As a true freshman at Oklahoma State in 2010-11, forward Michael Cobbins played a total of five minutes in two of the Cowboys’ first three games before the decision was made to redshirt him that season. Unfortunately for Cobbins and head coach Travis Ford, those five minutes played constitute a full season of competition.
The Cowboys’ first three regular season games are against opponents they’ll be expected to handle, Southeastern Louisiana, Prairie View A&M and Northwestern (Oklahoma) State. Of Oklahoma State’s three available post players two, redshirt junior Anthony Allen and freshman Mitchell Solomon, did not play a minute of college basketball in 2013-14. Senior Marek Soucek is the other post option for the Cowboys.
But it would be good to have Cobbins on the floor in game action, especially when considering the fact that he played in just 13 games last season before rupturing his Achilles in a win over Robert Morris. Cobbins and senior forward Le’Bryan Nash are expected to lead the way in the front court for Oklahoma State, which was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll.
It’s been a difficult offseason for Travis Ford and the Oklahoma State basketball program.
The back court is going through a major overhaul with Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Stevie Clark and Brian Williams all leaving the program while four-star guard Jared Terrell requested his release before arriving on campus. The front court took its blow as well when Kamari Murphy left the Cowboys for Miami.
Ford, who is entering his seventh season in Stillwater, could be getting a starter back on the floor next month. According to a report from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Michael Cobbins could rejoin offseason workouts by mid-July.
The 6-foot-8 Cobbins averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game through the first 13 games of the season. On Dec. 30, in a win over Robert Morris, Cobbins torn his Achilles tendon, requiring season-ending surgery. Murphy replaced Cobbins in the starting lineup, but the sophomore transferred out of the program in early May.
This update on Cobbins’ recovery is another positive story to come out of the program this week. On Wednesday, a report surfaced that former LSU guard Anthony Hickey had enrolled in summer classes at Oklahoma State. He will seek immediate eligibility under the “run-off” waiver.
Oklahoma State finished 21-13 (8-10 Big 12) with a second consecutive exit in the Round of 64. Despite the list of departures, Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte are back for the Cowboys.
Statistically speaking, the loss of forward Michael Cobbins may not look to be a huge deal for No. 6 Oklahoma State. In 13 games Cobbins was averaging a modest 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game before rupturing his Achilles tendon in a win over Robert Morris on Monday night. Cobbins was the team’s fifth-best rebounder, so it’s understandable if some were under the impression that this wasn’t an important personnel loss for the Cowboys.
Kansas State grabbed just one more rebound than the Cowboys but they did manage to rebound 34.1% of their missed shots, a figure slightly higher than the 31.5% that Oklahoma State’s opponents were grabbing to this point in the season. The players who posed the biggest problem for Oklahoma State: Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, who combined to grab four of Kansas State’s seven offensive rebounds in the second half.
Gipson was especially important down the stretch, as he scored six of his 11 points in the final 4:22. Simply put, Oklahoma State’s lack of interior depth/muscle made things difficult for Travis Ford’s team when it came to stopping Gipson. Cobbins certainly doesn’t have the girth that Gipson possesses, but he’s capable of providing the resistance needed to make things a bit more difficult. Without Cobbins the Cowboys are down a player inside, leaving the majority of the work to Le’Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy when it comes to defending the bigger front courts of the Big 12.
Six players played 191 of a possible 200 minutes for Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon, and that’s likely to remain the case as the Cowboys look to win the Big 12. From a rebounding standpoint they’ve got the ability to hang with most teams, as Nash grabbed nine rebounds against K-State and Markel Brown and Marcus Smart are both capable rebounders as well.
The question is whether or not the Cowboys will have enough muscle to defend the deeper front courts of the Big 12, especially if they’re unable to use their perimeter weapons to force mismatches in their favor. Whether or not Travis Ford’s squad can find a positive answer will determine their fate in conference play.
Oklahoma State ran away with a 92-66 win over Robert Morris on Monday night, but in the process ended up losing a key piece for the remainder of the season.
Junior forward Michael Cobbins played less than four minutes on Monday night, leaving an Achilles tendon injury. After being examined on Tuesday, Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World reported that the 6-foot-8 Cobbins will undergo surgery and will be done for the season.
“Our thoughts are with Michael, and we pray for a successful recovery,” Travis Ford said, per a tweet from Hines. “We know Michael will work extremely hard and be back next season, better than ever.”
Cobbins was averaging 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for No. 6 Oklahoma State. This is a tough loss for the Cowboys with Big 12 Conference play beginning this Saturday. The Cowboys have Marcus Smart leading one of the nation’s best perimeter attacks, but how will the Pokes frontline matchup with some of the other conference contenders like Kansas or Baylor?
