Underdog mentality crucial to the success of Oregon State

Underdog mentality crucial to the success of Oregon State

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.

Jordan Poyer 'itching to get back' but also valuing safety

Jordan Poyer 'itching to get back' but also valuing safety

Many people miss football including former Oregon State Beaver, now Buffalo Bill Jordan Poyer.

"Obviously I'm itching to get back," said Poyer on the Talkin' Beavers Podcast this week with host Ron Callan. "I want to be with my guys I want to be grinding in the offseason. Getting better, you know, to carry forward into the season."

But it's not that simple. With the United States still undergoing a national pandemic due to COVID-19, many offseason programs have been halted for player safety.

Is it worth coming back, if they were to say 'You guys can come back next week' is it worth coming back at that point for two weeks risking somebody getting sick and then having to come back again for training camp?  -  Jordan Poyer

Poyer noted that the safety of his family also needs to be taken into account. Bringing players back and forth could increase the risk of spreading the virus which would may not be worth it. 

"Uncertainty. I think that's everywhere. Not just in the NFL. With everything going on in the world right now, that's just the question. 

"Now I have a 3.5-year old so I'm worrying about health risks, traveling and guys coming from different places," said Poyer.

The former Beaver signed a two-year extension with the Bills worth approximately $20.5 million this offseason.

[RELATED]: Former Oregon State Beaver Jordan Poyer inks extension with Buffalo

 "We want to play, obviously. It's just going to be decisions made by people that probably make a lot more than I do. "

In 2019, the safety had a career-season totaling 107 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions, helping lead the Bills to their second playoff appearance in three seasons. 

Entering the NFL, Poyer fell to the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft despite being a consensus All-American his senior season at Oregon State with seven interceptions. He signed a four-year, $2.22 million contract with the team that drafted him, the Philadelphia Eagles. 

However, the Eagles would cut him later in 2013 and Cleveland would claim him off of waivers. Poyer was able to win a roster spot in 2013 and 2014 before starting four games in 2015. He began 2016 as the starting safety but a lacerated kidney suffered in Week 6 against the Tennesse Titans ended his season. 

In free agency, he signed a four-year, $13 million contract with Buffalo, which included $7.40 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $3.50 million, where he has started all three seasons since. 

Listen to the full Talkin' Beavers podcast with Ron Callan and guest Jordan Poyer from the 2016 Final Four squad here.

Jonathan Smith, Wayne Tinkle understand that of which they don't understand

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USA Today Images

Jonathan Smith, Wayne Tinkle understand that of which they don't understand

With protests breaking out against social injustice and police brutality nationwide, which was sparked by the death of George Floyd while in the hands of Minneapolis police custody, many are speaking out against systematic, racial injustice.

Add two Oregon State head coaches to the list.

Beavers football head coach Jonathan Smith and Beavers basketball head coach Wayne Tinkle released statements over the weekend responding to the death of George Floyd and the activism against police brutality it has sparked, most notably the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"As a white man, I will never completely understand the fear and daily experiences that people of color face regularly," wrote Coach Smith.

"The tragedies of the past few weeks have left me hurt, angry, confused; tough to completely describe. What I do know is, over my 20+ years in football, I have worked alongside and coached unbelievable men of color and my heart hurts for them. Change needs to happen. I want to add my voice to so many others that these acts... all acts of racism need to end."

"While trying to wait a few days to come down from the sadness, frustration and anger I felt over the recent atrocities to our black community, I am to realize that day won't come anytime soon," wrote Coach Tinkle. 

"I won't pretend to understand what it's like to be a person of color in today's world, I will, however, try to help end the shameful injustices that have become all to commonplace throughout our society.

"I'm standing up to join the millions that are going to find a way to eliminate racism completely, by choosing love, prayer, compassion, respect and understanding over hatred and ignorance!" 

George Floyd's death went viral last week after a video showed police officer Derek Chauvin using his knee to pin Floyd's neck to the pavement for eight minutes and 46 seconds, two minutes and 53 seconds of which happened after Floyd became unresponsive, per a criminal complaint against Chauvin.

The officer ignored Floyd's pleas for him to stop: "I can't breathe... Please, the knee in my neck, I can't breathe."

The lack of charges brought upon Chauvin nor the other three officers standing by the Minneapolis Police Department sparked nationwide outrage leading to national protests and riots against police brutality and public pressure to arrest the four officers. 

Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s family said in a statement with their attorney, Ben Crump, that they “expected a first-degree murder charge.”

