We wanted to get more info on the Beavers before Part 2 of this series, so we asked our friends at Building The Dam for some insight.
Here is our Q&A with John Severs.
How has Oregon State changed since the last time Arizona has faced them?
I don’t think the team has changed that much since the trip to Arizona. Scoring is still centered around the team’s big three of Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., and Ethan Thompson. Kylor Kelley is still a great defender. The team still struggles to get much of a contribution from the bench. If there’s been a change since when they played the Wildcats, I would say it’s that most of the scoring is coming from Stevie rather than Tres.
At 9-5 in Pac-12 play, is it accurate to say Oregon State has exceeded expectations this year?
I would say so. Most preseason prognosticators had the Beavers finishing around 9 or 10 in the Pac-12, so being in third at the moment does feel like a huge achievement. In addition, any season where you sweep the Ducks feels great. Still, it’s hard to feel like if they’d been just a little better in a few moments (not losing to UCLA by one, the terrible loss to Stanford) then the team could be looking at a return to the NCAA Tournament.
KenPom currently lists Tres Tinkle as its Pac-12 Player of the Year. What makes him such a special player?
I think Matisse Thybulle is probably still of the favorite for that award, but Tinkle absolutely belongs in the conversation. I think what makes Tres special is his versatility, and the team focused nature of his game. Tinkle is an excellent three-point shooter, but is also adept at finding his way to the post. Not only is he a threat to score anywhere on the court, he’s also the team leader in assists. His ability find open looks for both Thompson brothers has been huge this season. He also leads the team in rebounding and steals. Tinkle doesn’t just do everything, he does everything very well.
This is Stephen Thompson Jr.’s final homestand as a Beaver. What kind of legacy will he leave behind?
Stevie is definitely going out on top. This is the best year the team has had in quite awhile, and Thompson’s performance down the stretch has been incredible. He’s shooting over 50%, and scoring nearly 20 points a game. It’s hard to say what his legacy will be yet. The Beavers have only made one trip to the postseason in his time with his team, but that’s not on Thompson. By the end of the season he’ll be a top 5 all time scorer for the Beavers, so I think his place in Oregon State history is secure.
What are the keys to this game for Oregon State?
Oregon State’s defense has struggled in the last few games, and in the first game Arizona’s three point shooting and offensive rebounding buried the Beavers. I would expect the guard matchup to be very important, so if Brandon Williams is 100% that could be huge for the Wildcats. The match-up in the post is going to be completely different from game one, with Ira Lee’s emergence changing a lot of the defensive math for Oregon State. I imagine he’d be Tinkle’s responsibility most of the time. I’d expect the Beaver’s to be in a 1-3-1 zone, but they’re flexible.
On offense, I think they’re going to work on getting Stephen Thompson Jr.’s game going. In the first game, Arizona essentially shut him down, only allowing him seven points. He’s hot lately, so at the very least he should do better than that first performance. Tres Tinkle and Ethan Thompson carried the team in game one, and I think for the Beavers to win game 2 has to be more rounded.
What is your score prediction?
The first time we did a Q&A I thought Arizona and Oregon State would split the season series, and I’m still kind of leaning in that direction, but it’ll be close. I’ll take the Beavers 71-68.
Bonus: What are some things Arizona fans should do in Corvallis?
Man, I’m old, I don’t know what to do if you’re in town visiting. Go to the Angry Beaver on 4th Street and play Metallica Pinball and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 with me.