The Oklahoman's John Helsley took questions from readers in today's Oklahoma State Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a look at today's Q&A.
Is Forte the X factor for the tournament? Seems like when he’s “on,” OSU’s offense is significantly more dangerous.
The Cowboys need Forte to be a factor, for sure. And his improved shooting in the Big 12 Tournament, after previous struggles away from GIA, was a good sign. But I say Cobbins is the X factor. He needs to be healthy, one, but he'll likely be in the spotlight inside as the Cowboys face a series of more athletic inside players.
Why was Michael Cobbins in a sling at the selection show?
Cobbins had his shoulder pop out of place during Friday's loss to Kansas State, then had it popped back in. He did return to that game and finished it. He was in a sling Sunday, for precautionary reasons I'm told. He expects to play. And he'll be needed.
Any other health issues for Oklahoma State besides Cobbins?
Other than the normal wear and tear from a long season, no. The Cowboys are in pretty good shape.
What will be the biggest factors in the OSU-Oregon matchup?
I think it's all about OSU in this first game. I really think the team was a bit tired in KC and needed a little time off. They need to be refreshed and ready to go. I think they're the better team going against the Ducks, so if the Cowboys can avoid any early foul trouble to key players, get Nash active and going, they should be in good shape.
I’m shocked that a team that finished no. 2 in the PAC 12 got a 12 seed. Your thoughts? It's like OSU is playing an 8 or 9 seed team first game. Doesn't reward the season like it should. Ridiculous.
I don't know a whole lot about Oregon yet, other than they finished toward the top of the Pac-12 in the regular season and then won the league tournament. But the national analysts seem to agree, feeling the committee missed on the Ducks by several lines on the bracket. Makes for a tough early test. Still, it's about winning this time of the year. So win.
Let’s say OSU gets past Oregon. What do you know much about St. Louis and how Oklahoma State matches up with them?
St. Louis is a very dangerous team. Very balanced. Won the A-10. Have won 15 of their last 16, or something like that, including a run to the league tournament title. And the Billikens are a good story, pressing on after the death of former coach Rick Majerus. Very good team.
Now that the bracket is out, how far do you think OSU will go in the tournament?
It's a tough draw, so it won't be easy. Still, the Cowboys have a lot of what you want for the Tournament. Good, even great guards. They've been very good late in close games. Make free throws when it matters. They've played good competition and are 1-1 against two No. 1 seeds. If they play well, they can beat anyone. But doing that consistently, with little room for error against the likes of Oregon, St. Louis, Louisville, Duke, etc ... that's a lot to ask. I'm saying Sweet 16.
How does Marcus Smart matchup against Oregon PG Dominic Artis? Artis was injured, but with him in the lineup, I believe they went 21-4.
Artis is a good one, and obviously a key to what the Ducks do, although that's typical at the point. I like a Smart matchup with anyone at the college level. If anything, the matchup may be the deciding factor, if he's able to limit the Ducks PG impact.
Any thoughts on why Travis Ford sits Jurick in many second halves? Against K-state I thought we could have used his rebounding when OSU was tired.
Jurick has real trouble matching up with the more athletic forwards and centers. So in those scenarios, he sits. Ford, too, seems to like the smaller lineup more, because of the tough matchup Nash can be — sort of how he used Obi Muonelo a few years ago. Jurick sat against K-State because the Cowboys were in rally mode and needed offense; offense he doesn't provide.
I also thought the team from the 2nd half of Baylor game on looked like they had hit the wall — both mentally and physically. In fact, I would include Travis Ford. Could losing to KSU actually have been in OSU’s best interest for a complete recovery?
We think alike in this matter. Had the Cowboys won that game, another grinding, emotional matchup with KU would have only wore on this team more. Ford is playing eight or nine guys, but he really leans on seven. And he can't afford to have Smart on the sideline very long. And Smart is perhaps showing the wear as much as anyone. Following his high school season, he went on to the McDonald's AA game, then joined Team USA in Brazil, then joined the Cowboys in time for their added exhibition trip to Spain ... And as we all know, he plays hard every second. I think the extra days off were much needed.
What is needed for OSU to be considered a serious national championship threat?
This year, knocking off Louisville. But should Marcus Smart decide to come back — and don't count it out — the Cowboys would enter next season as the Big 12 favorite and a legit Final Four contender. Maybe that’s reason FOR him to return.
While Cobbins may be the "X-Factor," I believe our tournament hopes are tied to Le'Bryan Nash. He needs to be a dominant force and can't disappear.
Solid analysis. Nash definitely has the ability to be a gamechanger for OSU. We saw it again in the Big 12 Tournament against Baylor. He has played more consistently of late. And going against teams that don't know him and his tendencies as well, that could help.
Who are your picks for the Final Four?
I honestly haven't even studied the bracket in depth yet. But my quick glance picks: Duke, Gonzaga, Miami, Florida.
What was the cause for OSU's lack of offensive execution at the Big XII tourney starting in the 2nd half against Baylor? The ball movement was horrendous and we played too much one on one in my opinion.
As mentioned above, I think they may have run out of gas. The K-State coaches said they noticed fatigue as a factor for sure, starting with that second half against Baylor.
How would you grade Travis Ford as an in-game coach? His game plans, adjustments, etc.
Not sure I'm fully qualified for such a thing, but the people I talk to say he's more than solid as an Xs and Os coach. Remember, he's dealing with mostly sophomores and freshmen, guys who are not yet fully developed, so it doesn't always look smooth. But there have been many games were an adjustment flipped a game in OSU's favor. Another thing, his teams have frequently gotten better as seasons progress. Happened again this year.
Marcus Smart's future at OSU is a hot topic, as you have mentioned. Do you feel there is a better chance for his return if OSU is a one or two and done in the tourney or if they make a deeper run? A deep run to the Elite 8 or Final Four may make him feel he accomplished his goals at Stillwater whereas a short stay may influence him to stay in order to take care of unfinished business.
This is an interesting topic, because most players don't stick around. But as I've said, Marcus is different. He's not focused solely on the cash. And I do know that he's having fun, playing with his best friend and teammate since the third grade (Forte), and valuing friendships on the team. It's an interesting decision: Go for it all next season, or go to the NBA. May not be a wrong answer.
Will the OSU men or women go further in their respective tournaments?
Tough question. I'm going with the men, because over the course of the last month and a half, they've been more consistent. The women are so up and down. Still, the Cowgirls have the talent to do damage, so wouldn't be surprised if they go deep.
Any ideas on where the OSU women are likely to go? I think the bracketology I've been reading has been a 6 vs. Gonzaga in Spokane. Any chance they come closer to home?
I think there's a chance they go to College Station, which would be a positive with their familiarity in that arena. It's really a crapshoot, however.
How about an update from spring practices for football? Any good water cooler info out there?
It's still pretty early, with limited practices so far. And now it's Spring Break, so we're taking a break from the action. The QB competition is going to be fascinating. Chelf enters No. 1, but the other guys will get their chance. There are some great position battles, too: DE, SS, CB.