Doug Gottlieb, as one of ESPN's most visible college basketball analysts, is deep in analyzing the teams hopeful of making a run through March Madness. As a former Cowboy, he's tuned into OSU, too.
While cruising through the Starbucks drive thru for a triple grande, one-pump soy latte, Gottlieb shared his thoughts on a few Cowboys topics:
What do you identify as the major issues hampering OSU this season?
“They haven't had great point guard play. I think Keiton (Page) is obviously their best shooter. And they don't have a lot of shooters around him, so he's forced to be more of a shooter and he's not the truest of point guards. He can't create as much as he needs to, nor does he have guys to create for.
“Their bigs, while Marshall Moses has made himself into a nice little scorer and he does play hard, there's a lot of things he doesn't do. He's not a great defender. He's undersized. So when you play against legit length and guys with size, there's just a limit to what he's going to be able to do.
“And I don't think they have enough shooting. They're the worst 3-point shooting team in the league.”
How do you judge the chemistry of the team?
“I think you have some character issues, and it's pretty obvious. Anytime you're having different guys get arrested, investigated, charged, suspended… when you start having a guy like that – two or three guys like that – now we've got some problems.”
Do you see this season as a major disappointment?
“I thought they'd be a little down this year, I didn't think they'd be this down. I obviously didn't see some of these issues coming up that have hurt them.
“Redshirting (Mike) Cobbins and him not being ready to play hurts them. They thought Markel Brown would be a better player right away than he's been.
“And then they got a lot of mileage out of Ray Penn when he was healthy last year. But he's forever seemingly in the doghouse. So he can't get consistent minutes. And I know how that is, if you can't get consistent minutes, you can't play your game.
“It's a flawed team, no doubt about it. But they're not terrible. They can beat some people. They have little or no margin for error.”
So, there's hope for 2011-12?
“They're going to have a major talent uptick. With Nash and Cobbins, then they can play Keiton with those guys, they'll be all right. “
Have we seen the Travis Ford identity in a Cowboys team yet?
“When I was being recruited, every coach in America comes in and says he wants to run. ‘We're going to run. We're going to do this, do that.' And then they all average about 68 to 72 points a game. There's like five coaches in the country who run.
“I don't hold it against him. But his teams, they just kind of play. I understand you have to be pragmatic. You can't put a square peg into a round hole. At some point, they're going to have to establish, ‘This is who we are. This is what this program is.' I think you have to find that.”
Are they on their way, with an increasingly athletic roster?
“Maybe that changes next year with LeBryan. They add the length of Cobbins and get after people and press. I don't know. Ford probably can't win without Keiton, but he can't run his style with him.
“His way of playing is he wants long, rangy guys at as many positions as possible. Athletes. I think next year, if Cobbins is good enough to start, LeBryan Nash, Brown — don't know what they're going to do inside — and then Keiton, that's a pretty good little crew to play up-tempo.”
What about Jéan-Paul Olukemi, do you like him in the mix?
“Oh, yeah, that's the other kid. I love Olukemi. That's a good five right there.
“People forget, he sat out a year. And when you don't play for a year, then all of a sudden you're playing in the Big 12, there's an adjustment.
“He makes the classic mistake where he spins and takes off way too far out. He needs like one dribble, two dribbles more, then power up. He needs to shoot the ball better as well. But I really like Olukemi. I actually think he's a pro.”
Sounds like you're a fan of Page?
“He's their best player. Look, everybody has a strength and everybody has a weakness. They're not able to play up his strengths nearly enough, because they don't have enough scoring around him. And his limitations are fairly obvious.
“I like Keiton. Next year you're going to have a kid who's a senior, a starter, no issues, totally bought into it. The only thing he's not, if I was going to be critical of him, other than he's not a great defender, by my estimation he's not a vocal enough leader. And they obviously don't have that.”