KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Cowboys see the praise and recognize the elevated expectations surrounding them, appreciating it, yet not fully embracing it.
They welcome it, too… to an extent.
They just can't, Oklahoma State players and coaches insist, allow all this newfound and sudden love to envelope them.
“It's kind of humbling ourselves,” Markel Brown, the team's lone senior, said Tuesday at the Big 12 Men's Basketball Media Day in Kansas City. “Yeah, we've got all these preseason accolades and things like that, but we haven't won anything. We keep that in the back of our minds, to humble ourselves from all this hype we're getting and that is surrounding us.
“It's something to look forward to. We set goals on this team, Big 12 champs is one of the main ones. But we don't want to look too far ahead of ourselves. We want to go out and work hard and prove ourselves on the court.”
OSU is the Big 12 co-favorite, picked with Kansas at No. 1 in the preseason polling of the league's coaches. Marcus Smart is the choice to repeat as Big 12 Player of the Year, joined on the All-Big 12 first team by Brown.
The Cowboys have been picked everywhere from No. 12 to No. 8 in the major magazines, with Smart pegged as a unanimous All-American, the nation's No. 1 point guard and even the National Player of the Year by Blue Ribbon magazine.
So the Cowboys should be good. And they plan on being good.
But that's on them, not some magazine or poll to decide.
“All that is all fine and dandy, but we haven't played a game yet,” Smart said. “So the rankings and all that don't mean anything. We saw what happened with Kentucky last year. They were ranked No. 1 and then they were losing in the NIT.”
Smart said among the main reasons he passed on the opportunity to jump to the NBA were the possibilities attached to another season at OSU.
“Making history at Oklahoma State,” Smart said. “Doing something they haven't done in a very long time.”
But Smart and the other Cowboys are committed to respecting the process that must take place first in reaching such a desired end.