STILLWATER — Kamari Murphy fully embraced his role on this Oklahoma State men's basketball team, even if it didn't come with a glamour tag.
“Junkyard dog,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford termed it in detailing Murphy's job description, which featured rebounding, scrapping and winning the hustle plays for 50-50 balls.
Quickly, however, Murphy's role is expanding in the aftermath of Michael Cobbins' season-ending injury — a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered early in OSU's 92-66 Monday night win over Robert Morris.
The Cowboys' focus in addressing the void of Cobbins, the team's top post defender, will be absorbed by several players as Ford and his staff experiment with combinations and lineup variations.
Still, Murphy factors heavily into the new equation at the post, as he was already in a virtual timeshare with Cobbins manning the middle.
Cobbins had started all 13 games, averaging 19.6 minutes, 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds. Murphy played in 12 games off the bench — missing one game with a shoulder injury — averaging 20.2 minutes, 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds.
It was Murphy that Ford turned to as a true freshman a year ago when Cobbins suffered a preseason toe injury. Murphy filled a starting role the first 15 games of the season. And the Brooklyn native assured folks via Twitter on Tuesday that he's ready again:
“Getting all these texts like u gotta step up now… did u forget I started 15 games last year? And held it down as a freshman. #IGotThis,” Murphy tweeted
While Murphy takes over the starting spot, the bigger question is who fills his role off the bench?
OSU already lacked options in the post, where Murphy and Cobbins were undersized big men, each at 6-foot-8. The Cowboys are sure to try to get more from 7-footer Marek Soucek and 6-10 Gary Gaskins, although neither had been in the regular rotation.
So when Cobbins collapsed to the floor Monday night, less than three minutes into OSU's final nonconference contest, one of the team's major vulnerabilities was realized.
Cobbins, a junior from Amarillo, Texas, will undergo surgery to repair the tendon on Thursday — two days before the No. 6 Cowboys open Big 12 Conference play on the road at Kansas State.
“Our thoughts are with Michael, and we pray for a successful recovery,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said Tuesday. “We know Michael will work extremely hard and be back next season better than ever.”
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