The family affair has arrived! The dual duos of head coach Wayne Tinkle + four-star power forward Trey Tinkle and assistant coach Stephen Thompson + four-star guard Stephen Thompson Jr. are great additions to the overarching Beaver family. Without paternal support on the bench there’s also four-star center Drew Eubanks. It’s a nice class we’ve been grumbling about for awhile now. I’m afraid, however, they’re not getting the Beavers over the hump and into the dance. But that doesn’t mean this team won’t cause fits. They did one season ago and while I don’t think this team is going to be sneaking up on anyone, an influx of talent never hurt a roster that featured five walkons just a season ago. If you’ll recall, they projected to be the worst high major team in the country. They weren’t that. This isn’t necessarily a team lining up for a glass slipper, but it’s a program on the rise.
Wayne Tinkle started five walk-ons for Wednesday’s Civil War. Normally that would be senior night but the Beavers have no seniors. This bodes well for their long term prospects considering:
- Top-25 recruiting class
- First winning record in 4 years with a roster that could actually start 5 walk-ons
As for the move, many are questioning whether or not it cost his team a game? The walk-ons (henceforth WOs) played about 30-seconds and coughed up 3 turnovers. They left down 5-0. The Ducks won by 3. Oregon State also held a halftime lead. Does this negate the WOs’ effort? I dunno. Malcolm Duvivier turned the ball over with 13-seconds left and down three. The Beavers had a chance to win the game. The game was tied at 52 with 3:52 remaining. Wayne’s starters – or presumably his closers – lost that 4-minute game, 13-10.
So did the WOs cost Oregon State a basketball game? Continue reading
I could leverage my slightly delayed DVR recording into a diatribe on provider monopolies. How a la carte entertainment makes more than sense – while not making cents for the establishment – and would likely provide a better product and service. Service. But this is our The Drive recap not lounge chairs around a fire-pit on a San Diego cliff after pitchers upon pitchers followed by overflow Port (I see you, Trevor). Then a cigar. That’s where I dissect cable. Continue reading
Allow me to be the first to welcome you to Tinkle Town. Welcome to the Conference of Champions, Wayne Tinkle. You are the third former Montana head coach to join the Pac (according to my research department). One is in the Hall of Fame, the other is only an inch shorter than you. And please note, I’m not going to harp long on OSU’s new coach’s last name. My surname is tease-able, too, and I may have some emotional scarring from grades K-2. You’d be surprised how damaging it is to be called “butt.” Speaking of butts, Oregon State is going to finish at the very ass bottom of the Pac-12.
Why I love them:
Should we make the tinkle jokes now or later? I’m opting for later because I have to pick and choose my moments to act like an adult and right now shall be one of them. Mom, I hope you’re reading. I also think such humor is better suited for well timed tweets during tense game situations.
Alas, let’s welcome Mr. Coach Wayne Tinkle to the Conference of Champions. While he inherits what could amount to the worst Pac-12 team since – well since really not that long ago when Utah and USC were 6-win teams in 2012 – he can, however, take solace in the fact that he will now be the conference’s tallest coach! Tinkle stands 6-feet-10-inches tall and looks to be the Shaquille to Krystkowiak’s Divac. That said, K crushes bike and phone thieves and Tinkle:
So aside from from gravity defiance, what does Tinkle bring westward? He’s the third man (by my calculations, I could be wrong) to leave the Grizzlies for the Pac. No doubt he aspires to match the success of Mike Montgomery (281 conference wins), but let’s focus on what Tinkly has already done. He’s coached just one team to a losing record and played on CBS in March three times. That’s three more times than Oregon State in the past 24 years. Tinkle can Dance.
Of course a new hire begs the question whether or not he can dance in his new colors. It would seem he won’t be doing such for awhile but he has an auspicious start considering his son is considered a high major talent, a three-star forward named Tres Trinkle who will follow pops to Corvallis. Now let’s run that back real quick: big dad, coaching big son who’s name is Tres. If that doesn’t sound like the trailer to the sequel to The McDermotts: A Jump Shot Story then you’re not paying attention.
Disney just contacted me for a script (I declined after declining to watch Million Dollar Arm).
All in all, this is a good hire. Considering the timing of it all (weird) and the support around this program (minimal as 2014 saw Gill’s worst attendance numbers in years) getting a proven coach is good work. And work is what Tinkle will have to do to have any semblance of success in what amounts to the most success deprived basketball program in the conference.
