Oregon State will try this season to build off the momentum of last year’s run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, but it won’t be easy for a team that has seven first-year scholarship players and nine newcomers overall.
Wayne Tinkle, in his eighth season as Beavers head coach, believes he can reload and not have to rebuild from last season’s Pac-12 tournament championship team after losing guard Ethan Thompson and perimeter shooter Zach Reichle.
His optimism comes from the defensive-minded players he attracted off the transfer portal, including guards Dexter Akanno (Marquette), Tre’ Williams (Minnesota), Xzavier Malone-Key (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Dashawn Davis (Trinity Valley Community College).
Tinkle kept a positive outlook despite going to the last seconds against Division II school St. Martin’s in an exhibition Thursday at home in Corvallis, Ore. Dashawn Davis made a 3-pointer with two seconds left to give the Beavers an 83-80 win.
“In my estimation it couldn’t have gone better for us,” Tinkle said. “They came in here and played their tails off, gave us all we wanted. … We found a way to pull it out in the end, had some guys really step up.”
The Beavers, picked fourth in the Pac-12 media preseason poll, will open the 2021-22 season at home against Portland State, which is in its first season with head coach Jase Coburn.
Portland State returns eight players, including four who started at least 10 of the 22 games in the Vikings played last season.
Seven newcomers, all transfers, include six players from Division I schools.
They include Damion Squire from UC Davis (11.5 points a game last season), Michael Carter III from Cal State Long Beach (14.6 points), Marlon Ruffin from Omaha (13.1 points), James Jean-Marie from Hawaii (12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Mikal Starks from Georgia (limited playing time in 18 games with the Bulldogs last season).
The top returner is senior Khalid Thomas, a post player who averaged 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds last year.
“We have a lot of depth,” Coburn said. “The thing I wanted to make sure when we were recruiting is that we didn’t recruit the same exact types of players. Everybody on this team from one to 15 brings something absolutely different than everybody else on the team, and I wanted it to be that way.”
–Field Level Media