'We don't have to be superheroes': On Oregon State's trek forward
It’s official: At 3-0, these Beavers are already a step ahead of last year’s.
SAN FRANCISCO — Glenn Taylor Jr. and Dexter Akanno sit next to one another in a dimly lit section of the Pac-12’s San Francisco headquarters, swiveling back and forth in the office chairs that sit amongst the empty cubicles.
The pair of wings, who have become quick friends amidst an Oregon State basketball roster which has atrophied since the Beavers’ Elite Eight run two seasons ago, hoped to do some shopping while in the Bay Area. A delayed flight, however, ensured Media Day would be nothing more than a business trip for the 19 and 20 year olds — a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. media circuit jam packed with questions about how the Beavers can orchestrate a 180-degree turn on the heels of a dreadful 3-28 finish last year.
With an orange Beavers’ jersey and matching shorts covering his skinny, but defined 6-foot-6 frame and his mop of messy dark hair shooting every which direction, Taylor Jr. begins.
“It was a motivational year, a learning year, I feel like a lot of lessons came out of that year,” the sophomore tells the I-5 Corridor. “We just weren’t really connected enough. It was a lot of older guys, similar play styles and stuff like that.”
Now Akanno, the shorter-haired, physically-built and the slightly more seasoned junior, chimes in.
“I don't know if it was a leadership void, but it was like nobody wanted to step on each other's toes and then that led to ambiguity going into games.”
No more than a minute passes before the pair’s thoughts pivot back to the present and the optimism the future holds.
“We can't really change what happened in the past,” Akanno says. “All we can do is just move forward and keep building from what we have right now. And as far as what we have right now, I think we have a good group of guys.”
Moving on is all they can do. They quite literally don’t have a choice.
The Beavers squad that the duo was sent to Media Day to represent, lost all five starters from last season and were picked to finish last in the Pac-12. The last time that happened was two years ago, the same season that produced that Elite Eight run.
While a return to the depths of March Madness is a lofty, unrealistic goal, there’s a quiet confidence about coach Wayne Tinkle and his players this season. It’s backed by the recent case study in what happens when they’re ruled out entirely.
With a 83-66 win over Northwest Christian Tuesday night, the Beavers (3-0) have matched last season’s win total. With it, they’ve passed their first hurdle in the road back to relevance. It’s official: These Beavers can’t be any worse than they were last season.
Therein lies the beauty in truly bottoming out like Oregon State did last season — the Beavers, with their 11 underclassmen, have zero expectations.
Last season, everything that could go wrong, did.