What Did We Learn About The Cowboys?

Oklahoma State was not challenged in Saturday’s exhibition game against Missouri Western inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys rolled to a 74-35 victory, holding the Griffons to 20 percent shooting from the field. Twelve Cowboys played 10 minutes or more, giving Travis Ford an opportunity to evaluate his team. Here’s what we learned about the Cowboys.

1. Le’Bryan Nash ready to take over
The 6-foot-7 senior has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Ford has said that Nash must have the best season of his college career if the Cowboys are going to have any success. Although it was against a smaller, less talented Missouri Western team, Nash was clearly the best player on the court, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes of play. He nearly had a double-double (nine points and nine rebounds) at halftime. He’ll need to put those type of numbers up against teams like Memphis, Maryland and Missouri – in addition to Big 12 competition – for the Cowboys to be a surprise in 2014-15.

2. Michael Cobbins won’t play until Nov. 21
Because the fifth-year Cowboys senior played in two regular season games for a total of five minutes as a true freshman during his redshirt season in 2010-11, the NCAA eligibility committee has determined that he must sit out four games to start the 2014-15 season. Thus, Cobbins was in street clothes for Saturday’s exhibition game against Missouri Western and will also sit out the first three regular season games (Nov. 14 vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Nov. 16 vs. Prairie View A&M, and Nov. 18 vs. Northwestern Oklahoma State). Cobbins, who missed much of last season following an Achilles injury, will be allowed to practice with the team during the two weeks when he’s not allowed to play in games.

3. Is Anthony Hickey the key to the season?
The 5-foot-11 senior point guard who was playing in his first game in a Cowboys uniform showed what Ford has been talking about for the past two months. A transfer from LSU, Hickey showed that this may be his team. While playing just 17 minutes, he scored a team-best 11 points (tying with Nash) while adding a team-high five steals and an assist. Hickey was a three-year starter at LSU and will be asked by Ford to provide the toughness and leadership – especially early in the season – for a young Cowboys team that includes seven newcomers playing in their first ever major college game on Saturday.

4. Could the Oklahoma State bench go 10-deep?
Ford continues to say this could be the most depth he has had in his seven years at OSU. He played 12 different players more than 10 minutes on Saturday. His goal was to see the newcomers in a real game situation for the first time. He knows who is top four players are going to be – Nash, Hickey, Cobbins and Phil Forte – but figuring out how the rotation from 5 to 12 is going to work is the challenge. He says one day Leyton Hammonds will have a great practice, the next day it will be Jeffrey Carroll, and then the next it may be Tavarius Shine. Those who want playing time are going to have to earn it in practice, and he hasn’t seen a lot of consistency from anyone yet. “Nobody has stood out,” Ford said. “What’s going to get them playing time is playing well in practice.”

5. Anthony Allen, Marek Soucek and Mitchell Solomon.
Will the 7-1 Allen, the 7-foot Soucek and 6-9 Solomon combine to provide depth at the post that the Cowboys have been lacking in recent years? If Ford is basing it off the performance against Missouri Western, the Cowboys coaching staff has plenty of work to do. That trio combined for two points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. The improvement of Soucek has been mentioned by Ford on numerous occasions, and the senior from the Czech Republic got the first start of his college career. He did not score while playing 10 minutes. Allen, the junior college transfer from Lamar State-Port Arthur, was the first big man off the bench and played 20 minutes. He also did not score in 20 minutes of play. Solomon, the true freshman from Bixby, Okla. who has been playing at the four spot more than the five, also saw his share of action (10 minutes). He made two free throws in 10 minutes. “I was not happy with them. We have got to get more production out of them,” Ford said.

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