This Sunday marks a few things for Oklahoma State and Big 12 Conference fans alike. It’s July 1st, and will be West Virginia and TCU’s first official day as a member of the Big 12 Conference.
It’s also exactly two months before the Pokes storm out of the Northwest corner of Boone Pickens Stadium to take the field against the Tigers of Savannah State.
So a tradition that I’ve done (well, since last year anyway), is a preview of the schedule before the season really starts.
This season’s Oklahoma State schedule is interesting to say the least. When I first saw it, my initial thought was “This definitely favors Oklahoma State” while most of my fellow journalists didn’t.
Why did I think that? Because of a theory I made up to go with it. It’s called “The Tier Theory”. If you look at this schedule, there are three tiers of four games that the Cowboys will go through. Each tier starts with what’s one would consider an “easy win” if there is such a thing, and then builds in strength the next three games until it starts over after the four games are through.
Let’s get into it.
September 1: Savannah State Tigers- This is opening day, and the atmosphere will be incredible, even against what most are calling a sub-par opponent. Savannah State finished 1-11 last year, and failed to score double-digits six times. They also scored 10 points in their season finale.
Most are saying this will be a walk, and that’s probably correct. Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt is probably excited about it. Behind him, there are a few other unproven players that will benefit from weaker competition.
September 8: @ Arizona Wildcats- Everyone remembers last year’s Thursday night televised trouncing of the Wildcats on ESPN when Brandon Weeden went absolutely nuts by almost finishing the first half with no incompletions. They also probably remember the 2010 Alamo Bowl where Weeden and superstar receiver Justin Blackmon put their talents on display and almost ran Arizona out of the stadium.
Both of those games got all but out of hand rather quickly, but those were with Mike Stoops at head coach. Now they have Rich Rodriguez there, and while it’s unlikely he’ll have his system fully implemented by then, it also means he won’t have the players he wants playing either. The head coach’s name is scary, and they still have PAC-10 talent, but it’s unlikely they’ll be clicking.
But then again, this isn’t the same Oklahoma State team of the past two years, so who knows what it could look like. Lunt on the road could get rather interesting very fast.
September 15: Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajun’s- Lafayette gave the Pokes some trouble last season in their opener. Weeden tossed a few interceptions and the overall team looked a little slow compared to what they turned into, but they eventually won. ULL certainly has the most potential to sneak up and bite Oklahoma State, so this is certainly no game to look past.
BYE WEEK: September 22- This will be huge for the Cowboys. They’ll have a week off to heal up all of their bruises and tired muscles while also getting that time to prepare for the Longhorns. Without this, I’d give the Cowboys about a 30% chance of beating UT. Without it? 50% at the least.
September 29: Texas Longhorns- The Longhorns have been picked to win the conference by a few different people, but I still haven’t seen enough out of them for me to do that yet. As far as I know, Texas still has no quarterback with an arm that can put his team in contention to win big games in the Big 12, and that’s where it all starts with Texas.
It seems like they’ll almost always have one of the best defenses on paper in the Big 12, but OSU has exposed some holes the last two years by winning back-to-back games in Austin. To me, this game is a complete toss-up. I’m sure one of the national broadcasts will pick it up, and Boone Pickens Stadium will be going ballistic when the Longhorns come to town for the first time since October of 2009.
Will the Pokes pull it out? Who knows. It’s a complete toss up until the quarterback issue is addressed, but UT coach Mack Brown is one of the best in the nation, and he certainly will have his team, no matter how good, ready to play.
Ever since the Dallas Mavericks hoisted the trophy last June, they’ve been looking forward.
Not in a “Next season we’ll do it all again” way, but in a “2012-13 will be our year” way. Though they never came out and said that, it’s obvious.
The goal was simple,bring Deron Williams and Dwight Howard to Dallas or bust.
Howard said a few months ago that he’d decline his player option and stay in Orlando, so it’s time for Mavs owner Mark Cuban to go to plan B.
Williams hasn’t announced his intentions for next season yet, but considering his status as Dallas’ prodigal son since he played high school basketball in north Dallas at The Colony High School, it seems likely he’ll be playing in the American Airlines Center.
Just ask him. When his New Jersey Nets visited Dallas about a month ago, he was very complimentary of everything having to do with the Mavericks.
But he won’t be enough. Not in today’s NBA.
Back in the glory days when I was growing up, one star was enough to win a title. Then they quickly moved through the two-star teams and jumped straight to the three-star studded circuses.
Dirk will play for Dallas as long as he wants to. If he gets to about 60 years old and wants to play in a wheelchair, Cuban will let him, and he should. So there’s one star.
Deron Williams makes two. Is that enough to win a title? It’s possible. They did it last year with Dirk and three or four guys that added together to create another collective star player. But if they want to be a legitimate contender, they will need to make one of two moves.
Number 1: Trade for Amar’e Stoudemire
With the recent events of the NBA Playoffs, Stoudemire has solidified himself as a headache in New York. The team has been better without him, but he’s still Amar’e Stoudemire, the same guy who torched the Mavericks while Stoudemire was in Phoenix a few years ago.
Not only would a trade unload cap space that would allow the Mavs to give Williams the most lucrative offer possible, but it would also free up space to surround them with younger players. Not to mention, Stoudemire in Dallas seems right. It’s a low-pressure situation. He would be seen as the third scorer on the team, and he was named to a few All Star rosters in that situation with the Suns.
Number 2: Go after a big-man free agent
There are a few out there, but none are the franchise center that the Mavericks are looking for. The closest player to that is Roy Hibbert, but the Indiana Pacers will be making a hard run at him, and Hibbert has no ties to Dallas so it would be a big gamble that would possibly end in them missing on everyone if they wait too long on him and end up losing.
I like the route that the Miami Heat went by signing a solid SF/PF player in Chris Bosh. Players that fit this mold in this year’s free agent class are numerous. My favorite is former Kansas State star Michael Beasley. Beasley was drafted by the Heat, but eventually ended up in Minnesota when LeBron James and Bosh made their way to South Beach.
Beasley’s a typical player you’d expect out of a team coached by Frank Martin. Physical, 6’10 power forward that isn’t afraid to bang with anyone, and could play PF with Dirk at the center, or move over to Small Forward and pick up the team’s best big player on the opposing team.
Either way, it’s certainly going to be an interesting off-season for Dallas fans. Buckle up your seat belts and keep the aspirin close. Headaches will be abundant as you wait and worry.