“If you look at college basketball today, look at the teams that are having success at the highest level, they're all teams that are invested in winning,” he said. “They're upper-class teams — they don't have to be seniors — but they're upper-class teams.
“You look at Kansas — four seniors, three fifth-year seniors. You look at Kansas State, that's a mature basketball team. You look at Syracuse, they've got upperclassmen contributing.”
The Cowboys have one scholarship senior, Philip Jurick. They have two juniors, Markel Brown and Kirby Gardner.
With young players come more inconsistencies. More hot and cold nights. More emotional swings.
Examine OSU's losses and all came against veteran-led squads: Virginia Tech, Gonzaga, K-State, OU and Baylor.
And yet it's the Cowboys' youth that also gives them room for growth.
“I think people forget about how young this team is,” said Fran Fraschilla, another former coach and ESPN analyst. “When I think about how young they are and what they've accomplished so far, they're not going to get worse by March, but they can get a whole lot better by March.
“I really do like this team.”
Fraschilla does suggest that the Cowboys must learn how to win on the road. And better opportunities should be coming, with trips to Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU — a quartet that is 3-10 on their home floors — still to come.
But on the upside meter, no team may have more potential for growth than OSU.
“I think this team can get better,” Fraschilla said, “because if Brian Williams is back shortly, he can give them another above-average defender. I think Marcus is figuring out why he needs to stay out of foul trouble. They're a completely different team when he's not in foul trouble.
“I think there's a lot of ways they can improve the final five weeks of the regular season.”