Hoops season fast approaches, with the Cowboys set for their exhibition opener against Ottawa, Kan., Thursday, and the opener against UC Davis coming up Nov. 1.
Optimism for this team is up, with the arrival of McDonald’s All-American guard Marcus Smart – and all the praises surrounding him (read a story I did earlier here) – spiking thoughts of a rise both inside and outside the program.
And the non-conference schedule should aid such a rise, with a fast start.
A year ago, Travis Ford regretted a challenging opening schedule that didn’t allow a young Cowboys squad to gain traction, hampering their development and progress all the way into Big 12 play.
This year, there are fewer potential pitfalls.
In fact, at ESPN.com, Eamonn Brennan lists OSU’s non-conference slate among the nation’s 10 Worst.
Now, Brennan notes that part of that rating is based on the talent the Cowboys have, to not be taking on a more ambitious schedule.
He notes that Gonzaga and South Florida are OSU’s toughest tests, with the Zags also the highlight of the non-con home schedule – New Year’s Eve to boot – as a consensus Top 25 squad.
The Cowboys also play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but it’s not a loaded field, with Akron, Massachusetts, UNC Asheville, North Carolina State, PennState, Providence and Tennesseealso in the bracket. OSU opens with Akron.
There’s also a trip to Virginia Tech.
Otherwise, there’s ample opportunity for the Cowboys to get to feeling good about themselves: Mississippi Valley State, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas-Little Rock, McNeese State, Lipscomb, Rutgers, ETSU, Fordham.
And that’s just fine with Ford.
“The schedule is more conducive than last year, when we were just trying to survive,” Ford said. “From the Texas-San Antonio game on, we were just battling for wins. Didn’t get to learn very much. It was all under stressful situations. Hopefully we can maximize more and see even more the talent of these guys.”