Ex-Jesuit players Josh and Seth Tarver can't wait to put family magic back on court
CORVALLIS - If Oregon State upsets the apple cart and makes the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990, fifth-year coach Jay John will probably owe a debt of gratitude to a single household in Portland.
Brothers Josh and Seth Tarver of Jesuit High hold a key to whatever success the 2006-07 Beavers achieve.
Josh, a 6-3 redshirt freshman, will be the starting point guard.
'I would like to get 900 minutes out of him,' John says, meaning more than 30 minutes per game.
Former OSU coach Jimmy Anderson has watched practice often since last season.
'Josh Tarver is going to be the best thing to happen to Oregon State basketball since Gary Payton,' Anderson says.
Seth Tarver is a 6-5 true freshman who can play either guard or small forward and is likely to open the season coming off the bench. Seth turned down Arizona to join his older brother at OSU.
'Both Josh and Seth have all-league potential down the road,' John says.
In 2005, the Tarvers led Jesuit to the state championship. Last season, with Josh in Corvallis, Seth took the Crusaders to third place.
Josh's presence at OSU helped John land the Beavers' biggest in-state recruit during his time in Corvallis.
'It was a big factor,' Seth says. 'We've always played together. Even though the (Oregon State) program didn't have a winning season last year, I know he's a winner and I'm a winner. We just win games together.'
Adds Josh: 'Seth knows what I'm thinking; I know what he's thinking. I can't wait to play with him.'
It might not be so easy to win big at Oregon State, where the Beavers fell to 13-18 last season after going 17-15 in 2004-05 for the school's first winning record since 1989-90.
Four seniors who played major minutes have departed, but OSU coaches believe the future is bright with six promising freshmen, led by the Tarvers.
Confidence and ethic impress
A year ago, after rejoining the team as a broken foot healed, Josh Tarver ran the second team during scrimmage sessions. His impact was startling.
'I lived in the Bay Area when Brevin Knight was playing for Stanford,' OSU assistant coach Kevin Mouton says. 'His freshman year, Knight won every open-gym pickup game he played. Josh is the same way. Different players, same results.'
With veteran frontline players Sasa Cuic, Kyle Jeffers and Marcel Jones commanding the focus of the offense, John sees Josh Tarver as a setup guy.
'Josh won't be in a position where he is expected to score,' John says. 'Josh can make baskets; what I don't want to have happen is to count on a freshman to score 12 points a game. If that evolves out of free throws and layups, fine. But I want Josh to concentrate on running the team and getting us into our offense.'
But Josh shoots much better from the perimeter than his predecessor, Lamar Hurd.
'I'm here to direct the team,' he says. 'If I get a shot, I'll shoot it. If I see things, I'll pass. I'm just going to be a point guard. Guys know I'm going to get them the ball if they're open.'
OSU coaches believe Josh is game-ready. Seth may take a while longer.
'Seth is adapting to the speed of the college game and to full-time play on the perimeter,' John says. 'He has to get his sea legs under him, but all that talent will take care of itself. You're talking about a wonderful combination of physical ability and a competitive nature and mental capacity for growth.'
Shock is anticipated
Both Tarvers have the respect of their teammates.
'Josh looks great,' says Cuic, the 6-10 junior who was Oregon State's best player last season. 'He's confident. He knows he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and expectations are high, but he's ready for it.
'Seth is an amazing physical specimen who is improving day by day,' Cuic says. 'With that kind of athleticism and ability, once he gets his freshman kicks out of the way and his head straight and figures out what the coach wants, it's all going to be downhill.'