The battle is on among the Trail Blazer bigs for Nurkic's minutes

The battle is on among the Trail Blazer bigs for Nurkic's minutes

ATLANTA – Wednesday night in Chicago, the Trail Blazers had it pretty easy, playing a Bulls team that resembled an NBA Summer League squad.

It won’t be that easy for the rest of the four-game trip, which features a Friday night game against the Hawks.

But perhaps more important than the games themselves is the battle that’s being waged among the Portland big men to fill the open minutes created by the absence of injured center Jusuf Nurkic for the upcoming playoffs.

Coach Terry Stotts has already said that for the rest of the regular season he’s going to be looking at combinations and players.

That’s code for searching for his most able post-season lineups and rotations.

And replacing Nurkic is going to take more than one player. It's likely going to be a combination based on matchups and specific skills of the players.

“The next two weeks we’re going to look at different combinations,” Stotts said after the Chicago game. “Zach (Collins) played a little five out there by himself and that was good to see. I was hoping to get Skal (Labissiere) in a little bit earlier, but that front line was a little big.”

For the record, Stotts used Enes Kanter as the starter and he played 21:51. Meyers Leonard played 18:00, Zach Collins played 25:04 and Labissiere played 3:56.

It’s been apparent all along that replacing Nurkic at the defensive end is going to be much tougher – if not impossible – than finding his points at the offensive end.

At first glance it may have appeared that Portland had a good defensive effort at Chicago. The Bulls shot only 42.9 percent from the floor and scored just 98.

But there was more to it than that. The Bulls had 58 points in the paint and missed several point-blank attempts at the basket. A more talented team is going to attempt to punish Portland at the basket with Nurkic unavailable.

All of the centers can score but only Collins offers any sort of rim protection and even though he’s just a second-year player, he is probably the one who brings the best combination of offense and defense.

But the battle is on and it was hardly fair to judge Leonard off the game Wednesday with all the rust he’s accumulated over the past month.

Kanter can score off post-ups but not in a lot of other ways and is not known as a quality defender. It’s hard to imagine Labissiere, who is promising, in the picture because of his inexperience.

Certainly all the players know what is at stake for them down the stretch of the season, even though they are reluctant to talk about it.

“Right now we all need to play well,” Collins said. “We all need to come together, obviously. We’ve got to pick up the slack. Nurk, at both ends of the floor, has been tremendous for us all year and so that’s my focus, to make sure there is no dip.”

Collins mentioned what has been his biggest problem during his NBA career so far, “I’ve got to stop fouling.”

Kanter says there isn’t much of a problem for him shifting into the starting lineup.

“I’ve started and come off the bench,” Kanter said, referring to his time in the league. “When you play with a guy like Dame and the others, that’s what makes it special and I just go out there and have a good time.”

Lillard is more worried about the chain reaction of losing a starting player and the impact it has down the rotation.

“It’s not like we’re left out there naked,” he said. “We have guys who can step up. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that now they’re not in what their original role was and now they have to be something else.

“It’s not like we don’t have guys who can come in and do good things for the team, it’s just that the hole still remains. Having to step up and do more is what makes it a challenge.”

Lillard acknowledged what’s going on with his teammates right now.

“They know what’s going on,” he said. “They’ve got to step up. They’ve been doing it the last five games or so. Zach’s been playing with confidence defensively and taking shots on offense. He’s been doing what he’s been doing since he’s been on the team – give us that big presence.”

And the battle resumes Friday night against the Hawks.

Stephen Thompson Jr. offered Dallas Mavericks Summer League roster spot


Stephen Thompson Jr. offered Dallas Mavericks Summer League roster spot

It’s time to “get mavericky” for Stephen Thompson Jr. 

After going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft last Thursday, the four-year, 6’4” senior guard from Oregon State has been offered a spot on the Dallas Mavericks Summer League team.

In his final season with the Beavers, Thompson averaged 16.1 points per game and finished his collegiate career as Oregon State’s leading three-point shooter as well as their all-time fourth best scorer. 

Thompson Jr. worked out ahead of the NBA Draft with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

The 2019 Summer League will begin on Friday, July 5 at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Dallas facing off against Brooklyn. 

A look is worth a 1,000 words: Pat Casey excited about Mitch Canham taking the reins of Beaver Baseball


A look is worth a 1,000 words: Pat Casey excited about Mitch Canham taking the reins of Beaver Baseball

CORVALLIS --- Mitch Canham's arrival as the new Beaver baseball coach was exciting for Pat Casey. The coach who transformed the Oregon State Beavers baseball program into elite status was at the introductory news conference inside the Valley Football Center auditorium on Friday. His successor was answering various questions from the local media and I glanced to my left and saw the look on Coach Casey's face. 

