How does Fraschilla measure Ford's work?
“I've been impressed, I really have,” he said. “When you think of who they thought they would have at the start of the year, and for a variety of reasons who they ended up putting on the court, I think Travis did his best coaching job since he's been at Oklahoma State.
“They were competitive. They played hard. They were certainly shorthanded. But I think what has come out of this season so far has been the emergence of Markel Brown, Brian Williams, Michael Cobbins, Le'Bryan Nash. I think what they did was develop a core nucleus for the future.
“Now, they did it the hard way. And they had to suffer in terms of the won-loss record, but I thought they could have easily folded the tent halfway through the Big 12.”
The Cowboys wobbled at times, absorbing beatings by Baylor and Kansas and Missouri, but they showed resiliency, too, typically playing hard and even posting some big wins over Mizzou, Texas and Iowa State.
“There's times when I thought, ‘Oh boy, the Cowboys are in trouble,'” Fraschilla said. “And they turned around and beat a Missouri or a Texas and they come back in the second half against Kansas.
“I watched Texas A&M this year, with far more talent, go through similar adversity and they didn't react nearly as well as Oklahoma State did.”
Some of OSU's adversity seems self-inflicted.
It's Ford's job to develop a point guard. And his first recruiting class, a six-man group made up mostly of point guard prospects and post projects, completely washed out with Gulley and Dowell the last to leave.
“I have had teams where nobody has left for three or four years and I have had teams where you lose two or three a year because they don't like their role or maybe they aren't playing or maybe you are too hard on them at times,” Ford said. “It's part of the game.”
In a twist, OSU's defections and injuries may have revealed Ford's hope for the future, with Brown, Williams and Cobbins benefiting from the available minutes and elevating their status.
“I like their talent a lot,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “I think Page is still the key to their team. But I think Brown has the chance to be a really, really, really good player and Le'Bryan has the chance to be one of the best players in the league, without question.
“(Brian) Williams is a good player. You get Marcus Smart in there, and that is a pretty nice young group of guys.”
Smart is part of OSU's next wave, a McDonald's All-American and top-15 national recruit out of Texas.
Since that failed first group, Ford's classes are starting to produce.
Now, will it be enough to get the Cowboys back in the hunt in the Big 12?
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Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech
When: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
TV: KOCB-34 (Cox 11)
Radio: KXXY 96.1 FM
Three things to know:
The Cowboys will be without starters Le'Bryan Nash (hand) and Philip Jurick (Achilles), playing with just six full-time scholarship players.
OSU has never lost a first-round game at the Big 12 Tournament, going 8-0 on the opening day. The Cowboys swept Tech during the regular season.
The winner advances to play Missouri Thursday at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
Oklahoma State (14-17, 7-11);;;;;
Texas Tech (8-22, 1-17);;;;;