10 thoughts on Tech and OSU

Written by Kyle Porter
Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI



Where do we even begin?

I had this great lede all planned out for the last 39:10 of that game and then Marcus Smart just completely lost his mind.

As much criticism as Smart deserves — and he deserves every bit of it — I point all of the fingers at Travis Ford. He’s played the victim card all year, through every up and down of the season (and most of his career at OSU), and this team, and to a lesser degree, Marcus Smart, reflects that.

Did you see Ford in his postgame press conference denying that he’d seen the Smart shove (LOL, because his assistant coaches don’t have cell phones?) and saying they’d get it sorted out later?

That’s not leadership. That’s a “let’s pass the buck and hope ESPN is nuked tonight or somebody does something even more insane between now and when I speak to the media again and maybe this will all blow over” attitude.

You have to nip that right there. It doesn’t matter if the dude pulled a freaking gun on Smart, your job as a coach is to lead. To say “hey, this isn’t who OSU is, this isn’t who I am, this isn’t who we’re going to be.”

None of that.

Just “uh, I haven’t seen it yet.”

That’s a microcosm of his reign — at least this season — at Oklahoma State.

And I didn’t need to watch the end of the game to see it, either.

Smart, who came into the game four for his last 33 from three-point range, took a 25-foot three 50 seconds into the contest. I mean, just a bomb. It was jaw-dropping to me, though I’m not sure why at this point.

Throughout the last week (and beyond, really) we’ve come to a consensus that the key to OSU winning basketball games is for Smart to stop shooting threes. That’s literally the only thing they had to do.

As OKC Dave pointed out, they’re basically turnovers at this point. If Ford can’t see that then he’s the dumbest person in the history of the world to make $1.8 million a year doing anything.

And if he can and just doesn’t care or have the stones to put Smart between Mason Cox and Gary Gaskins after taking the 29,000th stupid shot of this Big 12 Conference season — which I think is the more likely scenario — then he needs to be fired a lot more quickly than everybody thinks.

Because in college hoops you’re nothing without an anchor as your head coach.


And leadership isn’t letting your star do whatever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants to do it. Smart going into the stands tonight was just the culmination of that. That’s a “culture of the program” problem, not a “he said, so he shoved” problem.

You can’t make a bungee cord longer than the fall and expect a college kid to be smart enough to just jump from higher up.

This team is completely out of control and nobody needed Deadspin to make a GIF of Smart shoving a lunatic fan in Lubbock to recognize it.

I don’t even necessarily blame Smart for everything. Should he have gone into the stands? No. Does it matter what was said? Not really. Should he be suspended? Yes. Will he be? Definitely. Does this mean he could slide out of the lottery in the NBA Draft? Who cares.

Let’s go back to that three-pointer to open the game.

You know what a good coach would have done when Smart started yanking that garbage? Sat him down and chewed him out. Is Ford intimidated by the fact that Smart is (was) going to be a lottery pick or does he just think he has bigger problems to worry about?

Early in the year we kept hearing about how Smart is a great leader and how well he commands this team and…so on and so forth. I don’t care if the media paints Smart as the next Winston Churchill. He isn’t the coach.

You’re the coach, Travis Ford. You’re the leader. You’re the one everyone is looking at.

I’m just not sure he can handle that. Not sure he was cut out for all eyes to be on him at all times.[1. As one person texted me tonight, Eddie Sutton controlled Tony Allen, Travis Ford can barely control Mason Cox!] Some people aren’t, and that’s fine, they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be great assistants.

But they sure don’t get paid millions to drive a proud hoops program into the abyss.

This was the master stroke on Ford’s Renoir — whatever happens the rest of the season (and gosh, do we even want to find out?), this is all 2014 will be (and probably should be) remembered for.

Even if this team makes the NCAA Tournament (and that is looking less and less likely) it will bow out in the first or second round and everyone will look back at February 9 with a lot of questions.

The bad part?

I’m not sure Travis Ford has any answers.

More thoughts…

• Two things people need to calm down about:

1. This isn’t the Artest melee all over again. It’s just not. ESPN is acting like Smart stole and set fire to the Mona Lisa.
2. Who cares what the fan said to Smart? I’ll let somebody much more qualified than me address that:

• Is it weird that I like Tech being good at basketball? I also like them being good at football. It just feels like a great Big 12 Conference needs a good Tech team in both sports.

• The charging call on Smart in the first half was garbage but you kind of deserve those calls when you whine and flop like he does. He won’t get another call all year (ever?)

• Sometimes I wish Forte would try to get to the bucket more. He’s more money at the line than a Price brother but he never gets there. I know that’s not really the plan but maybe it should be?

