2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Oklahoma State

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last Year: 20-14, 6-10 in Big XII)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Phillip Jurick (Jr)/ Michael Cobbins (Fr)/Darrell Williams (Sr)

F: LeBryan Nash (Fr)

G/F: J.P. Olukemi (Jr)/Brian Williams (Fr)

SG: Markel Brown (So)/Reger Dowell (Jr)

PG: Keiton Page (Sr)/C.J. Guerrero (Fr)/Fred Gulley (So)

Gone: F-Marshall Moses, F/C-Matt Pilgrim, G/F-Nick Sidorakis, PG-Ray Penn (transfer), F-Roger Franklin (transfer-North Texas), F/C-Jarred Shaw (transfer-Utah State)

2011-12 Outlook:
Taking the glass is half full approach, the Oklahoma State Cowboys did win twenty games last season. Looking at the remaining emptiness in that glass, a winless road record in Big XII play ultimately doomed Travis Ford’s team, as they missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last six seasons. A trip to the dance again seems unlikely for Oklahoma State.

A fair amount of uncertainty surrounds the Cowboys this season. A big reason is because the team is still awaiting word on Darrell Williams’ situation. In February, Williams was suspended indefinitely and is facing felony rape charges. If he is stuck in the courtroom and not reinstated on the basketball court, the Cowboys will be very thin up front. They’ll have to rely on JUCO transfer Phillip Jurick, who is a load at 6-11, 270 pounds, and redshirt freshman Mike Cobbins.

The addition of McDonald’s All-American LeBryan Nash does bring some optimism. Nash is an athletic freak and already built like a man. He will need to play inside for Oklahoma State this season as will returning starter J.P. Olukemi. Both players figure to start on the wing as part of a smaller starting five. Redshirt freshman Brian Williams will provide depth off the bench.

The backcourt needs to dramatically improve from last season. The Cowboys finished 332nd in Division One in three-point shooting, hitting just 29.7% from distance, and ended up 331st in assists. Both marks were the worst among major conference teams.

The undersized Keiton Page is the team’s top returning scorer. He really struggled from distance as his average dropped from 38.3% as a sophomore to 30.4% a year ago. The 5-9 senior is not much of a distributor either so if he is not stroking it from deep, he becomes a huge liability on the floor. Paige will also need to embrace the leadership role as the lone senior on the team (assuming Williams does not return.)

Paige will likely be joined in the starting backcourt by Markel Brown. Brown had a decent freshman season but relies on his athleticism more than his outside shooting. Reger Dowell made strides late in the season when given significant playing time due to the suspension of Ray Penn. He should figure into the rotation off the bench.

Freshman C.J. Guerrero could give Oklahoma State the playmaking point guard they need, if he can work his way into the mix. Fred Gulley missed all but seven games last season due to a shoulder injury and is another athlete/non-shooter on the wing.

The addition of Nash brings excitement to the Cowboys this season. With losing three seniors, having a few guys transfer, Darrell Williams’ future in question, and a challenging non-conference schedule, it figures to be another year of missing out on the dance in Stillwater.

Player to Watch: LeBryan Nash, SF
At 6-7, 230 pounds, Nash already has a NBA build. He can use his strength down low to overpower smaller opponents and also rely on his athleticism and explosiveness at the rim to out-quick bigger defenders. If Nash can prove to be a reliable outside shooter and improve his ability to get to the rim, he will become the complete package.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/23 vs. Stanford/Colorado State (Pre-Season NIT)
  • 11/25 vs. Syracuse/Virginia Tech/George Mason (Pre-Season NIT)
  • 11/30 vs. Tulsa
  • 12/10 vs. Pitt (at Madison Square Garden
  • 12/17 vs. New Mexico
  • 12/21 vs. Alabama (in Birmingham)
  • 12/31 vs. Virginia Tech

    Predicted Big XII Finish: 6th

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