Basketball season is upon us.
After a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign, Oklahoma State is looking to find progress with its young players and make a run at the Big 12 championship.
There are a lot of new faces on the OSU men’s basketball team. When team adds new players, there is typically a transition period the team goes through for players and coaches to get used to each other.
Over the summer, the Cowboys took a team trip to Spain to scrimmage select Spanish teams and the new-look team saw a lot of game action.
Coach Travis Ford said he believes the trip helped the team get used to each other.
“We got kind of an early start to our season, being able to take a summer trip to Europe,” Ford said. “We got a lot accomplished during that time to help us prepare for the early start of our practices.”
It also gave coaches a chance to see how players react in game situations and get a head start on team practices.
“We got a chance to see combinations of players and see things kind of X-and-O-wise,” Ford said. “Pretty much the whole first week was all four-on-four basketball. I like the competitiveness and the make-up of our team.”
For the first time in what would seem like an eternity for Cowboys fans, Keiton Page will not take the floor this season. The Cowboys will have to adjust without having their offensive anchor and go-to scorer.
This young Cowboys team will miss their former captain for his poise as well as his points.
“I think we can replace the 17 points Keiton would give us,” Ford said. “My biggest concern is if we can replace the leadership that Keiton gave us last season that was developed over four years as a starter.”
Enter Marcus Smart.
Oklahoma State landed another recruiting gem in Smart. He was one of the most talented players coming out of high school last year and had numerous scholarship offers.
For all the talent Smart possesses, Ford said he sees Smart helping fill that leadership void left by Page.
“Marcus has sort of picked up a lot of that (being a leader),” Ford said. “Marcus almost does it by how hard he plays. I think it’s contagious to the other guys. When you play as hard as he does, it almost exposes you if you don’t play hard.
“I’m always telling my guys that they’ve got a great example out here and to please follow it.”
It is rare for a freshman to be called upon in the way Smart is, but he is hardly a freshman in Ford’s eyes.
“I have coached guys who have played extremely hard and have been as unselfish as Marcus is,” Ford said. “But Marcus can go a whole practice without shooting and not care less. It’s easy to coach a guy like that.”