• Dikembe Sager.

• If Forte were to get a tattoo, what do you think he would get? He’s a “words on the wrist” guy like Redick, yes?

I could see SN1P3R on his right wrist.

• What is Soucek’s skill set? And how much worse has he gotten?? Actually, are we positive Soucek was recruited to play basketball? There had to be something lost in translation, right?

• Is Smart-Forte-Sager-Nash-Markel our best lineup right now? That’s kind of scary.

• We ran one good play in the first half and it was a Smart screen and mini-roll where Sager hit him down the lane and he kicked to Markel for a wide-open three. I almost had a stroke after watching the ball movement on that play.

• Fantastic.


• How much fun would it be if Mike Holder was on Twitter? Somebody has mentioned this before but the comedy of us tweeting at him during these games would be unparalleled.

• One of the announcers said “Ford took the perimeter jumper out of Smart’s game for tonight” in the second half. Did you watch the first half, or no?

• Smart said this earlier in the week: “I know players are going to go out and take shots at me. Starting this game, I’m putting it in the back of my mind. If that’s how it’s going to be played, that’s how it’s going to be played. If they can do it to me, I can do it also. That’s my mindset from here on out. Physically, there’s going to be nothing easy.”


• Soucek kills me.

• Hmm…although I think the offense is a bigger mess than the defense.

• It felt like Tech didn’t miss a shot for the last 10 minutes of the game. Reality: seven for their last 11. Pretty great way to end a game if you’re them.

• Am I the only one who feels like sometimes we run away from dudes who have wide-open layups? Maybe we do because we can’t afford to foul. Maybe I’m seeing things. Maybe it’s 1 AM and I need to go to bed..

• We have three NBA guys and our offense is “gosh, I hope the short, overachieving sixth man can keep us in it.” That’s sad.

• OSU is now tied for eighth place in the Big 12 with Texas Tech. Baylor and TCU are below us. Ladies and gentlemen, the Travis Ford era.

• How psychotic did the angry pointy lady look after Smart walked away? Definitely not somebody you want to bring home a B+ to.

• Marcus Smart puns are seriously the worst. Just laziness to the nth degree.

• Speaking of awful decisions, Smart thumping his chest with three minutes left after hitting his fifth three in his last 37 attempts was the second-most egregious thing I saw tonight and No. 1 wasn’t getting topped no matter what. That just totally summed up the season for OSU. And it was a terrible shot and he probably should have been benched for it, too.

• 15 turnovers and five assists. Yep.

• But at least we were 20/22 from the line!

• I know this is water and that’s the bridge but I didn’t want to be hearing the words “we’re gearing up for an exciting finish here in Lubbock.”

• Moron! Why did I buy in?!

• How bad was our last possession? The first set coming out of the timeout featured a Nash pass that was shakier than Ben Grogan in an earthquake, three near turnovers and Sager somehow with the ball and 15 seconds left. It was incredible.

And it was the better of our two final sets.

• How was Smart not tossed?

• Markel was kind of bad tonight. He had 8-6-2 but four turnovers and was listless. Of course he was on his 91st minute played for the week, but whatever.

• Speaking of that, I actually started wondering towards the end of the game if a Big 12 player had ever played 100 minutes in a single week. We were a pair of OTs from Markel turning the trick.

• If the over/under is 1.5 on games suspended for Smart I’ll actually take the under. I think the overreaction tonight was pretty strong.

• Of all the crazy things that happened tonight, I thought Kelly Hines being interviewed on ESPN was the coolest. Props to her, she covers the crap out of this crap.

Texas on Tuesday.

  • Alex

    I do recall Grogan actually hitting a field goal during an earthquake. Literally happened this year.

    • J Dub

      Whoosh…? Or am I being whooshed?

      • Alex
        • J Dub

          No no. I (and everyone else here) know that happened. That was the joke. That’s why Kyle said that. That’s why I said whoosh. ‘Cuz the joke went over your head. Then I thought maybe you were using some type of new-fangled sarcasm that was going over my head. I was wrong.

          • alex

            Well now I feel like an idiot. Haha sorry.

          • J Dub

            Oh, your fingers hurt? Well now your back’s gonna hurt, ‘cuz you just pulled landscaping duty.

  • James

    Maybe I read it wrong, but did you say it didn’t matter if the guy pulled a gun on Smart? That might be pushing it a little far.

  • Tyler Agee

    Who would’ve thought a NBA lottery pick would be the most embarrassing thing to happen to OSU this school year after a 24 part expose on OSU football’s wrongdoings.

