Last night it was announced that Reger Dowell was leaving the Cowboy basketball team and would be looking to transfer. This comes on the heels of Fred Gulley doing the same thing making it two point guards in a week to leave the team. There is plenty of speculation about why these two guys left, and I assume that no light will be shed on the situation through the press conference other than Coach Ford saying that it was best for both sides and hopefully not repeating his mistake of the Gulley press conference where he expressed excitement at his rotations now being easier to manage. So let's get to the two main interesting things to talk about here.
Are these events an indictment on the Travis Ford administration?
What will the player rotations be for the rest of this season (assuming no one else leaves the team... DIG!)
1) As is the case with the fanbase as a whole, the CRFF staff has been split on the Ford issue. I seem to have continually found myself on the side of "I have some issues with him, but let's give him some time and see how things work out with all the young guys before screaming for his head". However, these two transfers, when stacked onto the pile of players that Ford has brought in that have not finished their eligibility starts to make too big of an impression to keep that stance. It is hard to keep putting faith in an administration when an entire 7 PLAYER RECRUITING CLASS from just 2 years ago is now all gone (Dowell, Gulley, Franklin, Shaw, Penn, Torin Walker, and Karron Johnson). While I am sure that some of these guys not being in Stillwater is a good thing for the program, the fact that everyone from Coach Ford's first class are gone when they should just be Juniors or Redshirt Sophomores certainly raises a gigantic red flag with a picture of a scowling Eddie on it.
In my opinion, here is the problem with Ford... he is too good at one thing and not good enough at another (too specific?). When you are someone whose job it is to bring talented people together and get them to perform at a high level as a group, you have two main options for doing this:
OPTION A) You assemble a group of "your guys". You hand pick guys for your program that already fit the mold of the types of players you are comfortable with coaching. Whether you have a good track record of coaching kids from inner cities that have a chip on their shoulder, good character guys that say ‘yes sir' 40 times on your recruiting visit, or guys with a very specific horse fetish, you get those types of guys. Whatever the traits in players are that you are comfortable with coaching, you build your team with those guys and know from the start that you have a group of similar guys with similar goals that you will be able to work with.
OPTION B) You get the best talent available and build them into a cohesive group. You go after the guys with the most stars next to their names and trust in your developmental and team building abilities to make all the pieces work together.
For reference, coaches like Calipari and Roy Williams excel at option B, while coaches like Eddie Sutton and Coach K fall more into group A.
The problem with Ford is that he falls into option B, and while he is very good at the "get the guys with a lot of stars next to their names" part, he is proving to not be capable of the follow up to that which is forming all those pieces together into a team. You cannot bring in a bunch of guys that were stars in high schools, tell them that they will be stars in college, then jerk them around to the extent that Ford does because he cannot seem to figure out what everyone's role is. I could go on for another 500 words on this, but basically my point is that Coach Ford either needs to hire someone that can make option B work for him, or he needs to start over with the option A approach because this incomplete approach is killing program retention.
As for Question #2; Here is my top request for the new player rotations.... don't make Keiton the primary PG. I get that he will have to spend some time there, but please don't make him the official team PG that logs 25+ minutes at that position. Pretty Please!!! As has been proven for 3 and a half years, Page is most effective in catch and shoot situations. His talent is not in initiating an offense. Don't force it just because his size and necessity to be on the floor makes it an easy option.
My choice would be to put all our eggs in the Cezar Guererro basket. I think the fans and administration are resigned to the fact that this is a(nother) rebuilding and retooling year. Put the most talent on the court at one time, deal with the inevitable dumb mistakes, and see what these guys can do after 5 or 10 games of experience with this being "their team". I am talking about putting the team on the shoulders of CJ, Nash, and Brown. Tell them that this is their team and that they need to turn it into a winner. Obviously Page, JPO, Williams, Cobbins, and Jurick are important pieces as well, but make CJ, Nash, and Brown the alphas. It may be rocky for a few weeks, but damn it will be fun as hell to watch and would finally make me respect Coach Ford for showing some commitment to a plan.