Frank Anderson reflected sentimentally on this season and this Oklahoma State ball club and the hit-and-miss journey of the past three months.
And still with another key stage to go – beginning with this weekend's showdown series against No. 10-ranked Texas A&M, opening Thursday night in Stillwater – it was a telling take on a trying season that's featured sluggish starts and redemptive rallies, players in trouble and players prevailing, critics rising and retreating.
Through it all, the Cowboys have come together.
“You don't enjoy being around every team,” Anderson said. “A coach can tell you that, but it's not always true.
“This is a good group of guys.”
How much longer they'll enjoy each other's company, however, could ride on this weekend, which offers intriguing story lines across the Big 12.
In any of the major polls, as many as five conference teams are ranked, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State among them.
And yet the talk nationally pegs this as a down year for the conference. And the Cowboys and Sooners could suffer.
With the Big 12 Tournament on deck next week, here's a look at what the final regular-season weekend offers, with games scheduled Thursday-Saturday:
Who's No. 2?
Three teams – OSU, A&M and Texas – are currently tied for second at 13-8 in league play, behind already crowned champion Baylor.
The Cowboys and Aggies go head-to-head the next three days at Reynolds Stadium, settling at least their roles in the race. In another major clash, the Longhorns face Baylor in a series split between Waco and Austin.
While the Bears have the title clinched, they'll be motivated. Partly, because it's Texas. And partly because they're coming off a three-game sweep at OU and a late-season swoon is the one thing that could put a damper on a special year.
No team needs to finish second more than the Cowboys, whose lagging RPI makes them a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament.
About Those RPIs…
We hear about the RPI – Ratings Percentage Index – all the time with college basketball.
But the complex tool is crucial, too, for the NCAA selection committee in choosing its 64-team field for the Road To Omaha.
Because of their RPIs, neither the Sooners (No. 48) nor Cowboys (No. 78) are locks for the postseason. Not yet anyway, although OU gave itself a major boost with the sweep of then-No. 2 Baylor.
The Big 12 hasn't had fewer than five teams make the tournament since 1997. But right now, only Baylor, A&M and Texas look like sure things. OU and OSU are next, IF the Big 12 gets its usual allotment.
And IF they don't stumble over the next week and a half.
OU's weekend of work against Baylor was huge, moving the Sooners back into most 64-team projections after they'd fallen out following the Bedlam series loss.
And Bears coach Steve Smith was impressed, especially with OU's pitching.
“They played like a team with their backs against the wall,” Smith said. “They'd just finished finals and didn't have a care in the world and played really well.
“I really thought they pitched it well. I think OU could be really something in a regional. I've only seen them one weekend, but my gosh, their pitchers were dynamite.”
Still, there's work to be done. And the Sooners will have to do it out of conference, against the Samford Bulldogs.
The only club finished with league play, the Sooners could conceivably finish as high as third in the final Big 12 standings, but no lower than the fifth spot they currently occupy, all based on what happens elsewhere in the league.
Still, the weekend won't be about scoreboard watching for OU. Samford is solid, owning a No. 59 RPI and a 3-5 record against teams in the RPI top 50.
The Bulldogs split a season series with No. 3-ranked Florida and also split with Auburn. They went 1-2 in Southern Conference series against Appalachian State and College of Charleston, which might not sound so swell, except Appy State is No. 25 in the rankings and No. 26 in the RPI, while Charleston is No. 37 in the RPI.
While the Big 12's major race is for runner-up, the league's bottom three teams are still jockeying to get to Bricktown – or to not to be not included.
Texas Tech is 6-15, Kansas is 5-15 and Kansas State is 5-16, filling the 7-9 spots in the standings.
Eight teams qualify for the Big 12 Tournament.
The lower division will work itself out, too, with Kansas State visiting Texas Tech, while sixth-place Missouri (9-12) is at Kansas.