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Assessing Wayne Tinkle's Staff

New coach assembles diverse group.

Kerry Rupp, r., was Wayne Tinkle's first hire, but Gregg Gottlieb, l., gets the most attention.
Kerry Rupp, r., was Wayne Tinkle's first hire, but Gregg Gottlieb, l., gets the most attention.

New Oregon St. men's basketball head coach Wayne Tinkle has put most of his staff of assistants together, and there's certainly diversity in the group.

Kerry Rupp was the first hire, and appears to be the "safe" hire. Rupp, at age 60, is the "lifer' coach, and provides some operational stability with his experience, and also isn't likely to leave for a little while.

Rupp spent 24 years in the high school ranks before moving up to the collegiate ranks back at the turn of the century. He's had a glimpse of the big time, spending 4 years as an assistant to Rick Majerus and also acting as the interim head coach at Utah, and then 2 years as an assistant at Indiana, but has been a ways away from the spot light since then.

After a single season as an assistant at UAB, Rupp had his sole run as a permanent head coach at the collegiate level, compiling a 66-77 record at Louisiana Tech.

After a year's landing at the available at the time opening as the Director of Basketball Operations for Hawaii, Rupp joined Tinkle as an assistant at Montana for the last 2 years.

Gregg Gottlieb was Tinkle's second hire, and compared with Rupp, provides youth and flash, and relatively close to the spotlight.

Gottlieb, in contrast to Rupp, comes to Corvallis fresh off back to back relatively high profile successful stints in California, where he has spent his entire coaching career.

After getting his start at Cal-Poly in the mid 90's, and then spending a couple of seasons at Sacramento St., Gottlieb spent 8 years at San Diego St., assisting Steve Fisher, with both starting with the Aztecs in 1999.

Gottlieb then moved up the coast to California in 2007, and his first accomplishment was surviving the end of the Ben Braun era, being held over onto Mike Montgomery's staff for his 6 year stint with the Bears.

As such, Gottlieb worked under a pair of hall of fame coaches during a pair of successful program rebuilds, which resulted in trips to the post-season 11 of his last 13 years. Gottlieb's reputation in the business is first and foremost as a recruiter, key to those rebuilds being successful. And with supposedly solid Xs & Os around him in Tinkle and Rupp, there's real reason to be excited about this hire, and his extensive west coast and Pac-10/12 experience means there will be no surprises for Gottlieb.

At 42, and being the brother of CBS Basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, Gottlieb brings name recognition, and while he hasn't shown a tendency toward job hopping, its likely he becomes a sought after commodity if Oregon St. becomes a third consecutive successful rebuild.

At age 48, Tinkle isn't nearing the end of his career, so the next step up for Gottlieb isn't likely in Corvallis, but if he's content as an assistant, he could be here for the long haul if Tinkle works out.

Tinkle's third hire is a little more intriguing. Stephen Thompson, who played at Syracuse, 3 NBA teams, and then professionally in both Europe and Japan, has spent his entire 12 year coaching career in the same place, Division II Cal-St. LA.

After 3 years as an assistant, Thompson has been the Golden Eagles head coach the last 9 seasons, posting a career 126-120 record.

Thompson was fired after this past season, which comes as a bit of a surprise, given that he posted his 4th consecutive winning season, finishing 15-12, and 3rd consecutive winning conference season, going 12-10, last year.

Possibly, its a combination of a scenario familiar to Beaver fans, i.e., he won some, but not enough, aka Craig Robinson, and the availability of a replacement with flashier credentials (Cal-St. LA hired former USC assistant Dieter Horton, who also has an impressive record as a JC coach in SoCal).

Thompson's hire received some positive review among Oregon St. fans upon hearing of him, because he comes with a reputation and stated objective of being a defensive coach, one of the areas in which the Beavers frequently struggled under Robinson and his staff.

Another already oft-commented attribute Thompson has is his son Stephen Jr., a 4-star rated shooting guard at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, CA. The possibility of him playing for his father is naturally attractive, but only time will tell if that's realistic or all just hope. Corvallis hasn't seen very many 4-star recruits in any program over the years, but when they do, there is often a family tie or similar outside special influence.

The real reason for including Thompson can probably boiled down to 3 letters though - A A U.

Thompson also works with the "Go Basketball Academy", and has coached the So. California All Stars summer team, and had connections into the southern California AAU scene that no one else on the staff, Gottlieb included, or around Oregon St. currently or recently can come close to matching.

Thompson's hire is clearly Tinkle's move to make an in-road into recruiting one of the most talent rich pools in existence.

It isn't official yet (Oregon St. HR hiring practices can protract any situation), but Tinkle has also announced he will hire Kurt Paulson as his Director of Basketball Operations. As with Rupp, this is another instance of bringing along an assistant Tinkle has experience with, and is clearly comfortable with.

Paulson spent 2 years as a Graduate Assistant to Tinkle with the Grizz, and then was named to replace Freddie Owens when Owens left Montana a year ago to come to Corvallis to join Robinson's staff.

The single remaining unknown about Tinkle's staff is Owens, whom many assumed would be the sole holdover from the current staff, due to his history with Tinkle, and his advocacy for Tinkle during Athletic Director Bob De Carolis' search and assessment process for a replacement for Robinson. Tinkle still has to fill his Director of Player Personnel position, but hasn't indicated, at least publicly, his plans for the position, or his thoughts on Owens. Total funding for the staff has become a factor here.

So we see Tinkle attempting to address needs in several areas, and avoiding putting all his eggs in one basket.

At a minimum, Tinkle is working to establish an operational base with more roots in the west, something Robinson had at best mixed results with.