SAN DIEGO — Markel Brown sat cramped in Oklahoma State’s tiny locker room at Viejas Arena, needing space, yet unable to either find it or flee the scene.
Reporters pressed him about OSU’s 85-77 loss to Gonzaga.
About a lost season.
And, finally, about his four years as a Cowboy.
That’s when things got difficult.
Eyes moistening, Brown’s voice cracked as he reflected back on a career that seemed to just start, with he and Brian Williams and Michael Cobbins going viral with a fun-loving YouTube video tour of the team’s luxurious new locker room.
Now it’s over, with so many unfulfilled expectations.
And still, Brown refused to concede to failure, continuing to exemplify his committed run as a senior and as a leader.
“I’m going to look back on playing with my brothers,” said Brown, always the captain. “Night after night, playing with this team, going out onto the court and giving it all we got.
“Those small things are going to be missed.”
Oh, there will be regrets.
During Brown’s stint in Stillwater, the Cowboys never won an NCAA Tournament game. This season, that was all supposed to change, with OSU picked to contend not only in the Big 12, but nationally. Yet after a superb start that saw the Cowboys hit No. 5 in the rankings and stand 12-1, things went sideways. The rest of the way, with multiple factors conspiring against them, the Pokes went 9-12.
And Friday in San Diego, the season finally spun to a disappointing stop.
It wasn’t what the Cowboys wanted. Or expected.
But they also didn’t want or expect Cobbins to blow an achilles, Stevie Clark to come and go in a matter of months or Smart to grow so frustrated he’d shove a fan at Texas Tech, costing him three games.