Sorry for the cliche, but after today’s news that Derrick Bruce is transferring, is there a better way to describe how OSU hoops fans must be feeling right now? After all, it comes right on the heels of the announcement that Tres Tinkle will need surgery on his injured foot.
Losing Bruce is a huge blow for the Beavers, as he came on strong at the end of last season, In his last four games, he averaged nearly 15 points a game, while hitting 10 of 20 thee-point attempts. It was a pleasant surprise, as in limited minutes earlier in the year, he had displayed great handles and speed, but not much offensively.
And after his 25-point outburst in just 31 minutes against Cal on March 10, in which he showed off a nice mid-range game as well, I began thinking that Bruce’s upside was greater than Stevie Thompson, because of his length and speed. In fact, he was my pick to lead the Beavers in scoring in 2016-17.
But Bruce leaves a bigger void than just his scoring. His departure really hurts the Beavers because it leaves them without a true point guard. His speed and ball-handling skills enables him to break presses, penetrate lanes and dish off, and all that jazz. He was by far the Beavers’ best returning ball-hander and facilitator. Now who is it? Thompson Jr? Malcolm Duvivier?
Those two are going to have to step up, especially early this season while highly-touted freshman JaQuori McLaughlin adapts to D1 basketball. And for Duvivier, Bruce transferring presents him with a great opportunity to put last year’s up-and-down season behind him and shine as a senior. Thompson has good handles, but I’d rather he focus on shooting. However, all bets are off if McLaughlin isn’t able to be a primary ball handler this season.
Here’s my predicted starting lineup now that Bruce is gone (and assuming Tinkle is healthy):
W – Thompson
W – McLaughlin
F – Tinkle
C – Drew Eubanks
With the Beavers now having three open scholarships, you have to wonder if Coach Tinkle will use one of them on a point guard. Or if he waits. Speaking of which, recruiting has been quiet of late, which is frustrating because the Beavers could really use an established post player. Especially in wake of fact that incoming PF Ben Kone is recovering from a major injury and may have to redshirt.
Whew, all of this is a lot to swallow right now. Or should I say deflect with an umbrella. But the good news is the Beavers have the coaching and enough talent to keep building on last year’s success. It just might be a little bit of a bumpier road. Here’s hoping Tinkle’s recovery from surgery goes well, as that would go a long ways toward taking some of the damper off this offseason.
Go Beavs! (RW)