OSU basketball coach Travis Ford needs to polish up on the details

Ford has to coach better. He’s got to prepare his squad for the small stuff that can determine winning or losing a tight game.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 10, 2014

Maybe the Cowboys were already celebrating. Maybe they went into shock when Fill-it-up Forte missed. But no excuse. Ford has to have a system by which that message reaches every Cowboy on the court.

This is the latest example of the Cowboys not playing well in crunch time. OSU is 4-9 this season in games that were no more than three-point margins, either way, going into the final minute; 3-8 in Big 12 games.

Well-drilled teams prosper in such circumstances. The Cowboys have not. If OSU just goes 5-6 in tight Big 12 games, the Cowboys are fourth in the conference. Go 6-5, and they are third.

Instead, OSU placed eighth.

That doesn’t mean I’m on the fire-Ford bandwagon. Plenty are, including some prominent boosters. But firing Ford wouldn’t make financial sense, either by fully paying off his contract or some kind of negotiated buyout. And I don’t think it would make basketball sense. Ford has made OSU hoops relevant again, and not even the disappointment of this season changes that. Even with the soon departures of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, the Cowboys have some building blocks, and a top-20 recruiting class has been secured.

The best reason to make a change is because it would invigorate the fan base. But invigorating the fan base and filling Gallagher-Iba Arena are two different things. Don’t get them confused. A new coach is not going to return Gallagher to its previous splendor anytime soon.

The story of this OSU season has yet to be written. College basketball is a post-season sport. A glorious regular season can be wiped out with an early March defeat. A disappointing regular season can be salvaged by a march through March.

This Cowboy team can still do great things. But Ford has to sweat the small things, so that when another last-minute verdict is rendered, OSU gives itself the best chance to win.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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