Oklahoma State coach Ford reacts to a call during the Cowboys last minute win over Baylor during the NCAA men's Big 12 basketball tournament in Kansas City, Missouri

Oklahoma State’s front court concerns on display in exhibition

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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.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.