Is it a good day to be a Beaver? Maybe. But it’s always cool to fly private:
— Wayne Tinkle (@waynetinkle) May 20, 2014
When I tiredly opened the Twitter app on my phone while awaiting a train that was seven minutes away, the first news I saw was that Craig Robinson had been let go. It took a second to process, such are Monday mornings, but as that sunk in, all I could think was, “Now what?”
Bob De Carolis oozed confidence just a handful of weeks ago in noting that his coach would return. He listed everything Craig had accomplished that the previous five coaches following Ralph Miller had not pulled off. Now many of these accomplishments are meek (Oregon State had four wins against top-50 and six against top-100 NCAA basketball programs this past season, including wins over two teams that advanced to the Sweet 16), and none included an NCAA tournament visit. But Robinson had bested them all. Oregon State’s best coach in more than twenty years. And now he now joins them as a former Beaver.
While “now what” was my first thought, reactions to the news were the immediate response. To address:
1) Why is Craig Robinson being fired?
Aside from the aforementioned vote of confidence from his boss (you paying attention to this possible future candidates?) we can rationalize why Robinson was fired as the trajectory of his program was less than promising. He was about to lead a team that had very little talent. Everyone of note was leaving and the program’s win totals over his six years reads like this: 18, 14, 10, 21! 14, 16. The Beavers were going to be very bad in 2014-15, competing with that 2011 ten-win squad as worst Robinson team in Corvallis. This is an unfortunate scenario for a seventh year coach. The why fire him question is kind of easy to answer despite some of his semi-unprecedented success in Corvallis.
2) Why is he being fired now?
The quick answers here suggest money was in play. Robinson was owed $4M and will make that $4M whether or not he coaches in Corvallis. Someone with lots of money perhaps wanted Robinson out and made it a possibility for the athletic program to oust the First Coach. They accomplished this either by subsidizing the buyout or threatening to subsidize nothing. Money talks and this maybe wasn’t a possibility when schools normally fire their under-performing coach in – say – March. Because it’s May now and so….
3) But seriously, why now?
It’s May, every coaching gig has been inquired about, filled or rejected, recruiting is picking up, and everyone is leaving Eugene. You’re offering a job that most closely resembles a rusted ’93 Taurus that also needs a new transmission. And brakes. And a rear window. And probably three new wheels. Gone are the Beavers’ five leading contributors and they might only have a mitten to cover it up (that’s a joke noting that Gary Payton’s son – Gary “The Mitten” Payton II – will be starting at OSU this fall). From Drew:
Wow that Oregon State program is a mess right now. Why would someone want to coach there? Cupboards not just empty, cupboards missing.
— Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) May 5, 2014
The cupboard is bare, it’s non-existent and there isn’t even an appointment with the carpenter to build a new one. But taking over a talented roster is something only Steve Alford, Tubby Smith, and Bill Self got to do (sure there are others but that’s this moment’s #HotSportsTake). In moving coaching jobs, it’s not exactly a pre-requisite. A foundation for success, however, that’s a different story. Craig Robinson was sub-.500 and is the best coach the school’s had since they employed the second best Miller the conference has ever seen [winky face emoji]. In summary: they’re offering a bad role to a thin market.
The reactionary phase is satiated but we’re now back to my initial reaction: Now what?
Well Bob De Carolis lied to us in his press conference noting that he had “no candidates in mind.” Puh-lease. The third point above alludes completely and totally to the idea that there is someone lined up. At least that’s what I want to believe. And if there isn’t paperwork on someone’s desk that would make them the next coach inside Gill, then I have to ask, “BUT SERIOUSLY WHY NOW?” To not have a solid candidate lined up when working this far outside the realm of normal hiring cycles suggests ineptitude within an athletic department that seems to be pretty adept (solid football program, a top ranked baseball team, Women’s hoops danced, 2012-13 gymnastics conference champs).
The timing of this would seem to be an opportunity for De Carolis to either look brilliant or otherwise. 1) Awkwardly fire your coach to bring in [insert sexy hire here which could turn out to be Ben Howland which would be a monster hire at a school like OSU and might also demonstrate just how tarnished the Howland brand is in the wake of his departure from UCLA but we can probably dedicate an entire post to just that and cut out this run on sentence]. Or, 2) awkwardly fire your coach to bring in an elongated coaching hunt, an underwhelming name, and probably some serious heat.
