OSU Basketball: Travis Ford At Big 12 Media Day
KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Oklahoma State's Travis Ford met with the media in Kansas City today to answer questions about Marcus Smart, three-point shooting and how his team will handle being frontrunners in the Big 12. Here's what the sixth-year OSU coach had to say.
What are some opening thoughts on your team?
Right now, the chemistry's been good, the attitude has been good, the competitiveness has been very impressive. Those are the things that I like about our team right now.
Have you and your team talked about or embraced being the favorite (tied with Kansas) to win the Big 12?
We haven't talked much about where we were picked. We talk a lot about understanding what our goals are and what we want to try to accomplish. Winning a Big 12 Championship is something that we strive to do. It's something we talk about, but we fully grasp that Kansas is still a team to beat. I think any coach would tell you that. They're still the team in the Big 12 that everybody's trying to compete with.
How can you become a better perimeter-shooting team?
We spend a lot of time getting reps up and practicing our shooting. Marcus (Smart) is shooting the ball really well. Markel Brown is shooting the ball really well, Brian Williams. We have some freshmen that have come in and their strengths are shooting the ball. Between Stevie Clark and Jeffrey Carroll, these are some really knock-down shooters on our basketball team. Phil Forte is probably one of the best shooters in America. I think the new rules in place are probably going to get you a few more open jumpers than in the past. Hopefully our percentages will go up by the help of (the stricter hand-check rules taking effect this season).
On areas his team can improve on.
Shooting is one, assist-to-turnover ratio is another, rebounding is another. Those are some areas that we're trying to get better at from last season. I know who my top seven are right now. We're trying to find out who is eight, nine, and ten on our basketball team. That is the challenge for our team that we're looking at. So there are a lot of areas that we've got to get better at.
What went into Marcus' decision to come back?
As a coaching staff, we knew the decision was going to have to be made at the end of the year. But it was something we never talked about with Marcus as the season was going on. It was never brought up one single time. That's not always the case. Some players you might need to talk to them about it as the season is going along, but with Marcus it was never a distraction for him, so we never really addressed it as the season was going along. Once we lost in the NCAA Tournament against Oregon, it became a daily discussion (between) he and I and his mom and dad. We were able to keep it a fairly tight-knit group. But the biggest thing that I was proud of him about was that it went on for two and a half weeks, every day, discussions, putting in front of him everything he needed to know about making his decision about where he was going to be picked, the money situation and what that entailed. All the pluses and minuses and everything that goes in it we just gave to Marcus.
What I was so proud of and the greatest thing to come out of that decision was he made it on his own, period. I think at some point during the two and a half weeks he was waiting for somebody to tell him what to do, because it's not an easy decision. But as I would tell him: I'm not making the decision. There were days he would come in and he would say, ‘Coach, I'm leaning on wanting to stay,' and I would play the devil's advocate: ‘I don't know if you want to do that, you're going to be the third pick. Are you sure you can do that?'
When he finally made his decision and told me, I was so excited for him because he made the decision and in today's day and age, for an 18-, 19-year-old in his position, very rarely do they get to make their own decision. Someone is telling them what to do and they feel pulled in a certain direction. I think there are a lot of NBA guys that leave early that might really want to stay because college is a lot of fun if you're in a fun situation and you're enjoying it. You can't get that back. I think that's what Marcus saw. ‘I'm not passing up the NBA, I'm just kind of pushing it all to the side for a while.' And I think that's pretty mature for a guy that was a freshman in college.