Five Questions About OSU Basketball: Part II

Oklahoma State is off to a 1-0 start and is set to participate in the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-off. We had a solid response from readers when we asked what questions they had heading into the year. Here is another selection of questions from our subscribers.

1)As a season progresses, most coaches seem to want to shorten that 10-11 rotation to 6-8. Who do you see being that 6-8 man rotation? Or do you think he runs 10, so he can dictate a faster tempo?

This was one of the more prevalent questions asked and it is an important one. The short answer is this: Yes, Ford will use a 10-man rotation and I do not foresee it moving down to a 6-8 man rotation at any point this season, barring injuries of course.

A true starting five might never reveal itself because the Cowboys have so many options, allowing coach Travis Ford to choose the five he views as the best fit for each opponent.

But as far as the rotation goes, I honestly can't see it dipping below 10 or exceeding it, except in blowout victories.

The 10 men are as follows:

Guards — Reger Dowell, Keiton Page, Fred Gulley, Cezar Guerrero and Markel Brown.

Forwards — J.P. Olukemi, LeBryan Nash, Brian Williams and Michael Cobbins.

Center — Philip Jurick.

All 10 bring something unique to the lineup and Cobbins has shown early on that he is capable of playing the role of a small center at 6-foot-8 because his speed is a mismatch for opposing big men and he's a fierce rebounder and shot blocker. He and Jurick should be able to rotate nicely in the paint while Ford has the luxury of mixing and matching everywhere else on the court.

2) Will OSU solve its half court offense in time to be competitive for the NIT?

To be determined but my inclination in the later rounds of the NIT would be no. At least not yet. That doesn't mean they can't do serious damage in the tournament but it will likely take a little longer for a consistency to be built in the half court offense.

Part of the reason can be seen above. Getting used to a 10-man rotation could, understandably, take a little time. Not to mention five of the 10 have only one Division I basketball game under their belt and a sixth, Fred Gulley, missed all but seven games last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. It will come in time but there will be growing pains along the way.

The Good news for the Cowboys in this department, however, is Nash. He brings that scoring prowess and dominating presence that the Cowboys have been lacking since James Anderson left. If he plays well and Page can hit his outside shots then the pressure loosens and the flow will come much more naturally.

3) Will Soucek play more at a 3 than a 4 or 5 this year?

That depends on how much Soucek actually plays. I don't see him fitting into the 10-man rotation this season and I would have labeled him a redshirt candidate had Ford not already said that wouldn't be the case.

Soucek has a very high ceiling but it is apparent his game and his body need more time to develop than most would have hoped.

When he does play I see him playing almost exclusively at the four and the five spots. The only time I could see him at the three would be in a designed set to get him open from the outside.

4) Besides Page, who will become the outside shooter?

Nobody will present the threat Page does from outside but the good news is that nearly everyone is capable of stepping up and drilling the outside shot. I think we'll see a lot of 3's put up by Dowell, Nash, Olukemi and Guerrero. Williams, Brown and Gulley are all improved in that area but make a bigger impact slicing to the basket.

I do think we'll see Page have his best year as a Cowboy because defenses won't be able to key on him like they could a year ago. The mere presence of Nash should give Page open looks and I believe his 0-for-6 shooting performance behind the arc in the season opener should be overlooked. It's not something that will become a prolonged issue.

5) Does Ford have the horses to play the full court pressure for 40 minutes?

Absolutely. OSU is deep enough and athletic enough to not only pull it off, but also I think that will become a major part of the Cowboys' approach.

The teams the Cowboys will face that rely on 6-8 man rotations will be in a world of hurt late in games because OSU will have run them to death and pressured them into too many mistakes to hang tough in the end. I think Ford will use a lot of three-quarter coach pressure and half-court traps, as well. Mixing up the types of pressure will cause even more damage. While I already mentioned that a 10-man rotation could hinder the Cowboys' rhythm in a half-court offense, this pressure defense and constant cycle of fresh legs is one of the major pay offs.


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