These are tense times around Oklahoma State athletics.
And the Cowboys’ basketball loss on Monday — a Bedlam loss — only extended an angst that first kicked up when Oklahoma pulled out of Stillwater with a football win in December.
The underdog Sooners (that’s right, underdog) have now taken the first two major Bedlam meetings, when OSU fans were counting on victories to brag about in the office and the neighborhood parties and the homes divided.
Both are serious doses of disappointment, too, with OU delivering blows to the Cowboys’ Big 12 title hopes, after the Pokes were preseason picks to hoist league trophies.
It’s still early, but OSU is 4-3 in the Big 12 and folks are getting antsy. Within the program, however, the situation is serious, yet hardly dire. The Cowboys are committed to winning. And having fun doing so.
“This is just a game,” said star guard Marcus Smart. “We’ve got people overseas fighting wars, kids 18- and 19-years old – our age – losing their lives. This isn’t anything. We get to go into a gym and put a ball through a hoop.
“You should have fun. This isn’t any live and death situation. We’re thankful for it every day. We just make sure that we let everybody know that. We’re thankful and grateful to see another day and to go out here and have fun.”
Yes, the Cowboys want to win. Need to win, as competitors. But having fun and playing loose is a key ingredient in that. Smart said the team is tuned into the little mistakes that have plagued this team, including foul trouble that has heavily impacted all three conference losses.
“The team’s in a little funk right now,” Smart said. “We just need to get back in the lab, in the gym and work on some things. It’s so much that we’re doing ourselves; just cut off all the little things that when we look at on film, we know we can fix, things that are in our control.”
It was talked about in the postgame locker room in Norman and has been a talking point throughout the week, heading into Saturday’s visit from Baylor at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“We just told each other, ‘This isn’t how we want our season to go. We can change the outcome and how we play with effort,” Smart said. “You can see it.”
And Smart recognizes his role in it all.
“It starts with me,” he said. “I take full responsibility for that. Like I told them, it starts with me. I can’t let you guys down. As much as I don’t think so, they follow what I do and they see me on the court and how I react. And they go off what I do.”