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Oklahoma State chat: John Helsley talks Marcus Smart's mindset, the Cowboys' NCAA Tournament chances and Travis Ford's job security

by John Helsley Published: February 10, 2014

NewsOK Sports 10:06 a.m. Welcome to today's Power Lunch chat, where the conversation will start with Cowboys basketball. We've had the night to mull over Marcus Smart's suspension. Now the questions turn to what's next for OSU, Smart and Travis Ford.
NewsOK Sports 10:07 a.m. OSU writer John Helsley will be on at 11 a.m. to take your questions. Helsley was at the game on Saturday, and he wrote that the next step for Smart is repairing his reputation: http://bit.ly/1aNSUqZ
John Helsley 10:59 a.m. Greetings, folks, on a chilly Monday, live from the tower headquarters at Britton Road. Obviously, Cowboys hoops will be a hot topic today. I welcome all your thoughts. However, we won't be taking crazy talk or questions. Keep it clean. Keep it sharp. Keep it intelligent.
Kyle 11:00 a.m. Hi John, greetings from balmy Florida. Wow, wearing my colors today at work certainly livened things up. And isn't this really what the basketball team is lacking.....energy and fun! They look like a team going thru the motions, and guess what? March Madness has slowly left our grasps? Is there any way to play fun, energetic basketball and get on some kind of a roll and "sneak" into the 65-team bracket?
John Helsley 11:04 a.m. In the grand words of Al Michaels, "Do you believe in miracles?" Well, it's Olympic time...
I'd say the Cowboys need five wins in the regular season, a 9-9 finish, is needed to get in without a miracle rush through the Big 12 Tournament. And that seems unlikely, especially with the team down to 5 players. Even before now, without Cobbins, OSU's games have been grinders. It only gets more difficult.
Best hope, and it's not a great one: Win the Big 12 Tournament. Get Smart back, get hot, and get on a run.
Mac 11:04 a.m. How can this team make the NCAA Tournament?
Jay 11:04 a.m. I predicted a 7-11 conf finish last week on this chat but I didn't see this coming. Can the Pokes rally? Down 3 men now. Fatigue may become a factor down the stretch. I hope the team can pull together and make a run.
John Helsley 11:07 a.m. I believe fatigue was already becoming a factor. Markel Brown played 51 minutes Monday night and I think it showed Saturday.
Travis Ford is in a spot. He needs to rest some guys, and may have to force it. And that may be the only way to make a Big 12 Tournament run. But Ford is a grinder himself, who likes his best players on the floor. And having those guys on the floor is the only way to win in the interim.
dr. el prez 11:07 a.m. John, Sean Sutton, Jeff Capel and now Travis Ford. Is it fair to ask aloud if these three coaches were too young when hired to oversee programs in a tough hoops conference like the Big 12? Does the length of Travis Ford's contract, which runs through 2019, exclude any serious thought by Mike Holder and Boone Pickens of buying out the remainder of the contract, or just seeing this through as the Ford hire pretty much stamps Mike Holder's brand as AD as well?
John Helsley 11:10 a.m. Another cold good morning to you, El Prez. Makes it tough to get outside...

That's an interesting question. Experience matters. Hard to say.
Giving Ford a 10-year extension is the one mark on Holder's resume. Otherwise, it's been pretty stellar.
I wouldn't pretend to know anything about how anyone might feel about writing a big check.
Patrick 11:10 a.m. How far do you think Smart's NBA stock has plummeted?
John Helsley 11:13 a.m. A number of NBA GMs have spoken on the topic.
Not far, if any at all.
The NBA loved him a year ago, despite his lack of an outside shot, wanting him for all the other things he brings. That still plays.
He also has a track record of being well-liked by coaches like Boeheim, Donovan, Coach K, etc. That resume helps alleviate concern over Saturday's incident.
Q 11:13 a.m. You've been patient w/ Ford all year, still waiting for a strong finish or starting to think it might be time for some change?
Patrick 11:13 a.m. Obviously, Smart's actions are on him. But, the lack of leadership, allowing the team to implode the way it has, and the total lack of discipline on and off the court are squarely on Travis Ford. This team's problems go way beyond Cobbins' injury. I know about the huge buyout, but do you think this latest incident makes it any more likely that OSU cleans house and shows Ford the door after the season?
John Helsley 11:18 a.m. I'm on record as not being a "fire the coach" guy. When you let a guy go, you better be sure you have a better replacement. And I'm not sure that guy is well-defined here.
I think this year's problems are very much tied to the Cobbins injury. I think it has impacted the game in obvious ways, and trickled down to everyone else.
With Cobbins healthy and in place, the Cowboys have at least three more wins, including Saturday. Smart's frustrations don't exist.. And the feeling about this team and surrounding this team are completely different.
Dennis 11:18 a.m. What impact will the Smart incident have on Ford's future?
Mac 11:18 a.m. The Cobbins injury & Clark's off the court behavior were out of Ford's control; but from a outside perspective this team appears to have lost focus and lack discipline, what's your take?
John Helsley 11:23 a.m. Aside from the the Smart incident, what other example of a lack of discipline do you speak of?
They brought in Clark, who this paper picked for the state player of the year two years running, and sent him packing pretty quickly.
Otherwise, I find the character of guys like Brown, Cobbins, Williams, Smart, et al to be among the best I've been around in 25 years of doing this.

