Oregon State Beavers no longer the Pac-12 surprise
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) With no returning starters and a new coach installing his own system, very little was expected of Oregon State last season.
So there was genuine surprise around the league when the Beavers went on a tear at home, winning their first 14 games at Gill Coliseum. Oregon State would win 15 total games at home, a new single-season record.
The Beavers finished 17-14 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-12. Not bad for a team that was expected to finish last in the league at the start of the season.
Now starting his second year, coach Wayne Tinkle knows that expectations are raised and that opponents will be wary, too.
''I don't think anybody's going to look past a team. But we knew we set some things in motion that people were going to be maybe a little more ready for us going into this year, and then you add to it that we had a pretty good recruiting class,'' Tinkle said at the conference's annual media day.
All five starters return from last season's team and the Beavers brought in one of their best recruiting classes ever. The media that covers that Pac-12 picked Oregon State to finish sixth this season.
The Beavers certainly hope to be able to shoot a bit more now that they've got a year together. Last season they averaged just 60.9 points per game, worst in the Pac-12. That was partly due to the personnel that Tinkle had - the team held open tryouts before his first season to fill available roster spots.
''Now with added depth and talent, certainly offensively doesn't mean we're going to take quick bad shots, but we will look to score a little bit more and score more off of our defense and be more aggressive there,'' he said.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: Gary Payton II, whom social media refers to as GP2, returns for his senior season in hopes of leading his team to the NCAA Tournament - just like his dad.
Payton averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.1 steals and 1.2 blocked shots, and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Payton looked at jumping to the NBA early, but ultimately decided to stick around.
''I think bringing Oregon State back to the tournament would mean a lot, not just for me, but the city of Corvallis, and just the town, and most important the school and the fans and everybody who supports it for so long,'' Payton said.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, PART 2: Prized recruit Tres Tinkle will make his debut this season for his dad and the Beavers. The 6-foot-7 younger Tinkle averaged 24.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a senior last season at Hellgate High School in Missoula, Montana.
However, he's coming off a stress fracture in his foot that kept him out of the summer workouts.
''But he's been out there the last couple of weeks, and to be honest, after the first day I had to go up to my office and pinch myself afterward because it just kind of hit me all at once that here I am coaching my son now for the first time,'' the elder Tinkle said.
MORE FANS IN THE SEATS: Last season's surprising success gave Oregon State a big boost at the gate. Average attendance was 5,612, a 42 percent increase over the previous season. The Beavers did even better in league play, averaging 6,988 fans.
NOTABLE INJURY: The Beavers were hurt this week by the loss of Daniel Gomis, who broke a bone in his left hand. The 6-foot-10 forward, who averaged 4.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last season, is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
FRESH FACES: In addition to the younger Tinkle, Oregon State's roster includes five other freshmen: guard Derrick Bruce; homegrown prospect Drew Eubanks; guard Stephen Thompson Jr., a shooter from California whose father is an assistant coach; 6-foot-11 center Gligorije Rakocevic; and guard Kendal Manuel.