By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Big 12 Conference released the 2012-13 Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll on Thursday, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys were predicted to finish third this season — behind defending league champion Kansas and the Baylor Bears. It marks the sixth time in the 17-year history of the league that OSU has been predicted to finish in the top three.
"The Big 12 is one of the best basketball leagues in the country," said coach Travis Ford, who entering his fifth season as OSU's coach. "It's definitely one of the top one or two basketball leagues, year in and year out, in the country. As we all know as coaches, and as a former player, I realize that preseason polls don't mean a lot.
"The hard work, the energy level, and the excitement that the returning players generated late in the year last season, to overcome so many injuries and so many odds late in the year, and we were doing it with freshmen and sophomores, with one senior (Keiton Page). I think that developed some respect, how guys like Markel (Brown), Michael (Cobbins), Brian (Williams) and Le'Bryan (Nash) performed late in the year, as such young basketball players. I think that respect, as well as bringing in some players that are going to help our basketball team, has something to do with the results of the preseason poll."
OSU received 60 points in the poll, in which nine points were awarded for a first-place selection, eight for second, all the way down to one point for ninth. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team. Kansas was a unanimous selection with 81 points and nine first-place votes, while Baylor received 63 points.
"We understand that there's so much work to be done, and so many things have to go right for you," Ford said. "At this point, there are a lot of great teams — Kansas and Baylor are elite teams in the country — but there are a lot of great teams in the league, we just hope to be able to compete with all of them. One of our preseason goals of course is to win a Big 12 Championship and try to get a first-round bye in the Big 12 Tournament. We know it's not going to be easy, but we're looking forward to the challenge."
Nash was name a unanimous selection to the preseason All-Big 12 Team, while OSU freshman Marcus Smart was named the preseason Freshman of the Year — an honor bestowed upon Nash last year — and also garnered honorable mention for the All-Big 12 team. Nash was one of just three unanimous selections, along with Kansas' Jeff Withey and Rodney McGruder of Kansas State.