The first pre-season game is upon us this evening as the Cowboys play host to the Stars of OCU (yes, their mascot is the Stars, and yes I did have to look that up). As I don't know much about the NAIA Stars outside of the fact that they only return one starter from a team that was 17-10 last season, and since this is preseason and the results don't really matter, let's go ahead and make this post about the Oklahoma State team.
This pre-season should be interesting as we will actually have some real battles for starting spots, and the search for our best rotations will be on. The projected starting lineup for tonight's game is as follows:
|F||Darrell Williams||6-8 | 255 | Jr|
|C||Marshall Moses||6-7 | 240 | Sr|
|G||Keiton Page||5-9 | 165 | Jr|
|G||Nick Sidorakis||6-4 | 185 | Sr|
|G||Fred Gulley||6-2 | 175 | So|
But this starting lineup can basically be viewed as a pre-season trial run as these first few games are basically tryouts for playing time. (Also of note.... there is no Matt Pilgrim (who is still in a holding pattern) listed anywhere in the roster for this game.) We will know more about who is competing for starting spots, and which rotations are working and those that aren't after this game, but for now here is a brief rundown of personnel decisions, performances, and rotations that I will be watching.
First the obvious... I can't wait to see Markel Brown, Mike Cobbins, and Brian Williams jump through the GIA roof (sidenote: I always hated that they called the GIA renovation project "Raise the Roof"). This is probably the most athletic freshmen trio that has ever stepped foot on the white maple, so there should be plenty of oops (the "alley" kind) and fierce putbacks.
One big question: Will Keiton Page and Ray Penn ever be on the court at the same time? I have some great data about this from last season that I will post later, but when both 5'9" guys are on the court it usually forces one of them to matchup with a 6'2" or taller player and kills the Cowboys on both ends of the court. I am hoping that the starting lineup is an indicator that Coach Ford buried the Page/Penn rotation for good, but we will have to see.
That being said, Page is probably the only guaranteed starter out there, so the other 4 spots are up for grabs (although I would be surprised to see Marshall Moses spot taken by anyone other than Pilgrim should he come back). A quick look at these spots:
PG - Given that Page is a guaranteed starter at the 2-Guard, and Penn and Page can't be on the court together, That leaves Gulley as the probable starter. There is Reger Dowell lurking as a possibility, and I guess the Page/Penn duo can't be completely ruled out, but more than likely Gulley will be the man when the real season gets here.
SG - Keiton Page has this, but Brian Williams and maybe Markel Brown could see action here as well.
3rd Guard/SF - This is a position that is completely wide open. Sidorakis is the starter here right now, but JP Olukemi, Brian Williams, and Markel Brown are all possibilities. I really think this spot will end up being rotation based. What I mean is, since right now Sidorakis is the only reliable 3 point shooter out of this group, I could see the other guys seeing more action when Page is on the court, and Sidorakis always being out there when Page is sitting. If I had to take my best guess right now, I think Williams will rotate with Page at the 2, and JP, Markel, and Sidorakis will all see about equal time at this spot... but back to my disclaimer from earlier, we will know more after a few preseason games.
PF - Another spot that is way wide open. Darrel Williams is the starter tonight, but Mike Cobins and Roger Franklin will see plenty of time. And really this competition is open to those at the 5-spot as well.
C - I have already mentioned Moses, and the other guy that will see action here is Jarred Shaw who has emerged this off-season as the players vote for most improved Cowboy from last season (partially thanks to being diagnosed and treated for Crohn's disease). But really (as was the case last season), except when Shaw is in there, the PF and the Center position are pretty interchangeable.
For more info on the new names in this list... check out the new guy preview I did a few weeks back.
Now all of this could change as the talent separates. Maybe Page moves to PG to make room for Williams, JP, and Brown at the 2 and 3 spots... maybe Shaw becomes the true starting center Oklahoma State has been missing since Ivan McFarlin.. maybe Penn grows 5 inches during the season. I'm just happy to have me some basketball to watch (or in the case of tonight's game, listen to) and speculate about this mostly brand new team.