It’s another exciting edition of the CRFF Roundtable. After a couple without one, we thought it was time to gather the troops to talk about what’s going on in Oklahoma State Athletics.
This week we talk the good and bad of Big 12 play for the basketball squad, who OSU’s biggest rival is in basketball, and a little bit of football (because it’s always fun to talk football!)
1) It's been a wild ride for Cowboy fans as they watched the basketball team suffer through a 6-game losing streak, before ripping off three straight wins. Do you feel confident that the Cowboys have "figured it out" or has the win streak been more about the competition?
Joel Penfield: The first 6 games of conference play were painful to watch. The Big 12 conference is a grind, but I did not expect the Cowboys to go 0-6 out of the gate. That being said, this team looks to be on the upswing. GIA is back to being one of the best home courts in the nation, the defense is living up to what Brad Underwood said it would be, and the Cowboys look like one of the toughest teams in the conference. With WVU on Saturday, and Baylor next Wednesday, this will be a huge test for the Pokes.
Micah Allen: I think they've definitely figured things out. I think Brad is starting to get settled here, and the defense change has worked.
Sumer Wensman: Our conference is notoriously tough, so I wasn't shocked when we struggled out of the gate. Brad is the best to happen to this program in a while, he will lead us to the promise land. Or at least the tourney.
Brodie Smith: It's a bit of both. The conference is stacked but the initial six-game skid wasn't about the competition, it was about late game performance that legitimately cost the Pokes several wins. The recent streak is what was anticipated against as Underwood tweaked the defense for the competition, but it's not like we destroyed Bedlam (though it was amazing to get a win in Norman). I guess we really won't know until we start seeing these Big XII teams for the second time.
Cade Webb: I don't think "figuring it out" is the right word, but I certainly think they're in a groove. I also don't think it's about competition, basically because Arkansas was RPI 28. I certainly do think they have gotten a better shake than they did to open the conference slate, but I don't think there are any nights off in the Big 12. There are no dogs in the Big 12, and every game is tough, no matter who you're playing.
Tyler Wiederhoeft: I think it's a little bit of both. Brad Underwood's defensive adjustment has forced teams to try and beat us on the outside, and thus far no team has been able to do that. Playing against the bottom of the Big 12 doesn't hurt either. The real test starts again tomorrow when we travel to Morgantown. This is where we will test Brad Underwood's new-look defense will hold up against the top of the Big 12.
2) On a scale of 10 to "Bring Ford Back" what is the likelihood OSU makes the NCAA Tournament this season?
Joel: I would say the Cowboys chance of the making the Big Dance is at about 65%. I think if the Cowboys can get 7-8 conference wins, and a win in the conference tournament, I say they are in.
Sumer: Solid 7.
Brodie: It's not unthinkable as it was coming off six losses, which cooled off the high expectations brought in by wins against featured programs brought in the non-conference schedule.
Cade: I'll put it at a 7. This is tough because I think OSU is playing really well right now, but the Big 12 is very difficult to navigate. They need to win five more games out of nine and I think they're in, and that doesn't include the Big 12 tournament. I feel pretty confident that they'll make it, but they've got to ride this hot streak out as long as possible.
Tyler: If I was a betting man, I'd wager that we will make the tournament. It's not like the Cowboys have been blown out in any games other than UNC and WVU. I would say if we can go 4-5 or better in our last four games, we will make the tournament. It may be as one of the play-in games, but we still make the tournament. I like our chances.
3) Jawun Evans is Oklahoma State's most talented player, but who has been their "best" player thus far?
Joel: It's been Jeffrey Carroll. He's a completely different player from last season. He's playing his way to a first team all-conference selection.
Micah: Phil Forte, I mean 3-point king means something right?
Sumer: Forte. Hands down.
Brodie: Jeffrey Carroll. He's the obvious pick as a threat to impact any game on both ends of the court. I like Phil Forte, but can't give it to him just because he's been around since basketball was invented. I'm not that sentimental. Carroll has surpassed expectations. Forte has been as we thought he would be.
Cade: Jeffrey Carroll is the X-Factor for this team. As good as Evans is, Carroll is the glue guy, and I think he's what makes the engine go. When he's on, he is one of the most versatile players in the league.
Tyler: Obviously Jeffrey Carroll. He is making a strong case for Most Improved Player of the Year. He is much more consistent and reliable than Evans is, and probably should be Brad Underwood's go-to guy if we need a bucket late, as Evans is too rushed and turnover prone when he drives.
