IT'S. ALMOST. TIME! College basketball is so close, I can taste it. So, while we not-so-patiently wait for the season to tip off, let's get to know another Pac-12 nemesis.
It's time for a perennial Pac-12 bottom feeder, right on the edge of relevance. Next up: The Oregon State Beavers.
Wayne Tinkle inherited a severely undermanned Oregon State squad in his first year in Corvallis. Due to graduation and several players electing to transfer after Craig Robinson's firing, Tinkle had six walk-ons on the roster. All that said, the Beavers season...could have gone FAR worse than it did. They finished above .500 for the first time since 2012 and finished 8-10 in the conference, making their mark on their home floor, going 7-2 in the conference at home.
It's tough to know much about Tinkle other than the fact that he won a bunch of games while head coach at Montana and he loves a slow pace. This much is for sure: When he has some power conference talent (the little the Beavers had last year), the man knows how to implement a defense, as they ranked 16th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. Now, with a full roster and the best recruiting class OSU has had in over a decade, there lies a ton of potential.
Gary Payton is the best player on Oregon State. I could have written that exact same statement when I was 1 year old. I couldn't write back then but that's beside the point. Gary Payton II is entering his senior season for his father's alma mater, and he's the best player they've had in a while. Last year, he did just about everything for the Beavers. He was the leading scorer, leading rebounder, nearly the assist leader, all while having the highest field goal percentage on the team. The Glove, Jr. also had a whopping 3.1 steals per game, the main thing that led him to a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award. The Beavers certainly should have more help for him this year, but this team goes as GPII goes, and that's not a bad thing.
Games versus Arizona...
Jan. 30 @ McKale Center
The Projected Starting Five...
F Olaf Schaftenaar
F Daniel Gomis
G Langston Morris-Walker
G Gary Payton II
G Malcolm Duvivier
All five starters return to the lineup. Although Gomis is expected to miss the first month with a broken bone in his hand. The three highly-regarded freshman: Drew Eubanks, Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson, Jr., will look to get spot starts in Gomis' absence.
The Best Case Scenario...
The defense will make every game extraordinarily difficult for their opponent. OSU shot just 32% from 3 last year. That has to go up. If Gary Payton II plays like the Pac-12 Player of the Year, this team could finish top 4 in the conference. GPII takes the team to its first tourney since his father did it. Corvallis LOVES the Paytons!
I'm going with nearly the best case scenario. Last year's team, being as depleted as it was, gives me hope for this year. And I do believe Gary Payton II will be this year's Pac-12 Player of the Year. This program will see its first action in the NCAA tournament in 26(!!!) years. 5th place in the conference, 10-8 record, and an 8-9 seed matchup in March Madness.