Maybe so. Then comes another game like this Big 12 quarterfinal. Mizzou scored 19 points on nine possessions to take a 21-6 lead 61/2 minutes into the game. The lead reached 21 (30-9) before 11 minutes had been played. It was 47-18 before halftime and was as close as 25 (49-24) only because Williams and Brown sank 3-pointers on OSU's final possessions.
Way too many games like this to get too fired up about the future. Lose a bunch of close games and you say, hey, a play or two here or there. But OSU actually went 6-4 in close games. The Cowboys lost eight games by at least 15 points.
The only good that came of this trip to KC was the model for how Ford wants to play. Missouri, thought to be a solid matchup for the Cowboys because MU held no size advantage, played frenetic, uptempo basketball with exquisite execution.
“The team we played tonight is who we need to be like,” Ford said. “Hopefully, we'll stick with that. I like that.”
The Cowboys by season's end were a decent offensive team, befitting a team playing mostly guards. But their defense was awful.
You want to get to Missouri's level, you've got to play Missouri-style defense. Mizzou hounded the Cowboys in the early going; OSU made just four of its first 19 shots.
The Pressey brothers, Phil and Matt, velcroed themselves to Page and Brown. Dad Paul Pressey, the former Tulsa U. defensive demon, would be proud.
The returning Cowboys are athletic enough to play like that. So just like everything else that needs improvement, it comes down to commitment and determination.
“It's going to take hard work,” Nash said. “It's going to start in the summer.”
Starting in the summer is great. Finishing in the Big 12 Tournament is not. The next Cowboy season needs to go beyond Kansas City.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.