In 2017, Oregon State’s basketball team couldn’t sniff a win. After being only one season removed from its first NCAA Tournament appearance in twenty-six years, OSU had arguably its worst season in program history.
The Beavers finished 5-27, a .156 winning percentage. Out of 351 Division 1 Men’s Basketball teams, Oregon State finished 348th, only beating out St. Francis Brooklyn, North Carolina A&T State, and Alabama A&M.
KenPom.com was a little nicer to the Beavers by ranking them at 264, giving their schedule against a Power Five conference the benefit of the doubt. This was still the lowest ranking of any Power Five team, and its non-conference losses to teams such as Charlotte, Savannah State, and Portland proved that it deserved no higher. OSU narrowly avoided a dreaded 0-17 conference record in a one-point victory over Utah late in the season. OSU’s final win of the season meant nothing in the Pac-12 standings, but to some, 1-16 sounds much better than 0-17.
Of course, a lot of the Beavers’ struggles were due to injury. Tres Tinkle was leading the Beavers in scoring and rebounding before a broken wrist sidelined him for the rest of the season. Stephen Thompson Jr. also missing six games at the beginning of the season kept the Beavers’ two best scorers from playing together in all but one game.
It seems likely that the Beavers’ key players will get more time together next season, as both Thompson and standout forward Drew Eubanks will probably be returning after neither player was invited to the NBA Draft Combine. Both players have remained in the draft, but are believed to just be testing their future stock. If both elect to return, a healthy Oregon State could surprise some teams.
Despite what happened last season, the Beavers have a decent recruiting class to look forward to, one that’s headlined by four-star recruit Ethan Thompson. The shooting guard is ranked as the 8th best shooting guard, and 34th best overall player by 247sports. Thompson has the ability to be an instant starter and top contributor for the Beavers. With Oregon State’s other top players going into their third season, the Beavers should at least have the potential to be around the middle of the Pac-12.
Oregon State will probably not make the tournament next season. In fact, they probably won’t come very close, but that doesn’t mean the season will be a failure. Recovering from a 5-27 season is difficult enough. All the Beavers need is steady improvement.
Even with last season’s atrocious result, Wayne Tinkle has still been the only coach to lead the Beavers to March Madness in twenty years. Oregon State dealt with a very young team whose best player was lost for the season early. The Beavers may have had one of the worst seasons ever for a Power Five team, but they still will have a solid foundation to improve upon. The Beavers probably won’t shock the world in 2018, but at least the rest of college basketball won’t be laughing at them anymore.