5 QUESTIONS

1. How far will the Cowboys go in the basketball tournament? The easy answer would be all the way, but the tournament will prove that to be an understatement. Even with 2 Big 12 Players of the Year and the Coach of the Year, there is still a lot of basketball left for OSU. As a projected 2 seed, the Cowboys should coast to the Sweet 16, but if predictions hold up, OSU could have a date with a very dangerous UCONN team, with or without their big man.

As with any tournament, there are sure to be upsets. The Cowboys, like everybody else, are as beatable as ever. The thing OSU has going for itself is the fact that the team is playing really well as a team. There is no more important time to play as a team than in March Madness. Watch and see how far Texas Tech goes with Andre Emmett. Syracuse proved again last year that you have to play as a team to make a great run. With Tony Allen and John Lucas leading the way, the Cowboys can count on great work from Daniel Bobik, Ivan McFarlin and Joey Graham. If this team makes it past the Sweet 16, I say the sky is the limit. The key is if the team makes it past and not Lucas and Allen. I guess we?ll have to wait and see.

2. What is the state of the Cowgirl basketball program? The program is fine. It?s that easy. There is no way any coach could build a winning team with their first recruiting class in the Big 12. It takes time when there are seven teams likely headed to the women?s version of March Madness. The Cowgirls should improve a lot over the next two seasons as the current players get older and coach Julie Goodenough has a few recruiting classes under her belt. The team should win 12 or 13 games next season with Nina Stone leading the team. The lack of leadership was the biggest problem all season, and the problem has been solved. The team began playing as a team with only two games left in the season and that attitude should carry over into the next season. It would be unrealistic to say the Cowgirls will rip apart the Big 12 next season, but weirder things have happened. They should be considered a Top 7 team in the Big 12 going into the season, and that is no exaggeration. With eight or nine players returning next season that will be a comfort Goodenough has not had yet going into a season as OSU coach. I guess only time will tell, but I expect great things soon.

3. Where does the baseball team stand? As of right now, it stands in good shape. Not great shape, but good shape. The team is still working out the kinks, especially on the mound and at the plate, but is looking better than some expected. The biggest surprise has been the play of freshman Ty Wright. Wright entered the season as a possible right fielder or infielder, but started the season as the starting first baseman and hasn?t lost the spot yet. Most of that is due to his hot streak at the plate. Wright is one of the top hitters on the team and has seen time in the cleanup spot of the lineup in his first weeks of the season. The pitching has been extremely good at times and then has struggled the next day. With coach Frank Anderson being a former pitching coach, he should be able to diagnose the problems and start getting them fixed by the time OSU opens Big 12 play against Texas. Josh Fields is having a great season, flirting around .400 with a few homers. He has also been shining at third base, which is to be expected from the All-American. Catcher Jason Jaramillo is recovering from an ankle sprain he suffered at home a couple weeks ago sliding into first base to beat out a throw. Before the injury, and even during it, Jaramillo was swinging a great bat at times, which helped push the team into the win column instead of the loss column. The rest of the players have been hot and cold at the plate, but that is to be expected this early in the season. The team should be in the Top 5 in the Big 12 throughout the season.

4. What is going on with the softball team? The Cowgirls are learning what it is like to play everyday without All-American Lauren Bay. Since her departure and a few other players, coach Rebenar and the rest of the returning players have had to figure out a way to win games. With Bay gone, the easy close victories have disappeared as well. Freshman pitcher Jessica Hoppock is leading the team, and she has proved she can help guide the team. In her most recent game, Hoppock pitched a great game through six innings, but gave up a homer to Wichita State and lost the game 1-0. The Cowgirls have suffered losses by one multiple times this year, and the main reason is a lack of offensive consistency. The team has been guilty of leaving runners in scoring position numerous times so far this season and this will kill them in Big 12 play if the problem is not corrected. Players on the team have already said they expect the team to finish around .500 this season, which would be a drop off from last season?s Top 25 finisher. As Hoppock continues to progress through her first year, she may suffer a dry spell, but the long season will help her in the long run. As for the rest of the team, it is probably a safe bet to say they will be better next year. But that doesn?t mean great things can happen for the program this season.

5. What?s the word around spring football? The main discussions coming out of practices are revolving around the quarterback controversy. Without Josh Fields taking snaps, the coaches have been monitoring the talent pool known as Donovan Woods, Al Pena and Robert Reid. Going into the practices, all the talk has been about Pena being the man next year if Fields takes the baseball payday. Since practice has begun it looks like Woods and Reid are making a valid argument to get the starting position. There has been speculation that Woods would move to defensive back or even possibly a receiver, but from the way his practices are going, he could be taking the snaps this season. After talking to a few players, Reid has also been great in his transition from the high school field to the college stadium. Pena has performed like most expected, which means Les Miles and the rest of the coaching staff have a three horse race, or possibly four, if Fields comes back. Only time will tell, but it makes the wait until August almost unbearable.

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