  • Tyler Agee

    And another thing is I think the Defense is a huge, dare I say, bigger problem right now. D is all effort and energy, and when you aren’t playing good offensive basketball you should still play good defense. I understand we don’t have any big men, but the length and athleticism should be enough to field a good defensive squad. This team gets frustrated on offense and the rest of their game is out the door. Poor, poor basketball no matter how you look at it.

  • Alex Too

    They haven’t been running any type of half court offense since conf play started.
    Smart should have been tossed. That is my biggest concern.
    Maybe the TT fan Orr called Smart a flopper.
    If a racial slur was used rules of human interaction trump rules of fan/player interaction in my book.
    The way Orr was apologizing the moment Smart snapped up and walked towards him is damning enough evidence.

  • Tyler

    @Texas without Smart. Loss, 5 in a row. If lose Bedlam next week in GIA I’m gonna lose it. Don’t even get me started on playing in Waco after that… Looking at possibly 7 losses in a row. I don’t care how much money we owe Ford he has to go if that happens.

  • Tyler

    I can’t stand watching this team. This is horrific basketball, I’m tired of the excuses, lack of leadership, and lack of discipline. Ford needs to man up or get out of town.

  • Mcg20k

    So it seems I may have spoken too soon when I said this team will make the NIT.

  • @okc_dave

    Last night it was hard for me to separate the frustration of losing a game (and maybe the season) with Smart’s actions. Having slept on it, I feel pretty bad for him. I know he’s an adult, but so was I at 19. If everything I did when I was a sophomore at OSU was available to the world in GIF form seconds later and being discussed on ESPN in somber tones, I’m not sure I could have dealt with it.

    We loved Smart because he brought passion back to the court like some of our old favorites did, and when he boiled over we can’t just turn on him. I know it’s not quite that simple, but it doesn’t feel right to see people saying they are “done” with him. He’s still a Cowboy. All of that said, he deserves whatever suspension he gets.

    As for the team, we need to go 5-3 the rest of the way to even think about dancing, with KU and a road trip to Ames still on the schedule. Until Smart returns, we’ll have 5 legitimate players and a coach that no one in orange has faith in. There doesn’t seem to be anyone at the wheel. It’s tough to see how they can pull it off. What a shame, considering where we started.

    • Diana

      Great post! I agree while I’m embarrassed at Smart’s action we must stand with him. Does Tech have any liability in this as recognizing Orr as their biggest fan? Surely other teams have complained about him.

    • Kyle Porter

      19? How about 28 and the way I spoke to my kids last week?

  • ck1911

    Let’s just clarify one thing-Smart didn’t go into the stands to confront Orr. He was already in there as a result of the play. Maybe if ESPN could do just a little bit of journalism.

    • Mark

      He had to crawl over people to get to Orr. That is going into the stands.

      ESPN has it wrong acting like this was isolated and about the fan. Last night had been coming for 3 weeks. Smart lost it because they just lost the game. I love Smart for returning but he has to grow up. You just don’t do the things he does with the talent he has.

  • Dan E

    Was watching game with some KU fans. Told them we had 25% chance of getting a shot off at end of game. I was being generous. First try ended up with TT knocking ball out of bounds. Second try resulted in a turnover followed Smart losing his mind which was followed by a third possession where we didn’t get a shot off. Fire Ford! Suspend Smart! Hold Holder accountable for losing control of the basketball program.

  • Scott in Texas

    Wanted: New coach, new players, new attitude.

    And this, folks, is why we are a football school. Believe it or not, it’s less painful to lose to OU every year than watch this type of basketball. At least the football team appears under control.

  • Kurtis Hanni

    Did anyone else see the shot clock violation we had immediately after time out? It appeared to me Travis Ford had put in a play that took longer than we had on the shot clock. If you watch immediately after the violation the camera shows Ford and he goes “my bad” and patches chest. If that’s really what happened, I was going to say that basically explains anything you need to know about Travis Ford. But then Marcus happened, so that works too.

  • Chris P.

    If it’s normal for fans, ours or theirs, to call a teenager the N word during a game then I’m out. Not acceptable in any way.

  • Kyle

    I’m with you 100% on Ford always having excuses and being the victim. What’s bad is if we keep him, next year he already has the excuse of losing several NBA guys. Even though he didn’t do anything with those guys. Ford has to go now. If this season doesn’t get him fired what does it take?

