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Beavers busy in their limited 'offseason'

CORVALLIS — Wayne Tinkle and his staff have been plenty busy in the six-plus weeks since the Oregon State men's basketball season ended with a loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

There’s no such thing as an offseason in college men’s basketball.

Recruiting on and off campus, setting up spring workout programs for players and preparing for summer camps have been some of the many tasks underway.

The Gazette-Times sat down with Tinkle recently to catch up on numerous topics surrounding his program.

FILLING THE ROSTER: With freshman point guard Derrick Bruce’s recent decision to leave the program, the Beavers have three scholarships to fill for the coming season.

Tinkle said the program needs to address the depth at point guard. JaQuori McLaughlin, a point guard out of Gig Harbor, Washington, is among the three players OSU signed during the early signing period in November.

“We feel like we need to recruit a big wing and another post player, a 4-man,” Tinkle said. “We’ll have some guys on campus in the next couple, few weeks.”

Tinkle said the response from recruits after the NCAA tournament has been enthusiastic.

“A lot of momentum. So obviously, some real positive feedback,” he said. “And we're doing it the right way, playing the right way, the way we represent ourselves; and obviously that all hits home with the parents and guardians as well.”

PROGRAM PROGRESS: Tinkle says he was surprised to be playing in the NCAA tournament as soon as the second year after taking over the program in 2014.

The Beavers went 6-3 in the second half of Pac-12 play after starting 3-6 and then beat Arizona State in the conference tournament. OSU was a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.

“That was a pleasant surprise, and all that credit has to go to the guys we had, the guys we inherited that really bought in to changing the direction,” Tinkle said.

He also credited the Pac-12, which had one of its strongest seasons and had seven NCAA teams for the first time ever.

Even with a roster that included five freshmen seeing floor time, the coach doesn’t believe the bar was set too high, too soon.

“There’s pressure no matter where you’re at to succeed, and that’s good,” he said. “Good things can come from that if you keep the right frame of mind.”

He added that next season might “feel like Year 1 again” because the roster could include as many as 11 players in their first or second years in the program. The staff will have to be patient with the development of the team.

OVER THE HUMP: Tinkle isn’t a coach who considers games must-win situations unless his team is facing elimination in a tournament.

But the regular-season finale at UCLA was different. Tinkle had a feeling a win would go a long way toward solidifying the Beavers’ spot in the Big Dance. OSU saw a 15-point lead with 3:25 to go shrink to one with 20 seconds left but held on for an 86-82 win.

“I was a little concerned after that game that we wouldn’t be able to duplicate that, thinking that we’d accomplished everything,” Tinkle said. “But then they sure enough did it again in the (Pac-12) tournament against Arizona State and played Cal very tough, too.”

TOUGH STUFF: Tinkle says becoming a more physical team around the basket is probably the No. 1 goal this offseason.

Guard Gary Payton II and small forward Tres Tinkle were the Beavers’ leading rebounders at 7.8 and 5.4 per game, respectively.

“But we’re going to challenge our post players to be our leading rebounders,” coach Tinkle said. “And then whatever the guards and forwards do will make us a dominant rebounding team.”

SURGERY TIME: Freshman Tinkle had surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot.

The injury forced him to miss the last five games of the season after averaging 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. A stress fracture in the same foot caused him to miss workouts last summer.

Tinkle will be rehabbing and the hope is to have him back on the court sometime in mid to late summer.

Coach Tinkle said his son always wants to be in the gym working on his game.

“It’s part of the reason he’s in the situation he’s in. He doesn’t understand the importance of rest,” coach Tinkle said. “But you’d rather have it that way than having to cattle-prod him to get him in the gym. But he also knows that the bigger priority is being healthy for next year. And he’ll have time to improve and get better, but that’s just kind of the nature of the way he is.”

Junior center Cheikh N’diaye had surgery on his left shoulder, which was an issue throughout the season.