I will assume that everyone has noticed that every single one of our recaps of every basketball game has had some mention of either foul issues, questionable officiating, or both. While it is easy to blame the officials and the opponents style of play on a game-to-game basis, a season trend can't be explained away that easily. And here is the season trend:
Not great stats to be leading the conference in. And on top of that, look at the individual fouls per game since conference play started. I realize it is a small sample size, but having Cowboys in the #1 and #2 spots, and being one of two schools to have four players average at least 3 fouls a game (K-State is the other) is the beginning of a bad trend. And as we know, the total fouls don't even really tell the whole story.. the real problem has been starters and key contributors getting into early foul trouble due to being whistled for some "questionable contact".
So what is the reason for this? It doesn't seem like the Cowboys play all that aggressive of a defense, they aren't slapping at everything, there isn't a higher than normal amount of out-of-control drives into the paint... what could be leading to all these foul issues? Let's throw out some theories:
Theory #1: It's a Conspiracy!
This is the most likely scenario. Someone, somewhere, decided that Oklahoma State's basketball program needed to be taken down a peg and orchestrated a DaVinci-Code-esque conspiracy and cover-up with the league officials. My guess as to who is behind it - is none other than Mr T Boone Pickens. Since a drop off in basketball would ensure more focus and funds towards winning a Big XII championship in God's sport - 'Merican Footbaw!, it seems totally likely (if not downright certain) that Mr Wind Energy paid off some officials to do his bidding.
Theory #2: We have some thick dudes
Call this an extension of "the Shaq paradox" if you want (and you do want to). For years Shaq, his coaches, and his teammates have maintained that he only commits like half of the fouls he is called for, he is just so much bigger and stronger than anyone else out there that minor contact looks a lot more rough than it really is. While we don't have a Shaq, Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses are so much wider and stronger than anyone their opponents have, often some trivial contact will look like much more.
Theory #3: The defense is often a step too slow leading to a lot of hand checking to keep guys in place, and by extension a high amount of ticky-tack fouls
This might be somewhat true, and would explain the higher number of fouls per game, but hand checks aren't a shooting foul (outside of the bonus obviously) therefore it doesn't fully explain the huge amount of FT's given up per game.
Theory #4: OSU's foul trouble builds off its own momentum
What I mean is; the Cowboys have a couple of high contact, physical games early (VT, K-State, and A&M spring to mind), which earns them the not-fully-deserved label of a physical team, which leads to officials feeling like they need to control the contact early by whistling everything in order to set the tone.
And those are all the theories I have for now... except for the obvious "maybe we just foul a lot" theory which cannot be proven true on an Oklahoma State blog. So what do you think? Are any of these theories the reason? Some combination of all of them? Do you have any theories of your own to throw out there?