Oklahoma State will enter the 2013-2014 college basketball season with quite a bit of hype.
They’re considered by just about ever prognosticator out there as the clear favorite to end Kansas’ nine-year run of Big 12 regular season titles. Marcus Smart is a consensus preseason all-american and was NBCSports.com’s pick as the preseason Player of the Year. Markel Brown is a preseason all-Big 12 selection. Throw in Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins and another talented recruiting class, and it’s no surprise that the Pokes are a top 15 team entering the season.
But if there is one major concern with this group, it’s their play on the interior. Do they have a shotblocking presence around the rim? Is there an actual low-post scoring presence? Perhaps most importantly, will the Pokes be able to rebound the ball well enough to compete with the best teams in the country?
Last season, Oklahoma State was a thoroughly mediocre rebounding team, finishing well outside the top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. That was before they lost Phil Jurick, their starting center and best rebounder, to graduation.
Things didn’t look all that promising in Oklahoma State’s first exhibition. The Cowboys took on Campbellsville, a team ranked outside the top 25 in the NAIA preseason rankings that has just two rotation players taller than 6-foot-6, and managed all of six offensive rebounds (and an OR% of just 17.6) in an 80-70 win. I know, I know, offensive rebounding is all about effort and energy, and it’s not necessarily surprising that a Big 12 contender didn’t have a ton of energy playing an NAIA school.
It’s not exactly a cause for alarm, but it’s not going to make the good folks of Stillwater, OK, any less concerned.
Also worth noting is the fact that Le’Bryan Nash came off the bench for the Cowboys on Sunday night. Cobbins and Kamari Murphy started up front with Brian Williams on the wing. Nash played 15 minutes off the bench.