Following an extravagant opening video projected onto a screen that covered the entire Gallagher-Iba Arena floor, the 2013-14 Oklahoma State men's basketball team was introduced to a raucous, standing-room-only crowd at the Cowboys' annual Homecoming and Hoops event on Friday night.
Marcus Smart, of course, was the last player called. He stood at one corner of the court, arms wide, soaking up the noise. A few minutes later, he dashed across the floor, throwing his arms in the air to encourage fans to get loud.
Yet another reminder of why Smart bypassed the NBA Draft to return to OSU for his sophomore season. He's simply having too much fun.
“It felt amazing,” Smart said, noting that he couldn't participate in last year's event because he was ill. “I don't know. It's hard to explain how it really felt. It just kind of put a smile on my face. …
“We have an opportunity to do something special here and make history at Oklahoma State. I'm definitely glad I came back. A lot of people say I turned (a big opportunity) down, but I didn't turn down anything, I just pushed it to the side.”
Smart, who finished with eight points, two rebounds and five assists, wasn't the only Cowboy enjoying the 15-minute scrimmage, where they quickly ditched any hard-nosed defense in favor of a bevy of alley-oops and dunks.
“They just threw (defense) right out the door real quick,” coach Travis Ford said. “And as a coach you're just over there holding your breath, hoping nobody gets hurt.”
But Ford believes his Cowboys, who were picked as co-champions of the Big 12 in the preseason poll, put on an entertaining show.
“Fun for our players, but more importantly, fun for our fans,” Ford said. “Get them jazzed up get them excited … this is kind of the start for the new season, even though we've been going for about three weeks. It couldn't have went any better.”
OPENING VIDEO PART OF ‘BIG VISION'
OSU's high-tech, five-minute video to kick off the event was a definite crowd-pleaser, featuring images of past and present Cowboys and a rap soundtrack customized for the current crop of players.
Ford said he had seen bits and pieces of the project as it was being edited, but finally went up to the top level of the arena earlier Friday to see the finished product.
“We had this big vision,” Ford said. “At first, I thought, ‘Man, that's too much. That's too big.' And it all came together and we were able to do it.”
*Cowboy football coach Mike Gundy spoke to the crowd before the event, encouraging fans to be loud for Saturday's contest against TCU. Running back Jeremy Smith, receiver Tracy Moore, safety Shamiel Gary and linebacker Joe Mitchell also made an appearance.
*Ford said the Cowboys' starting five still hasn't yet worked together on the same “team” during practice. The coach considered putting that group together for Friday's event, but instead could debut that lineup during Sunday's workout.
*Smart had a tooth knocked loose (not out) by Brian Williams during a practice earlier this week. Smart said “it hurts,” but expects it to be fine.
*The OSU women's team, which was picked to tie for third in the preseason Big 12 poll, also staged a 15-minute scrimmage.