#11 r.p.i. Oklahoma State @ #124 r.p.i. Virginia Tech
TV coverage: 2pm, Saturday ESPN3
Vegas line: VT-1
The rubber hits the road, and the fats in the fire for this one folks … as one of only two remaining perfect A.c.c. basketball teams (VT is 6-o) hosts the #15 team in the land in the 5-o Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Somebody’s “o” has got to go!
As one would have to believe that the only ranked out-of-conference opponent for Coach J’s will be a hot tix to be had down in the New River Valley this weekend. OK.State is a dang fine hoops team folks. They surely pack some star-power wallop and they can defend far better this year than most Coach Ford teams have in the past. That makes this a very dangerous roundup for upstart Virginia Tech; even at home, inside our very own Cassell. This OK.State basketball squad ain’t your average bunch of ranch-hands, and they are almost surely in the top-4 hoops teams that Virginia Tech will face this 2012-2013 regular season.
So this is a big damn game and this figures to be a dicey game at best. Oklahoma State is that good — if you don’t believe me just ask NC.State. However, what you wanna know is who will win? Let’s find out…
Oklahoma State at a glance:
- 6th best in FT% (79.2%)
- 12th best in defensive FG% allowed (a mere 34.5%)
- 36th in blocks (5.4 swats per game)
- 43rd least ppg allowed, (57.8 ppg)
- 44th in scoring margin per game (+14.4 to the good)
- deep shooting 3-point team on film, nobody necessarily looking to toe the arc here (i.e. VT must extend their defense to counter this; and this opens up driving lanes for OK.State)
- More athletic team than I expected on film, almost fluid, and not afraid to finish
N.B.A. pros= Le’Bryan Nash, definite Pro, not if, w-h-e-n
Injuries=P/F, Soph., Michael Cobbins 6`8“, 230 lbs. 6 ppg and 6 boards last year; lead OK.State in rebounding and blocks as r-freshman, OUT until late November (broken giant toe)
Swing, Sr., Jean-Paul Olukemi 6`6“ 215 lbs., slashing good offensive threat; baseball player, 8.5 ppg, 3.5 assists, 24 years old, QUESTIONABLE (A.c.l. recovery from VT game last year– knee)
K.Murry (K for Kamarl) is a 6`8“ 2o9 lb. freshman who can run the floor like a gazelle even if he is still running it while wearing his high school prom body. If this kid ever fills out, look out! As this kid is way ahead of schedule as his pre-season expectations go at a second best 7 boards, 5 points and 1.4 blocks per game, if you need ‘em. Jean-Paul Olukemi is yet another 6`6“ 215 lb. final year swing who is making his way back from a totally blown-out A.c.l. which cost him the entirety of last year. Jean-Paul Olukemi has played in the last two OK.State games after missing the first three. He is listed as “questionable” though I do expect him to suit up even if his rebounding and scoring are both down (8.5 and 3.o respectively) despite the fact that his shooting from the floor is up a downright anomalous 19% form two years ago. Go fig’ on that? Though that is a very keen improvement for the Vincennes University transfer who really only needs to stay healthy in order to excel. Le’Bryan Nash (see: pic) is a 6`6“ swing who could be listed on either end of this preview. Hence I will list this handsome looking 230 lb. sophomore at the bottom of the frontcourt section to give you a feel for his overlapping G/F skill set. Le’Bryan –yes, it’s Le’Bryan, not Lebron- is quite possibly the best player on the floor on Saturday –or at least the next best player on the floor not named Erick Green; take thy pick. Mr. Nash is only netting you 19.2 ppg, with 6.4 boards, a couple of dimes, more than one steal all on 86% from the line. And that’s significant when you have attempted almost 20 more FTA’s than any other Cowboy or 48 on the season. Nash has ok (pardon the pun) 3-point range at 30% though a pure shooter he is not. #2 is more parts versatility and less parts specificity when it comes to putting up numbers. Or in other words, this year he is more parts consistency and less parts inconsistency compared to early 2012 when he yo-yo’ed up and down like a Smothers Brother comedic routine. Not bad for the #3 S/F outta high school according to ESPN.com who flirted with turning pro last year before missing the final five games of last year with a fractured wrist. This is quite the change from the unpolished and uncut Dallas native who never met a high degree of difficult shot that he would not attempt or a jumper he would not settle for. Such makes Le’Bryan something of a leaner or impoverished man’s Antwan Jamison for a point of reference.