Obviously he is very proud of his former player/catcher who helped lead the program into that elite status back in 2006 when Oregon State topped North Carolina for the first of three College World Series titles Casey would garner at OSU.

After the news conference I wanted to get Pat's reaction to the hiring of Mitch Canham. I started off by myself but was soon joined by a plethora of others curious about the same thing. You see, Pat Casey has been pretty low key this past year and now he was very willing to talk about this important moment in OSU Baseball history

Scott Barnes, the school's Athletic Director, has been on campus and knows the coaches must understand Corvallis and the culture of a college town and it helps if they know the history of Oregon State.

Bob DeCarolis, when he was AD in 2010, hired Scott Rueck (OSU class of '91) as the Women's Basketball coach and of course the transformation has been incredible. The Beavers have made the NCAA Tourney the past six seasons and at least the Sweet Sixteen the past four years. Barnes was the architect behind the hiring of former Beaver QB Jonathan Smith as the new football coach in 2018. (Smith was at the Canham news conference Friday BTW) Another alum....another head coach who really gets Oregon State.

I asked Barnes about the new hire and about the importance of a new coach 'getting' Oregon State.

For Mitch Canham a possible road to becoming a Major League skipper has been put aside. He has what he called on Friday his "dream job." What about Pat Bailey and Nate Yeskie, the interm coach and the pitching coach? Will they remain? Various reports have them talking about staying on and continuing the excellent program they helped build with Pat Casey. 

Canham is heading back to Arkansas to take care of business and move his family to Corvallis. He is a northwest guy, a native of Lake Stevens, Washington and bleeds Orange and Black. I actually had Mitch on the football broadcast last fall as a halftime guest and happened to ask him about the 2018 College World Series. He told me a great story about what he was doing during that title game against Arkansas.

I asked him about that and about Adley Rutschman at the news conference Friday... Of course Mitch, a catcher on two Oregon State title teams and a first round draft choice. Rutschman a catcher on last year's title team and the overall first round pick in the draft. 

So this is quite a change. After 24-years with Pat Casey running the show...and a year with Pat Bailey, the Oregon State Beaver baseball program will be run by a 34-year old who is taking on his first job in college athletics. But make no mistake, Mitch Canham is an expert on Oregon State baseball and will hit the ground running.

I will remember that glance back to Pat Casey during Mitch's intro as the new coach. A proud papa, someone who know Mitch Canham is going to pour his heart and soul into this next step of his life. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Mitch Canham at OSU: "This is the only job I've ever dreamt of"

Mitch Canham at OSU: "This is the only job I've ever dreamt of"

Mitch Canham met the media in Corvallis Friday morning and he made it clear that the job of coaching Oregon State baseball is a homecoming, of sorts.

And his former coach made it just as clear that he wanted nothing more than to Leave it to a Beaver.

Canham, a former Beaver catcher and now-ex-Manager of Seattle's Double-A Arkansas club left little doubt why he is walking away from professional baseball as a rising star to return to his roots at Oregon State.

“This is the only job I’ve really ever dreamt of,” he said. “My passion for this program is second to none. I’ve lived for the orange and black since I attended OSU.”

The Mariners considered Canham an up-and-comer in their organization, but had been told by Canham that the only call he would ever take about another job would be from Oregon State.

“We couldn’t be happier for Mitch and his family," said the Mariners' Director of Player Development Andy McKay. "Oregon State has a made a great hire and we look forward to seeing Mitch lead the Beavers and represent the Pacific Northwest and his alma mater at the Division I level. Our loss is definitely OSU’s gain.

“Thank you, Mitch, for being a constant reminder to all of us that excellence is always the result of focusing on, and trying to help, other people.”

Former Coach Pat Casey was an advisor to Athletic Director Scott Barnes during the selection process and he was present at the news conference.

“Scott gave me the freedom that he knew that I really believed it had to be a Beaver to carry this thing on,” Casey said. “My whole goal with this was to make sure it stayed in the Beaver family.

“The one thing our baseball program does is rally around each other. And I think they will rally around Mitch. I knew with Mitch, whatever path he chose he was going to be successful.”

Canham is one of those people that, when you ask around to people he’s known or worked with, you never hear anything but positives. Amidst a sea of qualified candidates, I can understand how he could have been a star in the interview process. He is polished and smooth.

