06.Apr.2017 Men’s Basketball Article
This from a “disgruntled fan”, who I have known for some time, speak with on Twitter, and respect their opinion and ability to assess a situation. This fan attends the practices, etc, so their opinion is based off firsthand observation. Here is their account of what’s going on. It’s long, but it’s a good read. Enjoy.
I’ve been an OSU men’s basketball fan for nearly 30 years and like many fans, I always feel optimistic when there’s a new hire. Wayne Tinkle was no different. I watched his teams at Montana play on TV and in person when they played at OSU during the 2011-12 season and was impressed with their toughness and their unwillingness to cave in when things weren’t going well. He is a very hands-on coach and that can be a good thing, but this year things seemed different.I don’t know if it was the off-season flirtation with the Stanford job or the losses of GP II and the other seniors that provided that grinder mentality and leadership that they obviously missed this year, but the team did not really seem to get the full picture of what was expected of them nor did it seem like Tinkle and his staff were able to “coach” these guys up like he did in the past. I’m hoping that I’m wrong and that Coach Tinkle will be very successful and that this season was a blip on the radar.
I’m not a coach and I did not play college basketball, but coming from a family of coaches and basketball referees, I’ve met plenty of college coaches and sat in on a few practices during the Tinkle era. Anyone can watch a practice if they clear it with Kurt Paulson who is the director of operations at OSU by calling ahead and getting on a list. One thing that I notice with most coaches is that they have a system and they recruit players to fit that system.
For example, both Ralph Miller and Jerry Tarkanian liked to wear their opponents down with solid pressure defense and with Tinkle I just don’t see that. His first year relied on grinding it out, slowing the pace, and playing solid defense, but he had better defenders then. Last year, they increased tempo and had a decent defense, but there was less pressure than before and it felt like they didn’t know how to rebound. This year the defense seemed porous and players just were not quick enough to defend or were not interested in defense. Most of his players now are just not and will not be good defensive players unless they work at it with better conditioning and player development, meaning more time watching film, studying defensive concepts and vocabulary, and working to become a better all-around player.
Right now, the best one seems to be Eubanks with his ability to block shots. Tres is coming along, but until he can play a full season, I can’t say he’s a good defensive player. I’m confused as to what Tinkle wants to accomplish and have been since last year. Is he trying to out score the opponent or does he want to try and dish it inside like he had his teams do at Montana when they had guys like Brian Qvale? Some of his players like McLaughlin and Stephen Thompson Jr. would thrive in a defensive-minded program as they have the quickness it takes to get turnovers and turn them into points. Right now, Tinkle lacks quick players to do that. Too many open looks, especially on the perimeter, hurt this year. The players seemed to lose their man too often and maybe that’s youth, but it seems like there is a lack of good conditioning and footspeed on this team.
As for post players, Eubanks has the potential to be really really good, but he needs to be able to expand his game beyond slam dunks and hook shots. The game has evolved to the point that even big men need to have a consistent mid range jumper or the ability to shoot the occasional three-point shot. If he can get a decent range, it will make it tougher for opponents and will make him more valuable to pro teams. If he has a chance to go pro (and it won’t be this year), he needs to work on his game much more than going to a camp in Vegas.
GP II didn’t have a great offensive game, but the majority of his points came off of turnovers because he had the quickness, long arms, and the awareness necessary to become an all-around good defensive player. I’m not saying the staff should go out and find the next GP, but they need to go out and find players with the same type of instincts he had. Another thing I liked about GP II was his ability to control the offense. He could turn it over, as all players do, but he played with discipline.
Even last year, the team played carelessly with the ball. I had hoped to see some improvement, but with the injuries, that didn’t seem to happen. Even in practice, the coaches didn’t try and correct the endless dribbling or the careless passes. One would think practice would be the best time to correct things, not just in actual games.
In the practices I attended, there wasn’t bad coaching, but more along the lines of over coaching or lack of clarity. Players were instructed on doing certain things for instance, but there was never a reason as to why they were doing them. I remember Tinkle having to instruct Stacy a few times during practice as to go in for a rebound and be sure to block out, but he didn’t mention as to why. Another example is when Rakocevic was asked to set a screen, but after he set the screen, he failed to pop out on the left side of the key. Tinkle didn’t remind him why he needed to be out there, which was to be an option for the guard to pass the ball so Rackocevic had a chance to drive in for a basket. I could tell he was confused, but nothing was done to help that. I don’t know what quality of coaching these players had before OSU, but a coach is a teacher and they have to teach. Good coaches give a why as to how things are done and why they work. Tinkle and his staff didn’t do that and I think that the lack of clarity was part of the problem with the team’s development in addition to injuries. Perfection occurs when you practice the same thing over consistently and by not explaining how or why something is done, you can never successfully execute to perfection.
A major problem was a lack of chemistry among the players. In previous years, it wasn’t uncommon for Reid, Morris-Walker, or GP II to help explain concepts or have an quick impromptu meeting on the sidelines or half-court with the rest of the team to encourage or remind the players of what they needed to do to get to the end goal. Kone seems like a great candidate to be that vocal leader as he is energetic and outgoing. I think he will do well once that knee heals up. I don’t know if this was due to youth and inexperience or if this will continue to be a problem, but I hope that the veterans can click with the newcomers soon.
The last thing I want to touch on is recruiting. I don’t understand how Tinkle keeps missing on players. Two years ago, he lost Chris Boucher to Oregon. Last year, he lost the JC kid that went to Utah, Carlos Johnson, who went to Washington, and Bigby-Williams who went to Oregon. This year, he has whiffed on three JC guys already and I’m hoping he will get the kid from Connecticut. He only seems to close on guys who are coaches kids or former CR commits (McLaughlin). He did get Eubanks and Kone and I’m excited about Jack Wilson, but it’s alarming that he’s lost some of his recruits (Bruce), may lose Eubanks, and he can’t find anyone to replace them.
Losing Duvivier hurt, but he was not a true point guard and neither are the Thompsons or McLaughlin. They don’t have a designated point guard and can’t find one. I’m disappointed as I thought having Kerry Rupp and Gregg Gottlieb would help shore up recruiting, but it seems like that has declined under Tinkle. At least Craig Robinson could recruit. I would like to know how well the coaches are selling the program as it seems that Rueck, Andersen, and Casey seem to sell their programs well. One thing I notice is the players they are getting are from the west, primarily California. Robinson got players from Texas (Moreland), California, and New Jersey (Collier and Cooke), plus his staff plucked Brandt from Chicago via Australia.
Again, I wish Tinkle the best, but I have concerns with his development of players and ability to recruit in the Pac-12. I hope to hear positive news soon on some recruits, but I’m not holding my breath.