As for the impact on recruiting, hard to say. It's possible. You never know how kids are going to react to incidents. Or if it's even on their radar. A lot of time, kids -- and their parents -- have totally different agendas than we think they do.
We live in a world where uniforms are a factor in deciding a future college, for cryin out loud.
dr. el prez 11:23 a.m. John, tough question, but I have to ask it. In retrospect, what was more demeaning to a student-athlete...(1) this Orr person calling Marcus Smart ' piece of crap', or (2)or Travis Ford making the 'f-----g idiot' remark to Obi Muonelo in front of a live camera? To me, both are inexcusable.
John Helsley 11:24 a.m. Both are inexcusable.
I will say that I have been in enough practices and played for enough coaches to know that foul language isn't something limited to Travis Ford. Some of the nation's most respected coaches are known to spew bad language.
Travis Drew, I mean Scot Ford 11:25 a.m. John,
John Helsley 11:25 a.m. Always a guy/gal who THINKS they're a comedian.
R Threadgill 11:25 a.m. As an Alum of OSU, I am embrassed by the men's basketball program. The team appears to lack chemistry, leadership, purpose, direction and good coaching. Also it appears the fan base has never fully embraced Coach Ford. In your opinion do we see a coaching change at the end of this season?
John Helsley 11:30 a.m. Appreciate your position.
I believe the fact that Travis Ford has never been embraced, leads to fans seeing things in a skewed light. Before the injury to Cobbins, the Cowboys were flying high and being prominently mentioned as a Final Four contender.
No chemistry or discipline complaints then.
The Cobbins injury left the team flawed and the impact of his loss has played out much worse than expected. So yeah, there's a lack of on-court chemistry -- the team has no post presence. Hard to win that way, no matter how good your guards are.
I've already given my thoughts on Ford's job status.
Chris 11:30 a.m. Kevin Durant said he wouldn't act any different what your thoughts on that
John Helsley 11:33 a.m. Found it interesting. I've never walked in the shoes, so it's impossible for me to comment on what it must feel like. Or how I would respond.
Dennis 11:33 a.m. What incoming football players do you think will have a chance at starting next fall? Who are the potential impact guys or the players to watch for this coming year?
John Helsley 11:35 a.m. A football question!
Tyreek Hill will play and could make a major impact as a runner/receiver/returner. Linbacker Devante Averette will be asked to play immediately. Those are the two obvious ones, always a chance for someone to break through in the secondary (Chris Hardeman), at receiver or running back. Linebacker needs depth.
Matt S. 11:35 a.m. OSU never takes responsibility they always blame someone else. The school has no honor.
John Helsley 11:36 a.m. Fascinating observation, because from the start of yesterday's press conference to the end, all OSU did was take full responsibility. Smart did. Ford did. Holder did.
They said it's all on them to repair things. They flat out refused to point fingers.
Sorry, you must be in some alternate universe.
Mark 11:36 a.m. How would you describe Gundy's relationship with the media right now?
John Helsley 11:37 a.m. What relationship?
Bob Ross 11:37 a.m. I say, we lose to Texas this week, beat OU Saturday and then beat T-T next week, that gets us back and rolling again, and this will merely be a minor bump in the road...what say you?
John Helsley 11:38 a.m. I admire your optimism. Now, can you get some OSU fans to show up and support a bunch of kids/players who need their support the rest of the way?
Steve 11:38 a.m. Do you think that they have thought about pulling anyone out of redshirt?
John Helsley 11:39 a.m. Jeffrey Carroll would be the one guy that would be in play. He's been billed as a big-time shooter.
One realistic question that must be asked: Is there enough promise left in this season to do that?
Guest 11:39 a.m. I will be the first to say it, OSU will never win a championship with their version of a Diamond in the rough type of coaches. They need to reanalyze their coaches. Would these events happen on Eddie's watch: Smart temper tantrums and Stevie Clark's pot use? Nope.
John Helsley 11:41 a.m. Mario Boggan once head-butted an opposing player in his team's huddle.
And if you don't think players are smoking pot -- everywhere and under any coach -- you're fooling more than yourself.
Eddie had all sorts of pot smokers. JamesOn Curry anyone?
Eric S. 11:42 a.m. Have you ever seen an OSU player put so much pressure on him like Smart? Obviously, he thought he was coming back to play in the final four. If not for all of the things that have happened, it would be a different season.
John Helsley 11:44 a.m. I had someone who has known Marcus a long time tell me yesterday that losing is all new to him. He's always won. Always. And that's why he came back. And it's going south. And he wants desperately to make it happen.
Guest 11:44 a.m. OU has no post presence, yet they seem to win, how are we any different than they?....one could make the argument that we have more talent and better guards yet we seem to be going in the opposite direction...does this make it seem like more of a coaching problem than a personnl issue?
John Helsley 11:45 a.m. The Sooners have Ryan Spangler, who has played very well.
Take him off that squad and how do the Sooners do?
Cobbins>>Spangler.
harry man 11:45 a.m. it only will get worse on the road for Mr. Smart...Coach Ford has to see this attitude in practice
John Helsley 11:45 a.m. I don't think people are calling Smart "a piece of crap" in practice.
JB 11:45 a.m. What are three things to look for out of Josh Holliday's squad this season (starting Friday in Arlington)?
John Helsley 11:48 a.m. Pitching should be really good, with a lot of guys competing for spots. Talented guys.
Donnie Walton has moved to SS, his natural position. It could make the Cowboys much better up the middle defensively.
Watch for a big year from Zach Fish. Sounds like he has a better understanding of patient hitting, which should allow him to unleash his power further.
John Helsley 11:49 a.m. Folks, we've gone overtime. And I've got advance work for tomorrow's game at Texas. Appreciate all the questions. Please join me next week and have a great week ahead!

--JH
by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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