The shots were there. They just weren’t falling.
Stevie Thompson is taking personal responsibility for the shooting struggles of Oregon State’s guards in the last game.
The guards shot 4 of 26 overall and made just 2 of 16 from 3-point range in a 75-66 loss to Wyoming on Monday. Few, if any, games will be won with those kinds of numbers.
“We got a lot of good looks last game. Our guard play wasn’t very good and that starts with me,” said Thompson, who went 2 for 13 overall and 1 of 7 on 3-pointers. He’s 1 of 10 on 3s this year. “We’ve just got to be able to knock down open shots and look to make plays.”
Improving those percentages was a focus in practice this week as Oregon State (1-1) prepares for its Saturday night home game against Long Beach State (2-0).
Thompson, a junior guard who shot 34.1 percent from deep last year, said the biggest factor for him getting back on track is belief in himself.
The hope is that he’ll soon get back on track.
“I hope so. I’ve just got to keep shooting with confidence,” Thompson said. “Can’t stop shooting, got to keep shooting with confidence and I’ll be ready to knock shots down.”
The performance against the Cowboys was a big step back after the season-opener against Southern Utah, also at Gill Coliseum. Thompson and his younger brother, freshman Ethan, combined to shoot 13 of 25. The guards overall were 18 of 39.
Just two games in, coach Wayne Tinkle said it might be too early to call the shooting a concern. But there were discussions after the Wyoming game on how to approach practices in terms of helping those numbers.
“I think we’re still a little young in some of those key positions and it’s a confidence thing early in the season,” Tinkle said. “We’ve got to make sure that if there’s any pressure on these guys that they relieve themselves of that, and I know that can start by gaining confidence through repetition in practice and that can carry over come game time.”
Ethan Thompson said his team stood around on offense too much against Wyoming.
He wasn’t overly concerned with the 3-point struggles. The players are feeling pressure at times, he added, but there isn’t pressure and they just need to play.
“We’ve been working on it every day in practice. We know we’re a good shooting team. I must think it’s all in our minds right now, starting the season,” he said.
Not surprisingly, the Beavers’ most consistent scorers have been redshirt sophomore forward Tres Tinkle (averaging 22 points) and junior post Drew Eubanks (16.5). They’re shooting a combined 25 of 42 (59.5 percent) from the floor.
Coach Tinkle and the Beavers are looking for more production from JaQuori McLaughlin, who has played primarily at point guard.
The sophomore has scored four points combined in the two games on 2 of 7 from the field. He was 0 of 2 against Wyoming. Tinkle pointed out that McLaughlin is making contributions — with averages of 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists — but the team needs more.
“What we need for him to do is look to attack in transition and in the halfcourt get us into our stuff. Then use his playmaking ability to get other guys baskets or himself,” the coach said. “We need him to be aggressive, and we haven’t seen that.”
Long Beach State
In the 49ers, the Beavers face a team that’s had seven different players score in double figures. OSU has had four.
Senior wing Barry Ogalue is averaging 17.5 points and six rebounds and junior guard Bryan Alberts 13.5 points. Alberts had 18 points — all on 3-pointers — in Tuesday’s 95-70 home win against San Francisco State.
The Beavers and 49ers could play again next Friday, should both teams win or lose their opening games in the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando on Thanksgiving.
Long Beach State defeated Oregon State 71-67 last Dec. 16 in Portland.