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OSU coach Travis Ford: Who starts for Cowboys doesn't matter

OKLAHOMA STATE BASKETBALL — As a player, Oklahoma State's Travis Ford didn't like to hear his coaches say it didn't matter who starts. But as the Cowboys coach, he finds himself understanding what they were talking about.
by John Helsley Modified: November 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm •  Published: November 10, 2011

As a player, Travis Ford never cared for one particular message from his coaches.

“I didn't want to hear the coach say it doesn't matter who starts,” Ford said. “I didn't want to hear that.”

Now, however…

“When I became a coach,” Ford said, “I really started understanding and believing that it really doesn't matter.”

And so, with as many as 11 Cowboys vying for roles and playing time and, yes, even starting jobs, Ford finds himself stressing that starting isn't everything. The Oklahoma State coach recognizes it may be a hard sell, yet it's a potentially delicate concept he needs his players to buy into, for the sake of a young team carrying high expectations, both individually and collectively.

“It's hard to explain that to kids, it really is,” Ford said. “But as much as any team I've ever had, starting is not going to be a factor to how many minutes you play with this basketball team.

“I've told our guys, ‘The makeup of our team is such that you might get 10 minutes one game and the next game you might get 25.' I can name four, five, six guys on our team that could be like that.”

When the Cowboys open the season Friday night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi — tip time 7 p.m. — the starters will be Keiton Page and Reger Dowell at guard, Jéan-Paul Olukemi, Le'Bryan Nash and Michael Cobbins at the forwards.

Page and Nash, the freshman phenom, and probably Olukemi have starting spots secured, for now. The rest of the lineup, as well the playing rotation, remains fluid.

Markel Brown, who started 10 games as a true freshman a year ago, figures prominently into plans. Fred Gulley, whose career has been hampered by shoulder injuries, is again healthy and battling Dowell for the starting point guard spot, with true freshman Cezar Guerrero in hot pursuit.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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* 1. What's the rotation? The rotation and style of play will take time to sort out. With as many as 10 players vying for real minutes, coach Travis Ford will likely use much of the non-conference schedule to experiment with various combinations, finding who fits best together. Who emerges, especially at the guard spots, will determine just how fast the Cowboys play in their quest to push the pace. The depth and overall athleticism of the roster should result in more pressure defense.

* 2. Who are these guys? We'll know a lot about the Cowboys by the New Year. Ford has assembled a rugged nonconference schedule that will significantly test a young team that will be trying to find its way in the early going. There are games against No. 10 Pittsburgh, No. 19 Alabama and a potential matchup with No. 5 Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-Off. New Mexico is on the fringe of the Top 25 and almost every nonconference team on the schedule is picked to contend in its league.

* 3. How good is Le'Bryan Nash? Physically, Nash is the complete package, with an NBA-ready body and the game to go with it as a versatile offensive player capable of playing four positions. Immediately, he gives the Cowboys a difference-maker and a go-to guy that was missing a year ago. The question that continues to accompany Nash – and has been acknowledged by Ford – is whether he can play hard for 40 minutes. The answer could define OSU's season.



G – Keiton Page (5-9, Sr.)

Pure shooter should get more open looks with better supporting cast

G – Reger Dowell (6-1, Jr.)

Quicker option for pushing the pace in PG time share with Fred Gulley

F – Michael Cobbins (6-8, Fr.)

Beefed up during redshirt year; uses athleticism and length inside

F – Jéan-Paul Olukemi (6-6, Jr.)

Slashing scorer could thrive in second season of Ford's system

F – Le'Bryan Nash (6-7, Fr.)

The highest-rated newcomer in the Big 12 gives OSU a go-to guy

Rotation Candidates

G – Markel Brown (6-3, So.)

Athletic slasher and defender figures to get major minutes, could start

G – Fred Gulley (6-2, So.)

Back from two shoulder surgeries, Gulley offers defense and leadership

G – Cezar Guerrero (6-0, Fr.)

Could press for enhanced role as he gains comfort in the system

G/F – Brian Williams (6-5, Fr.)

After redshirt, perimeter shooter projects as instant offense off the bench

C – Philip Jurick (6-11, Jr.)

Rebounding and shot-blocking force, could start in certain matchups

Rest of Roster

F/C – Marek Soucek (7-0, Fr.)

A redshirt candidate, has varied skills but needs to bulk up

F – Darrell Williams (6-8, Sr.)

Appears headed for a redshirt while legal issues play out

G – Christien Sager (6-3, Fr.)

Former walk-on awarded available scholarship


When: 7 p.m. today.

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater.

Radio: KXXY 96.1 FM.

Three things to know:

1. OSU is 8-0 all-time against the Islanders, with all eight meetings coming in a 10-year span.

2. Corpus Christi lost its only exhibition game, 69-65, in overtime against Incarnate Word.

3. The Cowboys have won 16 straight season openers, dating back to the 1994-95 Final Four season, when those Pokes lost to BYU in the Great Alaska Shootout.

Projected Starters

Oklahoma State (2-0 exhibitions)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Wt. - Cl. - Pts. - Reb.

F - Jéan-Paul Olukemi - - 6-6 - Jr. - 13.5 - 5.5

F - Le'Bryan Nash - 6-7 - Fr. - 18.0 - 7.5

F - Michael Cobbins - 6-8 - Fr. - 7.5 - 6.5

G - Keiton Page - 5-9 - Sr. - 17.0 - 3.0*

G - Reger Dowell - 6-1 - Jr. - 0.0 - 1.5

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (0-1 exhibitions)

Pos. - Player - Ht. - Wt. - Cl. - Pts. - Reb.

F - Chris Hawkins-Mast - 6-6 - Sr. - 23.0 - 8.0

F - Myron Dempsey - 6-6 - Jr. - 10.0 - 5.0

C - Nate Maxey - 6-11 - Fr. - 2.0 - 4.0

G - Terence Jones - 6-2 - Jr - 14.0 - 3.0

G - Johnathan Jordan - 5-10 - Fr. - 5.0 - 8.0

* assist


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