Editor’s note: The following post is based off a recent conversation between former OSU basketball players Adam Masten and Dino Tanner, who know a few things about upsets. A special thanks goes to Adam and Dino for their time and willingness to share their thoughts.
Prior to last Sunday, the last time the OSU men’s basketball team defeated a top-10 team was March 2, 2000, when it upset No. 3 Arizona, 70-69, at the buzzer in Gill Coliseum. Junior Dino Tanner cemented his place in OSU lore that day by hitting the game-winning shot from the left baseline as time expired, sending students rushing onto the court.
“The uproar was from the crowd was unbelievable,” recalled Tanner. “It was the greatest moment I may have ever had in my basketball career.”
Just how impressive was the win? The Wildcats roster that season featured players such as Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton, and Loren Woods, who all went on to play in the NBA.
Tanner is one of the top guards in OSU history, ranking 10th all-time in points scored. A prolific 3-point shooter, he was an All-Pac-10 first team selection in 1999. Today, he resides in the Portland area, where he runs a private basketball training/consulting business, Tanner Sports, and works with kids throughout Oregon on developing their skills. A former assistant coach at Parkrose High School, Tanner hopes to coach collegiately someday.
Interestingly enough, Tanner said that before he launched “The Shot,” the biggest thing running through his mind was that he “had to make at least one pass” He found Josiah Lake, who drove and dished to Jason Heide, who then kicked it back out to a wide open Tanner..
“I’m glad Jason saw me and had the confidence to pass to me, because he was in position to take the shot.” Tanner said. “I was ready for it and shot it.
In wake of the Beavers’ most recent upset of Arizona, Tanner said that he’s impressed by the job Wayne Tinkle has done so far. He has met Tinkle and most of his assistant coaches.
“Coach does his homework,” Tanner said. “He knows his team and puts them in the best position to win every game… He’s brought fresh ideas and schematic schemes.”
Tanner also was quick to give OSU athletic Bob De Carolis a lot of credit for hiring Tinkle, and allowing him to assemble a great staff, saying that it shows his commitment to the program.
“Between Coach Tinkle and his staff, the years combined among them in terms of coaching experience may be the most of any staff that’s coached at Oregon State,” Tanner said.
Believe it or not, Tanner said that the 2014-15 Beavers remind him of some of the squads he played on at OSU — in that they were patient and forced their opponents to work hard at both ends of the floor.
“Coach Tinkle runs his team relatively similar to the way Coach (Eddie) Payne did,” Tanner explained. “… They’ve all bought in to playing team defense and team offense. Everything they do is together. You can’t really ask for more than that. Coach Tinkle is doing a hell of job with less. He’s excellent at getting more out of less.”
And Masten notices a lot of similarities between the 1998-99 team (his freshman season) and this season’s squad. The 99-98 team also started out 10-0 home, despite having a roster featuring one senior (Blast from the past name: Sasha Petrovic) and four juniors, some of whom were JC transfers (Remember the Clifton Jones, the Flyin’ Hawaiian?)
“We had a brand new team that hadn’t seen many minutes besides (Dino),” Masten said. “I feel like that’s very similar to what Coach Tinkle is doing; he’s winning with guys who haven’t necessarily played.
Tinkle’s coaching performance is the main reason that Tanner and Masten are excited for the future of OSU basketball. In fact, Tanner said that he believes the Beavers aren’t far off from making an NIT or NCAA run.
“(Players such as) GP II, Malcolm Duvivier; these guys are really good athletes and really good players,” Tanner said. “Once they’ve got spring and summer to sharpen their skills and improve their skill set, the sky’s the limit for them, especially with the extraordinary coaching that they have.”
And then there’s the matter of that top-25 recruiting class Tinkle has signed. Masten said the influx of highly-touted players next season will provide competition, which in turn, will help elevate the Beavers.
“I’m excited for this season, but it’s hard not to be excited about what’s to come, as well,” Masten said. “But if we can keep knocking off some top-10 or 20 teams, then this season is going to keep being fun, too.”