With the Oklahoma State Cowboys getting picked last in the league again, it’s easy to dismiss this year and look forward to the loaded class coming in next season. Here’s my 5 reasons why you’re right to do so, then 5 more for why you’re dead wrong.
Why the Cowboys miss the tournament for the second straight year
A Lot to Replace
There’s a reason the Cowboys got picked last by the coaches. They replaced 4 of the top 5 scorers from an NIT team that struggled to find consistency in year one under Boynton.
Not only did they replace all those pieces, but they’re replaced 5 of them with Freshmen. While they’re a solid core to build on, there may not be a lot of instant impact and youth doesn’t typically reduce inconsistency.
Who’s your go-to? With that many scorers gone, you’re leading returning scorers are Cam McGriff (8.4 ppg) and Lindy Waters (8.7). It will be a long season if the Cowboys struggle to find consistent scoring options.
Coach Boynton wanted to make sure their schedule was tough enough to deny the committee any opportunity to keep them out based on SOS. Be careful what you ask for. The Cowboys face Houston (Preseason Kenpom #45), Minnesota (60), Nebraska (38), South Carolina (42), Memphis (107), Tulsa (114), and Charleston (99) along with potential meetings with Villanova (5) and Florida St. (15). A tough schedule only boosts your resume if there’s a resume left in tact once you make it through.
In a league with names like Self, Huggins, Smart, Dixon, and Kruger leading the way, there are no easy outs. The Big 12 has consistently found itself as one of the two best conferences in college hoops the last handful of seasons. Couple this with the aforementioned tough non-conference and things have the potential to get ugly.
Why the Cowboys make their way into the dance
Quality of Replacements
With great unknowns, comes great potential. If Isaac Likekele grows up quickly and Curtis Jones taps into the amazing potential he flashed coming into college, then the Pokes could find themselves with a very salty backcourt.
My bigger concern is in the post. If Yor Anei or Kentrevious Jones can be productive Big 12 players or better, all of a sudden anxiety becomes excitement.
First of all, I don’t condone Weathers’ actions off the court and his legal situation could make all of this a moot point. I’m not arguing that his ability to play basketball should factor into his case, it shouldn’t. However, if he is able to come back to the team in a relatively timely manner, then there’s a reason I put Weathers in his own category.
I think we’ve forgotten because we’ve never seen him play for the Pokes and it’s been a year since he’s played college basketball at all, but the dude is a stud. As in, cases were being made for him to be a lottery pick during his freshman year (this is a really good read on his potential), and he’s been included on some boards this year as well.
Out of sight out of mind makes it real easy to downplay his significance, but if he plays he can no doubt be an answer to your go-to questions.
New Cowboy Michael Weathers Can Go
HIGHLIGHTS: Michael Weathers was a tough man to stop last season, leading Miami in scoring (16.7 ppg), assists (4.8 apg), steals (1.9 spg) and blocks (1.4 bpg) en route to MAC Freshman of the Year honors.Posted by Oklahoma State Cowboy Basketball on Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Pressure Makes Diamonds
Keeping with the theme of unknowns, if the handful of veterans in Waters, McGriff, and Dziagwa are able to efficiently shoulder more of the teams production, then the team can absolutely find success. This is obviously a huge ‘if’, but keep in mind that Jeffrey Carroll made an 8.2 to 17.5 ppg jump between his sophomore and junior seasons under the tutelage of a young assistant named Mike Boynton . Also, have you seen McGriff’s shoulders? I think there’s plenty of room up there for the team to hop on board.
S/o to my guy tanner for the pass pic.twitter.com/RclcgqG7j8— cameron (@cameron_mcgriff) June 22, 2017
The Big 12 Might Be Kinda Down
Yeah, the Big 12 is tough, but the Cowboys weren’t the only team to lose leadership and production. Kansas lost Devonte Graham, Malik Newman, and Svi Mykhailiuk (not to mention the fact that they’ve found themselves right in the middle of the FBI probe). Oklahoma lost Trae Young, Kam McGusty, and Khadeem Lattin. West Virginia lost Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles. Tech lost Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith.
There will be a lot of new faces in the Big 12, and a lot of new leadership will have to step up. The new Cowboy captains will have a chance to prove their mettle in the fight to fill this void.
Cowboys picked last with a new young coach and a motivated team. Sound familiar? With a dead last selection in last years preseason coaches poll the Cowboys still managed to make some major noise before falling just short of the tournament field under first year coach Mike Boynton.
OSU thrived in the underdog role last year and as far as they’re concerned, being underestimated is right where they want to be. HCMB seemingly squeezed every ounce out of his shorthanded team in the face of adversity and made some savvy coaching moves along the way. You can go ahead and count the Mike Boynton and the Cowboys out, but don’t be surprised when they prove you wrong.