#60 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #23 R.P.I. Oklahoma State:
TV coverage: ESPN2 or ESPNU (check local listings)
Vegas Line: VT-2.5
Toughest term in college hoops this side of “season ending” is indeed: “consolation game.”
If Bronze is your favorite color and third is your favorite place than this is the one for you!
Just not an easy game to coach nor is this an easy game to get up for.
And yet this is where the rubber his the road in terms of mental toughness.
“If you keep score you play to win.”
-Billy Cunningham, 76′er head coach-
Amen Billy, preach on!
And guess what?
The (3-1) Oklahoma State staff and players alike are facing the same conundrum. What would you choose when you know you might not ever get back to the big NYC again … Macy’s parade or a good hard day of basketball practice? Clubbin’ in the Limelight or extra Free-throws after work? The Met-Art or the artistry of a true low-post move etched upon the canvas otherwise known as the key?
Lots to do up in Gotham last time I checked.
And not all of it has to do with basketball.
Oklahoma State at a glance:
- 90th in points per game (75.2)
- 74th in defensive FG% allowed (38.6%)
- 194th in FG% (43%)
The Cowboys are lead by one #1 the 6` 175 lb. freshman Point-Guard Cezar Guerrero. Cezar is hailed for his long-range shooting as he won the national 3-point competition last year in Houston Texas. He nets you a team leading 14 points per game, mostly from the outside and has already showcased a willingness to take and make clutch game-winning long-distance shots only four games into his rookie season. He is 40% from downtown and he is so good right away that he has seized his high school digit (#1) from sophomore Jarred Shaw which tells you a little something-something about Mr. Guerrero. Third in scoring is the 6`3“ 185 lb. former Louisiana high school player of the year in one Mr. Markel Brown. Markel Brown -there are two Markel’s on the OK.State roster mind you- is a pure bread stud scorer even in his freshman season who is surprisingly second best in pacing OK.State rebounding at 7.8 boards and he leads the Cowboys in steals at 2.0. Clearly this Bayou import has a nose for the basketball even if his jumper does not yet have a lot of range on it. Keiton Page is one of the best 3-point shooters in the entire Big-12 despite his diminutive 5`9“ frame the 165 lb. junior season shooter manages to get his shot off from range as he is the fourth highest ranked returning 3-point shooter in the Big-12 this season. That said, he is said to be having a “turf toe” problem and is therefore listed as “questionable” after sitting out Wednesday’s game vs. Stanford. Shouldn’t that be a “court-toe” problem? Well, nevertheless, when healthy this kid can flat-out put the biscuit in the basket from beyond the arc. The final backcourt rotational piece, Mr. Fred Gulley the 6`2“ 175 lb. sophomore and his 6.0 ppg (points per game) re-injured the very same shoulder he hurt last December this past Wednesday night in the N.I.T. semi-final round vs. Stanford. He too is listed as “questionable” for our Friday afternoon game.
Up front the Cowboys are really depleted, no thanks to the marijuana off-court issues of Big-12 leading rebounder Marshall Moses, who has been kicked off the team, and due to graduation departure of fellow front-courter Matt Pilgrim.
Manning the Cowboy frontcourt and second in scoring is versatile freshman year Swing Le’Bryan Nash. Mr. Nash goes 6`7“ and checks in carved outta wood at 236 muscular looking lbs. and he to was a awards circuit stud this time last year, winning the McDonalds’s all-American slam-dunk competition as Mr. Nash is know for his SportsCenter ‘esque open-court finishes. Mr. Nash is also second in rebounding at 5.5 per contest and he leads the way in FTA’s at 25, although he never met shot that he did not like. Jean-Paul Olukemi is a 6`7“ 215 lb. slashing defender who gets you 9.5 points per night, 4.5 boards, 1.8 steals and leads the way at 85% from the FT stripe for the Cowboys. This kid has a nice in-between game and he will get to the rim if you do not keep him out of the key.
6`11“ 270 lb. true-Center Philip Jurick is a former JuCo all-American Pivot outta Chattanooga State who decided to kick his game a notch to the D-1 level this past spring. Obviously, Jurick gives you big-time size down in the lane and he leads the Cowboys in rebounds with 8.5 and in blocked shots at 2.8 per contest even if he is still very raw offensively. Such makes him something of a shorter if not thicker version of Roy Brow in O&M terms. Helping out in the post are 6`8“ 245 lb. senior Darrell Williams and likewise 6`8“ 220 lb. freshman Michael Cobbins. #25 Williams was charged with rape last February and is surprisingly still an active member of the Cowboys basketball team in spite of an initial suspension for such from Coach Travis Ford. His trail goes to court in a little over a month (i.e. this January). Pending legal resolution or restitution, the senior Chi-town native gets you 6 points and 3 boards in front-court relief off the Cowboy bench. Cobblins gets you 3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a second best 1.5 blocks per game off the pine. Not bad work for only 16 minutes of P.T. (playing time) for the rookie from Texas.
Match-ups and OPT digits:
The book on OK.State reads that the Cowboys have plenty off offensive firepower, especially from the outside. It is however depth and a lack of a true inside game plus the departure of the Big-12’s leader on the glass from last year (Marshall Moses) and his versatile back-to-the-basket game that is a real live concern. That said, the one thing I know about a outside or perimeter oriented basketball team is that shooing the J in hoops is like the sword in the Bible. He who lives by it … shall die by it. –Matthew 26:52-
When you study these 2011-2012 Stillwater native OK.State hooping Cowboys in depth, two strategic trends leap out at you immediately –their inexperience and their quarrelsomeness. Coach Travis Ford has undergone something of a youth movement at OK.State; which does bode well for the future, even if that is at the expense of a puerile, juvenile and downright questionable at best looking present. Discipline is not exactly these Cowboys middle name, and nor is citizenship. Although there is talent here even if it is youthful and likewise prone to highly suspect and or outright unlawful off-court decisions.
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That said, If OK.State is on from the outside and nailing their long-range J, OK.State is one tough nut to crack. If OK.State is chilly from range then Virginia Tech has a fair to middling chance to finish third in the pre-season N.I.T.
Right now Virginia Tech appears to be a tad better –or more efficient- on offense, and just a bit better than that on defense. OK.State could very well hold an edge on the glass and that would appear to be their one main hook upon which to hang their Black Friday hat. That and outside shooting if/when the Cowboys find their long-distance range. From what I am seeing Seth’s Hokies appear to be a little bit better than the Cowboys head to toe. Though this is not an insurmountable advantage in what could be a singular or mutually unresponsive consolation game which simply looks sleepy no matter how stuffed you are or how you slice it. I’ll side with Virginia Tech, though this is a dodgy one to pick.
Virginia Tech=75, Oklahoma State=72