The Oregon State Beavers men’s basketball team has had an underwhelming season so far. A 4-14 start and 0-5 in conference will do that to you. This team has a lot of younger players and lost Gary Payton II from graduation last year. But after Wayne Tinkle led the Beavers to back-to-back winning seasons to start his tenure at Oregon State, the Beavers appear to be down for the count this year.
In his first two seasons, the Beavers went 8-10 and 9-9 in conference, finishing in 7th and 6th place respectively in Pac-12 play. With a star in Payton II on the team, Tinkle took over a program that was hurting. Last season the Beavers made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 26 seasons. The difference in the highs and lows that the Beavers have experienced in the last year has been drastic.
Coming into this season, no one expected the Beavers to compete at the top of the Pac-12. This year has been viewed as a rebuild year as they develop younger players. Adding injury to insult the Beavers have been without Tres Tinkle, the coach’s son who has missed the last 13 games, to a broken right wrist. Tres was averaging 20.2 points a game before the injury. If he is able to get back soon, then that could help the Beavers salvage what is left of an already disappointing season.
With the struggles in the win column has come development in young players like sophomores Stephen Thompson Jr. and Drew Eubanks, and freshman Jaquori McLaughlin. All three have grown as more has been asked of them in the absence of the younger Tinkle. Thompson Jr is averaging 15.3 ppg, Eubanks 14.6 ppg, and McLaughlin 11.6 ppg.
Oregon State battled USC in the Pac-12 opener but eventually lost a close game 70-63. They fought with a very strong UCLA team but eventually lost 76-63. After two losses to both Washington schools, the Beavers went up against in state rival, Oregon. The Civil War was not pretty for the Beavers who were blown out 85-43, producing the biggest loss in Civil War history.
According to Danny Moran, Wayne Tinkle talked about his team this week following the Civil War. “We’ve got good kids, Nobody’s hanging their head. Nobody’s not giving effort. We would never expect that from the group that we have. They’re fighting. They’re confidence is shaken. We just got to stay positive with them and get them to believe that through hard work and staying together that we’ll come out of it.”
The Beavers and Wayne Tinkle face issues with recruiting top-level players to come to Corvallis. It doesn’t have the history of great programs like UCLA and Arizona in the Pac-12. Oregon State is the little brother to the University of Oregon. Those are the challenges that coach Tinkle faces moving forward as he navigates the conference.
The Beavers have consistently been at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings over the last several seasons. However, the Beavers are trying to build a program the right way, by selling their recruits on an opportunity to grow a program that can build a name in the conference and make runs in the NCAA tournament. Despite a year in which they’ve struggled due to a lack of experience and depth, the Beavers are building towards the future.