NORMAN, Okla. – Saturday’s Bedlam game at the Lloyd Noble Center is a microcosm of what this Oklahoma State men’s basketball season is likely going to look like.
So, Cowboy fans get ready.
It’s not going to be pretty. In fact, there’s a good chance it could be pretty ugly from a record standpoint.
Yet, don’t give up hope or faith in the Cowboys and second-year coach Mike Boynton. Have patience this year and the wins will come next year and beyond.
The Cowboys are 6-8 overall and 0-2 in Big 12 Conference games. It’s hard to see this team making a postseason tournament unless something drastic changes, and changes quickly.
They would need to go 9-7 in the remaining Big 12 games, and hopefully beat South Carolina later this month, to finish with a record above .500. Of course, a run in the conference tournament would help, but hard to picture that today.
On Saturday, OSU played tough and gritty, as it always does, against a talented, experienced Sooners squad. OSU just didn’t make enough shots or make enough plays down the stretch.
The Sooners didn’t make many shots, either, but they made plays and shots when needed late in the game. That’s something OSU is missing right now.
Last year, graduate transfer Kendall Smith became that clutch player, along with senior Jeffrey Carroll. The Cowboys haven’t found that guy, yet.
Sure, you could say youth is a possible explanation for the struggles. This is a very young team with very little Big 12 experience.
But, the Cowboys and Boynton aren’t using youth as an excuse anymore.
“Youth is not an excuse anymore,” OSU junior Thomas Dziagwa said. “We played enough ball games. I think it’s just coming down to our really digging in and competing and everyone doing their job. Here going forward, we’re at a crossroad where we either have to choose to stay focused on everything or not. We just gotta keep going, continuing doing our job and going to practice and keep getting better.”
Boynton agreed with his sharp-shooting guard, who needs to continue his solid junior campaign to give the Cowboys a chance at winning more games.
“I Agree. Youth (isn’t) an excuse,” Boynton said. “You gotta play basketball. You put it on, and you’re either ready or you’re not. We just have to play better, it’s quite simple.”
The Cowboys will improve this year. They already have, but it just hasn’t showed up in the win column. They will play hard and give great effort night in and night out in the most competitive league in the country.
The Big 12 might be down on talent this year, but it’s full of veterans who know how to win. You can’t take a night off and expect to win.
OSU will likely play most teams to within a couple possessions, because of its coach and players. It will be a team that will pester opponents and probably steal a game or two from teams at the top of the conference.
It’s just going to take a year or two of rebuilding this team for the wins to come. Boynton and his staff lost three-quarters of its squad from a year ago. That’s an insane amount of talent gone.
The Cowboys will be young again next year with a few seniors, one junior and a lot of sophomores who are going through growing pains as freshmen right now. There will also be a group of very talented freshman coming into Stillwater who will want to and compete for playing time.
Boynton will turn this around, but it may take some time. Give him the necessary support and time to build Cowboy basketball up to what it used to be.
Come out and support at home games. Filling half of the arena isn’t enough, and frankly, it’s embarrassing for a school with a lot of basketball tradition.
Players feed off crowd noise and energy at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Just look at last year’s home wins over OU and Kansas.
OSU football fans battled through an up and down season this fall, and fans still showed up. Do the same for basketball – both teams. This men’s team has potential, and it will be reached, so don’t give hope.
Or better yet, don’t stop believing. Journey told us that in 1981.
Believe in what Boynton is doing. Trust his process.
Jimmy Gillispie is a sports reporter for the Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at email@example.com.