By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The sixth-annual Homecoming & Hoops at Gallagher-Iba Arena was riddled with bad news for fans hoping to see the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team for the first time this season.
The Cowboys have already suffered a setback in the first week of practices. Redshirt sophomore guard Brian Williams, a projected starter, underwent surgery for a wrist injury he sustained to his non-shooting hand during Monday’s practice. He was in a sling during the Homecoming & Hoops festivities.
Ford said before the scrimmage, when talking to the fans, that Williams would be out for the season.
“From what I understand he’s going to be in a cast for three months, then it takes another month or month-and-a-half to rehab,” Ford said. “We’ll get him a redshirt because there’s no use throwing him back out there. He has a medical redshirt left and in four or five years he’ll be the oldest college basketball player in America.”
The night began with the announcing of the Homecoming awards, which included the members of the OSU men’s and women’s basketball teams announcing the winners of each category. Included in the players on stage was former Stillwater High basketball player Alex Budke, son of late women’s coach Kurt Budke and a walkon at Oklahoma State this year after spending a year at St. Gregory’s University.
OSU football players Charlie Moore, Justin Gilbert, Josh Stewart and Quinn Sharp joined OSU coach Mike Gundy on stage at Homecoming & Hoops. Gundy, along with Moore and Stewart, thanked the fans for their support and to get them to come out to the Homecoming game against Iowa State.
Following the announcements, both teams turned right to basketball with the women preceding the men on the basketball court.
Prior to the men’s scrimmage, Ford told the fans that “half of our team is either injured or sick” with Jean-Paul Olukemi and Philip Jurick still nursing an injury while high school teammates Phil Forte and Marcus Smart have been battling with illness.
“The last three days we’ve been 4-on-4, we have not played 5-on-5,” Ford said after the event. “We haven’t had the people to do 5-on-5. I’m giving them (Saturday) off, which wasn’t supposed to be a day off.”
Though the Cowboys have been battling the elements, that didn’t keep them from working on their Lob Stilly campaign that was created in the middle of last season. Junior guard Markel Brown showcased a 360-degree dunk on a breakaway, as well as slamming home an ally-oop earlier in the scrimmage.
“I think the fans are going to be looking forward to it and we’re going to try to give them what they want,” said Brown, who scored a scrimmage-high 10 points.
So it was only fitting that sophomore Le’Bryan Nash, who finished with 9 points and four assists, opened the scrimmage with a dunk after stealing the ball after the tip. Freshman Kamari Murphy also scored six points.
“I don’t think we planned that — I think he just got lucky. I didn’t think he was going to dunk it — just kidding,” said Brown, who played on the team opposite Nash. “I don’t know how that happened. But I didn’t like it.”
While the dunks highlighted the evening, there was one special moment with Budke playing on the court his father once coached on.
Budke, listed at 6-foot-3, got blocked by 6-10 walk-on Mason Cox early in the scrimmage, but he did drain a 3-pointer later in the scrimmage.
“That was great. His boy blocked his first shot — I thought they should have had some type of deal,” Ford said. “But it was great. I think that was the only (shot) I clapped on, I was so excited. That was good to see.”
“I was happy for him,” said OSU women’s coach Jim Littell, who was Kurt Budke’s associate head coach. “It was just good to see him out there and just having fun. To have him hit that three was very exciting for him and everyone in the arena.”
The women’s team played fast with junior point guard Tiffany Bias keeping the tempo high during the intrasquad scrimmage. Littell said that is something the Cowgirls will aim to do this season.
“We’re wanting to play with more tempo this year. We think we’ve got a lot of kids that can run the floor very well and are very athletic,” Littell said. “It fits Tiffany Bias. That’s when she plays at her best and it allows her to make other people better around her.”
The black team, which featured Bias and Toni Young, topped the orange team, which included reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year Liz Donohoe, 26-25. Young scored 14 points in the contest, while Donohoe and Bias finished with 10 points each.
Friday was also the first experience for some of the younger players to get some action in front of a rowdy fan base at Gallagher-Iba.
“We took it pretty light with the approach,” Littell said. “We just wanted them to go out and have fun. This is more of an exhibition or production, than it is basketball at times. But it was very good for them to get out in front of a crowd like this.”