Wayne Tinkle has more than a few things in common with his predecessor.
Tinkle, who this week became the 21st head coach in Oregon State men's basketball history, is an imposing figure, a 6-foot-10 walking giant who carries himself (albeit more gingerly) like the baller he once was.
His charisma was on full display Wednesday, when he spent his introductory press conference mixing in light-hearted jokes while making clear his desire to resurrect a once-proud program. He's a people person, having spent a portion of his first afternoon on OSU's campus handing out energy drinks to students passing through the Memorial Union quad. He embodies integrity, according to the man who hired him, and preaches discipline in the classroom.
Just like Craig Robinson. All of it.
Only Wayne Tinkle isn't Craig Robinson.
This ought to be enough: "If you get those guys to buy into (defensive intensity), then the byproduct is they're going to play their tails off every day," Tinkle, who comes to OSU after eight seasons at Montana, said Wednesday. "That's something we'll never compromise."
A commitment to defense. Rejoice, Beaver Nation.
That, in and of itself, is reason to believe Tinkle will prove to be a better man for the job than Robinson, whose six-year tenure in Corvallis ended after 94 wins and 105 losses.
Shortly after Robinson was fired a little more than two weeks ago, I asked Langston Morris-Walker what he'd like to see in a new coach. Morris-Walker, OSU's only returning starter, said he'd like to see a coach brought in who can "give (OSU) a defensive scheme to stop people." But, I countered, can coaches really "coach" defense?
"Not really, actually," Morris-Walker said. "But they have to be able to motivate people; get people who aren't really comfortable (playing defense) to play defense."
So were players not motivated to play defense this past season?
"Not everyone bought into playing defense," Morris-Walker said. "It hurt us."
There it is, the Beavers' 16-16 season-gone-wrong (and Robinson's undoing) explained in one honest assessment.
Morris-Walker, who was seated about 10 feet from Tinkle during Wednesday's press conference, couldn't help but smile when he heard his new coach's philosophy explained.
The Beavers, Tinkle proclaimed, will be a "disciplined" team offensively that relies on spacing, ball movement and selflessness. But offense, for the most part, will be an afterthought.
"If they're getting stops, rebounding the ball and being physical defensively," Tinkle said, "then they're going to have the freedom to go have some fun on offense."
The stats of Tinkle's Montana team prove he wasn't blowing smoke with his defense-first talk. In eight seasons under Tinkle, the Grizzlies never finished worse than third in the Big Sky Conference in scoring defense. Three times they finished with one of the top-50 scoring defenses in the country - peaking at 20th in 2011 - and twice finished among the nation's top 40 in terms of field goal percentage defense.
Oregon State, meanwhile, finished last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense each of the past three seasons. This past season, the Beavers finished 299th nationally (out of 345 teams) in scoring defense (75.6 points per game) and 240th nationally in field goal percentage defense (44.9 percent).
Robinson routinely talked about needing to get "four more stops a game." But for the most part, it was just talk. Robinson's teams prided themselves on their ability to score, and when games didn't go their way, Robinson often blamed his players for "not following the offensive game plan."
I imagine Tinkle will sing a different tune after losses.
"Some nights shots won't fall, some nights an opponent can't miss, but you can always control your effort and attitude," Tinkle said.
Here's to guessing a Tinkle-led team won't suffer any 51-point home losses to Seattle U., or (for a more recent example) a 24-point home loss to Washington.
After suffering through six mostly disappointing seasons under Robinson, Beaver fans surely have a host of questions regarding Tinkle's coaching acumen, which can only be answered once games begin.
Is he capable of making necessary in-game adjustments?
Will he figure out how to best utilize the talent he has available to him?
Is he a better "X's and O's" guy than Robinson?
Those were three of Robinson's greatest shortcomings. And we won't know if Tinkle will be any better in those areas until he's given an opportunity to prove he is.
But arguably Robinson's biggest shortcoming as a coach was his inability to get his teams to commit to the defensive end.
And that's a shortcoming we've already learned Tinkle doesn't share.
Grady Garrett, sports reporter
On Twitter @gradygarrett