Marcus Smart: Block Out And Block It Out

Marcus Smart is often able to almost become an amoeba that changes the structure of his play into whatever his team needs on any particular night. But Smart has focused on rebounding after the Cowboys lost Michael Cobbins for the season with a blown Achilles. He has led the team in board work against Texas (11), against West Virginia (13) and was one of four Cowboys with eight rebounds versus TCU.

"Many teams don't expect a point guard to be able to rebound, and they expect a point guard to go back (defensively) and protect the rim," Smart explained. "After that it is just a mind-set deal and you have to have the will to do it."

"Wonderful and is there anyway we can make that happen for sure," answered Cowboys head coach Travis Ford when asked how he would feel about the game if he knew that Smart and backcourt mate Markel Brown were both going to rebound in double digits in Saturday's game at Kansas. "I would love for that to happen.

"They have rebounded the ball really well but that goes along with the philosophy that everybody is going to have to chip in."

Smart admits that he's propelled when he makes these focus changes in his game. He can be an assist guy, a big scorer either inside or from three-point range, a defender, or any combination of the above. That is when any basketball observer can especially appreciate how Smart he is.

"Last couple of game before these last three conference games, coaches kind of pulled me in and said, 'you know, you're not playing the way we know you can play on both ends,'" revealed Smart. "It kind of got to me and I went in and watched a lot of film and watched myself a lot and I could tell, so I went back to just playing and having fun and once I did that my game has come to me."

Besides blocking out at 15th-ranked Kansas on Saturday, Smart will have to block out the surroundings. Last season's upset by the Cowboys over KU in Allen Fieldhouse has Kansas fans really cranked up for the showdown of Big 12 preseason favorites.

Smart's back-flip at the end of the game to celebrate the win is an indelible memory etched in the minds of Jayhawks one and all. He will be the focus of the KU crowd, especially the students.

"You know you just keep playing and most of the time I get into a zone and I block it out and can barely hear it," said Smart of the fans focusing on him verbally. "You let it go because it is going to happen and you can't control it, so don't focus on something you can't control. It's a respect factor and that is a great crowd."

"That goes with the territory. If they are chanting your name then there is a good reason for it," said Ford. "That is to be expected.

"You'd be amazed, literally once that ball is thrown up as athletes and coaches you forget about everything except what is important and what is happening on the floor. Nothing else really matters."

Block out and block it out, that is all Smart needs to remember on Saturday, and just how the Cowboys beat Kansas last season so they will have a chance to do it again.

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