Friday big day for Beaver Nation
There’s sure to be a number of people who are “sick” on Friday and need to take the day off from work.
For the early part of the day, most will likely be watching TNT, at least beginning around 10:30 a.m.
Later in the day, they might be feeling a little bit better and may make a trek to Gill Coliseum around 2 p.m.
And for those who choose not to play the “sick” card, there’s sure to be a little less productivity in the workplace.
That’s because for the first time since 1984, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Oregon State will be playing in the NCAA tournament at the same time.
The men’s team is in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as the No. 7 seed in the West Regional and will take on No. 10 seed VCU at 10:30 a.m. It’s the Beavers’ first appearance in the men’s tournament since 1990.
The women’s team will play a few hours later as they received a No. 2 seed and will host No. 15 Troy at 2 p.m. It’s OSU’s third straight appearance and the second consecutive season it will host the first and second rounds.
And don't forget, the Beavers baseball team opens Pac-12 play against Arizona State at 5:35 p.m. in Goss Stadium.
Some would argue that is as good a case as any to “shut down” Corvallis for the day.
“It should, I mean this stuff is special,” women’s coach Scott Rueck said. “I mean, 26 years, and then for us to be a 2 seed and to get to host at home. That’s as good as it gets. So it should shut down. Everybody should be in front of a TV watching those guys and then they should be in Gill.”
The Beavers are one of 24 programs that will have both teams in the tournaments, and the only Pac-12 school on that list.
“I think it’s great for Corvallis, it’s great for our university that they’re going to be able to turn on the tube and watch us and then hopefully pile into Gill to support him,” second-year men’s coach Wayne Tinkle said. “A very unique opportunity, but one that we hope isn’t so unique moving forward.”
It has been a resurrection of both programs over the past few seasons, and the seniors on both teams have felt the excitement level grow.
“There is just kind of this buzz during basketball season around town and it’s really fun to be a part of,” said Ruth Hamblin. “You feel it every night when you walk into Gill Coliseum.”
Fellow senior Jamie Weisner agrees.
“This is the most exciting I’ve seen Beaver Nation in the past four years I’ve been here,” she said. “Obviously in my time here. And it’s only the second time ever that both men’s and women’s teams have been in the tournament together so it’s almost like we’re making history again. It’s a very exciting time and I’m grateful to be a part of it and just for the community and the (support) we have from Beaver Nation.”
It took Rueck four years to get the Beavers to the tournament for the first time since 1996, while Tinkle has achieved that in his second season on the bench. Both held open tryouts to fill in the roster their first seasons.
“We were there a couple years ago in that exact same position (as the men's program) and so it’s definitely very exciting and I’m happy, especially for the seniors that I kind of grew up with, that they at least get to finish their career on a high note,” Weisner said.
For Rueck, Friday will be extra special as he was a junior at OSU the last time the men’s team made the tournament — the Beavers lost in the first round to Ball State.
“I told coach, 'get a W so I can get over it,' ” Rueck said.
Coaches and players alike are happy for their own success, but also for the fan base that has shown so much support the past few years.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Rueck said. “We’re here to put on a great show, put smiles on our fans’ faces, they deserve it. And the fact that we both get to play, hopefully we’ll get to do that a lot of times in the future. Really just happy for everyone involved."
There is one more hope for all those people who call in sick and even those who have to show up for work.
“Two big wins,” Rueck said. “It’s just a special time where you get to watch both your teams play in the NCAA tournament on the same day, back-to-back games almost like it’s a doubleheader. How special is that? Hopefully both of us will perform very well.”
Added senior Langston Morris-Walker: “It’s going to be a great Friday.”