Oklahoma State travels to Manhattan on Saturday to take on Kansas State.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Last Season: 24-9, 13-5 Big 12 (3rd); Lost to Oregon in the Round of 64
Head Coach: Travis Ford (6th season at Oklahoma State: 104-63 overall, 44-40 Big 12)
Key Losses: J.P. Olukemi, Philip Jurick
Newcomers: Stevie Clark, Jeff Carroll, Leyton Hammonds, Gary Gaskin
– G: Marcus Smart, So.
– G: Markel Brown, Sr.
– F: Brian Williams, Jr.
– F: Le’Bryan Nash, Jr.
– F: Michael Cobbins, Jr.
– Bench: Gary Gaskins, Jr.; Kamari Murphy, So.; Phil Forte, So.; Stevie Clark, Fr.
They’ll be good because …: Travis Ford has managed to amass as much perimeter talent as any team in the country. Let’s start with the obvious: Marcus Smart. After an all-american freshman season that had him projected as a top five pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Smart made the decision to return to school for his sophomore season, giving the Pokes arguably the best player in the country. He’s a point guard in a shooting guard’s body whose biggest contributions have much more to do with the intangibles and things that don’t show up in the box score than the 15.4 points, 5.8 boards and 4.2 assists he averaged last year.
Smart’s not alone, either. Markel Brown may be the most underrated guard in the country, proving last season that he is more than just a dunker. Brian Williams is finally healthy and should be a lock down defender on the wing, while Le’Bryan Nash is an immensely talented combo-forward that has yet to reach his potential. Throw in high-scoring little guards Phil Forte and Stevie Clark, and Oklahoma State is going to be able to give opponents multiple different looks.
But they might disappoint because …: Michael Cobbins was productive as a sophomore, averaging 6.9 points, 6.1 boards and 1.5 blocks last year, and should be in line to see a jump in those numbers. The same can be said for sophomore Kamari Murphy. Both are athletic 6-foot-8 forwards with long arms that can make some plays on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor. Gary Gaskins is a 6-foot-10 pogo stick, but he weighs all of about 20 pounds.
The problem, however, is that neither of those guys are what you would consider a bruiser inside. That role was played by Philip Jurick last season, and he graduated. Can the Pokes survive without that big body in the lane?
Outlook: Travis Ford probably hates Andrew Wiggins. If Kansas hadn’t landed the No. 1 recruit in the country, Oklahoma State would be heading into this season as the favorite to win the Big 12. The Jayhawks have had an unprecedented run of success, dominating the league over the last nine years; the last time that Kansas didn’t win at least a share of the league title was back in 2004.
Oklahoma State has a real chance to bring that streak to an end this season. This is the best team that Ford has ever coached, and it may be the best team that he ever will coach. Smart is an all-american and arguably the most valuable player in the country, and his supporting cast will be better than it was a year ago. It’s a stretch to say that Oklahoma State should win the conference, but given how weak the rest of league is outside of Kansas, anything less than a second place finish in the Big 12 would be a disappointment. There’s enough talent on this roster to make a run at the Final Four come March.
The X-Factors of the 2013-2014 College Basketball Season
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Duke’s big men: With Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon on the roster, Duke’s perimeter attack is so loaded that it will be tough to find minutes for guys like Matt Jones, Andre Dawkins and Alex Murphy. The issue for the Blue Devils will be in the paint. With Mason Plumlee having graduated, the Blue Devils will have a couple of options: using redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee, consistently out-talented Josh Hairston or playing an undersized youngster like Amile Jefferson or Semi Ojeleye out of position. The Blue Devils will be able to spread the floor and create matchup problems, but will they defend the rim and rebound the ball?
Keith Appling, Michigan State: It seems like Appling has been the x-factor for the Spartans for the better part of a decade, and this season is no different. Appling has never been a pure point guard, and it’s taken him time to learn to be a playmaker first and foremost. It will be all the more essential this season, as the Spartans plan to play in transition more often this season. There’s enough talent on this roster to win a national title if Appling can lead them there.
Aaron Gordon’s position: If Aaron Gordon can embrace the idea of playing the four, than he has a chance to be a first-team All-American and Arizona should be considered a legitimate title contender. But if he forces his way into being a wing, it creates problems for the Wildcats. I wrote about this extensively here, so I’ll keep this section brief.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: There are so many question marks about the Indiana program heading into this season, but if there is anything that we do know about the Hoosiers, it’s that Ferrell will be the guy running the point. The only guy running the point, as a matter of fact. Indiana doesn’t really have a back-up. He’ll also be asked to be Tom Crean’s go-to guy offensively as well, which is a lot of pressure to put on one player. If he can handle it, Indiana should end up near the top of the Big Ten.
