The Beavers took care of business Monday night, cruising to an easy 71-43 win over Grambling State. With the win, they improved to a surprising 7-2 on the young season — which is probably five or more wins than expected at this point. Coach Tinkle has this team surpassing expectations so far. Here’s some quick thoughts.
Like father, like son. Gary Payton II has been better than advertised so far, as OSU’s “Mr. Do-Everything” player. And Wednesday night, his versatility was on full display, as he recorded the second triple double in OSU history with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. The last Beaver to do so, none other than his father. Oh, and he also recorded six steals. While Payton is the Beavers’ best player, I’ve been most impressed by the fact that he doesn’t force up shots. He takes what the D gives him and is always looking to get teammates involved. Speaking of…
Buying into team concept. The Beavers are playing great team ball. They are looking to make the extra pass, maybe too often. But the end result is that their shot selection has improved leaps and bounds from the last season. And the neat thing is they aren’t sacrificing aggressiveness. By spreading the ball around, players are getting more comfortable and showing what they can do. With a lack of proven scorer, the Beavers will need a little from everyone this season to be competitive.
Making big strides. Perhaps the biggest improvement so far within the program has been player development. And arguably, no player has benefited more than Victor Robbins. Yes, the competition hasn’t been all that, but it’s great to seem him aggressive and not be afraid to take shots. He’s showing off the skills and promise that made him a pretty big signing for the Beavers a couple years ago. Quite frankly, he might be the Beavers’ best pure scorer. I’m also liking the improvement shown by Malcolm Duvivier and Daniel Gomis.
Defense, Defense, Defense. You expected defense to emphasized a lot more under Tinkle, but did you think the Beavers would improve this much so soon? Their execution on the defensive end has been night and day. I don’t care how bad your opponent is, holding a team to nine points in a half is damn good. So far the Beavers have been one of the top defensive FG percentage teams in the country. Defense and hustle will be the key for the Beavers this season, so they must keep it up.
There’s no question about it — the road will get much tougher for the Beavers, especially once Pac-12 play begins. But they are playing with a lot of confidence and as a team, two things that can’t be underestimated. If they continue to grow, they might fight and claw their way to a few surprise wins. At the very least, they should feel good knowing that the future is bright under Tinkle and Co.
At the beginning of the season, I said I’d be thrilled with eight wins, so the Beavers are very close to exceeding my exceptions. But what do I know? I wasn’t on the Tinkle bandwagon before he was hired. I am now.
Also, a quick shout out to the No. 14 Lady Beavs who play No. 6 North Carolina later today. At 8-0, they are off to their best start in school history, and playing the Tar Heels will be a great test for them. Kudos, for scheduling UNC, too. If you want to be the best, you gotta play the best. The turnaround engineered by Scott Rueck has been nothing short of amazing, and will only get better. Regardless of how they do today, the Beavers are talented, deep, and young. Their future is bright already and will get brighter.
Go Beavs! (RW)