What's Wrong With Phil?

The predicament was featured on the front page of The Oklahoman this morning and it has been the topic of coffee shop morning point guards or grandstand coaches for over a month. The first sign of Phil Forte being anything less than potent from beyond the arch was easy.

The young man had the flu and that would zap anybody's three-point rhythm. Then there was the recovery from the flu, and the fact that Forte was leading and did finish as the player in the Big 12 with the most minutes played.

Now word comes out of Gallagher-Iba Arena on the eve of arriving in Omaha for a badly needed opportunity to win an NCAA Tournament game that Forte has also been hurt.

Head coach Travis Ford, who has been answering questions like a defense attorney stuck defending a guilty client, has admitted that Forte is probably just about 75 percent these days in the health category.

The problem is opposing teams haven't treated him with 75 percent respect. The Big 12 foes defended him like he was "Air" Forte and he's been picked up in the backcourt or at least at the mid-court line.

On the season the mighty mite from Flower Mound Marcus is shooting 42 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range, and 84 percent from the free-throw line. He's still averaging 15.1 points a game, 2.1 rebounds a game, and 1.7 assists to 1.9 turnovers.

However, in the last five games he's averaged 7.8 points a contest and his shooting is down to 28.5 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point range, and 70.5 percent from the charity stripe. Turnovers are up and assists are about the same. He's being hounded as if stopping Forte is the key to beating Oklahoma State and based on the results that may be exactly the case.

New season, fresh start, but it's one-and-done from here on out. I'm picking Oregon to win on Friday. I hope I'm wrong. I want to be wrong and I want the Cowboys to give me a first-round hickey on all my brackets.

The Ducks have won 11 of their last 13 games, and the Cowboys have lost six of their last seven, so the math adds up. There is one or two saving graces here. The first is that the Big 12 is much mightier than the Pac-12 even with "Mighty" Joe Young of Oregon as the leagues player of the year.

The other potential grace and this one is for Forte, Oregon is not a dynamic or suffocating defensive team. The Ducks win with offense and they lose when the offense fails to show up. Finally, Oregon is a team that just might give Forte some breathing room and that could be all it takes for Phil to get back to filling up the basket. You have to hope because you know he'll be trying with all he has. That's what Phil does, win or lose, make or miss.

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