I wrote a story for the Wednesday (Oct. 11) editions on Oregon State’s depth at the guard positions and what that could mean for the coming season.
Here are some leftovers from my Tuesday pre-practice interviews for that story.
Sophomore guard Kendal Manuel
On the competitiveness in practice: “It makes everyone want to compete and play better. It just brings the competitive edge in everybody when we get into practice.”
On how the depth will help: “It’s going to help tremendously, especially the people that got experience last year. Them being able to have that experience and learn and see what the Pac-12 is all about, and bring that into what these guards coming in this year bring to the table as well, is going to help.”
How the depth will show itself most: “I feel like in the moments where we need to execute most. Defensively, for sure, and then just game plans. We’ve been through a whole season and we’ve learned and become better players from just being out there.”
A little from Manuel on the freshman guards:
Xaiver Smith – an athletic defender
Zach Reichle – is similar to Tres Tinkle in that he’s aggressive, rebounds hard, shoots well
Ethan Thompson – “He’s done a good job of coming in and making plays and being who he is as a player.”
Alfred Hollins – athletic, plays above the rim, playing multiple spots
How this year is different from last year – “We’ve had that season where everything didn’t go as we planned. We use that as motivation and everybody’s hungry and ready for this season to show what we’ve improved on.”
Sophomore guard JaQuori McLaughlin
He says the offense will be different and that OSU wants to run the ball up the floor more after playing conservatively last season. There will be a couple “tweaks” to the offense, which will also be different simply because the players have improved.
On guard depth: “I think it’s going to help us in fatigue and endurance, things like that, because last year at the end of the season our legs were kind of going.”
On competitiveness in practice: “This is the most competitive team I’ve been on. Even open gyms, things like that, we want to win, we want to go at each other and make each other better.”
McLaughlin, who added six to eight pounds, said he’s feeling better conditioned because he ran a log in the offseason. He hit a wall late in games last season because his legs began cramping.
On his own personal progress: “I feel like I really know what I’m doing, more confident. Being able to lead more, lead my teammates, the younger guys, that’s a big thing.”
He added that he’s trying to communicate more and lead by example.
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On Ethan Thompson: “I think it’s good for the guards to go against him, an elite talent like he is.”
Freshman guard Ethan Thompson
“I just try to be more talkative and communicate what I’m doing with my teammates as well as they’re communicating with me.
On guards competing for playing time: “I think it makes it that much more fun to come out there to practice every day with these guys. At the end of the day we are competing against each other but we’re also competing with each other against other schools.”
On his approach to practice, whether he assumes he’ll be a starter or that he’ll be a reserve: “I just compete every time I come on the court. I try to compete my hardest and do my best.”
He added that he’s OK with whatever role he’s given.
Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle
Alfred Hollins missed a few practices with a slight shoulder separation.
Tinkle said he was excited by the progress of the freshman guards and the veterans as well.
“And it’s going to take a little while to put it all together. These guys need to get some games under their belt. It’s a good group.”
He said was told the level of competitiveness changed in pick-up games during the summer: “Just a whole different level of competitiveness. Guys getting after it.”
He said that’s carried over into practices, which started last week: “You don’t want to go overboard, but we love the fact that our guys are competitive and care and are getting after it. So nothing wrong with that.”
On guard depth presenting options: “What we can do offensively, defensively, tempo … so I like the fact that we have a lot more versatility there.”
On the possibility of using redshirts this season: “We’ve talked about it a little bit, but thankfully our games are a month away. Guys like Isaac (freshman forward Isaac Barnes) and Xavier (freshman guard Xavier Smith) are guys that may be candidates. Beyond that, we really can’t think about that yet until we know what’s going on with Ben (sophomore forward Ben Kone) and Cheikh (senior center Cheikh N’diaye) because it’s all hands on deck. We’ve got to have as many guys as we can have possible to help us win games.
Kone is out until mid to late November with a knee injury. N’diaye has still not been cleared due to a recurring shoulder injury.
Junior guard Stevie Thompson
On the guard depth: “Everybody out there’s got different types of strengths. So we should be pretty solid at that position throughout the year.”
On the competitiveness in practice: “It makes practices much better and it makes sure everybody is getting better at practice.”
He said Hollins has stood out because of his shooting ability and being able to score on his own. “He’s in the right spot a lot and he hits open shots.”