Basketball Report

As hard as it may be to believe, and with Bedlam football on everyone's mind, the Oklahoma State basketball season begins in 14 days. That's right, the Cowboys open the exhibition part of their season on Tuesday, Nov. 9, against the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys coaching staff took the opportunity during fall break – students did not have classes Monday or Tuesday – to work out twice each day. Go Pokes Publisher Terry Tush visited with Head Coach Designate Sean Sutton on Monday afternoon to see what he thought of the Cowboys' first week of practice.

Go Pokes: How was the first week of practice?
Sean Sutton: We thought it went well. We've been able to move a little bit quicker with this team than with some of our teams in the past because of the number of returning players, which has made it maybe harder on Aaron (Pettway) and JamesOn (Curry) because we've been throwing so many new things at time. But we feel the intensity level is good and their attitudes have been excellent. They've played hard which is always a big key. So, after the first week we've been pleased with the effort. There are several areas that the whole team can make improvement in before we start our first game."

GP: Have their been any early surprises?
SS: "The most improved player on this team right now is John Lucas. Really that should not surprise that many people when you see how hard he works in the offseason. Here he is the defending Big 12 Player of the Year, and he's made more improvement on his game than anybody on our team, in my opinion. The way he's shooting the ball is unbelieveable right now. He's gotten stronger, he's gotten faster. He's obviously so much more relaxed and comfortable in this sytem. He's been a great leader the first week of practice for the rest of the guys. "The other person who has stood out in how much he has developed is Frans (Steyn). He's made a lot of progress. He needs to continue to get better, but we've been happy with the results we saw in the first week with him."

GP: How have the two newcomers – Aaron Pettway and JamesOn Curry – looked thus far?
SS: "They did well the first week. It's a lot to be exposed to, and it's a lot of learning. Right now, I think they're thinking a lot out there on the court. Pretty soon it'll become a habit, and they'll settle down and understand. Right now, with all new players, it can be a little overwhelming – the expectations and the way we believe in doing things, but they both lend credability and they'll both factor in strongly to this team, and play a lot for us."

GP: Tell us about JamesOn's game.
SS: "JamesOn can obviously really shoot, he can really pass, but I think he's got a good feel for how to play the game. He's obviously been well coached in high school. We've had him play some point this first week in practice. That's a position he'll have to play some throughout his career. He's more of a natural 2, and that's where he's more comfortable. Right now, he's a better 2 than he's a better 1, but for his future he's going to have to be able to play some point. We haven't made a decision who John's backup is going to be yet. It's either going to be him or Daniel (Bobik)."

GP: How about Aaron Pettway?
SS: "Aaron, I think it's just a matter of him having to get comfortable with the system. He makes a lot of athletic plays. He blocks a lot of shots. He's made some strong finishes at the basket. We need his defense, his rebound, him running the floor... playing with a lot of energy. His offense will come around, but those are the things that he's capable of right now."

GP: Do you feel like this team will be ready for its first exhibition game in two weeks?

SS: "There are still a lot of things we have to cover, a lot of things we have to put in to get ready for that first game. One of the things we talked to our team about (Sunday) is that they've all got to become better listeners. We can't keep correcting the same mistake. If we tell one player something we can't come back five minutes later and tell another player the same thing that we told the previous player.
Part of being a good team, part of being a mature team like this, is they need to listen well. The learning process should be faster because of the older players. You expect that from maybe two newcomers, and we'll have to spend some extra time with them and we know that, but the guys that are coming back they understand what's expected. They understand our philosphy defensively, and they understand the way we like to play on the offensive end. It's just a matter of getting more consistent play. Right now the thing that concerns us is we're not nearly the defensive team that we expect to be. I think we felt we'd be further along even after one week than we are now with this team. Another thing is we've got to score points inside. We've got to get some consistent scoring in the low post area."

GP: How is the position change of Joey Graham to the small forward and Ivan McFarlin to the power forward working?
SS: "Right now we're still playing that way with a big guy, Ivan at the power forward and Joey's on the wing. But there are going to be times when Joey is going to have to go back to the power forward and Ivan's going to have to go back to the center, based off how the game's going, based on foul trouble. So that's not a lineup we've given up on. Just we're going to see if we can make it work with the big guy inside first.
"Ivan's doing well. Hew's shot the ball well from the perimeter, and he'll still score a lot of points around the basket and a lot of points in transition, on offensive putbacks. I think he's got to get where he's better passer if he's going to play at the high post, and that's something we're working with him on."

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