I think he will be an outstanding recruiter, in that he believes in the school and the baseball program and should be able to convey that to recruits and their families.

He’s going to need to recruit well because it doesn’t appear that the Beavers will be well-stocked after their drafted players this year sign contracts and depart for the pro ranks.

Canham faces another difficult challenge, too. His top assistant coaches – pitching coach Nate Yeskie and interim head coach Pat Bailey – were candidates for the job he won. Will they return? Would he be stuck with them if he would prefer to bring in other people?

"Amazing men, all of them," Canham said of the Beaver coaching staff. "Not only as people but with their skillset. And they're family. I'm excited to sit down and talk with each coach. I had a chance to talk with Nate, had a chance to talk with 'Bailes' and great things. Great things. We're all in a great place and we're going to continue to have conversations and see how we can make this thing work."

Those questions will have to wait for a few days as Canham is expected to return to Arkansas to say his goodbyes to staff and players and move his belongings to Corvallis.

“I’m looking forward to being home,” Canham said. “This is home.”

Darwin Barney: "Mitch Canham is a leader in all aspects of life"

Darwin Barney: "Mitch Canham is a leader in all aspects of life"

Darwin Barney is an eight-year veteran of Major League Baseball and a former player at Oregon State. In fact, he was a teammate of new OSU Coach Mitch Canham on OSU’s first two national championship teams, in 2006 and 2007.

Retired from professional baseball and back living in the Portland area, where he was raised, Barney was very positive about the ability of Canham to replace Pat Casey and Pat Bailey as the head coach at Oregon State.

He shared his thoughts on his former teammate Thursday.

“Mitch is a leader in all aspects of life,” Barney said. “A selfless individual who embodies what the Oregon State baseball program stands for. Change is not always easy, but I truly believe in Canham’s ability to lead our program.

“At the end of it all, a great day to be a Beaver.”

Oregon State plans a news conference Friday at 10 a.m. to formally introduce Canham, who has been managing the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in the Seattle Mariners' organization.


OSU officially announces Mitch Canham as new baseball manager

OSU officially announces Mitch Canham as new baseball manager

It was reported earlier in the day on Thursday that the Oregon State baseball program would hire former start player Mitch Canham as its new head coach. 

That hire is no longer a rumor, it's official. 

Canham was the catcher for the back-to-back national championship Beavers teams in 2006 and 2007.

Canham has not coached college baseball, but he was a coach in the Mariners farm system for the past four seasons. In January of this year, he was announced as the new head coach of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. The Travelers were 42-21 under Canham this season, the best record in the Texas League. 

When it was announced earlier this month that former manager Pat Casey would not step back into the dugout, the Beavers launched a full search for their next head coach. In Canham, they didn't have to look far. 

The following is from the official Oregon State Press Release: 

"What an incredible day and a dream come true," said Canham. "Since stepping on the OSU campus in the summer of 2002, I felt a part of the Beaver family. The baseball program, Corvallis community, athletic department, faculty, donors, and fans have been a huge part in transforming my life and helping me become the man I am today.

"I am eager to get back to Oregon State University and do OUR family of Beaver Nation proud. Coach Casey and everyone who has been involved over the years have created such a wonderful and life-changing program, and I look forward to not only continuing in this fine tradition, but helping the program grow even more. I want to thank Scott Barnes, the selection committee, and President Ray for this opportunity to lead the men of Oregon State's baseball program. 
"I am also forever grateful to the Seattle Mariners and a great mentor in Andy McKay. He and the Mariners  gave me the opportunity to learn while coaching their players."

Stayed locked into NBC Sports Northwest for all the latest news.


Adley Rutschman wins 2019 Golden Spikes Award

Adley Rutschman wins 2019 Golden Spikes Award

The good times keep rolling for Adley Rutschman. After being selected as the No. 1 MLB Draft pick (to the Baltimore Orioles last Monday), Rutschman now adds Golden Spike Winner, a prestigious college baseball award for the top amateur baseball player in the nation.

Coming into today’s vote, Rutschman was the fan favorite:

Rutschman won the award over JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt), Noah Song (Navy), and Andrew Vaughn (CAL), and becomes the first player from Oregon State to win the award.



Talk about quite the career for the Junior catcher. 

In the hit TV series Game of Thrones, one must introduce oneself with his or her accolade. If Rutschman starred in GoT, he would have to introduce himself as such:

I am Adley Rutschman, first of my house, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Baseball America National Player of the Year, National Player of  the Year, Perfect Game Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the 2019 No. 1 MLB Draft pick, Golden Spikes Award winner, hereby sentence you to death.

