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OSU's Tinkle says positive steps being made

CORVALLIS — Wayne Tinkle had no choice but to hit the ground running when he was hired in mid-May.

First and foremost on the Oregon State men’s basketball coach’s list of duties were building a roster and hiring a staff.

Two of the signees from the previous staff’s incoming recruiting class — guards Chai Baker and Gary Payton II — have arrived on campus. Two others — Isaiah Manderson and Cam Oliver — won’t be joining the Beavers.

Tinkle and his three assistants spent the summer looking at potential additions for this year’s team but more so recruiting for the next two seasons.

Tinkle likes the progress that’s been made but knows there’s more work ahead.

“It’s been a real challenge to figure out a path. We had scholarships we could have used, but then again we don’t have any seniors, so we wouldn’t have many (scholarships) for the 2015 class, which we hope to be a strong one,” Tinkle said Monday from his office in the OSU Basketball Center.

“We made the decision as a staff to take what we have this year, put those scholarships in the bank for a strong 2015 class and then work on balancing out the classes, instilling our program and how we’re going to go about our business. Then kind of build from there.”

The team recently added Justin Stangel, a 6-foot-10 junior center from LaSalle High in Milwaukie, to the roster.

Stangel was a practice player last season but didn’t play. Though he will this season as the Beavers’ fourth post, Tinkle said.

A high point in the early stages in Tinkle’s tenure has been the verbal commitments from four three- and four-star recruits for the 2015 class, including Tinkle’s son Tres and Stephen Thompson Jr., the son of Beavers assistant Stephen Thompson.

A lower — and frightening — moment came three weeks ago.

Baker, from Malone, Florida, collapsed after a heart-related incident during an Aug. 19 on-campus workout with teammates. He was hospitalized in Corvallis for a few days.

Baker and the rest of the OSU roster were given a few weeks off and, like many of his teammates, Baker returned home. He’ll be evaluated when he returns to Corvallis and a plan will be made for his further recovery, Tinkle said.

The coach said his players rallied around Baker and that it helped in the team’s development.

“It brought us together. Since that happened there’s been a noticeable improvement in focus and effort,” Tinkle said. “It was a trying time initially for the returning players with the coaching change. New staff, new philosophy. And that kind of really seemed to bring us together a little bit.”

The team has been taking advantage of the two hours a week allowed before the season officially begins in early October.

Tinkle said he’s still looking for leaders to emerge.

Sophomore Malcolm Duvivier and juniors Langston Morris-Walker and Olaf Schaftenaar are among those stepping forward to fill those roles.

“We’re challenging all of them to give us more than they ever have,” Tinkle said. “There’s that comment that they haven’t been pushed like they’ve been pushed this summer. So we’re still trying to figure all that out ... who are going to be our everyday guys and then hopefully get to where all of them are everyday guys.”

This season’s team has no seniors, which will allow the group to build chemistry for the following season when Tinkle’s first recruiting class joins the program.

All the progress made this winter will lead to success down the road, the coach said.

Tinkle isn’t so concerned about on-the-court success for the coming season as much as he is establishing his program and philosophy and pushing his players to focus on getting better.

“If we can start to turn things around and be successful there, then when we’ve got a recruiting class or two under our belt we can move on to more specific goals as far as wins and losses,” Tinkle said.

“Really, we’re at ground zero trying to lay a little bit of a foundation this year.”