Category Archives: Basketball

Oregon State Makes Roster Moves Aimed At Improving Depth

Oregon State football head coach Gary Andersen has made a couple of roster moves following spring ball that are aimed at improving the depth in a couple of position groups.

Red-shirt freshman Mason Moran has moved from quarterback to safety, after falling to a distant 5th in the quarterback race this spring, behind transfer Jake Luton, and returnees Marcus McMaryion and Darell Garretson, both of whom have starting experience, and Connor Blount.

The move makes sense, as Oregon State is still in full-shuffle mode beyond the 1st string in the secondary, and could lead to Moran eventually seeing the field, something it doesn’t look like might ever happen had he stayed at quarterback. Moran has had moments of looking good in individual drills, and in scout team drills, but every time he has faced a full defense while trying to operate the Oregon State offense, appeared overwhelmed.

Andersen also has stated he wants a 3 deep running back group, and with the graduation of Tim Cook, himself a transfer, and the transfer to the Arizona State track team of Paul Lucas, Oregon State has only Jaylynn Bailey behind their preferred 1-2 punch of Ryan Nall & Artavius Pierce with any experience.

There are 4 walk-ons who might contribute in one or more capacities at some point, and 2 signees in this year’s class, which adds up to 9 backs, a pretty large group for this position. But 1 or more redshirts might be in order, and at the same time, both Nall & Pierce have some history of dings at the highly physical RB spot.

Enter for 1 year Trevorris Johnson. Johnson will graduate from TCU this spring, with 1 year of eligibility left, and enroll for summer term at Oregon State.

Morris, with 237 lbs on his 6’ frame, gives the Beavers a big back option for short yards behind Nall that Cook was, but Pierce really isn’t.

With that size, Johnson wasn’t as good a fit in Ft. Worth after the Horned Frogs went all in with an Air Raid spread system in 2014 to compliment Trevon Boykin than he was when TCU coach Gary Patterson initially recruited him out of Houston. With the arrival of Sonny Dykes, the opportunities for a predominantly between the tackles power runner will only diminish further.

Neither move is a major needle mover, but both seem to make sense for both the players involved and the Beavers.

Hoops Also Adds A Grad Transfer

I’m not so sure about the addition of another graduating senior with a season still to play that basketball coach Wayne Tinkle has welcomed.

It’s nothing personal against Seattle native Seth Berger, who understandably wants to finish his career closer to home, and his parents, especially after the coaching change that came after back to back sub-.500 seasons in the Atlantic-14 10ths.

But using the scholarship that opened up when Malcolm Duvivier decided to take his degree and transfer on a 6’8”, 212 lb. forward who figures to be more of a rotation player and an insurance policy than a starter unless Drew Eubanks really does depart for the NBA doesn’t seem the best use for the far scarcer scholarships available to hoops.

Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. have declared for the NBA draft, but not yet hired an agent, allowing for a return to Oregon State. But while Thompson has indicated he’s likely to return, Eubanks is more seriously exploring moving on soon.

After a 5-27 season, one of Oregon State’s worst ever, and a 1-17 Pac-12 campaign that was followed up by a first round exit from the conference tournament, despite Eubanks excelling most of the time, he took a beating, and it’s understandable that he might not want a repeat of that experience.

Berger will get a look, and probably a lot of Matt Dahlen minutes if Eubanks departs, but otherwise seems likely to sit behind Tres Tinkle a lot.

The Beavers still (desperately) need a point guard, and need some rim-protecting help for Gligorije Rakocevic. And that’s if Eubanks returns. If he doesn’t, there is a desperate need for someone closer to Eubanks’ 6’10”, 250 lb. size. Ben Kone isn’t it, and Berger isn’t either.

Berger’s career a Massachusetts went off the rails a bit 2 years ago, when, after starting the first 8 games of the season, he surrered a season ending injury.

Last year, he appeared in 31 of 33 games for the Minutemen, but only started 7 times. He shot above 50%, which would be helpful, but he only averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 boards.

How exactly Coach Tinkle will work Berger into a turnaround he may need to execute to continue in Corvallis is not apparent.

What Will Help Vs What Will Make A Difference

There hasn’t been a lot written in this space of late because there is only so much to say about a lost season that was over before Thanksgiving. How many times do the same deficiencies need to be re-analyzed?

Lately, watching Oregon State basketball has regressed to the point of being demoralizing, something akin to watching a late 19th century buffalo shooting expedition. The outcome is known before things even begin, with only the exact timing of when it gets out of hand, and the final deficit to be determined.

