Sutton Disappointed For Fans, Students

The next time the NIT comes calling maybe it would be a wise decision if Oklahoma State just didn't answer. In a roller-coaster season which saw its share of highs and lows the Cowboys may have saved the biggest disappointment for last. OSU suffered an embarrassing 67-64 loss to Marist of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in Tuesday night's first-round game of the NIT at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys have now lost in the first-round of the NIT the past two seasons. But Tuesday night's loss was on their home court, while last season's defeat was on the road at Miami (Fla.).

The Cowboys, who were seeded second in the East bracket, finish the season 22-13. They began the season 15-1 but were 7-12 over the final two months.

"That was a great example of one team that wanted to play, and cared about being in this tournament, and one team that had a few guys that wanted to be on spring break. That's about as simple as I can call it," OSU head coach Sean Sutton said.

"I'm really disappointed for the fans and really disappointed for the students. The last thing I put on that board tonight was I wanted them to go out and play their tails off for our fans. That's what's a little bit hurtful to me, because I understand how much it means to people and how much they love Oklahoma State, and how fortunate these guys are to play here. Sometimes it takes guys … they'll realize sometime that this is the best time of their lives, and they'll wish they had a chance to do it over again. But that's life, and you don't get do overs."

Marist led by as many as 13 points in the first half before Byron Eaton's basket in the final seconds made it 37-26 at halftime. But the Red Foxes opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 17-point lead with 16 minute remaining in the game.

Oklahoma State played much of the second half without seniors Mario Boggan and David Monds, who were benched by head coach Sean Sutton. But the Cowboys were still able to chip away at the Marist lead, pulling within 61-58 on a pair of free throws by Terrel Harris with 4:10 remaining.

Freshman Obi Muonelo's three-pointer with 43 seconds remaining pulled the Cowboys within 65-64, but Marist guard Will Whittington's two free throws with 8.5 seconds put the Red Foxes back up by three.

Marist did not allowing the Cowboys to get off a game-tying three-point attempt, instead fouling Byron Eaton with three seconds left on the clock. Eaton missed the first free throw, which forced him to intentionally miss the second. The ball was batted out to Muonelo at the top of the key but his game-tying trey bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

What follows are Sean Sutton's quotes from his post-game news conference.

On the Cowboys' effort: "I knew they were disappointed (in not getting an NCAA Tournament berth) but I certainly expected a lot better effort tonight."

On not playing seniors David Monds and Mario Boggan the last 19:42 and 13:39, respectively: "I was going to play the guys that the game meant to the most, and I probably waited a little too long on a few guys."

On the Cowboys getting outrebounded by Marist, 39-27, and the Red Foxes grabbing 19 offensive boards: "Marist deserved to win. They played with passion, they were out there having fun, they were out there passing the ball, they played smart, they executed, and they outhustled us to rebounds. How do you outrebound A&M and Texas and then get beat by 14. Effort."

On the difference between the Cowboys in the Big 12 Tournament and Tuesday night's loss to Marist: "To me it's just like two different teams. Anybody who saw us play in the Ford Center, and hold Nebraska to 19 points in the first half, Texas A&M to 28, Texas to 31… this team comes up and has 37 in the first half. They deserved to win. The game was a lot more important to some of their guys."

On where the Cowboys go from here: "I think we're going to have a lot better seasons in the future. I love the players we have coming in. I think they are high-character, high-class kids that are going to buy into this system. They're going to appreciate what it means to play at Oklahoma State, and they're going to embrace the tradition of this program. With this group, as much as we talked about, they just never appreciated what it meant to play here. It is an honor and a privilege to play at Oklahoma State. We'll get out of this, believe me. We've made a few mistakes in recruiting, we misjudged some things. I am very confident in the players we have coming back and the players we have coming in, that they're going to be not only our type of players but kids with high character.

Answering a question whether Monds and Boggan were held out in the second half because of injuries? "I played the guys that I thought wanted to play."

Answering a question about if leadership throughout the season a problem? "Yes it was."

On summing up his first year as head coach? "There have been a lot of highs and a lot of exciting wins, but some tough defeats along the way. We kind of had it at both ends. Probably the biggest word is frustrating. That would sum it up the best."

Answering whether Muonelo is going to be the catalyst for this team in the future? "He could be. I think JamesOn could be. I think chemistry next year will be a lot better. It was good early when we were playing with one goal, and that goal was to win and win as a team. But somewhere along the line things changed, and we just didn't have strong leadership at the top."

On whether he ever questioned accepting the bid to the NIT? "Not for me. If you're a competitor, and there's something out there to play for, why wouldn't you go out there and try to play for it? Oklahoma State has wonderful history and wonderful tradition, but the one thing in all the great things that this school has done in basketball they've never won an NIT championship. Guys that love to play, and it doesn't matter whether there's five people in the gym or 15,000, that's competing and playing for the love of the game. We've got some guys coming like that."

GoPokes Top Stories