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Can The Beavers Make It Back To Back?

Oregon State will look to build off a successful 2015-16 season and make it back to the tournament

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State Men's Basketball is coming off of one of the most successful campaigns in recent history as the Beavers were able to finish with a 19-12 record (9-9 in PAC-12) and secure their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1990, when Gary Payton Sr. was still running the show for OSU. The 7 seeded Beavers matched up with the 10 seeded VCU Rams in the first round and ended up losing 75-67 sending them home after the first round. While their tournament life was short-lived it was still a season to be proud of. They accomplished something no one thought they would at this time when Wayne Tinkle took over as head coach. Tinkle has been instrumental in turning the program around and the university showed its appreciation by extending his contract through the 2021-22 season. It is however easy to question how the beavers will fair next year.

The Beavers graduated 6 seniors in Gary Payton II, Olaf SchaftenaarJarmal ReidLangston Morris-WalkerDaniel Gomis and Justin Stangel. They also lost Derrick Bruce who transfered to Northwest Florida State. 4 of these guys were rotation players who played huge roles during the last two seasons. GP2 played the biggest role. At starting point guard he led the Beavers in points, rebounds and steals per game. Schaftenaar and Morris-Walker were able to provide spacing with their ability to knock down the 3 point shot, Jarmal Reid was a force for the Beavers defensive unit and Derrick Bruce blossomed out of nowhere in the PAC 12 Conference Tournament where he scorched Cal for 25 points. Gomis was limited by inujuries during his time at Oregon State and Stangel only played a total of 4 minutes last season.

While it will be hard to say goodbye to the contributions from all of those individuals there should still be a very talented young team next year in Corvallis. Forward Tres Tinkle, who averaged 13.1 points per game last season, is set to return healthy and ready for next season after his foot fracture did not require surgery, along with guard Stephen Thompson Jr. who put up 10.6 points a game last year and had a knack for the dramatic hitting a buzzer-beating game winner against Washington and 3 clutch free throws at the end of regulation against Utah. Both of them got a lot of minutes last year and will be looked upon as leaders next year on this team. As will senior guard  Malcom Duvivier who had a down year last year on the offensive end as his points per game total dropped to 6.1 from 10.7 in 2014-15. Center Drew Eubanks, Center/Foward Gligorije Rakocevic and Center Cheikh N'diaye will round out the front court for the Beavers and guard Kendall Manuel will get to show what he's got after sitting out last year due to a broken leg.

The Beavers are a very young team trying to improve on what they started last season. But will they have enough for another NCAA Tournament birth?

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports released a way too early bracketolgy list and it has the Beavers set at an 11 seed in next year's NCAA Tournament facing of against 5 seeded West Virginia. This may be looked at as a disappointment for the Beavers to get a lower seed, however it would be the first time they made consecutive tournaments since 1989-1990.

In order to make the tournament again next year the Beavers are going to need a solid contribution from all their key players. Gary Payton II will not be there again next year to cover all the bases. It may take some time but this team will need a collective effort on both sides of the floor. Wayne Tinkle has proven he is able to maximize the talent of his players these last two years and will get a chance to see if he can do it again next year with another very young squad.