STILLWATER — Rough summer for OSU basketball. Rough, Rough summer.
Not as rough as the summer for the women who testified that OSU player Darrell Williams sexually assaulted them. Not as rough as the summer for Williams, who in July was convicted of two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery.
But several Cowboys regularly traipsed to the Payne County Courthouse in a show of support for Williams. Including the night Williams was found guilty.
And suddenly basketball didn't seem so important. Either someone they considered a “father figure” was wrongfully convicted of a horrific crime, or someone they trusted wasn't who they thought he was.
Which made the Cowboys' trip to Spain for four exhibition games a welcome respite.
Those overseas trips are billed as a combination athletic/academic excursion, but make no mistake. They are for basketball purposes. Extra practice time. Some game competition. A head start on the coming season.
But hoops took low priority in Spain. This was a chance for the Cowboys to make sense of what had happened.
“Much-needed break for our basketball team to get away,” Ford said of the trip. “It was a very tough summer. One of the toughest things I've ever gone through. It was good to get away. Our team really jelled.”
No staff member families went along. Just the players, coaches and support personnel. They played together, ate together, sight-saw together and talked.
“Very important time to get away and really bond,” Ford said. “It accomplished everything I wanted to and more.”
Ford said his Cowboys were more compatible than most college teams with which he has traveled abroad. No complaining about the food or searching for a McDonald's; no grumbling about touring a monument or landmark.
“Nothing I would change” about the trip, Ford said. “Our team got up every single day and embraced the whole trip.”