STILLWATER – We’re a day away from the first Bedlam game of the season for Oklahoma State hoops. The game tips at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday), Feb. 1 and will be televised on ABC. It’s not often that Oklahoma State basketball plays on ABC, but this is an important game for OSU for more than one reason.
Obviously, the Cowboys will be looking to pick up their first win in conference play this season. They’ve started Big 12 0-7. It’s Bedlam, so while it doesn’t count for more in the win/loss column, you obviously want to beat your in-state and longtime rivals.
“It’s one of the best things we have in college sports, you know true rivalries where fans are passionate about it,” said head coach Mike Boynton. “So, it’s always exciting to be able to play in a game where people will be into seeing a result and obviously both teams need to get a little bit of momentum going.”
After practice on Thursday, coach Boynton was asked if there’s any extra motivation to win with it being against Oklahoma. While many, myself included, think that Bedlam provides a little extra motivation, that’s not the approach that Boynton and Co. are taking.
“We haven’t won a game in the league, so that’s kind of a big motivator for us,” said coach Boynton. “So, I think that’s our main focus. I’ve said it all along, this game doesn’t count for more either way, but it means more. So, we’ll definitely approach it that way.”
Coach Boynton was also asked if there’s anything he has to, or is doing to try and keep his team motivated despite winning only three games going back to the start of December.
“We have a great opportunity to do something we enjoy, I think that’s enough,” coach Boynton said on keeping his team motivated despite the losing skid. “Things aren’t gonna go your way all the time, so I don’t know if some adversity can deter you from enjoying the experience you have. We’ve got good kids; they’re working hard and that’s kind of where our focus is.”
The media got to sit in on the last bit of practice on Thursday and while they were running some plays, it wasn’t all x’s and o’s. It was an intense practice with guys getting on each other for not being in the right spot or playing and running as hard as they should, as well as the coaches trying to fix things during the breaks.
“I thought [practice] went well,” said coach Boynton. “I think it’s important that we always remind ourselves what the core of what this is about. It’s about competing. Sometimes the strategy and who’s shooting well and things like that kind of masks some competitiveness in there. So, I thought it was a real important time for us just to get back to the bare bones of ‘this program means a lot and if you are going to take the court in one of our jerseys, then you’re going to play at a certain level competitively. You may not play well, you may not make all your shots, but the effort, passion the intensity in which you go about doing it, has to always be at a certain standard.”
It was blue vs. black. That’s right, half the guys were wearing blue and black pullovers instead of practice jerseys. Coach Boynton wants his guys to earn the right to wear Oklahoma State practice jerseys. After each 5-10-minute period of five-on-five half court, the losing team had to run sprints. Then, they teamed up to run a full-court scrimmage with the losing team running sprints after each stop.
Several down-and-backs in the middle of an intense practice should be more than a proper motivator to keep your intensity level and your drive up.
While things aren’t going well right now for the Pokes, they’re entering a territory that we haven’t seen since the early 70’s when they started Big Eight play 0-9. This team has talented guys on the roster. We saw how they started the season and we’ve seen glimpses of it at times this season; the final seven or so minutes of the first half against Kansas and the Baylor game come to mind.
The motivation should be there, so Saturday’s as good a time as any to try and right the ship.