When I was traveling to and from the Masters last week — yeah, I travel for work — I thought about two quotes Mike Boynton gave over the last few months. Here are those quotes.
Quote 1: “Some people think our fans are unrealistic. I don’t. I want to play on the last Monday of the basketball season. That’s my goal. I want to coach in the final game of the college basketball season. And this team will be the reason that one day we will.” [Tulsa World]
Quote 2: “Not too long ago, people thought this program was dead. … We are just getting started. We will hang a banner in this building.” [O’Colly]
Those are man-sized proclamations for a first-year coach, but I’m glad he made them. I thought about them as I watched Villanova win the second of two titles in three years, and I thought about them when I thought about how exactly Boynton is going to reconstruct his roster for 2019.
There is much work to be done, and he understands that. And maybe Boynton will turn out to be a below average or even a lousy coach. But he has somehow, in the span of 12 months, convinced me that Oklahoma State basketball is going to be great, and that he’s going to be the primary reason why.
That Oklahoma State is going to have real chances over the next 10 years to play on the final Monday of the season. That a banner — be it a Big 12 title or a Final Four appearance or hell, a national championship — will hang in GIA. I don’t know if that will pan out, if it will ever become a reality. But I believe in it and in his long-term vision for the program in a way that I have not in a long, long time.
“It’s trying to think of big picture things for the program, not just I need this recruit right now,” Boynton told the Stillwater NewsPress this week. “It’s how does that affect everything else. That’s the one thing I’ve learned is every decision you make isn’t in a vacuum, so to speak. It has an affect on something else and so you have to be more thorough in how you think about those things.”
That’s a fascinating read, by the way. A read that will have you slapping the tile or the carpet or the sidewalk or the floorboard of your vehicle depending on where you are consuming it. The quotes Boynton gives are quotes one cannot construct on the fly or even devise over time. They are an overflow of who he is, and if you read them and also think a coach’s personality is the single most important ingredient in how much a college basketball program thrives, that should be a really encouraging thing.
Over the next few weeks Oklahoma State will land multiple high school players and/or transfers that will excite OSU fans. The team that fills GIA in 2019 will look a lot different than the one that filled it in 2018. That’s scary, but it’s also exciting. The unknown always thrills because it can be anything you want it to be until it becomes what it actually is.
“You always have to engage the fans – they’re the lifeblood of this building,” Boynton told the NewsPress. “Recruiting helps that. There will be a lot of recruiting news that has to come out in the next couple of weeks, because I sat in that team meeting (last week) and we had two rows of seats empty. We’ve got some construction to do to our roster.”
I don’t know what all of this means. I know it is my job to make sense of the present and how it will affect the future. But in this case the the future is so unknown. Boynton himself likely doesn’t even know what it will be or what it will look like. As a result, you have to trust people.
People with mullets and people who previously did not have any experience. People who will build great organizations and accomplish great achievements. Boynton has engendered that trust with the way OSU hoops evolved on the maple in Year 1, but he has also earned bits and pieces here and there with how he has talked about and represented the program. That stuff starts adding up over time, and next thing you know you’re playing on a Sunday in Week 1 of the NCAA Tournament or a Saturday in Week 2 or maybe even a Monday night in Week 3 right before the Masters.