A Difficult Ending

ROSEMONT, Ill. – There were more than a few tears shed in the Oklahoma State Cowboy locker room Thursday night after the heart-breaking loss to the Arizona Wildcats in the Sweet 16. And who can blame the Cowboy players for shedding a tear or two. After all, this group of six seniors will be talked about by Cowboy basketball fans for years to come.

No, they didn't make a second consecutive trip to the Final Four after suffering the 79-78 loss to Arizona on Thursday night at the Allstate Arena. But these six - Daniel Bobik, Terrence Crawford, Joey Graham, Stevie Graham, John Lucas and Ivan McFarlin – accomplished more than any group of seniors in nearly 60 years.

The Cowboys won 57 games (while losing just 11) and won three of the possible four Big 12 Conference championships (back-to-back postseason tournament titles the past two seasons and the regular season crown in 2004). Only two other teams have won more games the past two seasons (Illinois and Duke). Oh, and let's not forget that they did help lead OSU to the Final Four a year ago.

"I'm going to miss all these guys. It was a great senior class," OSU head coach Eddie Sutton said immediately after the loss. "Some of them came from other schools but they really bounded together, and they're all going to get their degrees.

"They've been a real credit to intercollegiate athletics because not only are they good basketball players and good students but they are great people. So many times we hear about so many bad things in intercollegiate athletics, well these guys are living proof … they represented Oklahoma State in a class manner and they certainly represented the great game of college basketball."

Let's just take a quick look at each of the six seniors (in alphabetical order), and what they've brought to the program:

Daniel Bobik: Started 63 of 68 games after transferring to OSU after serving a two-year Latter Day Saints two-year mission from July 1998 to July 2000. He previously played two years at Brigham Young University before transferring to OSU. He is on schedule to graduate in May with a business degree.

Terrence Crawford: The consummate team player. He was hampered by numerous injuries throughout his career but would not give up, and played an important role this season for the Cowboys. He averaged nearly 20 minutes a game (the most of his career) this season, and came up huge in victories over Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Illinois in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Graduted in May of 2004 with a degree in marketing, and is currently pursuing a second degree in economics.

Joey Graham: Started 60 of 68 games the past two seasons after transferring from Central Florida. He earned third-team All-American honors this season and was named the Most Valuable Player at the Big 12 Tournament earlier this month. Both Joey and his brother Stephen graduated in July of 2004 with degrees in aviation management, and then earned their pilot's licenses in September. Both of them continued to work on a second degree in aviation with a professional pilot option.

Stevie Graham: Although he didn't have the same type of career as his brother, Stephen played a major role in the Cowboys' success the past two seasons. Who will forget his performance against Syracuse in the Jimmy V Classic this past December when he came off the bench to score 16 points and pull down nine rebounds in 24 minutes of action. He also scored a career-high 22 points this season against Gonzaga. As mentioned above, Stephen has already graduated and is continuing work toward a second degree.

John Lucas: OSU fans will always remember Lucas hitting the game-winning three-pointer to defeat St. Joe's and get the Cowboys into the Final Four. After transferring to OSU from Baylor, Lucas started all 68 games the past two seasons. He was co-Big 12 Player of the Year last season (sharing the honor with teammate Tony Allen). He played in eight NCAA Tournament games the past two seasons, leading the Cowboys to six victories. He will graduate in May with a degree in sociology/speech communications.

Ivan McFarlin: There will never be another one like I-Mac. He started 131 of 132 games during his career, and became just the second player in school history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocked shots (the other being Byron Houston). McFarlin, who originally came to OSU as a partial qualifier and had to earn his fourth year of eligibility back by graduating, saved his best for last. He scored a career-high 31 points in the Cowboys' win over Southern Illinois last weekend in the NCAA Tournament. He graduated in December of 2003 with a degree in university studies with an emphasis on family relations and childhood development.

Pretty impressive list of accomplishments, don't you think? Sutton does, and said so when asked to talk about these six seniors following the game.

"Well I think any coach that has been in the game as long as Lute (Olson) and I, you always hate to see your seniors go. But these guys, that's a special group," Sutton said. "We had so many of them that didn't start with us. What they've accomplished in the two years, they won 57 games, went to the Final Four. The biggest thing about them is they epitomize what you look for in student athletes. These guys are a credit to their school, to their families and to the great game of basketball.

"That's why I would not retire until this next year. To lose that many seniors, and although we've had a great recruiting class, it's hard to win with as many rookies as will be playing with us next season. I don't want to leave Sean in that position. If we take some hits next year I want to be the one taking them."

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