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Chalk Talk: OSU’s Win over Florida State Shows Mike Boynton’s Willingness to Adjust



The Oklahoma State Cowboys recorded their best win of the season on Saturday in a 71-70 upset over No. 19 Florida State, and although the players should receive credit, the head coach deserves some as well.

Mike Boynton made a number of key adjustments on both sides, and they helped the Cowboys squeak out a win against the Seminoles. The offense is still not perfect, and the Cowboys struggled against FSU’s active defense, but here’s why fans should be encouraged.

This year, OSU has predominately been a set play offense after being a motion team in 2016. Coach Boynton explained what catalyzed the change during media availability last week.

“We’ve kind of got a mesh,” Boynton said. “We’ve got some elements of spread, but it’s just not a primary offense for us… It’s a little bit [because of] coaching philosophy and a little bit personnel driven.”

But against the Seminoles, the Cowboys brought the spread back and ran it for almost the entire game.

The spread is a motion offense that utilizes one big man on the high post and four rotating perimeter players. It has some UCLA motion and triangle principles and relies on spacing and cutting to create opens shots. The Cowboys looked sloppy with it, especially in the first half, but that makes sense considering they haven’t used it for a year.

That’s not the only change Oklahoma State showed, though. Coach Boynton added some his own stuff, including a new horns entry to the motion.

Here’s a play where the Cowboys run horns to enter into the spread and run a back screen, which was a frequented counter action they’d use within the offense:

This is an ingenious tweak because the Cowboys use horns a ton in their set plays. They use it in their “1” call, for example, which is a horns ball screen with a high-low look between the bigs.

The spread came up big for the Cowboys in getting open shots in the final minutes. Tavarius Shine knocked down a crucial 3 off of a continuity action that resets the spread. The Cowboys ran it a number of times before, but the Seminole defense was late to cover him:

Boynton also used his own set plays. In the final minutes of the game, he pulled out his “2 Counter” play. The Cowboys frequently run their “2” play, and the “2 Counter” is designed to look the same but has a different ending action.

The defense expects for Kendall Smith to become the runner off the double baseline screen, but instead, he sets two consecutive screens and Mitchell Solomon gets a wide-open dunk.

This game showed Boynton’s ability to adjust.  The Cowboys tried a lot of stuff against Florida State that they haven’t used all season. This even applied to the defense, as the Cowboys used a half-court trap and zone for the first time.

Boynton showed he’s not married to any one philosophy or scheme. Rather, he’ll try anything and everything if it gives his team a chance to win. The ability to make both in-season and in-game adjustments is one of the best qualities a coach can have. It sounds easy, but OSU has had (and has?) coaches that have received criticism for not having that skill. Coach Boynton showed that he’s already quite good at it, and for that he deserves recognition.

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