Tinkle reminds us it’s a run, not a sprint

Michael Kiever Sports Reporter

Following Saturday evening’s 91-81 loss to Oregon, head coach Wayne Tinkle carried an air of optimism into the postgame media scrum that huddled around him.

On the surface, it felt odd. Coming off the heels of a rivalry-game beating that also carried huge implications, I was unsure what to expect from the fiery coach. It certainly didn’t seem like a performance that would inspire any sort of optimism out of him.

When he mentioned the word “rebuild,” however, things were immediately put back into perspective.

“Part of rebuilding and building a [team] is trying to develop that culture, that DNA that you play your tail off everyday–every second of every day–and it carries over to the game,” coach Tinkle said. “Those are still some of the things we’re trying to develop.”

Indeed, the Beavers are a rebuilding team, and the successful culture that Tinkle has created so quickly makes that easy to forget. Tinkle is only in year two of reconstructing a program from the smoldering remains of former OSU head coach Craig Robinson’s tenure. Remember when OSU basketball was bad enough that the university paid Robinson four million dollars to hit the road?

The most impressive feat that coach Tinkle has accomplished so far is slyly creating a winning culture out of a team that was mostly used to losing. Tinkle had no part in recruiting many of the players on the roster, and this year’s freshmen class has been his only opportunity to get hands on with his architecture of the team’s future.

The first half of Saturday’s Civil War was a sobering reminder of the state of the team. Oregon blew up for a 51-28 lead, and OSU’s veteran leaders in junior guard Malcolm Duvivier and senior guard Gary Payton II made little impact because of early foul trouble. The Ducks, wielding a great deal more continuity under sixth-year head coach Dana Altman and a more talented roster, were off to the races.

However, the second half represented the values that Tinkle is working to instill in the team. OSU came firing back, outscoring Oregon in the second half 53-40 and never throwing the towel in. Fittingly, freshman forward Tres Tinkle was the leader with 23 points for the Beavers at the end of the game.

It was a proper metaphor for the season— the Beavers may not have a roster that compares with the titans of the Pac-12 quite yet, but the tantalizing potential of the freshmen class can occasionally glimmer bright enough to raise expectations, sometimes higher than they should be.

It’s been 26 years since the Beavers last reached the tournament, so it can be easy to get a little too excited at the first taste of potential to get into the Big Dance.  Even coach Tinkle himself admitted to putting too much emphasis on this game.

“I maybe made this a bigger game than I should have,” coach Tinkle said. “Maybe it was just a little bit too much for us right now.”

Saturday’s Civil War loss did deal a deathly blow to the Beavers NCAA tournament chances, but the game should not be marked a failure. The fact that the team is in such a position to even have NCAA tournament hopes is impressive in itself.

Wayne Tinkle and Co. is still laying down the groundwork to bring back the former glory of Oregon State basketball.

The renaissance has only just begun.

On Twitter: @michaelkievaaa

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