The future of OSU basketball weighs in the De Carolis balances of decision making. And while part of that future is already written – the Beavs are going to suck next year – it’s the AD’s job to think big picture.
What is Bob De Carolis thinking?
Personal Note: I’m bummed to see Craig Robinson leave the conference. I defended his position when he was first retained because I thought he was, if nothing else, OSU’s best option. That’s the basketball side and while I don’t have particularly close access to these personalities, in my few opportunities, Robinson was a charming, thoughtful, funny guy. At Pac-12 Media Day I asked him about how his defense had improved by prefacing it with a comment on Barrack. He laughed, answered, and then coached the conference’s worst defense. But you laugh at my jokes and I think you’re good people. Good luck, Craig. You’ll probably do just fine.
Between Roberto Nelson and CJ Wilcox, these tremendous seniors have weathered the worst Pac-12 storm we’ve ever seen. And that’s on a coast that rarely experiences bad storms. Across their four years, they’ve been a part of some awful conference play. Yet here they are now, on the cusp of being two of the best players in a conference possibly sending 7 teams into the Dance.
And do you realize that neither of these two would make a normal first team all-conference team? Normal would suggest a five-man squad which the Pac-12 doesn’t do so they’ve got a Pac-12 chance at first team. But these guys aren’t even top-5! Sure, neither plays on a particularly dangerous squad so they fly under the radar, ignored pretty regularly despite terrific individual numbers. I get that wins are the most important stat; but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate an individual’s efforts to try to win.
I wanted to tell each of their stories, how they affect the game. But as I worked harder into their numbers, deeper into their stories, I found some interesting parallels. And some fascinating divergence.
I’d like to begin with the parallels:
I was really excited to see these near identical outputs. The two best players on these two average teams. I mean, even their teams are nearly identical. Washington is 16-13, 8-8 and Oregon State is 15-13, 7-9. I even took a gander at their win shares: Nelson 3.7, Wilcox 4.0. Right on down the line they seem to be pretty similar. Wilcox is 6’5″ 195lbs. Nelson is 6’4″ 198lbs. Same size, same numbers, the big picture suggests they affect the game similarly.
But going a level deeper, we find our divergence.
Simply put, Roberto gets to the rim and CJ prefers not to. If you were paying attention to the chart above, you’d have noticed they were making nearly the identical number of FGs per game (6.2 Wilcox, 6.1 Nelson). Yet, per our graph above, Nelson is taking 18.5% more two-point shots than Wilcox. How are they putting up the same number of points. If you guessed free throws, you were right. Nelson’s free throw rate is double that of Wilcox’s (56.7% vs 26.3%). And so it makes sense.
Like our Delon Wright study, Nelson is the slashing creating type. He differs from Wright in that he connects on 40% of his threes (Wright’s an atrocious 25.6%). But ultimately the two of them, as noted, are slashing and creating. Nelson’s possessions result in a play at the rim more than 40% of the time. It’s inside the paint that Nelson fights to 20.6ppg with just a sparse percentage of his shots being assisted. A little more than a third of Nelson’s shots at the rim are assisted. With Wright as our barometer, Nelson gets a slight more help from his friends. Wright has 29.4% of his rim shots assisted. For continuity’s sake, Wilcox is assisted on 45.3% of his rim buckets. These numbers suggest some self-reliance on the part of Nelson and Wright, the ability to create for oneself.
Not CJ’s strong suit. Wilcox is a phenomenal three point shooter. We noted he makes 40% of his shots from there and takes half his shots from there. That’s a productive output and why he’s 10th in the conference in eFG%. Conversely, Nelson leads the conference in usage (32% good for 21st most in the nation).
Nelson needs the ball in his hands to affect the game. Now obviously so too does CJ, but he ranks just 19th in the conference in usage, the lowest such percentage amongst the conference’s top-10 leading scorers (Wilcox is fifth). He’s a beautifully pure shooter. I’m inclined to note how often CJ’s threes are assisted but it’s actually below the D-1 average (75.3% vs 84.9%). Not exactly fulfilling our CJ-is-team-reliant narritive. But as such a great shooter (career 39.2% shooter as compared to JJ Redick’s 40.2% or Salim Stoudamire’s 45.8% – wait, Salim was that much better than JJ, sigh…) it’s understandable that Wilcox is going to get the green light a little more often than not. Particularly as a senior with two underclassmen guards feeding him. Year-over-year, Wilcox’s percentage of assisted threes has decreased (I see you Abdul).
