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OSU chat: John Helsley talks NCAA chances, Marcus Smart on Twitter and Cowboys baseball

by John Helsley Published: February 18, 2014
NewsOK Sports 10:32 a.m. Welcome to the Power Lunch chat today with Oklahoma State writer John Helsley. Lots to talk about pertaining to the Cowboys - from how they'll bounce back with Smart in the lineup to Smart's recent comments on Twitter.
NewsOK Sports 10:33 a.m. If you missed the chatter, Smart took to Twitter last night to defend criticism of the Cowboys by the Pistols Firing blog: http://bit.ly/1hsax2v
NewsOK Sports 10:35 a.m. Make sure to get your questions in now, as John will be jumping on at 11 a.m. with some responses and conversation. The talk isn't confined to just basketball, either, as OSU has kicked off baseball season and Spring Football is right around the corner.
John Helsley 11:01 a.m. Greetings, fittingly, from Flower Mound, Texas, where I've pulled off the road on the long haul back from Waco to chat with you! Flower Mound, of course, is the home of Marcus Smart (and Phil Forte and Mason Cox, too). And Smart will be a popular topic today, I can bet. His tweets last night... His return to the lineup Saturday... Let's get it on.
Jay 11:02 a.m. The Pokes sure are laying it all on the line on the hardwood. My guilty conscience is killing me for not going to the games in protest of Ford. I'm changing my ways. Hopefully others can too. Those kids deserve support. I think the "powers that be" know people are not happy and we don't need to punish the kids by boycotting.
John Helsley 11:05 a.m. Jay, well said. I hope more like you show up Saturday and beyond. A protest of Ford is your right, but as you say, bailing on Ford by not showing up is also a bail on these players. And these guys, down three men or not, are spilling everything they've got on the floor -- all in the name of being Cowboys. Markel Brown was already averaging 40.4 minutes a game over OSU's last six games before Monday night. And he never came off the floor, playing all 45. There's no quit in these guys. And there shouldn't be in the fan base, either.
Jay 11:05 a.m. The Oklahoman is losing a great asset in Vinegar Bend Mizel. I hope you can find a comparable replacement.
John Helsley 11:06 a.m. Jay gets to go twice in a row because, well, this needs to be said. Indeed, we're losing a good one. And we can only hope to find someone as good, as dedicated and as hard-working as Gina. She will be missed.
-M 11:06 a.m. Lots of write-ups still have OSU making the NCAA tournament? What do they have to do down the stretch (outside winning the Big 12 tournament) to sneak in?
John Helsley 11:07 a.m. They need to start winning. Beating KU would help, as difficult as that may sound right now. The committee will take into consideration Smart's absence during his suspension -- and his impact on the team going forward -- IF the Cowboys can right themselves and add to the resume. The NCAA hopes are not dead. Yet.
Guest 11:07 a.m. John, I suppose I represent about one percent of the OSU fan base, when I say we should not only get behind the players but coach Ford as well. Like it or not, Ford is going to be at OSU next year, and we need to support our team.
Guest 11:08 a.m. And I have seen nothing from the OSU program this year that I interpret as poor leadership or coaching. Why is it that the players love their coach, and play their butts off for him? Why is it that by all accounts, these are real good character kids. When they are not, they get booted from the team.
John Helsley 11:10 a.m. I'm on record as not being a "Fire The Coach" zealot. I understand this season has been disappointing and frustrating. It's not what anyone expected. I don't think people realize how devastating -- in hindsight -- the Cobbins injury has been. If he doesn't get hurt, the Cowboys are something like 10-3 in the conference and all is well.
Of course, that's not what happened.
And now the house is on fire -- or perceived to be.
Billy Bob 11:10 a.m. So, OSU fans, quite your whining and get behind this team!
Alum in AZ 11:11 a.m. Thanks for your coverage of the Cowboys BB team this year. Has been quite a roller coaster season - with phenomenal peaks at the beginning (Homecoming and Hoops and the Memphis blowout). Expectations were sky high. The unprecedented steep drop has been stunning to watch. Two questions - 1) Can you think of another similar drop in results vs. expectations in recent NCAA Hoops, and 2) Can you see another sharp turn in the roller coaster track that ends the season on a high note?
John Helsley 11:13 a.m. Thanks for the thanks. Always appreciated. And yes, it's been quite a ride.
I think there's hope in how hard the team has played these last
two games. They had no business being in either game so shorthanded, yet were right there in the end.
Now Smart comes back. And by all accounts, the last two weeks were good for him, allowing him to relax and be himself. The Cowboys need the old Marcus Smart.
Remember, with Marcus, this is the same team that pushed KU in Lawrence.
So there's the bright side.
The not-so-bright side: You have to worry what all these minutes heaped on OSU's starters will mean in the coming weeks. Fatigue is a factor.