Association pros= Marcus Smart, mid to late round Pro with some seasoning
Hurts= S/F 2-guard, r-soph., Brian Williams, 6`6“2o5 lbs., 10 ppg and 3 rebounds last year, (wrist surgery from practice accident — out for the year)
Markel Brown is a 6`3“ 190 lb. third year Guard who is straight up explosive as can be. Hence this kid was second in assists and rebounding last year for OK.State. As of right now ‘kel Brown is getting you 14.2 points, with 5.2 rebounds, to go with an improved 42% from downtown. That’s what I call a tough cover folks or a kid who can beat you from distance or near the rack. That’s what Brown the recipient of the “Best Body on Dunks” award from ESPN and “Dunker of the Year” by CollegeBasketballTalk.com can do for you. Dood can also block a shot or pick a pocket off a high-dribble as he was not named Mr. Basketball Louisiana three years ago via mistake. Marcus Smart however was the backcourt attraction out west in Oklahoma City for the Cowboys during the pre-season. Smart is only said to be the best pure play-maker/passer in the Big-12 by Lindy’s, the best point-guard in the rookie 2012-2013 class in America, a lock-down hard nosed defender, a natural floor-general or leader with exceptional decision making on-ball abilities from the Point. Mr. Smart drops 14.4 points, with an astonishing and team leading 7 rebounds and a likewise team leading 5.8 assists per game. Ditto #33 being the Cowboy team leader in steals (2.4) and in blocks (1.4) per contest. The only real thing that Mr. Smart is not so bright at would be outside shooting. As Mr. Smart has a reputation for courting a short-range J at only 20% from 3-point-land and a clanking 37% from the floor. I’d take that from a 6`4“ totally stacked 228 lb. rook’, wouldn’t you?
Bench: (3-man rotation)
Note above that I, b’street may have made a mistake; albeit it a minor one. After studying the cowboy bench; it occurred to me that this match-up was closer to “even” than it was to the “basketball icon” or OK.State edge that I have listed. That said, Phil Forte is already listed as the #1 catch-n-shoot rookie 2-guard in the nation! That’s in the nation folks, not just in the Big-12 alone, that’s D-1 345 team wide if you are keeping score at home. That’s not half bad, and neither is 11 ppg, on 50% from beyond the arc and a team leading 90% at the FT stripe. The only thing that this sawed-off shooting-guard wants for is height. Mr. Forte is only 5`10“ in stature and 195 lbs. in stack as a t-freshman; even if he truly is a precocious one to be true. It should also be noted that Forte ran A.A.U. ball with Mr. Smart, and that means their teamwork is a OK.State’s forté indeed. Kirby Gardner is a 6`2“ 200 lb. junior year back-up point-guard who’s unexpected eligibility has left him off of the Lindy’s roster card for this year. The San Bernardino transfer “one” averaged 17.5 ppg in JuCo terms last year and was the Cali’ 2-A player of the year three years ago. Kirby is a true-point guard, with lottsa strength upstairs and he can crossover and fill-in at the “2” if need be. #44 Phil Jurick is a 6`11“ 270 big-Big man. Phil is a final year baller who is back on the team after an indefinite summer suspension after being arrested for marijuana possession and possession of narcotic paraphernalia. Phil put some courtroom juke moves on all of that and got a deferred sentence which got Phil outta Coach T.Ford’s doghouse and back out on the Cowboy’s court. Jurick may forever be limited offensively, as he only averages 3 ppg, though he does shoot in immediate proximity to the basket and that means he shoots 63% per contest. He also bangs his 270 lb. way to 5.4 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks in only 17 minutes of play. That’s pretty dang good on a per minute basis and Coach J’s will have a thudding sized match-up problem on his hands this Saturday –that I for one am none too high on for this one. (UPDATE: Jurick is QUESTIONABLE with a ugly practice inflicted split upper-lip)
Conclusion(s), illation, OPT digits:
You might think that after the always curiously allowed Spanish 4-game Summer Tour that OK.State, a physical team, would be the hands down favorite and far more precocious for their summertime NC2A suit sanctioned extra work. You Sir would be correct. Out in the State whose name literally translates to a politically incorrect “red” “people”, I’d have to pick OK.State by 10 to 15. On an allegedly neutral court, that number comes down to 10 odd points; and even in our own backyard, the team that just took the #1 scalp in America is indeed credibly the favorite in this one. However, such is the always precarious difference between prospect and retrospect, or prospect and suspect when you conjure an impoverished pick. (as was my Iowa lower tempo based score(s) last time out). The Cowboys really should win, their depth and balanced inside-out approach says so and all fingers point to that.
