Former Oklahoma State head basketball coach Eddie Sutton used to call it the most frustrating week of the season. Final exams for the fall semester as it catches basketball teams toward the end of the meat of the non-conference schedule and usually there is a game, sometimes a critical game, waiting for the team right out of the exams.
It's hard to have a regular schedule and it's harder, no make that impossible, to get the best effort and focus out of your players while they are competing for their academic existence.
"Sometimes we forget that the word student comes in front of athlete," current Cowboys head coach Brad Underwood said to a group of media after practice on Thursday. "It is the most trying week of the season because these guys are up all night and they have tests and papers. We have adjusted this week."
Underwood had a light practice on Monday, a practice Tuesday, gave the team off on Wednesday, but with the Tulsa game on the road at 4 p.m. Saturday, today the Cowboys got after it pretty good in a practice that would have made Mike Gundy feel pretty good.
The basketball practices under Underwood are "real deal" practices with a lot of physicality and there were some banged up players limping out of practice on Thursday, but bruises was what we were told were the worst of it.
The Cowboys are 6-2 right now and coming off a 71-70 loss at 22nd-ranked Maryland in an environment that Underwood called every bit as tough and loud as Allen Fieldhouse.
"The players couldn't hear me during time-outs, that's how loud it was," Underwood said.
The Cowboys will work to get back on the winning side at Tulsa. They will leave, according to the coach, around noon Friday and get away from the atmosphere of academia and go practice basketball as soon as they arrive in T-Town.