Stevie Clark’s Dismissal Brings More Tumult to Oklahoma StatePosted by Brian Goodman on February 3rd, 2014
To say that Oklahoma State’s season hasn’t gone as planned would be a massive understatement. The Cowboys, Big 12 favorites before the start of the season, are struggling (for a conference contender) at 4-4 in league play. They don’t seem to have an answer for the hole left in the interior by Michael Cobbins’ injury and Marcus Smart is mired in the most prolonged slump of his two-year career. But the drama surrounding the program reached another level on Monday when head coach Travis Ford dismissed guard Stevie Clark from the team after the freshman was arrested over the weekend for outraging public decency. From a personnel standpoint, Clark’s loss is a big one, but after two prior incidents (an arrest for marijuana possession earlier last month, and a four-game suspension for an unspecified reason), it’s easy to see why Ford had to make the move. So now what?
The Cowboys’ margin for error, already paper thin due to their four conference losses to this point, has gotten even thinner. Rather than bringing in Clark to give Smart some much-needed breathers, Ford will either have to reach deeper on to his bench or just play Smart until his wheels fall off. Markel Brown, a player who has flourished as a shooting guard, could see more time backing up the point, but that’s not an ideal situation for either him or the team. The pinch could be felt more by the dropoff at Brown’s usual spot if he does log minutes there. Seldom-used junior Christien Sager could see an increase in playing time from his current 3.7 minutes per contest, although that prospect won’t exactly make Cowboys fans giddy with excitement.
Looking to the near future, the Cowboys’ NCAA Tournament hopes aren’t in any immediate danger, but it’s becoming tougher to picture the Cowboys making the kind of run most expected before the season. Additionally, Clark’s dismissal raises questions about the team’s future backcourt. We learned just before the season started that Smart wasn’t going to shock the college basketball world again when he made his intention to leave school after this season perfectly clear. With Clark now removed from the picture as well, the long-term makeup of the backcourt appears fuzzy.
Oklahoma State’s only committed point guard in its next recruiting class is JuCo transfer Jeff Newberry. High school senior Jared Terrell will also come into the fold, but he is viewed more of as a shooting guard at this time. Sager could be in the equation, but one has to assume that Ford would like to have someone more capable of stepping into the void right away. At this late juncture in the recruiting season, there aren’t many high-level talents at the position remaining, but to their credit, the Pokes recently elbowed their way into the running for the services of former Louisville commit JaQuan Lyle, the top uncommitted point guard on ESPNU’s Top 100 list. Ford will have plenty of playing time to offer Lyle, but on the flip side, if Lyle spurns Oklahoma State in favor of Kansas, Oregon, Memphis or Connecticut, the situation will only become more tenuous for the program’s long-term future.