So I’ma gonna pick OK.City to give coach J’s his very first L? “Not so fast my friends.” As this early-season giant-killing slingshot basketball squad is one other thing without a doubt. OK.State is relatively young. Because the Cowboys field no seniors in their top-4 and two bona fide rookie or nugget years’ players; you just’ don’t know for sure how they will react in their very first road-trip of the year; and in the very first roadie for 50% of those aforementioned Top-4 ballers period.
Only thing I am sure of on Friday afternoon is that this basketball game has shoot-out written all over it; and he who makes last may very well laugh last in this one as well. OK.State has 3-4 run-n-gunners as Cowboys go. Coach Ford’s team -same as J.J.’s- has several offensive match-ups that it can exploit and both teams can bomb away from the outside. Frankly I am stunned to see the Cowboys+1 or as a one point underdog out on the Vegas big-board. From what I just watched on film, OK.State (unlike say Iowa) will not be unhappy nor uncomfortable with an up-tempo fun-n-gun kinda basketball game. These Cowboys are dynamic enough to do just that; and they were quicker and/or faster than I expected on tape. Ergo, I am left beginning to wonder if this is not a case of “be careful what you wish for” as up-tempo high-scoring contests go. OK.State basically has nearly as many shooters as Coach J’s does, and the Cowboys’ might just field a couple of more athletes on the whole. As I am not sure how well Raines, Barksdale and Joey will run with their OK.State frontcourt counterparts should this game turn into an all out hardwood indoor track meet; as it very well could.
|Michael Cobbins||F||Prob Sat – Toe – 11/30/12|
|Jean-Paul Olukemi||G||out for season – Knee – 11/30/12|
|Philip Jurick||C||Out Sat – Concussion – 11/30/12|
|Marek Soucek||F||Out indefinitely – Knee – 11/30/12|
|Brian Williams||G||out for season – Wrist – 10/30/12|
See ^that^ newly published and now fully updated Cowboy injury report folks? That’s what you call a problem; and that might just be enough of a problem to allow Coach J’s and Virginia Tech to upset big bad #15 at home on Saturday!
This all conspires to tell me that beloved Vah.Tech might just have backed into a good thing via insalubrious OK.State means (Godspeed on that); and therefore might just be playing these Cowboys at just the right time. That almost swung me to select Virginia Tech alone. As me thinks that Coach J’s boys might just enjoy a fatigue advantage later on in this one after a 1,092 mile roadie to Blacksburg Va. The splits on 3-point shooting however is what did the trick –as the Hokies enjoy an aggregate 14% edge from downtown when one compares the most recent 5-game offensive splits for these two squads. Otherwise, I was compelled to pick OK.State by about 10 points or so. Right now this one is about as even-Steven or fenced as it can be. However, I will side with the home team, the healthier team, and the team with the advantage from the outside … that will be playing in what I hope to be a ruckus version of Cassell Coliseum inside the New River Valley.
Virginia Tech=84, Oklahoma State=79