2008-09 Oklahoma State Preview: #49
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Overall Rank: #49
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12
2007-08: 17-16, 7-9, 7th
2007-08 postseason: NIT
After 17 years of Coach Eddie Sutton and Sean Sutton, Oklahoma State looked in a different direction for their new leading man. After a successful stint at Massachusetts, Coach Travis Ford is that man. The system will be very different as the new staff will look to push the ball more and play pressure defense, but the Cowboys have the talent to make some noise in the Big 12.
The top four scorers are back, but they are all guards. Running a four guard line-up was not a big deal last year when Marcus Dove was on the floor. The 6-9 wing had more than enough size to play the four spot and he was also the team’s best shot blocker. Making matters worse for the frontcourt is the departure of Martavius Adams. The 6-8 forward never put up huge numbers, but he did average 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest and could eat up some quality minutes. Tyler Hatch played in some important situations during his career with the Cowboys, yet the talent level on the team passed him by his senior season.
Oklahoma State is in dire need of depth in the paint. Malcoln Kirkland and Teeng Akol might not be the best options around, but they will have to do. Neither is going to step into the starting lineup this year, yet they will have to play some. Kirkland, a sophomore who spent one year at Arkansas-Fort Smith, has the most experience and a body that is ready to bang under the basket in a tough conference. Akol, at 6-11 and 229 pounds, still needs to add more strength before he will be very effective. The lone newcomer on the perimeter is point guard Keiton Page. The 5-10 Pawnee, Oklahoma product is a great shooter and has drawn many comparisons to his new head coach.
Who to Watch:
Running a four guard offense is not just because there is a lack of forwards. It is also due to having four really talented perimeter players on the team. It all starts with point guard Byron Eaton who will not only find all the other talented scorers on the team, but can do plenty of scoring himself. Of the three talented wings, James Anderson is the most prolific scorer of the bunch after averaging 13.3 points per game last season. Anderson also hit two shots per game from beyond the arc. Obi Muonelo is not a bad long range shooter either. The 6-5 junior started to score more consistently at the end of the season and he can become a huge scoring threat if he can keep it up for an entire season. While Anderson and Muonelo will need to do their part on the glass if the Cowboys do indeed run a four guard offense most of the time, it is up to the 6-6 Terrel Harris to do most of the rebounding.
The most important player on the team will be Ibrahima Thomas. The 6-11 sophomore averaged a decent 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds starting last year next to Dove, yet Dove is no longer there. In Coach Ford’s offense, if Thomas can block some shots and get the break started the other way, the Cowboys could be very successful. Thomas will also need to be more effective on the glass or all those 6-6 wings will have to start rebounding like power forwards. Even a bigger concern than the rebounding is the lack of depth. Anthony Brown is a senior, and only 6-6, but he has only played in 14 games at OSU and is the most experienced forward after Thomas. In the backcourt, Nick Sidorakis and Marshall Moses are the main reserves and only averaged seven and six minutes per game last year, respectively.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Byron Eaton, Senior, Guard, 11.5 points per game
James Anderson, Sophomore, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Obi Muonelo, Junior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Terrel Harris, Senior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Ibrahima Thomas, Sophomore, Forward, 6.0 points per game