Mouton takes over, dismisses center from team

CORVALLIS — The foundation of Kevin Mouton's pyramid of success is accountability.

So one of his first acts as Oregon State's interim men's basketball coach on Monday was to kick talented but undependable junior center C.J. Giles off the team.

"He was dismissed, and that's just pretty much how we want to keep it," Mouton said at his first media session since being elevated to head coach on Sunday night after former coach Jay John was fired. "He's just going to move on and pursue his other options, be it the NBA, or a Division II transfer.

"We just want to wish him the best and go from there. We felt it was time for us to make a move and go from there."

Mouton gave no specific reason for booting Giles, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Kansas who also wore out his welcome in Lawrence in 21/2 troubled seasons before transferring to OSU in January 2007. Giles missed the first half of the Dec. 19 Northern Colorado game for skipping a weight workout and was suspended for the Pacific-10 Conference opener at Arizona for missing two practices.

"It wasn't any disciplinary rule he recently broke," Mouton said. "The direction I see this team going, we had to make a move," and Giles wasn't part of the traveling party.

"Today we had a great practice."

Teammates Marcel Jones and Josh Tarver had no comment when asked for their reaction. They did, however, emphatically state the Beavers were ready to salvage what looks to be another dismal season, starting with this weekend's series against UCLA and USC.

"With all the hysteria and all the drama going on with the team, we definitely have to come together and be prepared for Thursday and USC," Jones said. "We have to come together. We dug ourselves a hole, but the coaches and guys are really prepared to dig ourselves out."

Tarver described the change as "kind of" an opportunity for a fresh start.

"Guys are tired of losing," he said. "We've changed a couple things and it looks like we have a flow in it so we're probably going to stick with that, work hard and keep playing on defense. That's got to be our main focus."

Tarver said Mouton will energize a team both he and Jones said had not quit under John.

"(Mouton) lets us know we have to work hard," said Tarver, "not take anything from the other team, be disciplined and take smart shots. Guys respect him and we're going to play hard and listen what he has to say.

"We played hard for Jay too. It was us not closing games out and breaking down at points."

Mouton said he doesn't anticipate any drastic changes under his leadership.

"It's holding guys accountable for setting screens, and cutting hard, playing defense, and correcting miscues as they happen," he said. "It's no more complicated than that.

"It's not a situation where we're gonna change everything, that just can't happen" at this point of the season.

Mouton was also the interim coach for one game in the 2004-05 season, when John was sidelined with high blood pressure. He directed the Beavers to an 88-66 rout of Arizona State at Gill Coliseum.

"I feel confident in our guys and that makes me confident," he said.

Mouton played for John at Oregon, Jamestown (N.Y.) Community College and San Francisco, coached with him at Butler and was on John's first OSU staff. They have known each other for more than 20 years, and they spent considerable time together on Sunday night after John learned he'd been dismissed.

"It was me and my best friend doing what we do, just being friends," Mouton said. "It's been a tough couple days, knowing Jay as I know him."

Mouton said his relationship with a man his athletic director fired won't affect how he approaches his work.

"This program has struggled, and it's now my job, and the other coaches, to put the program in a situation where we can get on our feet and compete. Bottom line.

"There's been a lot of stuff going on. But I don't think it's in my makeup to start thinking about stuff I have no control over. I do have control of getting this team prepared on a daily basis, and that's where I'm at, making sure we can put these guys in position to be successful."

Mouton said he has aspirations to be a permanent head coach but won't worry about whether his 13 games leading the Beavers will springboard him to that position here, or someplace else with an opening.

"All that stuff will take care of itself," he said. "I'm just trying to prepare Marcel Jones, Calvin Hampton and these guys to put an effort out like we did at Washington.

"That's a true indication of our team, I think."

Brooks Hatch covers Oregon State basketball for the Corvallis Gazette-Times

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