According to Nicquel Terry Ellis of USA Today, an independent autopsy determined that it "was homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain." 

This report comes a few days after a complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney stated that "Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” 

While both Smith and Tinkle accept that of which they don't understand, both are advocates to put an end to racism and social injustice, something we can all agree on. 

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec, who was set to enter her WNBA rookie season, has decided to sit out of the 2020 season.

The Atlanta Dream made the announcement on their Twitter page Monday, saying Pivec will not play in the 2020 season due to personal reasons, adding she ‘will be suspended by the Atlanta Dream.’ The Dream’s PR tweet did say the team would welcome Pivec back next season.

Oregon State's all-time leading rebounder and the shortest player in Pac-12 history to haul in 1,000 rebounds was selected by the Atlanta Dream as the 25th overall pick in the 3rd round of this year’s draft.

[RELATED]: Everything Mikayla Pivec does moves the needle

During her senior year, Pivec averaged 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

The 5-10 guard was focused on enjoying the process and controlling what she can control just days before the WNBA Draft as she explained in April's Talkin’ Beavers Podcast.

You try not to worry too much about where you go or what's going to happen. Just know that hopefully God will steer me to the right place, and He will. Enjoy this moment and take it all in and spend time with family... Embrace the journey. -- Mikayla Pivec said ahead of the WNBA Draft in April

The 2020 WNBA season remains paused because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Five-star OSU commit Talia Von Oelhoffen 'a perfect fit' says Jamie Weisner

Five-star OSU commit Talia Von Oelhoffen 'a perfect fit' says Jamie Weisner

Last week, Oregon State secured a commitment from five-star wing Talia Von Oelhoffen: the nation's tenth-ranked prospect for the 2021 class. 

This week, the soon-to-be Beaver got some well-deserved praise from former Beaver starter Jamie Weisner on the Talkin' Beavers Podcast.

I actually played with her older sister in AAU days so I knew her since she was maybe five years old and she was just a little girl at the hotel pool. I got an opportunity to reconnect with her a couple of years ago, through a trainer and her mom, so I did a lot of workouts with her. She's just a very nice, mature, kind girl. Works hard and obviously her skills are some of the best in the nation. - Jamie Weisner

Weisner, who was a starter for the Beavers when the program went to its first Final Four in 2016, knows the program well and thinks that Von Oelhoffen will excel in Corvallis under head coach Scott Rueck.

"I think she's like a perfect fit for Oregon State. If all goes well I think she'll come in and do her thing right away so I'm very excited to watch her, especially at Oregon State."

With the graduation of Mikayla Pivec and the transfer of Destiny Slocum, the Beavers' starting backcourt is up for grabs. Senior Aleah Goodman is expected to start at one of the spots, but the other appears to be up for grabs next season. 

As a junior at Chiawana High School, Von Oelhoffen averaged 26.2 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals in 21 games played.

Von Oelhoffen joins another five-star prospect, Greta Kampschroeder, in the 2021 Oregon State recruiting class.

Listen to the full Talkin' Beavers podcast with Ron Callan and guests Deven Hunter, Ruth Hamblin, Sydney Weise, Gabby Hanson, and Jamie Weisner-Scott from the 2016 Final Four squad here.

Mikayla Pivec awarded this year’s Oregon State Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Mikayla Pivec awarded this year’s Oregon State Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Find a student-athlete who demonstrates achievement both on and off the court, in the classroom and in the community and we’ll raise you one Mikayla Pivec.

Pivec, who led the Oregon State women’s basketball team to another phenomenal season in Corvallis, wrapped up her four-year career in orange and black as the program’s leading rebounder; eighth in career scoring; fourth in career assists; a Senior CLASS Award First Team All-American; All-Pac-12; and WBCA, AP and USBWA All-American Honorable Mention.

Presenting this year’s award is her head coach, Scott Rueck:

This award is given to the student-athlete who demonstrates high achievement in the classroom, who is engaged in the everyday champion program and is also active in our local community. — Scott Rueck

The award defines exactly what Pivec has done throughout her four years in Corvallis, Oregon. Not just her accomplishments on the court, but Pivec held the highest GPA on the team while getting her degree in BioHealth Science.

Her drive to help the community was also just as impressive.

According to the Oregon State University Foundation, she decided to do her Honors College thesis project on the challenges homeless people encounter, looking at the resources they use and how they can better be adapted to serve the population. With support from SURE Science, she has been working with Human Development and Family Sciences Professor Kelly Chandler from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. 