4) We ran a poll earlier this week asking who Oklahoma State's biggest rival was in basketball. 53 percent of voters said Kansas. Who do you think it is? Kansas? OU? Someone else?
Joel: For me I think it's KU. I get way more amped for a KU-OSU matchup than a Bedlam matchup in basketball, and I hate OU. So that says a lot.
Micah: OU by far, I think being in the same state is big. More fans can come out to games, families are divided...
Sumer: I would say Kansas more than OU. We have a beef with Kansas going back to Bill Self's college days. He chose to start his non-playing career at Kansas. That has to leave you a little bitter. And OU will always be the worst.
Brodie: I wish it were OU, but it's not because Lloyd Noble Center has little to offer in terms of atmosphere. The Bedlam rivalry simply cannot overcome that limitation. The Phog (even the name is cool) and GIA (we know what it has been/can be/will regain) make the rivalry with Kansas tops no matter where it's played. Plus, you always look forward to rivalries and the opportunity to beat the best. Kansas offers us both.
Cade: For me, it's Kansas. Obviously, I get just as big a kick out of beating OU, but I grew up in the heart of Jayhawk country and had to hear how good they were for years. That said, OSU beating OU the way they did on Monday brought me joy to the degree of beating KU in Allen Fieldhouse. I could argue for both.
Tyler: I think it is both OU and Kansas*. To me, a rivalry has to be competitive and both our games against OU and Kansas (especially in Stillwater) normally are very competitive. When the two teams match up, throw logic out the window and buckle in for a fun 40 minutes of basketball.
*Nice job choosing a side there Tyler.
5) Let's talk football recruiting real quick. National Signing Day was Wednesday. Now that we know who has signed, which recruit are you most excited to see in person?
Joel: I'm most excited to see Chuba Hubbard. I'm so excited to see him and Justice Hill in the same backfield. His speed in the return game could be deadly too.
Micah: The Wallace twins (can I pick both of them?) I'm excited to see how Tracin can bounce back from injury and Tylan has just gotten a lot of hype and I'm excited to see what he can do at the next level.
Sumer: Chuba Hubbard**. His name is fun, and he also has the speed and playmaking ability that our program loves and needs.
Brodie: Chuba Hubbard. I like speed on the field, and he's got it in spades. He'll be fun to watch as a return man alongside McClesky and to spell Justice Hill when needs a break from punishing defenses.
Cade: Tylan Wallace. I am so excited to see what he can do. By all accounts, he is the real deal. I think he will be used like Jalen McCleskey, but I think Wallace may be more talented, and that's definitely saying something. I'm pumped to see how they use him.
Tyler: I'm excited to see all of them. LC Greenwood, Chuba Hubbard, Jelani Woods, JD King, the Wallace twins, etc. The one I want to focus on is one I hadn't heard of before yesterday - Malcom Rodriguez. If you can do this to your coach, I can't wait to see you play.
"When they showed me his tape and told me what came along with it, I couldn't get the words out of my mouth fast enough, 'You all had better go get him.' It's hard to find guys like that. His track record says that he's a winner." - Mike Gundy
6) Players are preparing for the NFL draft. Which now former OSU player do you think has the best chance to get drafted this year?
Joel: I think Jordan Sterns, if he has a good combine, has the best chance. His hard-hitting mentality will be something teams will want. I'm a Seahawks fan, and I would love to see him in the Legion of Boom next to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Micah: Jordan Sterns, he's been a heck of a player and I think NFL scouts noticed.
Sumer: I can't think of a guy that has a "better" chance. I know all of our guys will perform and get their looks.
Brodie: Vincent Taylor would be the most probable because every team needs depth on the D-line. I don't know that he's ready for the pro game yet but can't blame him for looking to capitalize on his 2016 season. I'd like to see Jordan Sterns play safety in the NFL but don't know if he has the necessary skills to go up against the weapons even lower tier pro teams can unleash. He can hit and has a nose for the football, so I'd expect him to get some attention in the later rounds.
Cade: I think the obvious answer is Vincent Taylor, but I also think Blake Jarwin will hear his name called. He's got the size to play in the NFL and he's pretty versatile. Playing in the Senior Bowl probably improved his stock as well.
Tyler: I think they all could get drafted, but I think Vincent Taylor will go first. I'm going to guess either late second round or early third round.