Over the course of the past three weeks, the Oregon State Beavers men’s basketball team has seen a promising start to their 2016-17 campaign spring a series of leaks that threatens to overwhelm them even before Pac-12 play starts, on December 28. Six losses in their last seven games have wiped out the team’s 2-0 start.
The slide began with a sloppy loss at home to Lamar University on November 16th. The 63-60 defeat was primarily caused by 27 turnovers in the contest, spoiling a strong game by center Drew Eubanks. The sophomore contributed 17 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and swatted away six shots during the defeat.
A blowout loss at Nevada was followed by a 75-64 defeat at Tulsa on November 22nd. Three nights later, the return to Gill Coliseum against Fresno State resulted in a five-point loss that saw the Beavers squander an early 11-point lead.
Remaining in Corvallis against Southern Oregon briefly got Oregon State back on track with an 84-59 blowout win. However, trips to Mississippi State and Charlotte both ended in defeat, with the latter contest especially deflating. The 69-66 loss came up short when Stephen Thompson, Jr.’s three-point attempt missed in the closing seconds.
The 3-6 Beavers still find themselves winless on the road, with head coach Wayne Tinkle trying to handle a myriad of different problems that continue to prevent any forward progress. One of those issues has been injuries that have hit key players.
Thompson has only seen action in three games, returning to action in the loss at Mississippi State. A left foot injury was the cause and turned out to be more nagging than expected. That’s had a lethal effect on the team’s ability to offer a long-range weapon, with even Thompson having issues in that department since his return.
The sophomore has hit on just three of his 18 attempts so far, with the duo of Jaquori McLaughlin, who is from nearby Gig Harbor, Washington, and Kendal Manuel combining for 27 of the 44 made already. In their nine games thus far, Oregon State is only making 32 percent of their three-pointers.
Tres Tinkle has been the team’s leading scorer but he broke his non-shooting wrist in the loss to Fresno State. Prior to the injury, he was injecting 20 points and eight rebounds per game into the lineup, which could be devastating because he could be out for up to two months.
Over the season’s first nine games, turnovers have become a scourge for the Beavers, with nearly 19 per game being committed. Those problems have only compounded the issues on offense. An offense that currently ranks 315th out of all 351 Division I teams.
The fact that Oregon State is off until December 11th, when they host Savannah State, will allow for some of the current aches and pains to improve. After nine games, it appears that getting a healthy team on the court may be the only way to avoid a long year.