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Oklahoma basketball: Isaiah Cousins brings New York toughness to Sooners

The Sooners freshman said the pace of life is a lot different in Oklahoma, too. But the OU coaches want Cousins to bring some of that street ball aggressiveness to the court.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: December 12, 2012

There aren't enough parks in Oklahoma to let Isaiah Cousins ball out.

The Sooners' freshman guard grew up playing in parks. He wasn't attracted to the monkey bars or the slide.

He preferred to bop people inside the caged courts of Harlem.

“You know, bop someone,” Cousins said in his thick New York accent. “Like cross over. Break a person down. Break their ankles.”

Cousins' childhood “crib” is located across from the Metro North subway that will take him to downtown New York City in two stops. Right now, though, the 6-foot-3 guard is learning the slower pace of life in the “south” during his first collegiate basketball season, where he's averaging 19.8 minutes per game, 2.6 rebounds per game and has collected a total 20 assists as a starter.

“In New York, everything is on the move. You've always got something to do,” Cousins said. As he talked, he snapped his fingers to a quick rhythm, then stopped and continued. “It's kind of like that in college, a fast pace ... but not like New York. Nothing's better than New York.”

In New York, it's all about fashion. That's what Cousins misses the most. That and a Sausalito sandwich — a spiced turkey sandwich with a “special kind of cheese.” Cousins always bought one from the corner store for $3 with an Arizona Iced Tea.

“Everybody's fly in New York,” Cousins said. “You gotta look good from the head to toe — the watch, the socks, the shoes. They don't joke around with the fashion.”

And they don't joke around with their street basketball, either.

Like most guys in a fast-paced life, Cousins didn't have to ask people to play. He just knew people all around, knew the tournaments in the parks.

“In Harlem, there are several tournaments,” Cousins said. “I used to go there and play. I went to a park in Mount Vernon and there you just play basketball. In Harlem, it's more competition.”

Cousins used to play against Division I athletes and players for the Rockets, Lakers and the NBA's European Development League. He said he never got dunked on or had a man put a lot of points on him.

“That's not my style,” Cousins said with a half smile.

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