Building a winner in Corvallis is hard, but it is possible.
On the latest Talkin' Beavers podcast, host Nigel Burton is joined by Portland Trail Blazers color commentator and Oregon State alum Lamar Hurd to discuss the current state of Beavers basketball and what it takes to build a winner in Corvallis.
The biggest fallacy that surrounds Oregon State basketball from the outside is that you can't build a winning program there. You hear it sometimes with the football program, you know but there are always examples you can point to. Scott Rueck is one of them and he's just someone who understands the program. [He] understands what it takes to win there and understands the kinds of kids you have to connect with that you know will thrive in that setting.
Rueck took over Oregon State women's basketball in 2010 after winning a Division III National Championship at George Fox in 2009. Four years later the Beavers not only made the NCAA Tournament but advanced for the Round of 32, which they would do each of the next six seasons.
But Rueck is one member of a larger community of Oregon State athletics, and each member needs to tap into the mentality of the underdog in a blue-collar town like Corvallis to thrive.
Oregon State kind of has a similar mentality from the fanbase as what I have found in my time being with the Blazers where it's kind of that underdog mentality...that 'We don't get respect from the rest of the world'...'us against everybody else', and so being able to understand that culture and then know how [they] can work around and in this culture, you just get the best out of everybody involved.
This underdog mentality has been crucial to the culture of the Beavers' athletic programs, especially football. Each resident of Corvallis knows what the words "Giant Killers" means to that fanbase and what great pride those three football teams gave the city.
Even this past football season when the Beavers had an over/under win total of 2.5, the guys inside that locker room felt they were a good team and they proved it on the field winning three conference road games and finishing second in the Pac-12 North.
Embracing an attitude like that will speak to recruits who are undervalued coming out of high school that think they can make a real difference right away. Oregon and Washington didn't recruit you? Well, guess who we play every year. If they come to Oregon State, they'll have a yearly opportunity to prove them wrong on the field.
You can listen to the full podcast here.