November 1, 2012
Grade Card: Cowboys open basketball season
Oklahoma State trounced Ottawa in the team's exhibition opener by the tune of 109-56. It was a game a lot like the football team's opener against Savannah State, not a lot of competition and a ton of scoring by men wearing orange.
Overall, the team looked great. They shot well (51.3% from floor, 48.4% from 3-point range) against a weak defense, and shut down Ottawa's offensive game. Marcus Smart led that charge with his pesky half-court defense, something we'll get into later.
The only negative on the night was losing low-post man Michael Cobbins to a foot injury, which Ford later said he didn't know much about, only saying it was his big toe.
Phillip Jurick (foot) and Jean-Paul Olukemi (knee) didn't suit up, as both are still not fully recovered from injuries suffered last season.
The grades are out as Ford played every part of his lineup, so let's see how his top eight players performed.
Marcus Smart: A-
Smart had a great first-showing as he nearly racked up a quadruple-double (13 points, 6 steals, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) in just 15 minutes of playing time. What was most impressive is what won't really show up in the stat-book, and that's his defense. The true story was his half-court defense play. By the time Ottawa's point guard got to midcourt, he had nowhere to go. I gave him an A- because he leaves himself open to picking up fouls that better guards will force him into. If he can fix that, he's golden.
Markel Brown: A+
Brown had the sickest sequence of dunks I've ever seen from him since his time at Oklahoma State, and that's saying something after last year's performance against Missouri. Midway through the first half, Brown dipped by a defender and threw down a one-handed slam on Ottawa's center, then moments later flew through the air on a breakaway for a 360 throw down. Ford said that his biggest improvement this offseason has been his shooting and it showed as he converted seven of his eight shots, including 3-of-4 from down town.
Phil Forte: A+
Undoubtedly the three-point specialist of the team, Forte lived up to the hype as he drained five from three-point range, including starting the game on a 4-4 streak. It was common belief that Ford would turn him into "the new Keiton Page", but Forte showed more spunk on the defensive end and more shot-creation than Page ever really flaunted during his time here. Is he better than Page? Not yet, at least, but he certainly isn't as similar to him as most have made him out to be. He likely saw a little bit more time than Ford had planned due to Cobbins' injury, but he showed why he's on the roster and in the mix for more time on the court.
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