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OSU basketball: Cowboys will be different next season — but not necessarily worse

Returnees and newcomers should give Oklahoma State a solid basketball team for the 2014-2015 season.
by John Helsley Published: March 23, 2014

Oklahoma State could return five starters next season.

Well, five who have started. And significantly.

Still, the Cowboys are due for a makeover.

And, oh yeah, new go-to guys.

They’ll be familiar in many ways, even if Le’Bryan Nash opts to jump to pro ball, yet require a new look and feel. But Marcus Smart and Markel Brown are moving on, and with them go the two main scoring cogs from the past two seasons. Nash could follow, after he reiterated at the NCAA Tournament that he remains “50-50” on his decision to stay or go, although his comments seem to hint at a return.

So where does that leave the Cowboys?

Different, for sure.

Yet not necessarily worse. There’s reason for optimism, because of the core that’s coming back, and the potential of a boost from what’s coming.

“I see a lot of great talent,” Brown said in assessing OSU’s 2014-15 possibilities.

Some are known.

Phil Forte, who moved into a starter’s role and thrived down the stretch, offers a key piece.

“One of the best 3-point shooters in the country,” Brown said.

Forte doesn’t fit the mold of an offensive focal point, at his size needing to feed off a primary scorer or two, yet offers a reliable weapon on the perimeter. Forte also revealed more layers to his game in the expanded role, showing an ability to drive the lane and create for himself and others.

Inside, the Cowboys should be much improved. Michael Cobbins must prove that he’s back to form following Achilles and shoulder surgeries, but he’s ahead of schedule so far. His return will allow Kamari Murphy to slide out of the post and back to his natural position off the block. With a nice jump shot that extends to 15 feet – not fully taken advantage of with him needed in the middle – Murphy is capable of assuming some of the lost scoring load.

Brian Williams lost confidence during this season, but he has a history of being a productive player and will be given an opportunity reestablish himself next season.

Those four – Forte, Cobbins, Murphy and Williams – have all been Big 12 starters.

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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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