Frank Anderson still hesitates to consider the big picture or his team's place in it, namely postseason play.
Tunnel vision has served him and his Cowboys well.
“You're not human if you don't at least think about stuff like that,” Anderson allowed. “But we've done such a good job of just worrying about the present. And that's all coach speak, but it's really been pretty good for us.”
Oklahoma State tightened its focus several weeks ago, while standing just 18-17 overall and 5-7 in the Big 12. With the doom-and-gloom crowd rallying, the Cowboys tuned out the critics and turned it on.
Since then, they've won 10 of 11 games and three conference series, including a weekend Bedlam conquest. Now 13-8 in the league, the Pokes sit tied for second in the Big 12 standings and stand as one of the hottest teams in the country.
“We're on a little streak and we're feeling pretty good about it,” OSU ace Andrew Heaney said entering the Bedlam series, before shutting out the Sooners in Tulsa on Friday night.
Now the Cowboys can feel better about themselves, and their NCAA Tournament chances, although they still have work to do in securing a bid.
Bedlam was billed as an important series for both OU and OSU. The Cowboys stayed hot. The Sooners, meanwhile, stayed frustrated, losing two more tight games in a much too familiar way — done in by the little things and an inability to produce clutch hits.
“Our whole season just got summarized in that ballgame,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said of Sunday's 3-2 series clincher against the Cowboys. “It's been a break here or a break there, a play here or a play there.
“I told the guys down the line we have to be men about it. We understand our season. We've been close, but we haven't done what we need to to get over the hump.”
Golloway hasn't surrendered all hope on an NCAA Tournament bid, yet is realistic, too, with his club now 30-19 and 10-10 and facing a challenging series with Big 12 unbeaten Baylor this weekend.
“I think a lot depends on how we play against Baylor,” Golloway said. “A lot of what I'm hearing around the country is there's three or four teams from our league that are going to make it. If that's the case, that's really unfair.
“If that's the way it falls, that's the way it falls. We're not gonna cry over spilled milk. All we can do is go out and do a good job in the classroom with our finals and play hard against Baylor and try to get that weekend if we can.”
The Cowboys still face a critical stretch in strengthening their position for postseason inclusion.
They face Ohio State (27-20, 11-10 Big Ten) in a pair of midweek games Tuesday and Wednesday, then must take care of business in a weekend series against Alcorn State. Next week features a trip to underrated Dallas Baptist before a final home showdown with No. 10-ranked Texas A&M to close the regular season.
Not that Anderson or the Cowboys are getting ahead of themselves. They're enjoying the ride too much.
“At no point did they ever quit practicing, did they ever quit competing,” Anderson said of the midseason's tougher times. “I've been on national championship teams, some teams take days off. And this group hasn't — hasn't taken practice days off, hasn't taken games off.
“Some days you don't feel like practicing. And they just fight through it. The effort has never changed. And that's a tribute to our older guys and our guys who have been around. And they like to practice. I think they like to be around each other.
“You don't enjoy being around every team. A coach can tell you that, but it's not always true. This is a good group of guys.”