All the buzz around campus focuses on the reigning Big 12 champs and their renewed practice efforts to go back-to-back.
Still, there’s some buzz (maybe not the best choice of descriptors) surrounding the basketball team, too. Travis Ford’s crew is heading for,Spain, where they’ll take a 10-day tour that includes four games against international competition.
Not on the trip: Philip Jurick, who was arrested over the weekend and later charged with two drug-related misdemeanors. Ford has suspended Jurick indefinitely and his future with the team is up in the air.
Jurick wouldn’t have played in Spain, as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2011-12 season.
OSU plays two games in Sabadell, a suburb of Barcelona, before traveling to the Canary Islands for two more games.
For a young team like the Cowboys, the foreign exhibition tour is a huge bonus, not just in a chance to get in some early games, but also the 10 extra practices allowed by the NCAA to prepare for such trips.
“We’ve been able to install a lot of things,” Ford said. “The new players are learning all the terminology we use. We’ve put in as many drills in these 10 days as we would during the first two weeks in October.
“We’ve got a lot of the system in already, so when October gets here, we’ll be way ahead.”
That’s good news for a team that figures to feature a heavy influence from newcomers, with freshmen Marcus Smart, Phil Forte and Kamari Murphy all being fitted for roles.
Smart, of course, projects as a major piece and has lived up to all the advance hype in the early workouts. Already, he may be OSU’s best player. And for sure already, he’s having a major influence on his teammates, diving for loose balls and playing with an intensity that has become contagious.
Forte has been solid, delivering energy and an outside shooting stroke missing with the graduation of Keiton Page.
Murphy, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise. An under-the-radar recruit, because of Smart and Forte, the 6-8 Murphy has jumped into the post competition, showing strong shooting skills and rebounding smarts that are much needed.
“This is a very mature group of freshmen that is competing physically as well as any freshmen group that I’ve ever had,” Ford said. “All three will play and contribute quite a bit to this basketball team, from what we’ve seen thus far.”