Cobbins' Efficiency Key To OSU's Postseason

Travis Ford called it before the season began. In a sit-down interview in August, the Oklahoma State head caoch laid out his expectations for the season ahead. The unknowns were glaring: Would Marcus Smart live up to the hype? Would Le'Bryan Nash find consistency? And would Markel Brown continue to develop past just being an athletic high-flyer?

Of all the concerns he shared preseason, Ford was most candid when discussing what he predicted as the Cowboys' biggest weakness.

"This team has come together with the type of players that I like," Ford said in August. "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."

Fast forward seven months. Michael Cobbins has helped his coach get a good night's rest. The No. 14 Cowboys are a lock for the NCAA Tournament with a legitimate shot at a Big 12 postseason title.

Cobbins has been a key piece of the No. 14 Cowboys run toward postseason play. The sophomore was named to the All-Big 12 Defensive Team and was All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after an underrated regular season.

His season averages won't blow you away — 7.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg — but his big-game moments will. His crunch-time blocks were essential in wins against Baylor and Kansas this season. Those key plays, and a combination of defensive talents, earned him those postseason accolades.

"We've challenged him, especially coming into conference play, to be a difference maker for our team," Ford said. "One of the things Michael is really good at, he's a versatile defender. He can guard a lot of different people on the floor. And he can protect the rim because he understands shot blocking. He has timing. He's long."

For the Cowboys to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, they'll undoubtedly need more of the same from Cobbins. OSU has the pieces needed to make it happen — leadership at point guard, athleticism at wing and depth. The final key could very well be Cobbins.

The Cowboys don't necessarily need more physical play at center, just a bigger physical presence. That means altering shots inside, as well as having the versatility to guard a number of positions.

That's something Cobbins is proud to have improved over the past two seasons, with the help of former OSU big men Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim during his redshirt season.

"I love to hear him say that, because that's the terminology we use for him all the time," Ford said. "We need him to be a presence down there."

But more than anything, Cobbins simply strives to make a difference. The more he does that, the further his team could go. It starts with Baylor.

"Being able to affect the game in different ways," Cobbins said. "Being something that the other team needs to worry about."

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UP NEXT: Baylor
The Cowboys will face Baylor (18-13, 9-9) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Big 12 Championships in Kansas City / TV: Big 12 Network / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM


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