Just kidding on that last part… Rutschman is a humble and respectable both person and player and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Congrats, Clutchman!

Mariners' official on Mitch Canham: "Our loss is definitely OSU's gain"

Mariners' official on Mitch Canham: "Our loss is definitely OSU's gain"

Oregon State University reached into its past Thursday, naming Mitch Canham its new head baseball coach, according to multiple sources and first reported by Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball.

Canham replaces former coach Pat Casey and interim coach Pat Bailey, who ran the team the past season after Casey stepped away following the team’s national championship run in 2018.

Canham has been the manager of the Seattle Mariners’ Double-A team in the Texas League, the Arkansas Travelers, this season.

“We couldn’t be happier for Mitch and his family," said the Mariners' Director of Player Development Andy McKay. "Oregon State has a made a great hire and we look forward to seeing Mitch lead the Beavers and represent the Pacific Northwest and his Alma Mater at the Division 1 level. Our loss is definitely OSU’s gain.

“Thank you Mitch for being a constant reminder to all of us that excellence is always the result of focusing on, and trying to help, other people.”

Canham was the catcher for OSU’s national-championship teams in 2006 and 2007 and then was the 57th overall pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft. He came to OSU from Lake Stevens, Wash., where he was a three-sport prep star.

Canham has never coached college baseball but was considered an up-and-coming managerial prospect in professional ball. Bailey and pitching coach Nate Yeskie were also candidates for the job.


(more to come)

Oregon State football recruiting: The Dam just got bigger and stronger

Oregon State football recruiting: The Dam just got bigger and stronger

Let’s catch you up on the latest recruiting news to come out of Corvallis, Oregon overt the weekend. 

Kyrei Fisher

Linebacker / Tulsa, Oklahoma

Arkansas Transfer

6’2” 225 pounds

Fisher committed to Arkansas straight out of high school (Union High School, Oklahoma) before landing at Trinity C.C. for a hot second and now finds himself in orange and black all the way west. The 6’2” linebacker had offers from Kansas, Michigan State, Colorado, Minnesota, and others before committing to Jonathan Smith and the Dam. 

He will join a very young and hungry linebacker crew lead by just two seniors and three redshirt juniors.  

Tavis Shippen

JUCO Product (Mt. San Jacinto College)

Defensive Lineman / Murrieta, California

6”5” 275 pounds

If Oregon State is to have a better season in 2019, it must start at the defensive line. The Beavers took a step in that direction with Tavis Shippen announcing his commitment. Shippen is the No. 3 rated defensive lineman in JUCO as well as No. 15 overall. He is the highest rated JUCO prospect the Beavers have landed since CB Stephen Nelson in 2013.

Nahshon Wright

JUCO Product (Laney College)

Corner / East Palo Alto, California

6’4” 175 pounds

The highly sought after Wright committed to Oregon State over Boise State and Colorado amongst others. Wright brings both size and speed to the DB unit for the Beavers. A 6’4” corner who can go up and challenge the height of opposing receivers is huge, especially when Stanford rolls into Corvallis and runs their ever-famous fade route to a lengthy tight end in the corner of the end zone. Wright will be the tallest DB heading into this season for Oregon State. 

The elusive James Rodgers is back in orange and black

The elusive James Rodgers is back in orange and black

Looking back at the history of Oregon State football in the late 2000’s, one of the big storylines was the Rodgers brothers. 

James and Jacquizz Rodgers were standout players of the Oregon State Beavers between 2007–2010. Both electrifying and both oh so dangerous in the open field. One brother pounding the ball up the middle; the other stretching the field wide due to his strong hands and constant deep threat. 

And now, Beaver fans get to welcome back James to the Oregon State football coaching staff, per head coach Jonathan Smith. 

At Oregon State, Rodgers set the Beavers’ record for all purpose yards (6,377) as well as the first player to reach 1,000 rushing and 2,000 receiver yards in his career. After college, he signed in the 2012 NFL Draft as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons where he bounced back and forth from the practice squad and also being waived. Rodgers was then signed to the Montreal Alouettes (CFL) practice squad in August 2014.

Fun fact: Rodgers joined Mike Riley’s (his head coach back at Oregon State) staff in 2018 with the San Antonio Commanders (AAF) originally to coach the running backs but then was switched to outside linebackers.

Welcome back to Reser Stadium, James!