-M 11:13 a.m. Will the Cowboys be able to push for a return the the College World Series this year or are they still a year or so away?
John Helsley 11:16 a.m. A break in the action!
OSU baseball is on the ascent -- and quickly. This has the makings of a very good club, capable of winning the Big 12. The Cowboys' ability to make it to Omaha likely comes down to how quickly the youngsters can make an impact. Thomas Hatch was big-time in his pitching debut over the weekend. He, Garrett Williams, Conor Costello hold the key.
dr. el prez 11:16 a.m. John, not sure what should and shouldn't be said right now in regards to this O State basketball season. I will say this though --- the kids who have played these past three games have displayed some real grit which has to be respected from anyone who's ever played or coached sports. O State now gets Marcus Smart back, I personally think if they go 4-2 in these last six and win one game in the Big 12 Tourny---they'll still get in the Dance because of the conference's RPI. My feelings on Travis Ford are very simple. He still has three guys on his team who will be drafted by the NBA, plus he has nice role players in Forte, Williams and Murphy. Plus, he now has dispensable minutes to use with Hammonds, Sager and Cox. That's plenty of talent to get to the Dance and win two Tournament games. I'm not an O State fan, just a basketball fan. But from my objective view it is either put up or leave time for Travis Ford the rest of this season. Show this basketball community he can coach on the fly. If not...the buyout should be considered since Boone and Holder were silly enough to commit to a ten year deal with a coach with only one NCAA Tournament game on his resume. Joe C said deciding to let Jeff Capel go was the toughest decision of his athletic directorship. To me...it's time for the three adults...Travis Ford, Mike Holder and Boone Pickens to address 'their' situation. Not a rant. Just my views.
John Helsley 11:21 a.m. Well, a mini-rant, perhaps, El Prez.
But I can buy that, for the most part. Not so sure about the three NBA guys... I sat next to two scouts last night at the game and they say there's some D-League future ahead for Brown and Nash. It's not like OSU is playing with three Michael Jordan's and everybody else has a bunch of Adam Morrisons -- which seems to be the feeling among disgruntled Cowboys fans. The Big 12 is tough. There's a bunch of good players in the league. The Cowboys have good guards. They don't have an inside presence. And that has allowed teams to attack them differently and defend them differently.
Still, some good points.
T Boone 11:21 a.m. I want my money back.
John Helsley 11:21 a.m. For the football stadium?
Alum in AZ 11:22 a.m. Will miss Gina. The two of you, combined with your partners in crime from Tulsa and Mr. Pistols Guy, provide much appreciated OSU coverage for those of us out of state. How long before Gina's replacement is cranking out material? Or shall I wait for the next chat with Mr. Sherman to ask that?
John Helsley 11:22 a.m. Direct those questions to Mr. Sherman. And, please, tell him to get on it!
Alum in AZ 11:22 a.m. Was surprised to see Mason Cox's tweet about being the "unathletic" guy. I was commenting last night that I think he might be the most athletic big guy (6'10"+) I've seen in an OSU uniform (I was at OSU during the Alan Bannister era - pardon the spelling). And I love the 60% practices/engineering major story (even more than the Women's BB scout team story).
John Helsley 11:23 a.m. Maybe he's comparing himself to Markel.
But you're right, he's a fascinating story. Great student. Already has a job with Exxon Mobil.
Another guy to show up and support.
Christy 11:23 a.m. It's not that Marcus Smart can't criticize a blogger, he can. It's just that it seems to send a bad message about where his head and focus is right now if he's tweeting at a blogger instead of channeling his energy a more positive way, like Michael Cobbins does. I'm worried this shows he's still frustrated and won't come back controlled or focused. Thoughts?
John Helsley 11:26 a.m. I saw it as Marcus standing up for his teammates.
That simple.
I mean, he is human.
If people were beating up my co-workers on Twitter, I'd come to their defense, too.
I believe he can channel his energy and focus in the right way, but also express his opinion.
If it's OK for folks on Twitter to criticize, it should be OK for those being criticized to respond.
Just my opinion.
Glenn 11:27 a.m. Do you really feel that Marcus Smart coming back will change anything? They look like they've had it to me.
John Helsley 11:28 a.m. Had it in what way?
They're playing their guts out -- with no sign of retreat.
I think fans should be encouraged by what they've seen of their team these last two games.
Now they get one of the best talents in college basketball -- when he's right -- back on the floor.
Christy 11:28 a.m. What is your most likely scenario for how the Cowboys get into the NCAA tourney, and at what seed?
John Helsley 11:32 a.m. This is a tough one.
But let's try.
The Cowboys have five regular season games left: Tech, at TCU, KU and K-State at home, at Iowa State.
All the projections have OSU currently in the field, based on what they've already banked. So if that's the case, Beat Tech and TCU and take two of the other three and they SHOULD be in decent shape.
