Coach Ford sat down with Go Pokes to preview the season, with thoughts about the Cowboys' key players.
"This team has come together with the type of players that I like," Ford said. "We have guys that can score, we have guys that can defend and we have athleticism. The one weakness we have right now is that we are not an overly physical team at the five spot … Every team has weaknesses, but it's not one that keeps me up a night."
G Markel Brown: Junior / 6-3 / 190
"I reminded him of this the other day – I know you haven't started your junior year yet, but you're the most experienced player on our team," Ford said. "You've almost got to act like a senior. We saw glimpses of that experience and maturity hopefully coming to the top with him … Markel is like a fatherly figure to these guys."
G/F LeBryan Nash: Sophomore / 6-7 / 230
"We knew there was going to be an adjustment period for LB," Ford said. "He went through his ups and downs, and most freshmen do. LB had just been so used to dominating at a level physically where he could take plays off and decide when he's going to play – he developed those habits. We knew it was going to take some time … I think all of these things are going to make him a better player," Ford said. "I think the guys we've added are going to help him, I won't say make him better, but they will help. He doesn't have all the pressure."
C Michael Cobbins: RS Sophomore / 6-8 / 220
"I'm a big Michael Cobbins fan," Ford said. "With that said, he knows I've got to have more from him. We tell him, ‘Do you know how many players would love to have the opportunity that you have. You're going to be here four years. You won't sit back like most players do. So what do you want out of it?'"
G Marcus Smart: Freshman / 6-4 / 225
"He just competes to win on every play," Ford said. "Whether it's diving for a loose ball, making a steal, making a pass, he's just competing to win. That's contagious, and that's something our team needed. We knew we had really good young players, but we needed everybody to step it up."
G Phil Forte: Freshman / 5-11 / 195
"He's a guy we're going to have a hard time keeping off the court," Ford said. "The number one thing I was impressed by Phil Forte in Spain was defense. He might be our best defender. Everybody knows he can shoot from 25 feet. He'll make an impact on this team."
F Kamari Murphy: Freshman / 6-8 / 210
"Kumari Murphy may have been the biggest surprise (in Spain)," Ford said. "He ended up leading us in rebounding … He's a guy who's going to get in there, and you talk about motor that runs, and doesn't mind competing. He's just really excited about getting after it, which this team needed."
G Kirby Gardner: Junior / 6-2 / 200
"He brings an experienced point that can play some two," Ford said. "He's built very strong … For junior college players, it's always an adjustment to this level, always. Well, he's not going to have to be ‘the guy.' He'll play a role early and establish himself."
C Phillip Jurick: Senior / 6-11 / 260
"Jurick is ahead of schedule right now," Ford said. "If he gets healthy, that really changes things for us … He's still suspended from the team, if he satisfies all that, then we will play a big lineup at times."
G/F Jean-Paul Olukemi: Senior / 6-6 / 215
"He played well, he didn't play bad (in Spain)," Ford said. "I didn't play him much, but he was the fifth leading scorer. That's just what he does."
F/C Marek Soucek: Sophomore / 7-0 / 235
"Marek Soucek has really improved more than any player on our team, as far as where he was at this point last year," Ford said. "We knew we had a 7-foot guy who could shoot and had an extreme understanding of the game. But physically, he could not compete. He might as well just thrown his skills out the door because he doesn't use any of them."