Wednesday marked the first day of practice for Oregon State, with Wayne Tinkle presiding over the drills after making the move from Montana during the spring. Unfortunately for Tinkle he wasn’t operating with a “full deck” so to speak, with there being just nine players available for the first session. And that’s expected to be the case for the foreseeable future as well, based upon the updates Tinkle provided on the two players sitting out.
Freshman guards Alex Roth (redshirt) and Chai Baker were unavailable, as both are recuperating from offseason health issues. Roth is dealing with a shoulder injury that was expected to keep him out until at least March, but according to the Oregon State athletic department he’s progressed at a better rate than originally expected.
“We thought Alex was going to be out all season long, but he got some really encouraging news on his shoulder the last week,” Tinkle said following practice per a release from the program. “We’ve even been told he might be able to start doing some light practice in the next couple of weeks. So that would be a real bonus if a month from now he was on the court 100 percent, because we weren’t counting on him this year with the injury. But it looks like he’s going to be joining us before too long so that has us fired up.”
Baker’s situation isn’t as clear-cut, with the Florida native having collapsed during a workout in August. Tinkle said the following about Baker, who was expected to factor into the rotation for a team that lost its top five scorers including Roberto Nelson and a promising young player in Hallice Cooke (transferred to Iowa State):
“Chai is continuing to get evaluated and they are waiting to get some test results back that take I guess up to four to six weeks; the blood work and that sort of thing. He’s hanging in and right now all he can do is stand still and shoot. I think later this week he’s going to kind of get word from the some of the doctors on what the plan is.”
Oregon State’s leading returning scorer from 2013-14 is junior guard Langston Morris-Walker, who averaged just four points per contest last year. With that being the case all available players, including sophomore guard Malcolm Duvivier and junior college transfer Gary Payton II, will need to step forward in a conference that won’t lack for talent in 2014-15.
It goes without saying that having every player available would help matters for the Beavers. However with that unlikely to be the case for the time being, Oregon State will simply look to do the best it can with the pieces they currently have.