Oklahoma State Basketball Preview: #35
Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12 Conference
2008-09: 23-12, 9-7
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Travis Ford (23-12 at Oklahoma State, 213-186 overall)
Coach Travis Ford led Oklahoma State to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and was rewarded with a contract extension. The Cowboys do lose quite a few talented players, but Coach Ford is also bringing in a very good recruiting class that should be able to fill in the holes.
Key Losses: F Anthony Brown, G Byron Eaton, G Terrel Harris, F Malcoln Kirkland
The most important newcomers could prove to be point guard Ray Penn and transfer Matt Pilgrim. Penn is only 5-9, but he is a good scorer and has little trouble weaving his way through the big men in the paint to finish around the basket or find one of his teammates. Penn might not start from day one, but he probably will be sooner or later. Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who spent last year sitting on the bench at Kentucky, will be eligible to play this season for OSU. Pilgrim is not the greatest scorer or rebounder around, but he is a very versatile player who can give this team some size and still fit in the run and gun system. Five freshmen will battle for playing time including guards Reger Dowell and Fred Gulley and centers Jarred Shaw and Torin Walker. However, it is small forward Roger Franklin is who is capable of contributing right away.
Most of the backcourt was forced to play out of position last year since there were times when five guards would be on the floor at the same time. It will not be quite so drastic this time around, but replacing Byron Eaton is a concern. Keiton Page earned 12 starts last year and at least has some experience, but he will be pushed by Penn. At the least, Page needs to emerge as a leader to the young group on the perimeter. Obi Muonelo should spend more time at the shooting guard this season. The 6-5 senior is a prolific outside shooter, but he should turn into a more dynamic scorer if he can use his size against opposing shooting guards. His ability to hit the glass saved the team on many occasions last season and OSU could turn into a great rebounding team if the frontcourt can find a contributor or two.
By the end of the 2008-2009 campaign, the Cowboys found Marshall Moses. The 6-7 junior is undersized for a traditional five man, but he was the size on this team last year. Oklahoma State did not need him to score much, but he managed to average 7.0 points per game and added 6.1 rebounds per contest. And his best games were at the end of the season. If Moses can move to the power forward position and Pilgrim can use his experience and versatility to play the center spot, this is a team that will not get pushed around by anybody under the basket.
Who to Watch:
Muonelo was not the only player who had to play out of position last season. James Anderson spent some time at the four spot and did a pretty good job of it since he is 6-6. However, Anderson, like Muonelo, belongs on the wing. Anderson emerged as the superstar of the team last year, averaging 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. He shot over 40 percent from long range, but he can also use his size and speed to get to the basket. Anderson will be the guy taking all the big shots for OSU and if they keep falling like they did last year he could average over 20 points per game.
It will be interesting to see how Coach Ford manages his new team. Only five players are back who played any significant minutes, but now this team does not have to play five guards most of the time. If Pilgrim is really ready to contribute 15 to 20 minutes a game, this team can still run and have the size to compete against teams in the Big 12.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ray Penn, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Obi Muonelo, Senior, Guard, 12.7 points per game
James Anderson, Junior, Guard, 18.2 points per game
Marshall Moses, Junior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Matt Pilgrim, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
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