STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's “time off” since a disappointing Bedlam loss demanded such intensity it warranted a tag.
And with the Cowboys in a rut, having lost three of their last four and starting 1-2 in Big 12 Conference play, coaches figured a re-check of the team's direction was in order with no mid-week game scheduled before Saturday's home contest against Texas Tech.
“We've had a chance to get back to some of the fundamentals we needed to work on, that I think we've gotten away from,” said OSU coach Travis Ford, “and kind of set a tone again for our basketball team.
“I thought we'd gotten away from our identity a little bit, what we were doing well. So we got back to a lot of the basics and had some really energetic practices.”
Like a lot of Cowboys fans, Ford didn't like the way his team showed up — or didn't show up — for the Bedlam game, when they sputtered from the start, falling behind quickly and never leading on the way to a 77-68 loss.
Defense and rebounding were a major focus of the week, although they were secondary to what ate at Ford the most from the Oklahoma game. Offense and defense aside, Ford said there's one thing that must be a constant from this point forward:
“Play with more intensity and urgency, period,” Ford said. “Now, that was one game. I didn't think we had that (problem) in any other game, like we did against OU. Hopefully that was just that one game. Hopefully.
“But I didn't like what I saw. I don't care if that was just one game, or a half a game.”
Neither, it seems, did the Cowboys players.
“Film doesn't lie,” said forward Michael Cobbins. “We saw exactly what he was talking about. We didn't like it ourselves. So we decided to go out there and change it.”
Ford gave the team Sunday and Wednesday off, otherwise it was a grueling week of work aimed at rebounding and defense and end-to-end effort.
“We've been calling it ‘Commitment Week,'” Cobbins said. “Just dedication, getting back to the basics, things we've kind of shied away from.
“But I think we're all back to where we need to be.”
Ford said he thinks so, too, offering up an almost evil smile and chuckle when reflecting on the pace of practices.
“They probably needed Wednesday off, after Monday and Tuesday,” Ford said.
Even the players will agree, they probably needed the hard days spent on the court, too.
A team that built a reputation for nasty defense through the opening two months of the season has slipped some of late, allowing opponents easier offense.
For a team still developing on the offensive end, stout defense is a must.
“Our defense is our identity, so we've got to get better on the defensive end,” Nash said. “Our offense is coming.”
The Cowboys started the season with promise, winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with wins over Tennessee and North Carolina State. But those wins are becoming more distant in the rearview mirror.
And for a team once considered a contender in the Big 12, OSU has seen other teams — Kansas State, Oklahoma, even Baylor — seize the conference's buzz.
That's why the Cowboys feel this week was important in terms of resetting themselves for what remains a long run ahead.
“I liked it,” Nash said. “There's no sitting back. We've got to go. We need to get back to what we did in Puerto Rico and what we did early in the season, showing people that we are here and we are Oklahoma State.
“We just said life is short. We want this Big 12 championship. And we've got to go get it. We can't do what we did against OU and just hope it comes to us. We've got to go out there and get it and prove to ourselves that we're a great team.”