In an attempt to preserve sanity, and watch some actual good basketball, I’ve been taking a closer look at Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, and even Utah, and also looking outside the Pac-12, at the likes of Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, and also not just Kansas, but also Iowa State and West Virginia. And the Connecticut women’s program, which has just moved past the historic 100 win in a row milestone.

Beyond just seeing some non-cringeworthy hoops, I’ve also been revisiting what the apparent differences are between well run programs, and the local one that will be hard pressed to not repeat what I had thought I’d never see again in my lifetime, let alone within a few years of seeing it happen the first time; go winless in the Pac-12.

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Wayne Tinkle, JV Coach

That headline is not meant to be a negative assessment of Oregon State’s men’s basketball coach. Quite the contrary, its recognition of what Wayne Tinkle’s job currently is, at least the portion on the floor that’s visible to the rest of us.

As the Beavers wind their way home after a rough road trip to the mountain schools, both of whom took wins while exacting an emotional toll on Oregon State, it occurs to me that Tinkle is at the moment in largely the same situation as your local high school JV coach.

Many nights, Tinkle can not win, and can not even hope to. And often enough that when the Beavers might be able to win, it still doesn’t matter. Other than in order to provide some encouragement on occasion, wins make no difference to a team already assured of a losing season (by a lot).

His job, much like the local JV coach, who is in fact often as important as anyone in a successful program, is go get his guys ready to play at a higher level at some future point when winning will matter.

It’s different than the high school JV coach in that he is getting players ready to step up when those ahead of them are gone, whereas there is no one in front of anyone at Oregon State.

But Coach Tinkle’s mission each night is to take another step to get his guys ready to play at a high level along side other players not currently on campus.

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Civil War Debacle Should Be An Eye Opener

Though he was announced as Oregon State’s new Athletic Director late last month, Scott Barnes’ last day in his previous job in the same job for Pitt was Friday the 13th, so Saturday was his first day fully on the job for the Beavers.

What happened Saturday night should have been an eye-opener.

Barnes indicated he would take his first 100 days or so to evaluate things. That will take him until after spring break, and the start of spring term, and after spring winter football practice.

And while there are systemic issues he still won’t have fully unearthed by then, the debacle Saturday night should have been all Barnes needed to see to get an idea of the biggest issues, and should have made it clear to him that there’s no need to wait to get started on them.

In a sold-out Matthew Knight Arena, Oregon obliterated Oregon State 85-43. It was the Beavers’ worst loss in the 347 game history of the Civil War, and they were never even competitive.

The Ducks scored the games first 21 points, and the Beavers didn’t even score until almost the middle of the first half. The spread was a ridiculous 25 points, but Oregon had that covered a couple of minutes before halftime.

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Scott Barnes Hired As Oregon State Athletic Director

Oregon State has ended a fall-long absence of an Athletic Director with a weeks long hiring process that will bring Scott Barnes to Corvallis to fill the job vacated when Todd Stansbury left after only about a year to return to his alma mater, and take the AD job at Georgia Tech.

“I am very excited to join Beaver Nation and am ready to hit the ground running and build upon the success of OSU Athletics,” Barnes said in a statement. “I guarantee that we will contribute to advancing the mission of this university. We will deliver the highest level of achievement on the playing field and for all student-athletes in the classroom, in the community and in their lives and careers. Everything that we will do will be defined by excellence. Success will be measured in wins, championships, and by providing the best student-athlete experience possible.”

“I chose Scott Barnes because he is the perfect fit for Oregon State University,” Oregon State President Ed Ray added in another statement. “He will guide OSU Athletics to compete and win championships the right way, the Oregon State way. Scott is a proven leader and a champion with a long track record of success. He will lead the immediate and long term achievement for all OSU sports programs, and contribute greatly to the passion of everyone within Beaver Nation. He understands that at Oregon State University, good is not good enough. OSU and its student-athletes will be champions in all aspects of athletics, as students and in the community.”

Barnes officially begins work February 13, and will have a Vice-President title to go along with Athletic Director on his business card.

Terms of the negotiated hire, which began last week, only to bog down, leading to a disjointed episode with the school’s marketing mouthpiece, but reached fruition today, were not mentioned in the initial announcement.

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Winter of Waiting

Winter term has gone and winter weather has come on the Oregon State campus.

And with Beaver fans relegated to third party observers of the bowl season that begins today only from a distance (again), the campus is in the middle of a winter of waiting.

Waiting for anything of importance, and substance. It could be a long winter wait.

Sure, there were the announcements this week of the JC commits and early enrollees to Gary Andersen’s football program. But while there is potential, the reality is we won’t really know for sure until at least September of the impact these early arrivals will have.

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Todd Stansbury Takes Off

Just as the Oregon State campus and community was getting settled in after the first day of fall term, Athletic Director Todd Stansbury shook things up by announcing his resignation.

