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Travis Ford: OSU needs to be mentally tougher

Travis Ford's Cowboys made the NCAA Tournament after their chances looked bleak the last two years, but this time it looks particularly bleak, OSU beat writer John Helsley writes.
By John Helsley Modified: February 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm •  Published: February 13, 2011

Oklahoma State's Big 12 ventures outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena have been a road to nowhere. And no good.

Saturday night's 65-54 loss at Nebraska dropped the Cowboys to 0-5 in league road games and his team's listlessness left coach Travis Ford again scratching his head.

Afterward, Ford sounded like he was contemplating a very different and radical road trip: a trip to Oz.

This Cowboys team lacks a lot of things. A go-to guy. Shooters. Premium point guard play. A reliable forward to pair with Marshall Moses.

But mostly, this team lacks a strong heart.

Since the season began, Ford has claimed an inability to get a handle on this squad emotionally. It's a mystery that lingers still, even as time is running out on any fleeting opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament.

“That's been the challenge of this whole team from Day 1, the mental toughness of this team,” Ford said. “We've seen it in practice. We've seen it on the road now. We've seen it in a lot of different areas, as far as guys pushing through fatigue and pushing through adversity.

“That makeup hasn't been great. The chemistry hasn't been great. I'm not talking about guys who don't get along. It's that we're just not playing well together offensively.”

Off to see the wizard?

Ultimately, Ford knows he's responsible for creating a pumping and unified heart in his squad.

And he's determined.

“We can get there,” Ford said. “The guys who are struggling can play the game, they really can. They've just got to understand how difficult this league is.

“We're deep into the league, you'd think they'd have figured it out by now, just how difficult it is to get wins and how difficult it is to get them on the road.”

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