzo Romar said when asked whether Brockman had become a target. “It hasn’t been Shaq-a-hack or whatever you want to call it.”

California will retire Darrall Imhoff’s No. 40 jersey on Feb. 14 during halftime when the Bears play host to Stanford at Haas Pavilion. Imhoff, who attended Alhambra High, helped Cal to the 1959 NCAA title under coach Pete Newell.

Imhoff enjoyed a long NBA career and was the New York Knicks’ center the night in 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points (not all of them against Imhoff). In 2005, Imhoff described to The Times what it was like to guard Chamberlain: “Many times I’d put my knee between him and put my arm in the small of his back. I’m trying to hold him and he’s backing in. I’m not taking any steps, but I can smell the smoke coming off the bottom of my sneakers.”