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May 20, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Can Wayne Tinkle win at Oregon State?

wayne tinkleWith the exception of one season, it’s been a quarter century of misery for the Oregon State men’s basketball team since the legendary Ralph Miller retired in 1989.

The Beavers have failed remarkably to replicate Miller’s success. He had just two losing seasons during his 19 years at OSU, which included eight NCAA tournament appearances and four Pac-10 conference regular-season titles.

Miller compiled a 359-186 record, which is the second most wins in school history.

His predecessors – Jim Anderson (1989-95, 79-90), Eddie Payne (1995-2000, 50-90), Ritchie McKay (2000-02, 22-37), Jay John (2002-08, 72-97), Kevin Mouton (2007-08, 0-13) and Craig Robinson (2008-14, 94-105) – have combined for a 317-432 record in the past 25 years.

Next on the list is Wayne Tinkle.

He’s a safe choice for the Beavers.

The 48-year-old coach collected 158 wins the past eight seasons at Montana, which is the second most in school history. He led the Grizzlies to Big Sky regular-season titles in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and Big Sky Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013. His 97 conference wins are the most by any Montana coach.

It’s obvious Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis wanted to bring in someone with experience and track record of success. It explains why there was a flirtation with former UCLA coach Ben Howland. It explains why Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, Arizona assistant Damon Stoudamire and former California assistant Travis DeCuire weren’t ideal candidates.

Tinkle is solid. He knows the northwest and he knows the Pac-12. At Montana, his teams were 3-5 against the conference – Washington (0-3), Oregon State (1-1), UCLA (1-0), Oregon (1-0) and Washington State (0-1).

De Carolis couldn’t gamble on another inexperienced coach the way Oregon State did when it hired John in 2002 and Robinson in 2008.

Tinkle should immediately push for renovations at Gill Coliseum, but his No. 1 priority will be replenishing a depleted roster that lost its top five scorers from last season, including freshman guard Hallice Cooke who is transferring to Iowa State.

Somehow Robinson was able to attract talent to Corvallis, Ore. He also leveraged his clout and demanded the school build a $15 million practice facility. However, his failing was his inability to win, especially in the conference where he had a 41-69 record and never finished any higher than sixth.

Firing Robinson, who had two years and $4.2 million remaining on his contract, is clear sign the Oregon State brass is ready to end a 24-year NCAA tournament drought that extends to 1990.

Oregon State is going to be horrible next season and there’s very little Tinkle can do to change that. Still, he would be wise to follow the blueprint established by his former boss and former Montana coach Larry Krystkowiak .

During his first year at Utah (2011-12), the Utes were 6-25 in season of turmoil that included lots of upheaval and defections. The next year Krystkowiak landed the top recruit in the state (Jordan Loveridge) and the Utes were 15-18 in 2012-13. Utah added another quality recruiting class led by junior-college transfer Delon Wright who led the Utes to a 21-12 record last season. Utah also revitalized the fan base and enjoys one of the best home-court advantages in the Pac-12.

Few folks did back flips in Salt Lake City when Krystkowiak was hired, but he was the safe, smart choice who is on the cusp of leading Utah back to its glory days.

The same might be true for Tinkle.

Comments | More in Pac-12 news | Topics: Oregon State, Wayne Tinkle


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