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.
Saturday it was reported that due to an NCAA ruling regarding that redshirt season, Cobbins will have to sit out the team’s exhibition game against Missouri Western and the first three games of the regular season.
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.
But in Oklahoma State’s 74-71 loss at Kansas State, the impact of Cobbins’ injury was felt despite the fact that the Cowboys managed to hold their own on the glass.
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.