Beavers head coach Wayne Tinkle is entering his 10th season coaching the Beavers, and he’s in a bit of a pickle. After taking OSU to 16, 17, 20 win seasons - including a spot in the Elite Eight in 2021 - Tinkle and crew have significantly regressed in the past two seasons.
The Beavers suffered a disastrous 2021-22 season in which they only won three games. After the 2020-21 season, Tinkle picked up a four-year contract extension after the NCAA run. It’s probably a move that the AD for OSU regrets, given the horrendous performance of the Beavers since then. Tinkle likely is only on the payroll because Oregon State literally cannot afford to push him out the door.
That’s easy to say, but there are other factors in play that OSU can’t deny. The Beavers can’t afford the payout for Tinkle to move on, but they also are neck deep in NIL and what it takes to keep up with the big boys (read: Oregon). Oregon State has problems recruiting because of these factors, and it was a concern for associate coach Tim Shelton when he moved on to presumably greener pastures.
All of this has turned into a perfect storm of badness for the Beavers. Last season, OSU went 11-21 (5-15, Pac-12), which is something of an improvement - but not really. The Beavers may not be 3-win bad but they are still a bad team - although not as bad a California, who could only muster two wins in that Pac-12 portion of last season. And note: two of OSU’s 5 Pac-12 wins last season were against California, so there is not a whole lot of difference between being 11th and 12th in the Pac-12 standings.
The Beavers have good news and bad news going into 2023-24. The good news is that they have retained their best scorer from last season, Jordan Pope. Pope is a force to be reckoned with, and OSU will need his production this fall and winter. The bad news is that the Beavers lost their #2 scorer, Glen Taylor Jr., to the transfer portal (and Taylor was picked up by Pepperdine).
This means that OSU will return three of their main starters from last season: 6-9 sophomre Tyler Bilodeau, 6-5 G Dexter Akanno, and Pope.
Even though Tinkle probably can’t afford a rebuilding season, that’s what he is stuck with. The 23-24 incarnation of the Beavers is largely freshman and sophomore based - they only have two juniors and two seniors, and one of the juniors was plucked from the transfer portal. That would be Nate Meithof, who transferred from the College of Southern Idaho.
There are some untested newcomers that may or may not add improvement to the roster. One is 6-2 G Josiah Lake, a PWO whose father played for OSU in 1998-2000. Another PWO is Grey Garrison, a 6-7 forward who turned down scholarships from smaller schools to play with the Beavers. Rounding out the class is 7-0 Gavin Marrs and 6-10 Thomas Ndong.
Ultimately, Oregon State does not project to improve this coming season. The Beavers probably should have pushed Tinkle out the door last season but were unable to afford to do so. They are likely to not be able to afford to send off Tinkle this coming season, and the woes of this formerly proud men’s basketball program will continue.