The more I think about this hire the more I like it. The problem is there are a lot of unknowns. Many point to Scott Rueck as the blueprint, and there are similarities. If that is the case, then be prepared for a bad year next year.
Scott led a very thin Beaver team to a 9-21 record after the LaVonda Wagner era left the team with just one player on the squad. That was far more extreme than what Tinkle will have to work with, but he is in danger of losing this class of recruits, and will take over a team that lost its top five scorers from the year before.
During Rueck’s second year, the Beavers jumped to a fifth-place finish at 9-9 in the conference, the largest single season jump in win total in the nation. There is some talent at Oregon State for Tinkle to work with, and look at players like Gomis and N’diaye to be the biggest beneficiaries of the new regime. Is that enough to make the jump to a middle-of-the-conference contender in year two? We will see.
Year three was the money year for Rueck as he led his class of freshmen into the second round of the NCAA tournament. That is what we hope for Tinkle. That in three years, he has an NIT- or NCAA-level team. It is not an easy task — and to think so undermines the incredible job that Rueck did. We will see if TInkle is the man or not, but I think he has a good shot if he can surround himself with assistant coaches who can get talent to Oregon State.
As he showed at Montana, Wayne Tinkle doesn’t need elite talent to win, but to deal with the day-to-day grind of a very tough Pacific 12 Conference, he is going to need a major upgrade from what he had at Montana.
One thing that I don’t think Craig ever gets credit for is stopping the bleeding in men’s hoops. If Wayne can turn the program around in three years, it will certainly point to him being an upgrade as a coach, but thanks to Craig, he will not have to go as far as he would have in 2008.
I have often said that Robinson was an A+ hire in everything except, well, coaching. He was a great culture fit, he was a good ambassador for the university, and was well liked among his peers on campus. He was also a very good fundraiser and managed the team so well that even during a disappointing 2013 campaign, they were one of the highest profiting teams in the conference. Heck, he had taken the team so far that a season that would have been statistically the second best in 20 years prior to his hire is seen as disappointing. So it is not like he was an unmitigated disaster. He just was over-matched on the hardwood floor by his peers in the conference.
If only Coach Rob been just a little bit better of a game manager. OSU had four conference games decided by five points last season that could’ve been wins, and those wins would have saved his job and got him into the NIT at least! So he was not far from being successful. Unfortunately for Robinson, he didn’t get those wins and it was time for a change. So welcome to the Wayne Tinkle era at Oregon State. I wish Wayne the best, but I also am thankful for the effort that Craig put in at Oregon State. He has done more than any of his predecessors for Oregon State hoops, but unfortunately it was not enough.
The more I hear about this guy, the more I love him. We will see come game time what his effect on the team is, but his excitement in practice, his attention to detail, and his hard work on the recruiting trail has been inspiring. If nothing else, I hope he continues to drive the other coaches to focus on the little things and to help increase the pace and urgency around the Valley Football Center. In the last few years, Oregon State has been close, just a few points, away from a BCS bowl.
Those little things and little details, like the drill they do to protect the ball when in the pocket or running outside of it, could have been the difference in the 2012 Stanford game. The pace change might have been the difference in the end of the first half of the Alamo Bowl to get the needed extra points. Or maybe at the end of the Civil War to get a play in before the review of Cooks’ fumble out of bounds, and the Beavers get a chance for a much needed seven more points. The ball security drills might have been helpful in the second half of the 2013 Stanford game, so that the Beavers don’t give up what ends up being the game winning points off a special teams fumble.
The little things matter. If nothing in the offense changes in terms of play calls and system, but they just become more detail oriented and eliminate silly mistakes, this team could win 10 or more games. If the defense is better this year, I think they will. Life is about the details, and we need more of that in these parts. Garrett is trying to bring that around, and I think that is the best news I have heard in a long time.