SURE Science is a competitive program designed to support summer research opportunities for College of Science undergraduate students. 

Mikayla decided to donate part of her SURE Science award to the homeless shelters in Corvallis. 

“I was so lucky to have that opportunity – it’s my way of giving back for what was given to me,” said Pivec.

I am so thankful for Mik for all that she’s done for our program, our community, on and off the court. She’s in the career top-10 in several statistical categories at Oregon State and her successes are obviously well-documented. Even more amazing, is how she consistently found ways to make herself and our community better through all of her efforts. For that reason, Mik will go down as one of the greats to ever put on our uniform. Congrats Mik, thank you. I’m so proud of you. — Scott Rueck

The 5-foot-10 guard finished her career averaging 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and was selected No. 25 overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream. 

Congratulations, Mikayla!

This year's Male recipient of the award is Joel Walker of the Oregon State men's soccer team.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and special guest Oregon State softball head coach Laura Berg.

Brandin Cooks and his wife sharing touching pregnancy announcement 

Brandin Cooks and his wife sharing touching pregnancy announcement 

Six-year veteran Brandin Cooks will be on a new NFL team this season, and he’ll soon add a new title to his resume as well: Father.

Cooks, who was traded to the Houston Texans after two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, recently announced that he and his wife, Briannon, are expecting their first child together. 

In a moving tribute on Instagram, the former Oregon State standout shared that his wife underwent in vitro fertilization, which included rounds of injections. Cooks saved hundreds of his wife injections and said in the special message “since you didn't trust me to administer the shots, I figured I would save them to show you my appreciation."

Over 200-plus IVF needles were displayed in the photo and in the middle were the words “worth every shot,” and a positive pregnancy test. 

View this post on Instagram

To my amazing wife, Here’s a little project I’ve been working on I hope you like it. I watched you take 200+ shots over a 5 month span! You are warrior in so many ways. I cannot thank you enough for what you did to get us to this point as a family! • While it may not be the way we envisioned conceiving you always kept a positive attitude about it and I thank you for that. God helped us find a way when there seemed to be no way. Your testimony is powerful and will inspire others 🍼 • Since you didn’t trust me to administer the shots I figured I would save them all to show you my appreciation. • @briannoncooks You carry this family in ways you will never understand. We are beyond blessed and fortunate to have the means to use some of the best doctors in the country for our IVF process. EVERY 💉 WAS WORTH IT🏹 #happymothersday #soontobemom #ivf #blessed

A post shared by Brandin Cooks (@thearcher) on

Cooks and Briannon met while they were both attending Oregon State. Briannon was a cheerleader and Cooks was setting Pac-12 records for the Beavers. He finished his career at Oregon State with 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

When selected in the first round by the New Orleans Saints in 2014, Briannon was by his side. The two were later engaged in Hawaii in June 2017 and then married in Portland on July 7, 2018. 

The Cooks family will get a fresh start in the Lone Star State in 2020 and add a much-welcomed addition to the family. Congratulations!

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and special guest Oregon State softball head coach Laura Berg.

Beavs land commitment from nation’s No. 10 prospect, 2021 five-star wing Talia Von Oelhoffen

Beavs land commitment from nation’s No. 10 prospect, 2021 five-star wing Talia Von Oelhoffen

Not one, but make that two of the nation’s top 15 players in the 2021 recruiting class will be heading to Corvallis, Oregon to join head coach Scott Rueck and the Oregon State Beavers.

The nation’s No. 10 player overall (No. 2 for wings), 5-foot-11, five-star wing Talia Von Oelhoffen, from Chiawana High School in Pasco, Washington, has committed to Oregon State.

Von Oelhoffen chose Oregon State over Uconn, Stanford, UCLA and Oklahoma.

Here’s what the scouts had to say about Von Oelhoffen after her performance at the Adidas Gauntlet in July 2019:

Agile perimeter prospect with versatility; manufactures shots and delivers from beyond the arc; mid-range game threat takes defenders off the dribble and scores in traffic; superb court awareness, passes with purpose; unselfish playmaker with skill set of a point-forward; an impact prospect in the class of 2021.

As a junior at Chiawana High School, Von Oelhoffen averaged 26.2 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals in 21 games played.

Von Oelhoffen joins other five-star prospect Greta Kampschroeder for the 2021 Oregon State recruiting class.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and special guest Oregon State softball head coach Laura Berg.