Stansbury’s decision came as a sizable surprise, coming only a little more than a year after he took the job. Stansbury, pictured above with Oregon State University President Ed Ray at his introduction as Athletic Director, replaced Bob Decarolis, returning to Corvallis where he had previously worked for 9 years in the Athletic Department.

Stansbury’s abrupt and early departure isn’t a product of any problems at Oregon State though; Stansbury’s reason for leaving is to take the newly opened Athletic Director position at Georgia Tech, which is Stansbury’s alma mater. Stansbury also played football for the Yellow Jackets.

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Ethan Thompson Chooses Oregon State

Wayne Tinkle Continues Family Connection Recruiting

Oregon State men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle has made good use of family ties in recruiting top talent to Corvallis, and that trend continues, with the announcement today by Ethan Thompson that he will be following his older brother Stephen Thompson Jr. to Corvallis.

The Thompson brothers father, of course, is Stephen Thompson Sr., who is on Tinkle’s staff.

E. Thompson is a 6’4″, 170 lb. shooting guard from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, CA, and is rated a 4 star prospect by Rivals, ESPN, and Scout. Rivals has him as the #49 prospect overall in the 2017 class, while ESPN slots him at #51, and Scout at #53.

He picked Oregon State, the Corvallis community, and playing with his brother and for his father over offers from Stanford and Syracuse, the elder Thompson’s alma mater, as well as California, Arizona, and Boise State.

“I think it should help a lot to have both of them there,” Thompson said about his father and brother. “My dad has seen lots of players go through the transition to college, and my brother just went through it. They will both be able to guide me, and it will be great to be together again.”

Thompson should pack on a few more pounds by the time he’s ready to take the Gill Coliseum floor, and is virtually a carbon copy oh his 6’4″, 175 lb. brother.

When it Rains, it Pours, Right?

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- Duvivier
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)

Legacy Beyond The Final Four

It was 1986, and my football team and I were sitting in the Fairplay Elementary School cafeteria when our coach, Russ Hedges, brought two of his friends to talk with us. Their names were Robb Thomas and Erik Wilhelm. The two standout Beaver players talked to us about what it takes to be a college football player, about hard work, and about working when no one is watching or when no one expects much. These were lean years for the Beavers, but Robb and Erik were two bright spots.

That day, I became the Beaver fan I am today.  Growing up in Corvallis, I had always liked the Beavers, but when I met these guys, a scene I can still picture in my mind, it was a game-changer.

Fast forward to this last weekend, as my wife’s family got together to celebrate Easter (they celebrate every holiday the Saturday after for logistics reasons) and I was talking to my wife’s cousin Rob who lives in Philomath. He was telling me how Ruth Hamblin and a few other Beaver players had come to guest coach his daughter’s middle school basketball team. He was glowing while talking about how nice they were, how much it meant to the girls, and how many games they went to that year. He also said he was getting women’s basketball season tickets next year for his family of five. (Which, incidentally, costs less than a single seat for football)

While the work on the court by Scott Rueck’s team was amazing, the legacy of the Lady Beavers performance this year captured the minds and hearts of a section of Beaver Nation that has never before been seen. It brought the casual fan into the fold of the fanatical fan, something I witnessed this year at Matt Knight Arena for the Civil War game. The arena had more people than most games I have seen there, men or women’s, and half of them were in orange and black. People were dancing, waving signs and having a great time watching Jamie Weisner hit a three or shut down someone on defense, or watching Deven Hunter make a few great shots down the stretch.

For me, I got to sit there with my six-year old daughter as she watched what she called “Beautiful princesses, not like Sleeping Beauty, more like Astrid.”  Astrid is, of course, the young lady viking warrior from How to Train Your Dragon. I was very proud to have her watch this Beaver team and their coaches, working hard, having fun, and being positive. It was something that she will probably remember for a little while, but I will remember for the rest of my life.

The legacy this team leaves will not be one of a successful team that ran into the arguably the biggest dynasty of any sport, but of a team that got thousands of young girls to dream about playing on a big stage, having fun, and being successful. It also will be the thousands of fathers who have found something they can share with their daughters and feel good about character of the people they cheer for. Finally, it awakened a sleeping fraction of fans who love the sport of basketball and enjoy watching it played well. For the athletic department, the legacy will be the forklifting of a sport classified as non-revenue into the the black as a contributor to the overall benefit of all sports at Oregon State.

All of that seems secondary next to the Final Four appearance and countless wins and records. But in 20 years, when hopefully, my 26 year-old daughter asks me if I want to catch a Beaver game, I will remember this year and be thankful of the legacy it made in my life.

Thank you for all you have done, and Go Beavs!