This one ended in a tie for me. One deserves it for the work he did on the court and the other deserves it for being there at all.
Injured freshman guard Cezar Guerrero came to the practice and received the largest ovation from the crowd. He was fitted with a massive neck brace and appeared to be in a serious amount of pain and all of his movements were methodical, as it took him nearly five minutes with assistance to get on a treadmill to walk. That said, he was in great spirits and his teammates were very supportive of him. After the serious injury he sustained on Monday where he had to be taken to a hospital in Oklahoma City by helicopter, it was great to see him up and moving around.
The player who impressed me the most on Wednesday is another Cowboy who had to overcome a serious injury — Fred Gulley.
Gulley looked great running the point and his shooting has improved tremendously. He was knocking down 3's and jumpers with as great a frequency as anyone on the team and his ball handling is second to none. He was running like he was never injured, too. Reger Dowell ran the point effectively and he should still be the starting point guard at this point but Gulley will give him a run.
Markel Brown without a doubt. He has really bulked up and didn't lose any speed in the process. The biggest change I saw in him today was that he still flies all over the court and gets involved on offense and defense but it was a lot more controlled today. He really picked his moments and it paid off. He might have had the cleanest practice of anyone and I only counted one turnover to his name in three hours of drills and scrimmaging. He also had the highight of the day with a tomahawk slam through two defenders that got the crowd excited.
I know I've been touting Philip Jurick quite a bit but seeing him in live action did nothing to change my mind. He is physically imposing and really controls his end of the floor on defense when he gets himself in good position. He looked lost at times but he's only had a handful of true practices at this point and I would think that is to be expected. His offensive game was way better than I thought it would be. He dunks through people and OSU hasn't really had that in a few years. He also hit a silky jumper from the top of the key. It was the only one he took from any range but it hit nothing but net.
LeBryan Nash. I know Cowboy fans don't want to hear it but he has a lot to improve upon before the season starts. He did nothing to distinguish himself in the practice and he looked lazy. Coach Ford said he has his good days and his bad days and Wednesday was definitely a bad day. He had the ball stolen from him a few times and appeared to be lazy for the most part. The thing that bothered me the most though was his demeanor when things weren't going his way. He walked really slowly everywhere and pouted a little bit. There was also an incident where he talked back to coach Ford, which didn't sit well with the coach. That's not good to see but my guess is he wasn't enjoying being yelled at in front of a crowd of people when he wasn't having his best day. It's too early to make anything of this yet but it wasn't a great sign.
Keiton Page looks very good with other weapons around him. He was getting open shots because of the penetration his teammates were getting and he was knocking his shots down in a big way. He should have his best season by far because defenses won't be able to lock him down with all the other threats on the floor.
Brian Williams is freaky athletic. Coach Ford has touted him as the best athlete on the team and he put it on display Wednesday. His best stretch came when he stole a Reger Dowell pass and slammed it on the other end and LeBryan Nash started taking the ball back up the floor and Williams stripped him and threw it down again for four points in around 13 seconds.
Jean-Paul Olukemi had a lot of positive plays in the practice session. His defense has come a long way. In fact, he either stole the ball or disrupted a pass on four-consecutive defensive possessions. He looks committed to defense this year and that will benefit this team in a big way because of his athleticism and strength. He also knocked down a handful of 3's and his mid-range game looks to have improved greatly.
Also, Oklahoma State released details today regarding the annual Homecoming & Hoops festivities. It will take place Friday, Oct. 28, at 9 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena and admission is free.
As is normally the case, both the men's and women's basketball teams will be introduced and each team will have an intrasquad scrimmage.
The Homecoming schedule is as follows:
Walkaround — 6-9 p.m.
Homecoming & Hoops — 9 p.m.
Homecoming Parade (on Main Street) — 9 a.m.
OSU vs. Baylor — 2:30 p.m.