Chris Jones, Louisville: I’m not sure that people truly understand just how valuable Peyton Siva was to Louisville last season. He was the guy with the ball in his hands at the end of a clock, he was their leader and play maker, and he was a perfect fit for what Rick Pitino wanted defensively. More importantly, Siva was a calming influence alongside Russdiculous. Those are mighty big shoes for Jones, a one-time Tennessee commit and the best JuCo player in the country a year ago, to fill.
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Ennis is really the only point guard on the Syracuse roster, which means that Jim Boeheim will be turning over the reigns of his team to a player that has never set foot on a collegiate court before the season. The Orange are once again talented enough to be considered a top ten team and a title contender heading into the season, but if this group is to make a return to the Final Four, they’ll need Ennis to have a big freshman year.
Michael Cobbins, Oklahoma State: Travis Ford will have more guards at his disposal than he will know what to do with next season. In addition to all-league performers Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, the Pokes have Phil Forte, Brian Williams and Stevie Clark on the roster. Throw in Le’Bryan Nash, and Oklahoma State has the pieces to be able to spread the floor quite effectively. To make that happen, however, Ford will need to find a presence in the paint, and Cobbins, a 6-foot-8 redshirt junior that averaged 6.9 points and 6.1 boards a year ago, is the guy that will be called upon.
Joel Embiid, Kansas: You know about Andrew Wiggins and how good he should end up being. You’ve probably heard about Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis and how they can compliment Wiggins offensively. But with a team as young as Kansas is with as many question marks as the Jayhawks have at the point guard spot, consistency on the offensive end will be hard to come by. As always, Kansas will be a team that wins because they are elite defensively, and Embiid, like Jeff Withey was the past two seasons, will be the anchor of that defense.
Derrick Walton, Michigan: Replacing Trey Burke is not going to be an easy thing for Michigan to do, as it was his ability to come off of screens and create that made the Wolverines so dangerous. That’s why Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III got so many open threes throughout the year, and that’s part of the reason that Mitch McGary blew up in the postseason. Burke made everyone that much better with his ability to create. Walton, and to a lesser extent Spike Albrecht, is the hear apparent to the point guard spot at Michigan. No pressure, he just have to replace the National Player of the Year.
Zach Auguste, Notre Dame: The Irish have a terrific perimeter attack this season, but losing Jack Cooley is going to hurt. He was a double-double machine that got Mike Brey’s club so many second-chance points. Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman are known quantities, big bodies that will play hard, use their five fouls and reward you with a couple of buckets and a couple boards. Auguste is more talented than that. He’s good enough to be a real replacement for Cooley, and a real post presence on this team is a difference-maker.
Josh Smith, Georgetown: If Josh Smith can get into shape, he’s an all-american caliber talent. His size, his quick feet, his touch around the rim. He could really be effective for the Hoyas considering how good some of their guards are. The problem? Not only has Smith never been in shape in his career, but he’s still waiting for word from the NCAA when he can suit up this season. If he joins the team in December, will he be as effective?
Here are 12 more X-Factors:
Shaq Goodwin and David Pellom, Memphis: The Tigers are loaded on the perimeter, but they’ll need Goodwin and Pellom to be a presence in the paint to compete for the AAC title.
Kenny Chery, Baylor: The JuCo transfer will have first crack at replacing Pierre Jackson at the point.
Kris Dunn, Providence: Finally healthy, Dunn is a dynamic point guard that should thrive in Ed Cooley’s uptempo system.
Cullen Neal and Deshawn Delaney, New Mexico: Replacing Tony Snell’s defense and perimeter shooting will be the key to New Mexico’s season.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida: With Will Yeguete banged up and Chris Walker ineligible for at least the fall, the versatile Finney-Smith will see plenty of minutes.
Xavier Johnson, Colorado: Johnson was awesome in flashes last season and will fill the role Andre Roberson left vacant.
Robert Hubbs, Tennessee: The Vols need someone to help Jordan McRae keep the floor spread for their big men.
Tony Parker, UCLA: If reports are true and Parker has gotten into shape this offseason, he could be the paint presence Steve Alford needs.
Deandre Kane, Iowa State: Kane put up huge numbers at Marshall but wasn’t the easiest player to deal with in the locker room.
Deandre Daniels, UConn: With more guards than Kevin Ollie can handle, Daniels will need to help Tyler Olander up front.
Alex Dragicevich, Boston College: Can the Notre Dame transfer help take the pressure off of Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlon?
Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa: We will finally get to see the Wisconsin transfer in action after two straight redshirt seasons.