And don't go one-and-done at the Big 12 Tournament.
This is an interesting case, a team with a likely sub-.500 league record, but with the circumstance of their best player missing three games to suspension.
CowboysRule-Chris 11:32 a.m. I'm really proud of the effort by the Cowboys last night. That said, in the last 3 minutes of many games this year, OSU sucks. Let's recap last night. (1) missed blockout after free throw miss leads to easy dunk by Baylor. (2) Forte misses free throws (Probably tired) (3) Nash misses open layup (4) Brian Williams doubles teams a big guy, deciding that giving up 2 points is not as bad as giving a good shooter (Helsip) a wide open three. Bedlam flashback (gives up 2 last threes to sink Bedlam game) Your thoughts?
John Helsley 11:34 a.m. The Cowboys have failed to finish during this losing streak, no doubt.
There have been bad decisions. And Forte missing FTs is just unfathomable, although your point about being tired is probably a factor, and a factor in a lot of these things, I would presume.
Rebounds last night were a killer, but a lot of that was due to Baylor's length, which the Cowboys simply can't match.
Josh 11:35 a.m. Why do media folks keep saying 'Smart crossed the line' with his comment last night? His comment was 100% accurate. No one I've talked to have thought he crossed a line. Maybe it's just the media supporting the "media". Or how he shouldn't have tweeted in-game. Why not? He's sitting at home. What else is there for him to do?
John Helsley 11:35 a.m. As I said before, I had no problem with it.
John Helsley 11:35 a.m. He didn't say anything inflammatory or inappropriate. Just backed his guys.
CowboysRule- Chris 11:36 a.m. Just want to say how much I'm going to miss Gina Mizell. I think I'm in love with her. :) ;) She does a great job and is very knowlegeable about players and the team in football etc. Love to read and listen to her. Huge fan! Gonna miss you Gina. ::Internet hug::
Brian Wick 11:36 a.m. Interesting that Ford never went back to Nash ni 1st half last night at 2 fouls in the first 3 minutes. Was it fact OSU was ahead for most of last part of half or the good minutes other guys gave?
John Helsley 11:38 a.m. I think it was the fact that Nash picked up two bad fouls -- which he is prone to do -- and the likelihood that he'd get another. Remember, too, that the Cowboys were playing well in the first half. Led at the half.
Foul trouble is a balancing act at this point for this club.
CowboysRule- Chris 11:38 a.m. I am with you on the Cobbins injury- he was our rim protector. Then it forced our quality backup (Murphy) to be a starter and now we have zero behind him. Cobbins was a good shot blocker, solid rebounder. Something this team doesn't have now.
Brian Wick 11:38 a.m. With Marcus back and Forte going back to 6th man role and maybe a few less minutes for him,do you think that could make Forte more effective? He seemed gas at the end Saturday/Monday
John Helsley 11:39 a.m. When I talked to Forte after the game, he looked like RoboCop. Had a giant bag of ice taped to his right elbow, more ice on a leg. And he was clearly spent.
He's best when the team doesn't have to lean on him so much.
Patrick 11:39 a.m. Any chance Nash comes back for his Sr year?
John Helsley 11:40 a.m. Doubtful, although that's only a guess.
But if he'd look at how Brown continued to improve and raise his draft stock, he might see that another season could be beneficial.
He's going to be a 2nd round pick -- at best.
Guest 11:40 a.m. Didn't know Gina was leaving? Where is she going?
John Helsley 11:41 a.m. She's headed to The Oregonian to cover Oregon State.
So she's keeping it in the family, so to speak. OSU. Same colors. Finally gets to cover Luke Del Rio. And the OL coach who almost came to Stillwater.
Jason 11:41 a.m. You just mentioned you sat next to two scouts who said D-League was in the future for Nash/Brown. Did they offer commentary on what they'd like to see out of each of them that would increase their stock in the NBA?
John Helsley 11:42 a.m. Both are sort of tweeners. Brown isn't big enough to be a 2, so he needs to work on his point guard skills. Nash is most effective inside, but he can't survive there in the NBA.
Guest 11:42 a.m. Did Gundy run her off?
John Helsley 11:43 a.m. NC
Billy Bob 11:43 a.m. I bet Markel Brown is sore today.
John Helsley 11:44 a.m. You would win that wager. And to him, it comes with the territory, "anything I can do to try and help this team get a win" he said.
Guest 11:44 a.m. It was the gundy dance that did her in
John Helsley 11:44 a.m. Funny
JB 11:44 a.m. What is the conference outlook for Big 12 Baseball this year?
John Helsley 11:46 a.m. Excellent. The way Josh Holliday and his staff are recruiting and developing players, it's only a matter of time -- and that time may be now -- before OSU becomes a force in baseball again.

Along with that, let's end this on a positive note.

The folks at Starbucks are giving me dirty looks. My daughter is counting on me to deliver her clubs to the golf course on time. So I better get back on the road.

Thanks, as always, for the questions.
Til we chat again...

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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