It’s no secret that this basketball season hasn’t gone very well. The Beavers haven’t won a road game yet, and haven’t beaten a Division I opponent since November 13th (of note, that opponent was UT-San Antonio, who we beat by 8 at Gill, and who is currently 2-6 on the year).
Injuries to Tres Tinkle and Stevie Thompson Jr. have kept both star players from ever playing on the court at the same time this year (with the exception of the first game of the year, in which I’m pretty sure Stevie was already hurt and played minimal minutes). Weird mystery violations of team rules have kept standout JUCO transfer Keondre Dew off the court. And Ben Kone, an expected difference maker and role player who tore his ACL in high school, has still yet to make his debut as a Beaver during his Freshman season.
So where does all of this diversity put the Beavers when stacked up against the Pac-12? Here’s what the numbers tell us:
Oregon State currently has the uh... well.. worst offense in the Pac-12, technically. Our last-ranked team has only managed 66.3 points per game, which, compared to what the conference-leading UCLA Bruins have done (84.5 ppg), makes things look especially bleak. Stevie Thompson Jr., in his triumphant return, has added exactly what we all knew the Beavers were missing: scoring. In the two games he has played since returning from his foot injury, Stevie dropped 20 against Mississippi State and 14 against Charlotte.
Welcome back! pic.twitter.com/DWHSSUjhBD— Oregon State Hoops (@BeaverMBB) December 2, 2016
On the flip-side, Stevie came back immediately after Tres Tinkle hurt his wrist, which led to only 57 points being scored against Mississippi State and 66 against Charlotte. Tres being the center of the offense, getting touches almost every possession, is a devastating blow to a team that was already struggling to score. There currently is no timeline for his return, but it looks like he won’t have to have surgery and the injury likely will heal sometime around conference play.
So why are we the worst scoring team in the Pac-12? Well one glaring reason: we can’t shoot. Specifically, we can’t hit threes. Stevie being back will help this dramatically, but right now we have the 10th worst 3-point percentage (31%) coupled with the worst free throw percentage (67%) in the conference. For some context on how bad the three point shooting has been, we have currently made only 44 of them through nine games. There are seven teams who have played less games than us that have hit more threes. UCLA (98) and Arizona State (86) have each more than doubled our total.
Turnovers. Ohhhh the turnovers. I could write an article that’s just 162 words, all of which are “turnover.” Because guess what? Our 162 turnovers are 50(!) more than the next worst team in the conference (Washington State with 111). I’m not a basketball scientist so bear with me as I interpret this quantitative data to the best of my ability, but as succinctly as possible: this is bad. The 27 turnover-game against Lamar was bad, but that wasn’t where the problems started or stopped. Our current turnover margin is -5.11, which means we have had about five more turnovers than our opponents have each game.
To put it all together: We haven’t hit threes, we haven’t hit our free throws, and we keep turning the ball over more than our opponents. Not exactly the recipe for wins.
Drew Eubanks aka Young Drewzy aka Drew Da Tower aka the Teller from Troutdale (Eubanks pun) is the only Beaver who makes an appearance in any of the individual stat leader columns. Thankfully, he’s in there a lot. Drew’s 13 ppg average has him tied for 21st best in the conference in scoring (of note: Tres Tinkle was high on this list prior to his injury). He has the 8th most rebounds and the 3rd most blocked shots in the Pac-12.
Not-so-surprisingly, no Beaver made the top ten in assist-turnover ratio or free throw percentage. No Beaver made any of the field goal percentage or three point related lists, either.
I highly encourage you to take a deep dive into the Pac-12’s leader boards to get an idea of the competition that we will be taking on at the end of the month.
Difficulty scoring and turnovers are the narrative of the Beaver’s struggles so far this season. However, both of those troubles are due to an unusually young squad that has had key injuries and is struggling to find an identity. There have been flashes of hope, from Kendal Manuel’s recent 15 point outburst against Charlotte (5/7 from beyond the arc) to Drew Eubanks career high 32 point night against Southern Oregon. As the season goes on and Tres and Stevie are both healthy at the same time, expect Wayne Tinkle to have the team on an upward trajectory heading into February. It takes time to get young guys to play together and buy-in to the system. A coach’s job is incredibly difficult because the learning curve is on display for everyone to see and quantified by wins and losses. The stats won’t looks the same at the end of the year.