After some early-season success, the Oklahoma State Cowboys just cannot keep it together.
Some of the issues are just bad luck, and others are self-inflicted. First, the team lost Michael Cobbins to an achilles injury, and now they are dealing with another legal matter involving Stevie Clark. Yes, I said another. This time, Clark was arrested for “suspicion of outraging public decency.” Oklahoma State has yet to announce whether Clark will be suspended for tonight’s match-up with Iowa State, but missing one game is the least of Clark’s worries.
It is always sad to see a young person lose an opportunity to get a free college education because of juvenile mistakes, but at what point do you say enough is enough? Since becoming a member of the Oklahoma State basketball team, Clark has had multiple issues with authorities. He has already served a five-game suspension for the good ol’ “conduct detrimental to the team”, and he was also arrested in January for possession of marijuana.
Three miscues in less than one season means that a long suspension or dismissal is more likely to happen.
Dealing with injuries is a part of all sports, but having to deal with multiple discipline issues with the same player can cause a team’s mental makeup to crack. When Cobbins got hurt, the Cowboys’ rallying cry was “next man up.” The possible loss of Clark, after yet another alleged boneheaded blunder on his part, is a different type of situation for college kids to deal with.
When a teammate is injured, he gets surgery and goes through rehab; but when a teammate can’t stay out of trouble, there are other worries involved. Worrying about someone when there is nothing that can be done can break down even the strongest of men.
Without Clark, the Cowboys would be missing one of their best bench players. Clark is the relief for All-American Marcus Smart. When they are both on the court, Smart can play off the ball and let Clark run the offense. He leads the Cowboys in assists per minute and is their second-best on-ball defender.
If Clark is out, that means Phil Forte will see even more action. Forte is a great shooter, but he doesn’t have the ball-handling abilities as Clark, which means even more minutes for Smart and almost no time off the ball.
Even with Clark, the Cowboys were going to have a tough time against the Cyclones, but now their only chance to win is by Smart going bananas. Don’t get me wrong, Smart going bananas wouldn’t be a shock, but there is a difference in having a big game and needing to have a big game for your team to win. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smart press too much and have an off night.
The Cowboys had expectations of winning the Big 12 and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but now their focus has been derailed with the concern for a teammate. Dealing with this kind of adversity is not what these players signed up for, so I hope they can get past this. I hope Clark does a 180 and gets his life straight, and the Cowboys can get back to entertaining us with great basketball instead of disappointing headlines.
**Update: Clark has been dismissed from the team.**