Battle of the benches leads to an Oregon State Civil War victory

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Battle of the benches leads to an Oregon State Civil War victory

It was a stormy, cold evening in the state of Oregon when two in-state rivals separated by just 50 miles of highway and one game in the Pac-12 conference met in Corvallis, Oregon on Saturday night. 

The Civil War is the most contested rivalry in the nation and for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, the Oregon State Beavers swept the Oregon Ducks in both contests this season. On Saturday, the Beavers took care of business 72-57 on home court in front of 9,000+ black/orange screaming fans.

It comes to no surprise that Stephen Thompson Jr. put together a nice game at Gill Coliseum. The senior has been averaging 16.3 points per game. On Saturday, he recorded 22 points shooting 50% from the field and splashing in four-of-eight from three-point range.

Momentum in the game of basketball is either a make or break scenario for a team. Coming out of halftime and down 28-27, the Beavers went on a 9-0 run and gained momentum that would carry them to the end. That momentum had something to do with Thompson Jr.’s 4-point play, but sophomore Alfred Hollins contributed with a tough drive to the hoop and an and-1 opportunity.

In fact, it was the Beavers bench that stepped up big against the Ducks outscoring Oregon 21-15. Hollins finished with eight points and five rebounds and senior Gligorije Rakocevic contributed 11 points with a perfect four-of-four from the field. 

“Great team effort all around from top to bottom everybody played well, everybody contributed,” said Thompson Jr. following the game.

Oregon State’s “big 3” of Thompson Jr., his younger brother Ethan Thompson, and Tres Tinkle recorded well-rounded games, but they were supported greatly by the Beavers’ bench play. 

With this win, Oregon State (16-8, 8-4 Pac-12) moves into second place in the Pac-12 conference, three games behind the Washington Huskies and next heading on the road to Southern California this upcoming weekend. If Oregon State can put together a full game, continue their defensive intensity, as well as get good production from their bench, the Beavers just may land that first-round Pac-12 conference tournament BYE that is ever so crucial in a four-day tournament. 

Officially official: Dearon Tucker signs with Oregon State men's hoops

Officially official: Dearon Tucker signs with Oregon State men's hoops

The Beavers are adding frontcourt depth for upcoming season.

While most college basketball rosters are already set heading into next season, Oregon State was able to add another member to their 2019 recruiting class. 

Head coach Wayne Tinkle, along with other members of the coaching staff, announced the addition of Dearon Tucker to the program for the 2019-20 season. A three-star recruit from Dallas, TX, Tucker spent last season at Legacy Early College in Greenville, South Carolina, averaging 12.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. 

Tinkle stated his excitement for bringing in the 6-foot-10, 240 pound big man. 

"We are really excited to be adding Dearon to our team," Tinkle said. "He brings size, strength, toughness and physicality around the rim on both ends of the floor. He's a great kid who works very hard and has a bright future for Oregon State.”

The Beavers are relatively thin in the frontcourt for the 2019-20 season. With Kylor Kelley the only returner who played significant minutes last season, Tucker could end up filling an important need for the Beavers.

How the Beavers faired in the 2019 Summer League

How the Beavers faired in the 2019 Summer League

The dynamic duo of Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. at Oregon State was Dam fabulous to say the least. Inside lurked Eubanks whose large stature and power was very present on both ends of the court in terms of shot blocking and a high field goal percentage. If you tried to double Eubanks down low, that freed up Stephen Thompson Jr. on the outside who finished his collegiate career as Oregon State’s leader in three-pointers made (230). 

Both Eubanks and Thompson played in the 2019 Summer League (Eubanks with the San Antonio Spurs, and Thompson with the Dallas Mavericks).

Let’s dive into how they performed in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Starting with the big man: Drew Eubanks.

An absolute powerhouse and dominant force down low during his three-year reign in Corvallis, Eubanks declared for the 2018 NBA Draft following his junior season. While in orange and black, he averaged 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. 

Eubanks would go undrafted, but that didn’t stop coaches and GM’s from looking his way. The 6’10”, 245-pound center signed a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs on September 17, 2018. 

Eubanks spent most of his time in the G-League with the Austin Spurs. Last season, he averaged 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 32 games played.

He currently sits behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl on the Spurs’ roster. 

2019 Summer League stats:

In three games played, Eubanks averaged 25.3 minutes, 19 points and 6.0 rebounds per game with a 76% field goal percentage.

And now for the calm and swift: Stephen Thompson Jr. 

After going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, Thompson Jr. joined the Dallas Mavericks Summer League team in late June. 

2019 Summer League stats:

In three games played, Thompson averaged 8.3 minutes and 4.3 points per game. 

His best game was against the Houston Rockets where he recorded eight quick points in eight minutes, 3-for-5 from the floor and 2-of-3 from three-point range. 

No news yet on whether Thompson Jr. will land a spot on an NBA roster, but the G-League may be an option for the sharp-shooter. Eubanks has proven himself with the G-League affiliate Austin Spurs and signed a two-way contract last year, but no word on his status yet this upcoming season.  

Isaiah Hodgins named to Biletnikoff Award watch list


Isaiah Hodgins named to Biletnikoff Award watch list

After a short lull, the Beavers are back to getting some national recognition in terms of award watch lists.

Receiver Isaiah Hodgins was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list Thursday morning, which is given each year to college football’s top receiver throughout the entire FBS. Hodgins was one of the 50 players on the initial list, which also contained five fellow PAC-12 receivers. 

Throughout his time at Oregon State, the incoming junior has amassed 90 receptions, 1151 yards, and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons. Hodgins is also the PAC-12 second leading returning pass catcher after racking up 876 receiving yards in 2018, only behind Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr. For his efforts last season, Hodgins was named as a PAC-12 Honorable Mention. 

Hodgins looks to take an even bigger role in the Beaver offense, who lost number two receiver Timmy Hernandez to graduation. In order for this to happen, he will likely need better quarterback production that is still pretty uncertain. However, if he (and the Beavers) are able to solve this issue, he could be the third Oregon State player to win the award since its introduction in 1994, following Mike Has in 2005 and Brandin Cooks in 2013. Oregon State is the only team in the conference who hold multiple winners of the award. 

Hodgins joins running back and fellow teammate Jermar Jefferson as the only Beavers to make any preseason watch lists so far. 

If Hodgins does indeed keep his stock high for the Biletnikoff Award, tune in on December 12, where the winner will be announced as part of The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN at 4 p.m. PT.

Jermar Jefferson named to Doak Walker Award watch list

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Jermar Jefferson named to Doak Walker Award watch list

After a spectacular freshman season, Oregon State's Jermar Jefferson has set the bar pretty high heading into season two. His amazing performances as a true freshman caught the eyes of the national media and have earned him a spot on the 2019 preseason Doak Walker Award watch list. 

Jefferson rushed for more yards than any freshman in the country last season and was named a Freshman All-American. His 1,380 yards were an Oregon State freshman rushing record, as well as the sixth-most rushing yards in a single season by any OSU running back ever. 

His best game of the season was a 254-yard performance against Arizona State. The outburst of yards was the second-most in a single game in the history of the program. 

Jefferson starts his campaign to win the Doak Walker Award on August 30, when Oregon State opens the season at home against Oklahoma State. 

Since 1990 the Doak Walker Award has been given annually to recognize the best running back in the country. In that time, no running back from Oregon State has won the award. 

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."

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