It's a family affair at OSU
CORVALLIS — Tres Tinkle’s arrival at Oregon State brought out a range of emotions in his father.
Wayne Tinkle admitted he took a moment to compose himself after the Beavers’ first practice earlier this month.
“I had to go up to my office and pinch myself afterward because it just kind of hit me all at once that here I am coaching my son now for the first time,” Tinkle, the second-year Oregon State men’s basketball coach, said.
The feelings were different a couple of days later at the family home.
“There were a couple dinners where there wasn’t much conversation,” Wayne Tinkle said. “Then we quickly drew a line in the sand. When we are between the lines it’s coach and player, and when we’re off the court it’s father and son.”
Tres Tinkle, a highly-rated 6-foot-8 freshman who arrived at Oregon State from Montana one year after his father, is adjusting to those dual roles.
“I knew obviously that the coaches would be demanding because they want results fast,” he said. “I was shocked at how intense it is. That side of him, I haven’t really seen. That is what I expect with coaches and now that it has happened, it is easier to get going. I haven’t really taken anything to heart or anything like that.”
Tres Tinkle has a close confidant in the same situation because freshman Stephen Thompson Jr.’s dad is an assistant on Tinkle’s staff.
“This is a definitely a special thing, you don’t see two coaches’ sons very much at all,” Thompson Jr. said.
It has also created challenges for the coaching staff to avoid awkward situations.
“The odd part of it isn’t dealing with my son, it’s dealing with Stevie’s,” Wayne Tinkle said. “If I want to jump on him a bit, I go ‘Gosh, I hope his dad doesn’t take it the wrong way’ but I know better than that. I am sure coach Rupp, who is my alter ego at times, is probably going to be leery of yelling at my son for fear of offending me, so we have to make sure that never enters the equation. We talk about checking egos when you come to work and we have to do the same thing as coaches.”
Kerry Rupp, who began coaching with Tinkle in 2012 at Montana, said he’s not worried about yelling at any of the six freshmen who make up one of the most-anticipated classes to arrive at Oregon State in decades.
“The best thing about the guys we brought in is that they want to be coached, they want to be pushed and challenged,” Rupp said. “They are not guys that want to be pampered. They want to be pushed because they know they have a chance to be good. They want to have direction and they want people to set goals and limits for them and then push them to reach that. That makes it fun for us, they hold us accountable to do what we said.”
Stephen Thompson doesn’t want his fellow coaches to treat his son any different.
“Once we put them in between those lines, we will coach them all the same,” Thompson said. “We have a common goal to try and get this team to reach its peak so whatever it takes, everybody is the same.”
Wayne Tinkle has taken the same approach.
“The side I fall to is not to pamper them because they are your kids,” he said. “I have to watch that I’m not unfair to Tres, but all the while still coach him like I would anyone else. My son knows when I push him it’s because of our expectations.”
Tinkle found himself barking at Tres during an early practice.
“That’s going to be part of it,” he said. “He’s one of the guys. I’ll yell at him and he’ll probably be cussing me out in the locker room behind my back sometime so we will just have to deal with it.”
That’s an issue the coach welcomes because his tenure at OSU got an early boost when the two coaches’ sons committed to the Beavers last year. Both Tinkle and Thompson are top-100 recruits who had plenty of offers to play elsewhere, but their arrival in Corvallis immediately raised expectations for the Beavers, who were picked to finish sixth in a preseason Pac-12 Conference coaches poll.
“I think my dad knew if he was still at Montana, I probably wouldn’t have gone there because he wants what’s best for me to play at the highest level of competition that I can,” Tres Tinkle said. “It worked out when he got the job here, a great spot with a great fan base and a bunch of support. Also it is in the Pac-12, one of the best conferences in the country, so it worked out perfectly.”
When Tinkle hired Thompson, who was the head coach at Cal State-Los Angeles, that also gave Thompson Jr. the chance to join his father at the Division I level.
“That was always something we talked about and I dreamed of playing for him at the college level, so it should be special,” said the 6-4 Thompson, who played at Bishop Montgomery High School in Los Angeles. “He is the main reason why I have gotten here so far. He was the one always working me out and he knows my strengths and weaknesses better than anybody, so I thought it would be pretty smart to play for him.’
Stephen Thompson had never coached his son, even in youth basketball, until this year.
“Our relationship on the court was mostly training and working out, we have done plenty of that,” Thompson said.
Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. live in the same dorm with the other four freshmen, which has created other concerns for their fathers.
“Someone asked me if I would be making runs over there on Saturday nights,” Wayne Tinkle said. “I don’t have to. My wife will be over there.”