The Oklahoma State basketball team is on its third coach in as many seasons. The program finds itself at the center of a national corruption scandal. For the first time in school history, the Cowboys were picked last in the Big 12’s preseason poll.
First-year coach Mike Boynton hopes those low points provide a spark for growth, not only as players but also as people. Two weeks out from his head-coaching debut, Boynton spoke Tuesday at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City, Mo. Although the media’s focus was primarily on the FBI investigation involving his former associate head coach, Lamont Evans, Boynton’s focus remained on his players.
— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) October 24, 2017
Boynton replaced Brad Underwood as the Cowboys’ coach after Underwood converted his one season at Oklahoma State into a large contract with Illinois. Boynton joined Underwood’s staff as an assistant the year before; Underwood was athletic director Mike Holder’s selection once the university parted ways with Travis Ford after eight seasons.
Tuesday, Boynton considered how he’ll be the third coach Jeffrey Carroll, Davon Dillard, Mitchell Solomon and Tavarius Shine play for at Oklahoma State. He pointed out that Thomas Dziagwa, Lindy Waters and Cam McGriff committed to play for Ford, spent a year with Underwood and remained with him.
He noted how before last year’s team even played a game under Underwood, the Cowboys lost a teammate when Tyrek Coger collapsed and died during a preseason workout.
Now, with a new staff and amid an NCAA scandal, the Cowboys must try to play basketball.
“A lot of guys have been through, I call it ‘character-building adversity,” Boynton said Tuesday, per the Tulsa World’s Mark Cooper. “So I think they’ll all be better for it eventually, but we’ve just got to keep our heads down and focus on improvement.”
Oklahoma State went 20-13 a year ago, exiting the NCAA Tournament after a one-point loss to Michigan. In addition to the coach, three starters from last year’s team are gone.
Boynton knows the task ahead won’t be easy. But he’s aware easy won’t necessarily make the Cowboys better.
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