We've covered the Zags - Cowboys matchup in great detail so far this week but it is always good to get the opinion from someone close to the program. That is what makes the blogosphere so fantastic - always good opinions floating around. We sat down with Kyle Porter from Pistols Firing to get his take on the matchup. You can also follow Kyle on Twitter here. Enjoy!
The Slipper Still Fits: Take us through Oklahoma State's season a little bit. At a high level, they appear to have one of the more fascinating profiles in basketball. Top-10 team in the nation at one point, then slid a bit, now playing at a high level. Obviously Marcus Smart's suspension played a big role but curious to get your overall take on the season for the Cowboys.
Pistols Firing: It's the weirdest OSU season I've ever experienced. When they beat Memphis in November I would have bet Mike Gundy's contract that OSU would be a top 10 team all year. The part I didn't realize coming into the year is how think (figuratively and literally) OSU is on the interior and how much that would hurt them as the year wore on. Our starting five got hurt and things compounded from there culminating in the seven-game losing streak and Marcus Smart going into the stands in Lubbock.
It's really been a tale of three seasons because since Smart came back OSU has been as good as it could possibly be given that it literally cannot rebound. This team is a bear to beat right now but it's weaknesses are bountiful.
TSSF: As a huge fan of the movie "The Sixth Man", I have an odd passion for Travis Ford as a human being. Yet, when I read opinion of Oklahoma State fans, I get the sense they don't think his coaching skills are as solid as his acting skills. What say you?
PF: I think Ford's in-game coaching as a weakness is a little overrated -- if only because most folks rate it between that of a junior high coach and that of a corpse. The bigger concern to me as an OSU fan is that he has one tournament win in his career as a coach. One! And OSU has only finished in the top half of the Big 12 one time in his six years even though he's had two Big 12 players of the year. I think he's been bad as a molder of teams and as a recruiter but I might be in the minority.
TSSF: When looking at the game on paper, it seems like Gonzaga's best chance to win this game is to pound the post and use their size advantage to slow down the game and wear out Oklahoma State. Is that a concern on your end or have the Pokes adjusted well in the past to bigger teams?
PF: Nope, that's a concern. Our current starting center (who weighs 220 lbs. after a trip to Texas Roadhouse) said in the Oklahoman that "as long as I don't get into foul trouble, we should be ok" which I don't agree with at all. Teams destroy us on the boards even though we have two of the better rebounding guards in the nation (Marcus and Markel Brown). Offensive boards are the easiest path to beating this team and the one I look for Mark Few to exploit.
TSSF: As a Gonzaga fan, I have had my fair share of folks saying your team is 'the sexy pick' to make a deep run. This year, Oklahoma State seems to be that team for many. Does the fact that Digger Phelps chose you to go to the Final Four make you think that doom may be on the horizon?
PF: Hah, I don't know how many highlighters Digger sniffed before going on air that night but it's just not there. Like I said, OSU will be a wicked out but they're too flawed to get past Arizona. It would take a miracle, all-time game from Smart for that to happen which, I admit, he probably has in him but I just don't see it. Maybe I'm the fool's gold Smart keeps talking about, though.
TSSF: Final question, and this is a tough one. What happens more in Friday's game: Announcers accusing and referencing Marcus Smart's 'flopping' or announcers referencing David Stockton's dad?
PF: Trick question...neither! The announcers will reference Smart and our two-guard Phil Forte growing up and being best friends more than either one of those. Can't wait for 293 shots of a semi-sullen Daddy Stockton with that "I would tap Smart in the cojones so hard he wouldn't want to ever play basketball again" look on his face. He was the best at that.