Monday, February 3, 2014
Clark's dismissal only adds to OSU mess
By Dana O'Neil
There are plenty of things to ponder in the wake of Stevie Clark's dismissal from the Oklahoma State basketball team.
Top of the list is why Clark would think that urinating out of a moving vehicle was a good idea. Outraging public decency, the violation cited in his arrest, sounds about right for this one.
Second is why Clark, who also was arrested in January for a seatbelt violation and then offered the added bonus of having marijuana in his car, would so much as jaywalk.
But Clark’s combination of stupidity and immaturity is the least of coach Travis Ford’s problems. (Officially, now that Ford made the easy decision and booted Clark off the team.)
Marcus Smart and Travis Ford are running out of time to right the ship and now have a further depleted roster.
In five years in Stillwater, Ford has three NCAA tournament berths but has never gotten the Pokes out of the first weekend. That was supposed to change this year. After Marcus Smart defied conventional wisdom and opted to return for his sophomore season, Oklahoma State was picked to share the Big 12 title with Kansas.
Instead, here we are. The Cowboys have dropped three of their past four to fall to 4-4 in the league. They have just one conference win (Texas) with any meat on the bone and are a long way from sharing much of anything with Kansas.
Some of this is just bad luck. Michael Cobbins' Achilles injury has devastated the Cowboys’ inside game, and while Le'Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy have tried to help inside, they can only do so much.
But some of it is self-inflicted, too.
Clark probably should have been booted in January. That was his second arrest since coming to Oklahoma State, and blown second chances are usually the sign of a pattern instead of the road to penitence.
Now his lack of concern for his team and his apparent disregard for his Bible studies -- according to a recent Oklahoman story, Clark was meeting daily with his mother, to prevent, in his mother’s words, the devil a chance "to get in and get busy" -- have left the Cowboys even more depleted on the bench. Oklahoma State went only seven-deep with Clark on the roster.
And then there is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. That would be Smart. The onetime lock for national player of the year isn’t even in the conversation right now. He’s in a woeful shooting slump (13-of-53 in his past four games) and has been relatively ineffective in the entire Big 12 season, shooting only 34 percent in eight games.
Worse, he’s acted less and less like the leader the Cowboys desperately need. A helpless chair took the brunt of his frustrations amid a lousy shooting night against West Virginia, and when people talk at all about Smart these days, it’s usually more about his flopping than his play.
If Oklahoma State is to salvage this season, it has to start with Smart playing smart and acting a whole lot smarter.
The Cowboys are at the strange time of the season when there is plenty of time to fix what’s wrong but time also is quickly flying by. We are a little more than a month away from the end of the regular season, six weeks from Selection Sunday.
What ails the Cowboys isn’t easy to fix, especially in the Big 12, but Oklahoma State had better start searching for some answers before a season that started with such promise ends in a heap of a mess.