5 Question in San Antonio

Q: This Final Four will be like a reunion for a lot of Cowboys. What are the connections? <BR><BR> A: OSU senior Tony Allen and Georgia Tech junior Will Bynum were playground buddies in Jackson Park on the south side of Chicago. Bynum attended Crane Technical Preparatory Academy and Allen went to Julian High School.

Bynum helped convince Allen to get his grades together so they could play on the same team for two years before Bynum went to Arizona and Allen went to junior college. When Bynum was looking to transfer out of Tucson, Allen almost convinced him to come to Stillwater. Bynum had an appointment to enroll at OSU, but a call from his mother changed his mind at the last minute and he landed in Atlanta.

Also, John Lucas played AAU ball with Tech point guard Jarrett Jack.

Lucas was a high school teammate at Houston's Bellaire with Connecticut's Emeka Okafor.

Ivan McFarlin was high school teammates with Duke guard Daniel Ewing at Willowridge High School in Missouri City, Texas.

Allen also played with Duke's Sean Dockery at Julian. Finally, OSU recruited Duke's Shelden Williams when he was an All-Stater at Midwest City.

Q: Will Daniel Bobik continue to guard the other team's point guard, in this case Jarrett Jack?

A: Probably so. Jack is bigger (6-3) and stronger than the three waterbugs that Bobik guarded in Kansas City and East Rutherford, N.J. But Bobik's size (6-5) allows him to overcome any quickness disadvantage, and his maturity and smarts give him an advantage.

One thing about Bobik's defense is that he gets relief from Tony Allen and Janavor Weatherspoon, and dribble-drives aren't that fatal to the Cowboys because of the team's overall defensive strength and the immediate help everyone provides.

Perhaps the smartest thing about giving Bobik the point-guard task is that it takes the load off John Lucas. Lucas isn't the best on-ball defender and his size puts him at a disadvantage, but he's too valuable to get in foul trouble, and he's too important running the offense to expend so much energy defending a point guard.

Q: How will the Cowboys deal with 7-foot-1 Luke Schenscher?

A: The key will be to not let Schenscher (8.9 points per game) AND someone else kill them.

Think back to OSU's previous tests against big men. Against BYU and Missouri, 6-11 Rafael Araujo (32 points, 17 rebounds) and 6-9 Arthur Johnson (29 points, 13 rebounds) got significant help from teammates (Mark Bigelow and Mike Hall combined for 26 for BYU, and Rickey Paulding had 31 for Mizzou).

Colorado's 7-1 David Harrison, on the other hand, wasn't a factor (two shot attempts in the first half) because because Tony Allen locked up Michel Morandais and Bobik contained shooter Blair Wilson, and since the Buff offense goes through Harrison, everyone provided double-team help on him.

But Tech's offense goes through 6-4 guard B.J. Elder (15.3 points per game) and 6-3 Jarrett Jack (12.7). If Tony Allen and Daniel Bobik are solid defensively on those two – especially with help from Joey Graham and Ivan McFarlin – then Schenscher's points will probably come in garbage time and likely won't hurt.

If Elder (questionable with a sprained ankle) and Jack (career-high 29 points in the regional final) are scoring, however, and Schenscher becomes involved in the offense, OSU's season will be finished.

Q: Can the Cowboys afford another slow start like they did against Eastern Washington, Pittsburgh and Saint Joseph's? A: The way the coaching staff pushed all the right buttons at halftime, why not?

Eastern Washington was an anomaly. OSU players admit they weren't as focused as they needed to be and didn't fully respect the Eagles. A fiery halftime session with the coaching staff was followed by a 12-2 run to start the second half, and OSU coasted down the stretch.

Pittsburgh was an anomaly. The Panthers' bruising defensive style and relentless offensive rebounding caught the Cowboys off guard, and they trailed by two points at halftime – the first time they were behind at the break since the Missouri game. Another halftime hoedown with the coaching staff was again proceeded by a 16-8 run, which put Pitt on its heels and helped open things up in the closing minutes.

Saint Joseph's was an anomaly. A frustrating full-court zone press helped steer the Cowboys into 10 first-half turnovers, and national player of the year Jameer Nelson was as good as advertised. OSU trailed at the half by six points (it would have been more if Hawks shooter Pat Carroll hadn't missed five open 3s), but yet another intense yell-and-learn opportunity in the locker room got the Cowboys going on a 14-2 run to start the second half and gave them the confidence they needed to finish it.

What's more likely is that OSU starts off against Georgia Tech like it did against Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas (twice) and Memphis: on fire early and establishing its dominance from the opening tip.

Q: And if the Cowboys win, who will they play – and how do they match up – on Monday night?

A: Good question. Georgia Tech beat Connecticut in November and went 1-2 against Duke – including an historic win in Durham, N.C., that ended the Blue Devils' 41-game home court winning streak. But you asked about Oklahoma State.

Duke and UConn didn't play this year, but in comparing common opponents, Duke is 6-1 (Georgia Tech), UConn is 2-2 (Georgia Tech and North Carolina).

Because of its depth, give the edge to Duke over UConn. OSU's common opponents in the national finals: Duke beat Texas 89-61 in December; UConn defeated Oklahoma 86-59 in January, then went 2-1 against Pittsburgh in the Big East.

Some think the Cowboys match up better with Duke because the Blue Devils don't have a lottery pick in the post, but Duke is dangerous like OSU in that five players (J.J. Redick, 15.9 per game; Luol Deng, 15.1; Shelden Williams, 12.9; Daniel Ewing, 12.7; Chris Duhon, 9.9) can hit for 20 points, and every player can be a lock-down defender. Some think the Cowboys match up better with UConn because the Huskies have been guilty of playing like a one-man gang at times, with Emeka Okafor averaging 17.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game. But they're actually led in scoring by dangerous swingman Ben Gordon (18.5 point per game) and get efficient shooting (40.3 percent) on the perimeter.

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