Ultimately, what each of these players is accomplishing is individually impressive and unique. They’ve arrived at similar destinations taking very different paths.
Neither of these seniors will win the Player of the Year award. But each has been a terrific Pac-12 basketball player, contributing to the resurgence of a conference once mired below mediocrity. It was the laughing stock of college basketball.
Today, while neither of their teams has seen great success, they’ve developed into two of the most dynamic and unique players in the conference. A part of arguably the best guard corps in the nation.
And they are seniors at the ends of their respective paths. I enjoyed watching them and I imagine you did, too. They did great. Good luck.
I’m not about to sing the glowing prospects of a team who’s best player has been accused – by the coach – of being a Beer Leaguer – and who’s other top-two players were indefinitely suspended. No that doesn’t quite equate to a shining review and, quite frankly, the future is only about a mild squint’s bright in Corvallis. Craig Robinson is once again telling us his team is dedicated to the defensive end (more later).
Why I love them: And who doesn’t like bigs? I’m 6’5″ and always get picked up at open gym. In the Pac-12, 6’5″ isn’t going to get you much beyond a shooting guard and in my case an assistant associate to the video coordinator’s assistant. But enough about me. OSU touts Eric Moreland (9/11), Devon Collier (13/6), and Angus Brandt (12/9 before busting his knee). Each is greater than 6’8″ and is going to be further supplemented by the playing time of 6’9″ Oakhill Academy product, Daniel Gomis. This kid is 2010 and has been at OSU since that time with nary a minute played. Additionally, you have to like Roberto Nelson (guard) because he looks like Drake.
Why I hate them: Last season the Beavers committed to man-to-man defense and promptly posted a 101.1 AdjD – good for 167th in the nation and last in the conference. They also placed last in the Pac and so it makes good sense that Robinson sees a need for further commitment to that side of the ball. Moreland – who is suspended for 14 games of the season and a further reason to dislike their prospects – was one of their better defensive players; snatching boards at the fifth highest rate in America (27.5%) and blocking 2.5 shots per contest. Robinson called him irreplaceable despite needing to replace him. At pachoops, we call that an “unenviable, self-inflicted predicament.” Of a similar self-inflicted vein is Beer League basketball players. Robinson previously felt his senior leader, Nelson, was in All-Beer League shape. He’s since sung Nelson’s praises for getting into shape, but earning that hoppy honor is an inauspicious start to a defensively oriented season.
Stat you should know:
Number of .500 or better seasons OSU has posted since 1992. Other popular things from 1992 include: The Dream Team, Aladdin, and the birth of Miley Ray Cyrus. It hasn’t been the greatest 2+ decades in Corvallis basketball.
“Don’t pooh‑pooh the All‑Beer League. I’ve been on some beer league teams, and we have beaten a lot of guys.” – Craig Robinson
Outlook: I won’t soon pooh-pooh the beer league – I had my first softball game on Monday in which I had to pitch after blowing up my ankle in beer league hoops – but I am going to pooh-pooh OSU’s defense. I can’t quite buy this team as contending for much better than 8th in the conference. Moreland’s absence isn’t helping things and neither is the fact that this is the strongest Pac-12 conference since Robinson joined the league.
With the regular season now wrapped and the Pac-12’s seniors having played their final home games, we’re taking a tour across the conference and bidding this group of seniors farewell.
Senior center Joe Burton has played his final home games in an Oregon State uniform. He will play in the Pac-12 Tournament this week, and barring an automatic bid to the NCAA’s, or the off chance the Beavers are invited to the CBI, one of the most creative and interesting players in Pac-12 history will hang it up.
Burton has never led the Beavers in points scored or rebounds grabbed. He wasn’t even talked about nationally until mid-way through his final season in Corvallis. He never played on a team seeded higher than sixth in the Pac-12 Tournament. His teams never made a postseason tournament greater than the CBI.
But boy was he fun to watch. He was Craig Robinson’s first signee, but was used in his first season as a man to spell a point guard or center that was in foul trouble. Everything changed his sophomore season, however. Starting the majority of the year, Burton brought a different style of play to the Beaver offense and changed the way they ran it.
