Oklahoma State’s basketball team will take a 10-day trip in early August to Italy and Greece. With just under a month to prepare, Mike Boynton and his Pokes are hurrying to get ready for what could be for some of these players their first time out of the country.
“This is the trip of a lifetime for me,” said Cowboy forward Cam McGriff. “This will be my first time out of the country, and I can’t wait to experience the history and culture in Italy and Greece. I came to Oklahoma State to grow as a player and a person, and it’s these types of experiences that help me do that. I’m so thankful to the people that helped make this a reality for me and my teammates.”
Marshall Scott covered a few practices last week for us and has some thoughts on the upcoming trip.
By: Marshall Scott
1. Early Practices with the New Faces
The most obvious benefit of this trip to Europe for the Oklahoma State basketball team is the 10 practices the team gets before flying across the Atlantic.
Extra practices would be good for any team, but this is doubly true when half of the team is new. The Cowboys boast six returning players from last season, but that includes Michael Weathers and Curtis Jones, who didn’t play in games last season because of transfer rules. The remaining six players include five freshmen and graduate transfer Mike Cunningham.
Getting the team into a full practice environment so they can learn simple things such as how OSU coach Mike Boynton wants drills run will help the team hit the ground running when they return to practice before the season.
“I’d be shocked if the practices weren’t more beneficial to us (than the games),” said Boynton. “We have an opportunity to teach them. What the games will do is give us as a staff the opportunity to see how different guys adapt to different situations. What groups well together. Which offensive schemes or defensive schemes will work for this team. … For our team as a whole, we think the practices will be more beneficial long term.”
2. Determining backcourt groups
Boynton has options with his guards.
This European trip will be a nice, early look at what groups work well together.
Given the opening to practices, I think Weathers, Lindy Waters and Thomas Dziagwa will get first dibs on starting spots, which leaves Cunningham, Jones and freshman Isaac Likekele as other guards on the roster.
Curtis Jones won’t be able to play in regular season games until the turn of the semester, but he will be on this European trip. As of the team’s practice July 1, Boynton said he thinks Jones will also be able to play in the team’s European games, but they are still waiting to hear for sure.
The early games give Boynton a chance to see who scoring options are with certain groups and who he can trust to defend opposing teams’ top players.
This is another no-brainer, given how many newcomers are on the team.
After the team’s first practice, Cameron McGriff, a junior, said the team has bonded quite seamlessly thus far, but the players will undoubtedly learn things about their new teammates when they are thrown into new countries where the locals aren’t speaking their language.
“I want it to be a great experience for everybody,” said Boynton. “I want all these guys to be able to look back 25 years from now and feel like this was one of the best parts of their experience as a college student-athlete. … These are the things that will transcend the wins and losses and really give them a true idea of what life is like out there.”
The Cowboys will tour The Colosseum, Vatican City and Greek Islands, and, like the 2016-17 team who took the Maui trip, this year’s group will come home from Europe with stories with each other that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.