#37 Oklahoma State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowboys

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #37
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12

Oklahoma State Team Page#37 Oklahoma State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Oklahoma State Basketball Tickets

Oklahoma State enters the season in an odd situation. The Cowboys lost so much talent from last year’s club, but at the same time, they were in dire need of a fresh start. Although the 2013-14 squad reached the NCAA Tournament, it was a disappointing season for so many reasons. There were hectic stories both on and off the court, perhaps the latter leading to the former. OSU barely made the tournament and promptly lost in its first game. Coach Travis Ford and company will be looking to move on and start anew in 2014-15.

2013-14 Record: 21-13, 8-10
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Travis Ford
Coach Record: 125-76 at Oklahoma State, 315-222 overall

Who’s Out:
Most of the up and down nature of Oklahoma State’s season stemmed from point guard Marcus Smart. There were yelling incidents, a situation with an opposing team’s fan that led to a suspension, blowups on the bench, etc. It was not the sophomore year Smart was hoping for or expecting when he returned after a stellar first season. But even though Smart takes his baggage with him, he also leaves the Cowboys having to fill his 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Smart was an all-around awesome basketball player (especially when his shot was falling). If Smart was the only Cowboy gone from last year, it would be bad enough. However, the team’s second-leading scorer, Markel Brown, also departed, the team’s leading rebounder, Kamari Murphy, transferred to Miami, and senior Brian Williams transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette. Those four players alone accounted for close to 3900 minutes last season.

Who’s In:
Replacing the departed Cowboys will fall on the shoulders of a few freshmen and junior college transfers, as well as Anthony Hickey, an eligible-transfer from LSU. Hickey is probably the most important new player on the roster. His immediate eligibility makes him the likeliest candidate to take over for Smart as the starting point guard. Hickey played three years at LSU and averaged 8.4 points and 3.7 assists per game last season. He doesn’t possess near the size of Smart, but is pesky on the defensive end and also cannot shoot a lick (37 FG%, 34 3-PT%, 58 F-T% in 2013-14), so OSU fans will be used to that. The rest of the minutes will have to be made up by the likes of 7-1 Jamaican center Anthony Allen, four-star recruit Joe Burton and three-star Mitch Solomon. Burton especially should be someone capable of playing and contributing right away in place of some of what Brown and Williams brought to this team.

Who to Watch:
With Smart and Brown elsewhere, the stars of this team become former five-star recruit and resident underachiever Le’Bryan Nash, and streaky spot-shooter Phil Forte. Nash has never quite lived up to his freshman expectations. Entering Oklahoma State as one of the very best high school players in the country in 2011, Nash has been good, but never great, through his first three seasons. Last year his shot selection finally took a step up as he hit 52 percent of his field-goal attempts and averaged 14 points per game. He will need to be an even bigger part of this offense moving forward, as will junior Phil Forte. Forte was the three-point and free-throw shooting specialist for this team. Of his 8.9 shot attempts per game a season ago, 6.7 came from behind the arc. Forte will need to become more involved in the offense when he isn’t spotting up for a three if this team hopes to replace the production it lost in the offseason. Nash and Forte are the only returning Cowboys who saw even 260 minutes of game action last season.

Final Projection:
Although a ton of experience left OSU, this team still returns a ton of veterans. The starting five could include as many as four upperclassmen depending on Coach Ford’s desired rotation. Senior big man Michael Cobbins returns from an injury that sapped him of much of his junior season. Along with Anthony Allen and senior seven-footer Marek Soucek, the Cowboys have a gigantic front-line rotation this year. Of course, the team’s overall success will depend greatly on guard play and Nash’s star quality. Oklahoma State is no given for the NCAA Tournament this season. It should be on the bubble for much of the year, and in the at-large discussion through the winter months. With Hickey playing right away and some talented incoming freshmen, they make it, but not comfortably. Call it a repeat of last season without all the soap opera drama.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Hickey, Senior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Phil Forte, Junior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Leyton Hammonds, Sophomore, Forward, 1.5 points per game
Le’Bryan Nash, Senior, Forward, 13.9 points per game
Michael Cobbins, Senior, Center, 4.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.2 (15th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.6 (160, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (70, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (53, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (97, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (78, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (103, 5)
Rebound Margin: -1.7 (251, 9)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (97, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (33, 2)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#60 LeBryan Nash

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#91 Joe Burton
#93 Mitchell Solomon


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