By Jesse Sowa

Corvallis Gazette-Times

First up

Pacific at Oregon State (exhibition)

When: Nov. 3

CORVALLIS — Tres Tinkle wakes up every morning with a daily reminder hanging above his bed: 5-27.

With Tinkle on the sideline for the final 26 games last season due to a broken wrist, and two other players having left the program, Oregon State’s men’s basketball team was undermanned and struggled to keep up in the Pac-12 Conference.

Those numbers — 5-27, the Beavers’ record in 2016-17 — keep Tinkle focused on getting better and determined to not let his team slide to those depths again.

“It’s in the back of our mind,” he said. “We don’t bring it up a lot. But I think we use it as motivation to work even harder and want to see it fall away this year.”

Tinkle, a talented ­6-foot-8 forward, was granted a redshirt and enters a second straight season as a sophomore in eligibility. On the court, he rejoins a team with more experience that has added several newcomers who could be immediate impact players.

Oregon State opens practice Wednesday, a little more than four weeks from its first game. The Beavers play Pacific of Forest Grove in a Nov. 3 exhibition at Gill Coliseum and then host Southern Utah on Nov. 10 to begin the regular season.

“Very, very different,” junior guard Stevie Thompson said of this year’s OSU squad. “We have a lot more depth. We have a lot more people who can score on their own … a lot of people that can make plays for each other, so it should be a fun year.”

Thompson and his brother Ethan Thompson, a freshman guard, are back together after playing two seasons of high school basketball with one another at Bishop Montgomery in Los Angeles.

Ethan was last year’s California state player of the year. With the addition of freshmen Zach Reichle and Xavier Smith, the Beavers now have eight guards on the roster.

Junior post Drew Eubanks ultimately remained with the program after gauging potential interest from NBA teams before withdrawing his draft entry.

He leads a thin but veteran group of big men that now includes Seth Berger, a graduate transfer from Massachusetts who was recruited by current Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle when Tinkle was at Montana.

“He runs the floor really well. He rebounds,” Eubanks said of Berger. “He’s always talking on defense and he just plays really hard to the point where you can always count on him being where he needs to be. If somebody gets beat he’s always there.”

The team gained experience and life lessons during a trip to Spain in August.

The players saw firsthand the devastation of the terrorist attack in Barcelona, which happened just outside their hotel. Wayne Tinkle said the emotional hours and days following brought the team unity that he saw throughout the rest of the trip and has continued on into the workouts after the return home.

“It’s night and day the way the guys are enjoying themselves, pushing and challenging each other in everything we do,” the coach said. “Conditioning, lifting, workouts … it’s all done from the right angle in a positive manner and it’s all helped with the jelling and chemistry we’re building. As we get closer to game time we’ve got to continue that and carry it over once it starts for real.”

While seeing the tragedy take place, Tres Tinkle said he believes sharing those moments together will make the team stronger going forward.

“When you have that team chemistry and that bond, you’d like to see others do well,” he said. “We’re going to be happy and feed off each other’s success. Hopefully it will help us win games and then it’s going to make us that much closer.”

The Beavers had 10 practices before the trip and played four of five games on their original schedule in Spain.

Freshman forward Alfred Hollins did not make the Spain trip because he needed to complete a class, but he is now cleared to play.

Senior center Cheikh N’diaye missed the trip in order to finish his requirements for graduation. A shoulder injury that has plagued him throughout his time at OSU has kept him on the sideline this offseason.

He played in just nine games last season due to injury. Like Tinkle, he was granted a medical hardship and an additional year of eligibility from the Pac-12.

18376681