  • JB

    The way Cowboy Nation handles adversity is embarrassing. A 4 game skid in the very deep and very talented big 12 conference and everybody is abandoning ship on February 9th? There is not one team in the B12 that you can play terrible against, less TCU. We all know Travis Ford couldn’t coach a t-ball team, but at some point players need to be held accountable. This team should have WAY more chemistry than they are showing. Let’s not all call it quits and hibernate until August. Still a whole lot of basketball to be played…

  • Twatty

    I love OSU basketball more than the football program. Has nothing to do with success or product, it simply comes down to myself being raised as a basketball fan.

    That said, yesterday I would argue as being the program’s worst moment. There have other bad incidents (Eddie DUI) and sadder moments (plane crash). Unfortunately, this is worse because it happened in the court and has gone nationally viral. Everyone will be talking about this on every national broadcast and the OSU logo will be in every one.

    We all know the underlying problems. The bottom line is its a black eye on the university and Ford will be blamed for the lack of discipline. It’s now just a question of the pressure put on Holder and if he will swallow his pride and back down on the 10yr contract mistake that was his creation.

    I think its time to hit reset. Try again. Bring back the OSU basketball we are proud to support. Fire Ford. Move on.

    • Buddy Lester

      Get rid of Holder too. The 10 year contract shows his laziness of wanting to be done with basketball so he could concentrate on fb.

  • Jbp

    $12 million doesn’t sound like quite as much today as it did yesterday.

  • Zach

    I have two problems with this. It sounds as if you’re telling Smart to stop attempting 3s. He’s a guard. Even the worst shooters in the NBA attempt a 3. You’d have a hard time convincing me Smart is a worse shooter than John Wall or Rondo. You take smart shots, but you don’t stop shooting. To tell a guard of Smart’s caliber to stop shooting is bad coaching. Every coach will tell a shooter in a slump to keep shooting. And if you watched the first half of the season, you know Smart is capable of hitting fire from range. Second, you’re best lineup included Sager and not Williams. You obviously aren’t watching the same season I am.

    • OSUvet

      Smart is NOT a shooter, have you seen his form? He is a scorer and disher, some of his best plays are driving and dishing or driving and getting fouled. Forte is a shooter. There is a difference between a shooter and a scorer.

    • OSUvet

      I agree with you on Sager

  • Austin Buchanan

    That was Soucek’s best Zoidberg impression

  • Kurt

    I enjoy reading your stuff. I think your soap box about the media being more important than anything/anyone else is rediculous but you hit the Ford/Smart issue out of the park!

  • WTC

    This would never happen in a basketball game in North Korea.

  • OSUvet

    Like I said last night. Ford has turned this team into Lord of the Flies, just hope these kids can be rescued.

  • keith

    I am worried about the remainder of this season and not necessarily the wins and losses. OSU looks awful in the National spot light once again. The ESPN articles concerning OSU Football were obviously discounted but for a time there was a lot of bad press during a season that looked to be very promising for the fball team. As it turns out they had a good run. Now the basketball is getting the press for all the wrong reasons. We have Marcus out of control on two separate occasions. Stevie Clark committed numerous team violations at the start of the season that had OSU in the National spotlight to a lesser degree and at a time when this team was poised to do something great. Ford has not reeled this team in. He has lost control and I think it started with Clark. When your team is ranked in the top 10 you do not tolerate distractions and violations from a freshman player. He should have been dismissed immediately. We are now in a state of crisis and the team needs to come together in spite of Ford, the losses, and all of the distractions. I worry about the harm this season has had thus far on OSU’s ability to recruit and retain talented players for the future. Make no mistake about it, this is bigger than OSU basketball. What has transpired this year with the ESPN propaganda concerning football and most recently basketball does not just affect this season and the two programs mentioned, it affects the future of every OSU athletic program. Granstaff has already withdrawn his commitment from OSU and is again entertaining offers. What prospects from every sport will either refuse to entertain offers or pull their cards off the table? This is a sad time for OSU. It is now time to circle the wagons and rectify these issues and put OSU back on the right path. I had rather go 500 in every sport than be seen in a negative light Nationally because of the types of behavior that have recently been reported and observed. We desperately need OSU basketball to finish out the season with class, play hard, and give their best in spite of Ford, Stewart and most recently Smart. Forte or Brown seem like the type of young men that could lead OSU out of this mess. The team is craving real leadership on the court and from the bench. From a player standpoint, a leader is not always the best player on the team or even a starter, but someone who can encourage, show outstanding character during times of adversity, and shows humility in times of victory. Someone has to take the helm and salvage this season and perhaps the reputation of OSU Athletics. Who will it be if anyone?

  • SmartyJones

    So what did Marcus do wrong ? Just typical behavior from a college kid …..

  • eric

    two months ago this team was “Number one seed scary”