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October 14, 2013

Oklahoma State basketball hosts media day

It's crazy to think that it's already time for basketball season, yet here we are at Oklahoma State media day talking about Cowboy royalty Marcus Smart and his team.

The Cowboy basketball team met with the press today to preview their season and their expectations for 2013-14. Smart, Markel Brown, and Le'Bryan Nash were in attendance, as well as a few teammates whom Phil Forte dubbed "The Others."

There will be plenty of coverage to come out around the state over the next few days, but let's hit on a few key pieces of the meeting, and what exactly was said by the various players and coaches that spoke.

The day started with Michael Cobbins who said he's on the "seafood" diet, meaning that if he see's food, he eats it. Cobbins has struggled with weight issues during his time in Stillwater, and he didn't say how much weight he's put on, but he's put on a noticeable amount of bulk. He said it's helping him bang in the post, and that he's getting better on the offensive end of the floor because of it.

"I think he's still learning how to play with his weight, but ultimately I think it will be a good thing." - Coach Travis Ford on Cobbins.

Forte opened up on how he's looking at Smart's coming departure after this season. "I think about it every day. That's one less practice, one less weight session, one less scrimmage, one less game. I just want to cherish this time with him because I know the end is coming," he said. Forte also talked about his battles with freshman Stevie Clark, who's also known as the sharp-shooter that Forte excelled as last season, and said he's excited about what Clark will do at Oklahoma State.

"The battles between (Forte) and (Clark) were legendary. Stevie couldn't keep up very well at first, but now they battle when they're against each other." - Markel Brown

Smart had plenty to say about his decision, and it seems like he's tired of talking about it. "At the end of the day, I'm the one putting in work every day. Coming back was my decision, not yours," he said, and continued to talk about how he was raised to look at the big picture, not the immediate future. Ford also said that his decision has been a great thing for the recruiting trail, and that if a top 3 pick in the NBA Draft returns to school, "we must be doing something right."

"Scouts come in and ask me what to expect with Marcus. I tell them he's going to be the hardest worker in this gym, and the loudest person in this gym. After practice, they tell me every time 'You were right,' and I laugh and say 'Yeah, I know.'" - Travis Ford

Ford went on to talk more about Clark, and said that he's "The quickest player on our team with the ball in his hands." That's high praise for a freshman, but it's exactly what we saw in our thirty minutes of watching practice after media day. Clark may not be a major contributor this season just because of the logjam in the backcourt, but there's undoubtedly some high expectations for him.

"I had my top seven players figured out as soon as last season was over. I know those. The challenge has been figuring out who eight, nine, and ten were." - Travis Ford

Cobbins was asked who's caught his eye in practice so far, and his immediate response was Leyton Hammonds. Hammonds is a freshman out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and Ford echoed Cobbins' opinion. Ford said that Hammonds has "really solidified himself" as the eighth man on the team already. We'll see if that holds true.

A player also said that the starting five he expects to start the season with is as follows:

1- Smart
2- Brown
3- Nash
4- Brian Williams
5- Cobbins

Ford went on to say that Williams has gotten even better on the defensive end. Two years ago, he was Oklahoma State's best defender, regularly guarding the one (point guard) through the four (power forward), and demanding to guard the best player on the opponents team each and every week. Last season, he broke his wrist and missed almost all of the season, but now Williams said he's guarding Cobbins in practice, and expects to guard the five at different times during the season as well.

"When you play Oklahoma State, we want you to think it's your worst game. We obviously respect everyone, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, everyone, but Oklahoma State is back with a vengeance." - Marcus Smart

Towards the end of his press conference, Travis Ford said that he had a peculiar project for his team during the offseason. He said that he broke them into groups of "three or four", and had them give a report on each Final Four team in Oklahoma State's program history. He said that the night before practice started was the last time his team will talk about championships. "Kansas can do that, but we can't. I don't want to pinhole it," he said.

You can get your first look at the Oklahoma State basketball team on October 27th, when the Pokes host Campbellsville at 2 pm. The Pokes open the regular season hosting Mississippi Valley State on November 8th at 7 pm. They also travel to the Old Spice Classic in Florida, and will open against Purdue on November 28th. At 11 am on ESPN2.


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