Welcome to our Friday roundtable. Our question this week:
Who is the most important role player to OSU’s postseason success?
First up, OKC Dave…
I’ll go with Cobbins. In conference play, MC Slammer is averaging 7.6 points and 7.3 rebounds (10.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per 40 minutes). We have come to rely on his putbacks on the offensive end.
On defense, Cobbins has become better at knowing when to help and blocking/altering shots as opponents drive the lane (although he still goes for the block a little too much for my taste).
I’m as certain as Luke Schenscher is awkward that we will run in to a competent big man at some point in the postseason. We’ll need Cobbins to contribute down low to complement our excellent guard play in order to advance.
Michael Cobbins or “MC Slammer” as I’m calling him[1. That nickname never really gained traction. Neither did my Markel “The Mayor” Brown (as in, The Mayor of Lob Stilly). I thought they were pretty good!], was the pick for most of the season. His inside presence takes OSU up a notch from a nice team, to a dangerous team. But he’s to the point we know what to expect: An upper-middle class man’s Ivan McFarlin. BoardsOnBoardsOnBoards, solid defense, and follow-slams.
For me, the biggest key is Phil Forte. Let’s just say No. 13 has not been lucky for the freshman[2. Since switching jersey numbers from 10 to 13, Forte has shot 29% from behind the arc. The switch came after just 5 Big 12 games, but blaming it on Dan Marino’s cursed number is more fun..] He is the unknown on the roster. Can he turn it around in March? Or did he hit the proverbial Freshman Wall[3. The same thing happened to James Anderson his freshman year. Boy, did he struggle in conference play. That happens to Freshman not named “Marcus.”]?
March is all about getting hot. OSU’s 1995 Final Four team lost 9 (!) regular season games. But they got NBA-Jam-Hot in March. If Forte heats up, OSU is capable of beating anyone in the country[4. Unless Big 12 referees are involved and Smart gets 3 fouls in less than 3 minutes.]. If he’s shooting 1-8 from 3-point range? That puts a ton of pressure on Le’Bryan Nash & Marcus Decimus Meridius[5. Sorry. I couldn’t help using one more, made-up nickname.For the purposes of this question.] to score.
They need a lot of things to go right to make a deep run in The Dance: Brian Williams going full-Thabo, Nash pretending he’s posting up Twitter-Haterz, Markel slamming Desmond’s torch, et al.
But jersey No. 13’s play in March 2013 looms large.
Here’s what’s crazy: OSU’s offensive efficiency and Forte’s three-point percentage have gone in opposite directions. Forte came into conference play shooting 42% and he’s now shooting 34%. OSU came into conference play ranked 67th in offensive efficiency and they now sit at 53rd.
In a lot of way they’re succeeding despite Forte, not because of him.
But really, that’s the exciting thing. With an amped up Forte bombing away in March, the ceiling gets raised significantly for this team. Remember how Ford used to just stick Keiton on the three-point line his freshman year and how much it opened things up for Eaton and James? Same thing here. Same thing with JamesOn in ’05.
The problem is that Ford has started bailing on Forte already. His playing time and Brian Williams’ are trending in the opposite direction (this is conference play).
I don’t really blame Ford, I just hope Forte can gather himself for a sweet little run later on this month.