Is this Oklahoma State basketball team terrible? I would say that most fans would say yes. The talent level isn't what we are used to seeing, the play looks disjointed, the lineups are constantly being tweaked, and they are currently sitting at 4-9 in conference. What is interesting to me about all of that, is the last point about the team's record is really what drives us as fans to label a team as "terrible", but hypothetically all of the other factors could still be in play, and the Cowboys could have a slightly better record, and all those other complaints would just go away.
I'm sure this isn't the first time this has been said/typed, but the difference between a team and a season being defined as "good" or "bad" is so razor thin, and in a way so arbitrary, that it makes me question what we really follow when we follow our teams. What I mean is, if we define this Oklahoma State basketball team as "terrible", then we are essentially just following a win column, instead of a team. Don't believe me? Then let's play the "what-if" game real quick...
Let's go back in time and have the three pointer from Texas Tech's John Roberson hit off back iron, and then let's convince Reger Dowell to not mug a guy in the backcourt when your team is protecting a one point lead, thus reversing the outcome of the Tech and A&M losses and putting the Pokes at 6-7 and firmly on the bubble. Every single other thing about this season would be the exact same, except those two little plays... would a majority of fans still consider this Cowboy team to be terrible? Probably not. I don't think anyone would think this is a great team, but I don't think the overly negative sentiment would be half as strong.
I get that the concept of "team" and "results" and all that fits in-between are intertwined, and it is really tough to define where one begins and the other ends. On some level we all want to both love our team, and see them win, but really all of us that think this Cowboy team is terrible are not supporting our team, we are just cheering for wins, and booing for losses.
What is funny is that this fan character flaw only exists in the present tense. When I look back on teams and seasons I remember specific players, plays, games, emotions, and so on, and often can't even recall what the Cowboy's record was that season. One of my most fond Cowboy basketball memories ever was from a road loss in 2003 in Boulder when a much younger version of me hung out after the game and briefly talked, and exchanged handshakes, with a few of the players and felt like I was a part of that loss with them. That is the feeling I am looking for as a fan. But in the present tense, during an ongoing season that I mostly watched from the confines of my living room, it is difficult to focus on those things, and instead I just want my team to win.
I hope this doesn't come off as preachy as I am writing this mostly as a pep talk to my own inner fan that is disappointed in the way this season has gone. But.... while I am disappointed in the record this Cowboy team has put up this season, and a lot of the play I have seen, if I picture myself in 2015, looking back on the 2010-2011 season, I know I will miss a lot of these players and fondly remember many of the performances, and I am going to try to keep this mentality through the remainder of the season.
- Samuel Bryant | Team "Good Fan"