Los Angeles Sparks see bright future with Sydney Wiese, sign contract extension

Los Angeles Sparks see bright future with Sydney Wiese, sign contract extension

The Los Angeles Sparks have signed Sydney Wiese to a contract extension to remain in Los Angeles through the 2022 season. 

The former Oregon State guard was selected in the first round, No. 11 overall by the Sparks in the 2017 WNBA Draft.

Sydney is a huge part of the culture and identity we’re building in Los Angeles. She had a great season for us in 2019 and I’m excited for her continued growth with our group. — Eric Holoman, Managing Partner and Governor 

Last season, Wiese appeared in 32 games and started 16, averaging 4.8 points and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 37% on 3-pointers. She averaged 20.6 minutes per game and appeared in all four of the Sparks playoff games.

Sydney Wiese is an invaluable part of our organization. She can play multiple backcourt positions, provides outside shooting, and is a model teammate and professional. — Sparks head coach Derek Fisher

But you probably already knew that. Wiese shined throughout her four-year career at Oregon State. 

Here are just some of her accomplishments:

Senior CLASS Award winner; AP Second-Team All-American; Wooden Award All-American; USWBA All-American; WBCA All-America Honorable Mention; ESPNW Second Team All-American; One of 14 players all-time to make the All-Pac-12 team all four years of her career; Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year; Academic All-America Third Team; Wooden Award Finalist; Naismith Trophy Semifinalist; Pac-12 All-Tournament Team.

She finished her career averaging 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while setting the school record for assists and three-pointers made.

I have so much gratitude for our owners, Michael Fischer, and Coach Fisher. They have stuck with me throughout my transition from college to becoming familiar with the league. Their commitment to me as a person, player, and professional is unmatched. I take pride in wearing purple and gold and I am excited to continue to represent the Sparks organization. — Sydney Wiese

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and special guest Oregon State softball head coach Laura Berg.

Jonathan Smith reveals how long it would take to get Oregon State ready to play football

Jonathan Smith reveals how long it would take to get Oregon State ready to play football

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing throughout the United States, the world of college athletics has been shaken.

It's been two months since the cancellation of all spring NCAA events including spring football practice and each program has been managing in their own way.

In a Zoom press conference with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly and Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards, Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith spoke about multiple topics including how long he would need to get his team ready to play a game.

“Six weeks," claimed Smith. "I feel like that’s a minimum but doable. Starting with the health and safety, getting them into shape and we want to put a good product out there. We want to have enough time to be able to play quality football.”

As for the possibility of canceling nonconference games such as games against Colorado State and Portland State, both of which are scheduled to take place at Reser Stadium, Smith says that's a question for athletic director Scott Barnes who "has done a great job of communicating with all of our coaches."

Earlier this week, USC head coach Clay Helton said the conference is considering playing 11 conference games which would eliminate all non-conference opponents. According to ESPN's Paul Finebaum, Alabama and TCU are in discussions to play each other rather than scheduled games against USC and California due to a belief that neither Pac-12 school will be ready to play. Currently, Alabama and USC are scheduled to begin their seasons at AT&T Stadium on September 5th and TCU was going to travel to Berkeley, Calif. on the same date.

Additionally, last week Oregon Governor Kate Brown advised that "all large gatherings should be canceled or significantly modified through at least September." Barnes later reassured that football will be played during the upcoming academic year.

Smith addressed the governor's comments on Wednesday.

“We’ve talked to them continually about – we’re always learning. It’s almost like we’re learning on a weekly basis. We’ve talked about there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t know exactly how long this tunnel is that we’re in but we’re going to get an opportunity to play, to get them back and when we can get them back we want to do it safely and properly.

“The unknown is what it is, and we’re working through that. Just continue to work hard on that day-to-day because the light’s at the end of the tunnel.”

Jonathan Smith has "been on Zoom in different position meetings and doing some recruiting" and leaving the conversations about the future of the schedule to the athletic department. He also mentioned watching a ton of tape from last season due to the lack of spring ball video. 

The Beavers staff as a whole has begun recruiting virtually which has paid off already landing a verbal commitment from 2021 four-star inside linebacker Easton Mascarenas, who hasn't set foot on campus yet. 

“There’s no question it’s been an adjustment," said the Beavers head coach. "The virtual tours – they can’t come to your campus, you’re trying to bring it to them. There are high school players that are worried about being able to play their senior year and what the fall is going to look like. We’re all having to adjust as we go through this recruiting process.”

Once the pandemic has subsided enough to play football, the Beavers will be ready.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and Coach Berg here.