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Wayne Tinkle delivered as promised in his first season as Oregon State’s head basketball coach.
Assuming the helm of a team picked to finish last in the Pac-12 after losing its top five scorers from the previous season, Tinkle guided the Beavers to a 17-14 overall record, the most home wins (15) in school history, and victories over Pac-12 champion Arizona and NCAA Sweet-16 finisher UCLA.
The 49-year-old Tinkle, who came to Oregon State on May 19, 2014, after eight successful seasons at the University of Montana, became the fourth OSU coach since 1928 to record a winning record in his first season. He joined Beaver legends Slats Gill, Paul Valenti and Jim Anderson in that exclusive fraternity.
Tinkle’s debut season was replete with accomplishments and highlight moments. The Beavers:
- Set a school record for their best start at Gill Coliseum (14-0) and the most home wins in a single season (15).
- Posted an 8-10 Pac-12 record, their best conference mark since the 1992-93 team finished 9-9.
- Defeated No. 7 Arizona for their first win over a top-10 team in 15 years.
- Defeated Arizona, UCLA and Washington in the same season for the first time since 1990.
- Also downed DePaul of the Big East and Mississippi State of the SEC.
Tinkle stressed defense from his first day on the job and the Beavers responded. They led the Pac-12 in steals, 3-point field goal percentage defense and turnover margin. They also set school records for scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense.
Tinkle steadfastly preached the value of teamwork but the Beavers had their share of individual accomplishments as well.
Guard Gary Payton II was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and earned All-Pac-12 First Team and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors after finishing second in the nation in steals. The junior transfer had a steal in all 31 games, the second-longest streak in school history. His 95 steals were the second most in Oregon State single-season history and tied for the third most in a season in Pac-12 history.
Tinkle inherited a senior-less program depleted by the gradation or transfer of six players who combined for 128 starts. That manpower shortage was further exacerbated in the offseason when Chi Baker, a touted incoming recruit from Florida who was expected to see significant playing time, was stricken with a heart ailment that sidelined him for the season.
Baker’s illness left the Beavers with just eight scholarship players. However, Tinkle cleared that hurdle by holding a campus-wide open tryout just before the start of practice.
Five of the 22 participants were added to the official roster, joining two walk-ons from the previous season, and all played a major part in the team’s success, as role players or by pushing the starters in practice. Tinkle subsequently rewarded them for their dedication and commitment by starting five walk-ons, all from the state of Oregon, against rival Oregon in the team’s final regular-season home game.
The success of Tinkle’s first season at Oregon State was noted nationally as he was named a semifinalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year.
The future for Oregon State basketball looks bright, as Tinkle and his coaching staff signed five players for their 2015-16 recruiting class, which is ranked in the top 20 in the nation, the highest-ranking class in school history.
Tinkle was named the 21st head coach in OSU history on May 19, 2014, after leading Montana to three NCAA Tournament appearances and seven winning records in eight seasons. His Grizzlies captured Big Sky Conference regular-season titles in 2010, 2012 and 2013, and Big Sky Conference Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013.
He led Montana to four consecutive postseason trips from 2010-13, including the NCAA Tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2013. His 97 conference wins are the most by any Montana coach and his 158 overall victories are the second-most in school history.
He was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year after the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, and the NABC Division I All-District 6 Coach of the Year in 2012. ). He is the only coach in Montana history with three NCAA-Tournament berths and two Big Sky Coach of the Year awards.
Tinkle directed Montana to 25-7 seasons in 2011-12 and 2012-13 was the Grizzlies won the second-most games in school history in successive seasons. They won 25 consecutive Big Sky games in that span and set a conference record with 19 league wins in 2012-13.
Montana had winning records in seven of Tinkle’s eight years as head coach and won 20 or more games in four consecutive seasons (2010-13). He also went to the NCAA tournament three times during his five years as an assistant coach under Don Holst, Pat Kennedy and Larry Krystkowiak, presently the head coach at the University of Utah.
The son of a college administrator, Tinkle was born on Jan. 26, 1966 in Milwaukee, Wis., as the youngest of 11 children (seven girls and four boys). He graduated from Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., in 1984, and then enrolled at Montana, where he had a standout career from 1986-89.
Tinkle was a standout forward for the Grizzlies from 1986-89 and a three-time All-Big Sky pick his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He ranks fourth all-time at Montana in rebounds (836), and sixth in points (1,500). He earned the team’s Carl Dragstedt Award (MVP) in 1988 and 1989; led the team in rebounding in 1987, 1988 and 1989, and led the team in scoring in 1988 and 1989.
He then played professionally for 12 years with stints in the CBA and in Sweden, Spain, Italy and Greece before retiring to become a coach.
Tinkle earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana in health and human performance in 2005.
Tinkle is married to the former Lisa McLeod, who was a standout basketball player at Montana and was inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. They have two daughters, Joslyn and Elle, and one son, Tres.
Joslyn played in three basketball Final Fours during her four-year career at Stanford. Elle just finished her junior basketball season at Gonzaga and helped lead the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16.
A two-time Gatorade Montana Player of the Year at Missoula’s Hellgate High School, Tres signed a National Letter of Intent with the Beavers in November 2014, and joined the program for the 2015-16 season.