Oklahoma State Cowboys
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank: #7 Big 12
Oklahoma State Team Page
Oklahoma State had a bit of down year in 2011-2012. The Cowboys won just a single conference road game, but there were some good days for OSU and plenty of reason to be optimistic heading into the 2012-2013 campaign. The best news is the return of sophomore wing Le’Bryan Nash. Heading into his freshman campaign the 6-7 Dallas, Texas native was widely considered a one-and-done player, but after averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds, Nash opted to return to Stillwater for at least his sophomore season. Nash’s athleticism and versatility will be a huge asset to this squad and he could spend a lot of time at the four spot. If he can start shooting more consistently, Nash will be very tough to stop. He would also then be ready for the 2013 NBA Draft.
2011-12 Record: 15-18, 7-11
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Travis Ford
Coach Record: 80-55 at Oklahoma State, 270-201 overall
The big loss is Keiton Page. Mostly a shooter, Page led the Cowboys with 17.1 points per game during his senior campaign and would take a majority of the big shots for Coach Travis Ford’s squad. His scoring can be replaced, but there is not another proven shooter returning to the roster and that could be a huge problem for this group. A trio of transfers is also headed out. Cezar Guerrero is going closer to home after tallying 5.6 points and 1.6 assists mostly off of the bench last year. Reger Dowell and Fred Gulley only played in a handful of games early in the 2011-2012 campaign before leaving the program, but both did earn some starts.
Depth on the perimeter would be a problem with four contributors leaving, but Coach Ford has plenty of new weapons. Most notable is shooting guard Marcus Smart. Smart does not have the outside shooting ability to replace Page, although he is constantly improving in that area, but he is an extremely tough player who has the strength to finish around the basket as a freshman. After nabbing Nash last year, adding Smart to the roster is another great pickup for OSU. He should be starting from day one. Phil Forte will add more depth at the two guard spot and can run the point as well. Junior college transfer Kirby Gardner figures to be the backup point guard if he can hold off Forte. The frontcourt is where depth is really needed and Oklahoma State found it with Kamari Murphy. He is a lanky 6-8 forward who lacks the strength to battle in the paint against most opposing post players, but he is a fine athlete who can use his long reach to grab rebounds.
Who to Watch:
At times last year Coach Ford ran a four guard lineup and that will likely be the case again this time around with Markel Brown running the point, Smart at the shooting guard position and Jean-Paul Olukemi joining Nash at the forward spots. That is playing Nash out of position at the four spot instead of on the wing, but it worked out pretty well for the Cowboys last year and Nash is a great player no matter where he is on the floor. Like Nash, Olukemi is a big wing who will help out plenty on the glass. His junior campaign was cut short by a knee injury. The Cowboys really missed his size and scoring ability on the wing during conference play and Olukemi is in for a big season if he can stay healthy and eligible. Brown is the catalyst of the offense and also one of the better returning shooters on the team. In OSU’s offseason trip to Spain, Brown was knocking down some long balls and that is huge for this team in an effort to replace Page and stretch out the opposing defense. Even if Brown’s shot is not falling, he can do plenty of scoring and setup others to do the same. If Brian Williams is relegated to the bench, the Cowboys will have a very experienced option ready to come in and provide an offensive spark. Williams is another potential shooter, but he scored most of his 9.6 points per game last season inside the arc.
The key for this team will be finding a shooter and a relatively dangerous post scoring threat. Last season the top seven scorers were all perimeter orientated. That happens when you have four guards in the starting lineup and quite a bit of quality depth behind them, but a shooter is not going to emerge if the opposing defense can simply defend the slashers and not have to worry about a low post scorer. The leading candidate to step up in the scoring column is Michael Cobbins. As a freshman last season he averaged 5.0 points. A year of experience should help boost his offensive output, but either way Cobbins is a vital part of this team. He is a quality rebounder and shot blocker. Philip Jurick, a 6-11, 260 pound center, has more size and is also a decent rebounder and shot blocker. Jurick is in a little legal trouble at the moment, but if he is cleared to play, the Cowboys will use his size against some of the tougher post players in the Big 12. Marek Soucek, a seven-footer, barely saw the floor as a freshman, but he could see some quality minutes off of the bench this year, especially if Coach Ford wants, or needs, to put a bigger lineup out on the floor. The frontcourt has potential, but OSU will win games with the talent on the wings and in the backcourt. They will probably play small and play fast and they have the athletes to do it.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Markel Brown, Junior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Marcus Smart, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jean-Paul Olukemi, Senior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Le’Bryan Nash, Sophomore, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Michael Cobbins, Sophomore, Forward, 5.0 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#35 LeBryan Nash
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#10 Marcus Smart