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Five Thoughts on OSU’s 99-72 Loss to Italian National’s B Team

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Nobody needs to break the emergency glass yet, but the Oklahoma State basketball team lost to the Italian national B-team 99-72 on Tuesday in Venice.

This was the Cowboys first game as a team that has six newcomers on it and two players who saw their first action after transferring. To use a nice, Italian saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Coach Mike Boynton tipped his cap to the Italians after the game, but wasn’t happy with the outcome.

“No one is a bigger competitor than me, so I hate that we lost the way we did,” said Boynton. “But, my hat is off to the Italians tonight. They are a team full of professionals and they played very well. We played our first game together tonight and it showed that we have a lot of things to improve on.”

Here are five thoughts on OSU’s first of three European games.

1. The Differences in Pro and College Basketball

Last winter, I spoke with former OSU hooper Leyton Hammonds about the differences in the college game and what he experienced last season playing in Finland.

“Don’t get me wrong, you gotta think the game through, but I think a lot of (college) just had to do with physical ability and just talent level,” Hammonds said. “It’s not like, ‘OK, I’m gonna break my man down and go get a bucket,’ it’s ‘OK, this guy’s gonna help, this guy’s gonna do this and this guy’s gonna do that. He’s gonna take away my right hand and my jump shot, so what do I gotta do?’

“We got a guy on our team, he’s our center, and I could promise you, you couldn’t even slide a credit card under his shoes when he jumps, but he’s gonna get you 35 a night just because he knows the game well. It’s very different here.” (O’Colly)

The Cowboys were definitely the more athletic of the two teams, but the Italians were so composed. That’s a product of years of combined professional play. No matter how experienced guys like Cameron McGriff, Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters are in the NCAA, it didn’t compare to guys like 26-year-old Giampaolo Ricci’s experience as a professional.

2. Boynton Goes With Anei at Center

It was only one game, but OSU coach Mike Boynton went with Michael Weathers, Thomas Dziagwa, Lindy Waters, Cam McGriff and Yor Anei as starters.

Anei was an option of three freshmen big men with Kentrevious Jones and Maurice Calloo. Anei, a 6-10 freshman from Overland Park, Kansas, scored four points and brought in three rebounds in about 13 minutes.

3. Italians Exposed Cowboys’ Help Defense

Seemingly every time the Italians scored, it came off an OSU player helping on defense, then the Italians making a few extra passes to hit an open 3 (and boy, could those Italians knock down some 3s.)

Italy went 14-for-29 (48 percent) from deep, and the Italians were able to get a lot of good looks zipping the ball around the perimeter and wearing the OSU defense out.

4. Michael Weathers Was Rusty

Michael Weathers hasn’t played in a competitive basketball game since March 6, 2017 with Miami (Ohio), and it showed Tuesday.

Weathers’ debut in orange has been hyped since the former MAC Freshman of the Year transferred to OSU, but a minus-30, eight turnover performance wasn’t the most graceful start.

Weathers showed flashes of what he could be, like in this fast-break jam.

Weathers finished with five points, and three rebounds in about 19 minutes.

5. Likekele Plays Well Despite Loss

If I say, ‘It’s just one game,’ for all the bad things that happen, I have to do the same for the good, but freshman guard Isaac Likekele looked pretty good out there.

Likekele scored 13 points on 54 percent shooting and six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 23 minutes. The only players Boynton played more than Likekele were juniors Cam McGriff and Thomas Dziagwa.

Likekele played with a lot of confidence and his length and athleticism are huge pluses.