Le'Bryan Nash straightened in his seat and spoke up about one of the key aspects spurring the Cowboys' five-game winning streak and subsequent rise in the Big 12 Standings.
“Team chemistry,” Nash said.
OSU's noted “big three” — Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Nash — sat side-by-side in the postgame press conference Saturday, following OSU's latest win, a 72-59 stroll at Texas. Yet on any given day, it's Michael Cobbins or Phil Forte sitting there. Or Philip Jurick. Or Kamari Murphy. And here comes Brian Williams.
And that's OK, with everybody. Because for a so-called big three, Smart, Brown and Nash hardly act the part, instead falling in with the rest of the crew, unassuming and willing to share, whether that be the ball or the credit or the spotlight.
Up and down the roster, these Cowboys genuinely seem to like each other. They spend time together away from basketball. They back each other. And they gig each other.
“We play off the court a lot,” Nash said. “We go to each other's house a lot. We spend a lot of time together. Me and Marcus do, and Markel will pop up every time.
“We have great team chemistry. And we all just want to win. You put all that together, you get wins.”
And while club chemistry might not be the end all — talent is a prerequisite — a good vibe can carry significant value.
“It's huge,” said Cowboys assistant Chris Ferguson.
Recent OSU teams haven't had it; not like this. That's why guys left, some selfishly, unwilling to be team-first guys in some cases, unwilling to be patient in others.
Smart has been a major influence on flipping the mood this year. While the team's most celebrated star on a national scale, as a freshman, his reserved and humble style deflects the spotlight.
He might take the big shot, but he doesn't carry himself as Mr. Big Shot, instead looking first to get his teammates going first.
“We're a brotherhood,” Smart said.
Down the stretch in OSU's benchmark win at then-No. 2 Kansas, Forte was struggling with his shot, still without a field goal despite repeated attempts. As he stood on the court, near the Cowboys sideline, Jurick, Mason Cox and Ford Stuen all reached out from the bench to pat Forte on the backside, offering encouragement.
Who knows the impact, but Forte got it going late, making key shots and free throws and coming up with crunch-time steals, all needed to secure the win.
That's the way it is with these Cowboys, all hands on deck.
All the time.
“They enjoy each other,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “They have a good time. They're a fun group to be around, always have been.
“When we went to Spain together this summer, that was one of the most enjoyable times I've had. They have fun on the road. And they're very close.”