Tough schedule testing for young Cowboys
STILLWATER — Mike Boynton recognized this possibility when he built Oklahoma State’s schedule.
The Cowboys’ coach knew that he would be testing a large group of freshmen when he revamped a nonconference schedule that a season ago ranked among the 50 easiest in college basketball and arguably kept OSU out of the NCAA Tournament because of how light it was.
As undefeated Houston heads to Stillwater for a matchup Saturday, OSU sits at 4-4 for the first time since the 1987-
88 season. Wednesday’s 74-71 defeat at Tulsa was far from the most challenging game on OSU’s early season slate, but it was the Cowboys’ sixth game away from home in their first eight. Afterward, Boynton expressed no regret over building what to this point has been the nation’s 41st-hardest schedule, third among Big 12 teams.
“I have no desire to be the all-time winningest coach anywhere,” Boynton said. “It’s not part of my motivation. I didn’t get in this to do that, hall of fames and all that stuff. I’m here to try make kids better, and they get better from a basketball standpoint by playing against good competition.
“It doesn’t look good when you’re 4-4 instead of 7-1 or 8-0, but I think that once we turn the calendar our team has gone through these things that we’ll have a better opportunity to have success later on in the season.”
While OSU is 0-3 in road games, those defeats all came by seven or fewer points. The closeness almost makes the losses sting more, given that the Cowboys’ number of missed free throws has exceeded the margin of defeat in each contest.
“Anything that shoots us in the foot, we need to get better at,” junior Lindy Waters said Wednesday.
Boynton could’ve manufactured an 8-0 start through the Cowboys’ schedule but instead chose to challenge a group that ranks 307th among 353 teams in experience. OSU enters Saturday’s game ranked in the bottom 60 nationally in both free throw percentage and offensive turnover percentage. Boynton figures the latter in particular can be traced to his team’s youth.
“We play like a young team ... but that’s who we are,” he said. “We’re not gonna be able to change the experience number. That number’s gonna be what it is all year. We’re not gonna all of a sudden add at the trade deadline or go pick up a couple of older vets and figure out how to take care of the ball better.
“The kids we have have to get better, and it’s on our staff to make them better and help them play better basketball as the season goes along.”