If you didn’t already think this season was a throwaway one for the OSU men’s basketball team, last Friday’s game leaves no doubt. Jay John’s 2008 squad that finished 0-18 in Pac-10 play would run circles around this year’s squad — and it wouldn’t even be close. The 2014-15 Beavers could desperately use players like Marcel Jones and Calvin Haynes.
So Beaver Nation needs to temper expectations for this season. The work Wayne Tinkle and his staff have done so far is awesome, but they aren’t miracle workers. As evident from their 57-47 loss to Western Oregon, the Beavers are a work in progress. Don’t be surprised if this team struggles in most, if not all, of its games.
Here are five quick takeaways from the exhibition game. Keep in mind, that’s exactly what it was, and it’s hard to take much away from an exhibition game.
1. Who is this team’s go-to player? Junior Langston Morris-Walker is the Beavers’ returning leading scorer at four points per game, and is expected to be OSU’s top scorer this season. He’s a good athlete, but his perimeter game is still developing. At this point, it’s hard to say who will lead the Beavers offensively. My money is on Malcolm Duvivier, but he needs to be more aggressive and use his combo of athleticism and strength.
2. Payton will be a player. Gary Payton II filled the stat sheet against WOU, finishing four assists short of a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists). What impressed me most about him is his willingness to crash the boards and go after loose balls. He also is pretty athletic and isn’t afraid to throw it down. Once he’s surrounded by more talent, he could really thrive. The downside with Payton is that he doesn’t have much of an outside shot.
3. No pure shooters. Speaking of perimeter games, it doesn’t appear as if the Beavers have any consistent outside shooters. Their best one might be walk-on Dylan Livesay. He displayed a nice-looking shot, making both of his 3-point attempts against the Wolves. However, the big question is, “Can he get shots off against Pac-12 opponents?” For having such good form, Olaf Schaftenaar still is maddeningly inconsistent from behind the arc.
4. Somethings never change. Ah, free throws. One of the basic fundamentals of basketball continues to be a problem for the Beavers. They shot 12-26 from the line (46.2 percent) on the night. For a team that’s going to struggle to score this season, that’s unacceptable. They need the easy points. Maybe the rims at Gill need to be checked or something, as I saw that the women’s team also struggled from the free-throw line the following day.
5. Tinkle is hands-on. Good news for those of you who feel I’ve been too harsh so far, I absolutely loved what I saw from Tinkle. He’s very much a teacher. Always on his feet, instructing and quick to encourage players. I also like how he has his players’ backs if questionable calls goe against them. He appears to be a blend of all the things you want in a coach. And yes, he’s a tall, tall man.
This season will be about coming together as team, hustling and scrapping, and making gradual improvement. Beaver fans need to focus on that, instead of wins and losses. The good news is that this week’s signing period will provide the fan base with plenty of optimism for the future of OSU hoops. (RW)
What are your expectations for Beavers Basketball this season?