The last four years have been unsettling for many fans who have an intense yearning to see Gallagher-Iba Arena full of orange-clad students. Since going 24-9 in the 2012-13 season, the Cowboys are 48-35; that's abysmal. Sitting at 9-8 overall right now, the Oklahoma State men's basketball program has finally reached a new low, and it's got the fan base bickering at each other.
There are plenty of arguments to be had. Coach Ford has brought in a few McDonald's All-American players in his time in Stillwater. However, some argue that they all regress or stay the same or make no progress at all. Take Marcus Smart, for example. If you look at his stats, he looked to have improved and though his three-point percentage jumped from 29 percent to 29.9 percent, he also took 33 more attempts from deep than he did in his freshman year. He also dropped his free throw percentage from 77.7 percent to 72.8. Also remember the suspension?
That's three examples of a player who isn't being coached. A player who's being told, "Do what you want, you have the talent to do it," and doing just that. Smart had once in a lifetime ability and is really starting to show it up in Boston, but Cowboy fans were really robbed of that by poor coaching.
There's a few more examples but at the end of the day, Ford's players have never truly developed to what they need to be. Coming to Stillwater was almost a pit stop just to get to the NBA at a later time for those with the ability. Now, in January 2016, many a Cowboy fan is sitting at home wondering what happened to the team. Sure, Ford can still recruit, but there's been speculation as to how "legal" his recruiting tactics may or may not be. But right now his team is not at the talent level that it should be, given the fact that it just had two guys drafted to the pro level within the last few years.
Since Smart, Ford has gotten a few more four-star or better players. Those guys? Stevie Clark, Joe Burton, Jawun Evans and Davon Dillard. Clark was kicked off the team, Dillard is suspended indefinitely, Jawun Evans is or isn't the savior of the team and Joe Burton just had the weirdest ESPN notification ever.
Big night for Burton: pic.twitter.com/0ntmf6tKJg— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) January 17, 2016
So what's wrong with THIS team? Sure, the easy escape route would be to say that Ford can't coach. Watching his teams can get quite boring at times. They run a total of two to three plays, Ford walks them out on the court for the world to see during timeouts and when the game is on the line, they have a guy who shoots 29 percent from deep throw it up. But the team has made a few comeback attempts, only to fall short, in recent games. But what should that be attributed to? OU was a rivalry game, and those happen all the time where one is the obviously dominant team that sort of sleeps through part of the game, only allowing the other, much more mismatched, team to make a vicious comeback. Texas could use the same excuse, and that team isn't even that great. After being up by more than 20, OSU was able to actually wake up. Whatever the reason may be, if it's them fighting better when they realize they're on their deathbed or the other team sleeping, Oklahoma State keeps doing it.
But there really can't be any denying that this team just lacks the talent. The players can play at times, but never consistently enough to pull off the upset. They have Jawun Evans who just went for more than 40 in Bedlam to outplay one of the best in the country but has scored less than 15 in five of the last six games and only more than that three times this year.
Jeff Newberry is in the same boat, only going over 15 three times. Losing Forte didn't help, but it also doesn't change all that much. The lack of a superstar on any basketball team is always one of the main reasons that team doesn't succeed. But again, the coaching has been sub-par at best, keeping these kids from developing and allowing them to go out to the bars the nights before games or get away with just about anything three times before they get in trouble. It's become a normality at Oklahoma State, which is sad considering the schools rich history in the sport.
Oklahoma State has been in a rebuilding era and they better hope that it can be rebuilt quickly or the transformation to football school will be nearly complete.