Burton’s contributions can be broken down two-fold; with the ball at the top of the three-point line and with the ball in the paint. On the perimeter, Burton plays the role of a point-center. He gathers roughly half of his team-leading assists this way, throwing wicked one-handed, passes (view one of these dimes here at the 0:20 mark). And after a made basket by an opponent, it’s not a guard taking the ball out and inbounding it. It’s big Joe, and if you think he’s just going to shovel the ball off to Ahmad Starks or Challe Barton, you’re wrong. Burton loves the two-handed, 72-foot outlet pass, smiling while the ball flies over the nine heads on the floor and into Roberto Nelson’s hands right beneath the other basket. Once, he even tried an alley-oop by lying on his back at the half-court line while the shot clock was expiring, attempting to get the ball to Eric Moreland at the rim. It didn’t work, but the thought is what counts. He just plays with a different thought-process than everyone, some call it an old-school mentality, and it works.
That leads us to the second area of his game, the one that is most spectacular and will be missed by all that followed his career in Corvallis. As a defender converging to stop this 295 pound, light-on-his-feet center, you need to be aware that the ball could go in any direction, at any time. When he’s passing the ball, Burton is capable of putting it through not only his legs, but yours’ as well. Maybe he’ll attempt a one-handed, over the shoulder, no look to a streaking Eric Moreland. You never know where the ball is going, but you have to be on high alert.
And that’s when he surprises you the most. When it looks as if there’s no possible way he can dish the ball off or put the ball in the basket, Burton will go to one of three moves that you either haven’t seen before or haven’t seen done so successfully since the career of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The first is the self-named Native Tornado, which features a bit of a traditional step-through move, only going horizontally and underneath the basket. Typically resulting in a good reverse or off-the-glass bank shot, this is Burton’s best move. Sure, it may belong in a game of H-O-R-S-E (actually, all of these do), but it’s the surprise factor that makes it work.
The second most common Burton move is the fading away from the basket, sweeping hook shot. Once again, this is not an easy shot by any stretch of the imagination. But Burton makes it work, leaving defenders shaking their heads as the big fella runs down the floor smiling from ear-to-ear.
Finally, we get to the rarest of shots in Burton’s repertoire, the one-handed, over-the-head shot. Seen maybe once every four games, it catches you so off guard that you don’t even know what’s happened until the ball goes through the netting and the other team is off down the floor. I should probably just stop explaining and let the video speak for itself. Downright dirty.
You can’t have a piece honoring Burton without mentioning the strides he has made to bring athletics to the Native American community. He played a huge role in getting Nike’s N7 Initiative off the ground, and helped design Oregon State’s turquoise uniforms that were worn once or twice a season while he was in Corvallis. He is the first Native American scholarship player in the Pac-12 since the league expanded in 1978, and he is treated like a celebrity whenever he goes back to his reservation in Soboba, California.
We’ll miss you Joe.
The First Program is in a critical year. CRob hasn’t filled lofty expectations but he has delivered the school’s first winning season since what feels like the Lincoln administration. Some good pieces there in Corvallis. Smile.
- Oh Come On – Half the questions asked of Craig Robinson at Media Day were surrounding last Tuesday (hint: election night). Well Barack Obama (aka Robinson’s brother-in-law) was re-elected President and that’s got to make this program happy.
- Hearts Out – It’s what Roberto Nelson did according to George Dohrmann in his book, Play Their Hearts Out, and he’ll need to continue to do so for the Beavers to have any success this season.
- Wee Man – Ahmad Starks ain’t big. He’s listed at 5’9” on the school’s website and if you’ve ever been a part of filling out an info sheet, you know that listed height and weight is inflated. Irrelevant. He can play. Coach Robinson says that he alone could replace Jared Cunningham’s 18ppg but they won’t necessarily need that of him. He’ll play a very sound point for OSU.
- Vazannion – Not sure who will be under center but, come on, you know you’re a little pumped for the Civil War.
- Timber – Robinson has called this his “best front court” since arriving in Corvallis. Let’s discuss: Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, Joe Burton, Daniel Jones, and a slew of sizable newbies. There’s experience and versatility there and my-oh-my does Collier have a chance to break out this year. DYK he quietly went for 14/6 last year? Solid.
- Can’t Get Enough – He’s gone and this was two years ago but it’s still dirty