Originally Published: Jan 28, 2011 8:31 PM CDT
The Cowboys have lost 4 of their last 5 and stand 2 and 4 in Big 12 play. They need to win at Texas Tech Saturday in the worst way. In fact, with a home game against Missouri to follow Wednesday and then Bedlam with the Sooners next Saturday, now would be the perfect time for Travis Ford to dial up a 3-game winning streak.
cbssportsline.com has the Cowboys in the NCAA tournament as of now. The website says OSUs losses to Texas, Texas A&M and West Virginia are not bad losses. But what is hurting the Cowboys, in addition to their poor play over the last three weeks, are losses to Gonzaga, Colorado and Baylor. Those three teams are treading water.
The Cowboys have a strength of schedule of 59 and an RPI of 82. Those will probably improve as they continue through Big 12 play.
Their signature win is over Kansas state, but that came in Stillwater and the Cats have not lived up to their preseason billing.
What they are missing most is point guard Fred Gulley. When he went down with his shoulder injury most people said, "Well he only scores 2 points per game."
But its so much more than that. Gulley is a defensive tone setter and he runs the offense the way coaches want it run.
Watch tomorrows game against Texas Tech and see how the Red Raiders John Roberson takes advantage of whoever guards him. As you watch, bear in mind that Gulley wouldve been the guy guarding Roberson.
Keiton Page cannot play the point and still get shots. Ray Penn is more of a two guard and struggles to consistently get the Cowboys into the sets they need to be in.
Ford has said their could be lineup and style of play changes. What has been so difficult for him has been finding guys, outside of Marshall Moses, who provide consistency.
If you can figure out Matt Pilgrim, the coaches would love to talk to you. Penn might score 14 or he might score 4 with 6 turnovers. And even Page has struggled to make shots and defend.
OSUs most consistent players since conference play started (outside of a game or two) have been freshman Markel Brown and sophomore Jean-Paul Olukemi.
Whatever lineup changes we see from the Cowboys will likely include the two of them on the floor for 25 minutes per game.
Ford has been very good at figuring things out his first two seasons in Stillwater, but he also admits that those first two teams were different. They had James Anderson.
With this young ballclub, Ford has his biggest challenge yet.