Five burning questions: OSU basketball season preview
1. What’s the biggest storyline to follow during the nonconference slate?
John Helsley - With Cobbins out, how will the Cowboys adjust to the challenges they’ll face in handling bigger teams in the paint? Size and bulk were already an issue before Cobbins suffered a fractured toe in the exhibition game. The pressure is on Kamari Murphy and Marek Soucek to play tough inside. And it’s on Philip Jurick to recover quickly from off-season achilles surgery. OSU was already committed to getting their guards involved in crashing the boards. So expect to see Brown, Nash and Smart all grabbing their share, or at least trying.
Anthony Slater - How improved is Le’Bryan Nash? I think, generally, we have an idea of what the other key cogs are going to give this team (Markel’s scoring/defense, Forte’s shooting, Smart’s all-around game). But Nash is the wild card. And likely the barometer for where this season can go. He was a disappointment last season, no question, but showed some improvement near the end. But the Cowboys doesn’t need a slightly improved Nash, they need a dominant one. A guy that’s long been said to have NBA talent needs to show it, consistently and clearly, for OSU to reach its potential. And we should know early on what kind of strides he’s made.
2. Who’s going to lead this team in scoring?
Helsley - If Brown’s improved shot is for real, he could average in the upper-teens scoring, which would be significant on a team that could feature balanced scoring. Already a dynamic slasher and dunker, a consistent jumper would only open up the floor more for Brown. And defenses will have to be aware of Smart, who can drive and penetrate and dish. It all sets up for Brown.
Slater - As discussed in the first question, the best thing for this OSU would be a dominant Le’Bryan Nash leading the team (and even the conference) in scoring. But I’m not yet a believer. He needs to prove it on the court. So for now, I’ll go with Markel Brown, a guy many are sleeping on. The athleticism’s always been there (everyone knows that), and the once-broken shot does look like it’s become reliable. But his maturity is what’s impressed me most. He looks like a guy who’s been through two Big 12 seasons (the only one who has on the team) and knows exactly what to expect. He’s confident, not cocky, and ready for a huge breakout year.
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