Tinkle takes 1st steps in rebuilding Oregon State
Oregon State has seven walk-on players on its roster, which pretty much sums up the challenge that new coach Wayne Tinkle has before him.
Tinkle takes over an Oregon State team so depleted he had to hold open tryouts. Some of those guys are going to have to help the Beavers as Tinkle takes the first steps toward rebuilding the team.
''We've never had seven to eight like we do this year,'' Tinkle said at Pac-12 media day. ''That's OK. We're proud of the guys that came out, are sticking to it. We know they're going to contribute quite a bit. Quite frankly there are going to be several of them that have to compete and play for us night in and night out.''
Tinkle was hired by the Beavers in May after eight seasons at Montana, where he took the Grizzlies to the NCAA tournament three times and finished below .500 only once.
He replaces Craig Robinson, brother-in-law of President Barack Obama, who was let go after six seasons during which the Beavers failed to make the NCAA tournament. The once-proud Beavers have not been to the NCAAs since 1990.
Oregon State finished 16-15 this past season and was bounced in the first round of the CBI by Radford. The Beavers finished ninth in Pac-12 play at 8-10.
Given the program's upheaval, the Beavers were picked to finish last in the conference's preseason media poll.
''You know, I'm speaking on behalf of my team, that's just motivation,'' said guard Langston Morris-Walker. ''We have our own set of goals. We just want to win the small battles every day and keep working hard every day. I think that's what we're going to do.''
Morris-Walker averaged 4.1 points in 18 minutes per game last season and is the top-scoring returning player for the Beavers. Also returning is junior forward Daniel Gomis, sophomore guard Malcolm Duvivier, and 6-foot-10 forward Olaf Schaftenaar.
Here are some other things to know about Oregon State heading into the season.
BAKER'S STATUS: Freshman guard Chai Baker continues to be closely monitored after he had a scary cardiac-related collapse during an informal August practice and was hospitalized for a week. Baker hasn't been able to practice with the team although he can stand and shoot, Tinkle said. It is uncertain whether doctors will clear him to play this season.
FAMILIAR NAME: The Beavers' roster includes junior guard Gary Payton II, a transfer from Salt Lake Community College who averaged 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season. His dad played at Oregon State from 1986-90 before embarking on an 18-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA.
FROM TURF TO THE HARDCOURT: One of the walk-ons joining the Beavers this season is A.J. Hedgecock, who was also a walk-on for the football team but redshirted his freshman year before a season-ending shoulder injury in fall camp last season. Hedgecock was the Oregon Class 3A Player of the Year in basketball at Dayton High School, averaging 17 points his senior year and helping the team to victory in the state championship. Hedgecock impressed Tinkle at the team's open tryouts on Oct. 4.
FAMOUS RELATIVES? There was laughter at Pac-12 media day when Tinkle was asked what his brother-in-law does for a living, a reference to Robinson's famous family ties. ''That came up at a baseball game last spring when I first got the job, but I can't share that answer here,'' he laughed.
TIES WITH UTAH: Tinkle and Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak were teammates at Montana in the 1980s and later coached the Grizzlies together, Tinkle as Krystowiak's assistant. When Krystowiak left the Grizzlies, Tinkle took over. ''We played together, coached together. He's had great success,'' Tinkle said. ''Again, doing it the right way. So the model is there. We have a lot of the same beliefs, although maybe different tactics and approaches.'' Utah is picked to finish second in the Pac-12 this season.