By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s becoming a revolving door of injuries for the 15th-ranked Oklahoma State men’s basketball team.
Travis Ford was looking forward to the return of redshirt sophomore forward Michael Cobbins this week, with the chance of slowly returning him to the rotation. That may no longer be an option when the Cowboys travel to Virginia Tech for a 1 p.m. tipoff Saturday.
According to Ford, Philip Jurick —who has started the last three games while still trying to recover from an injury he sustained last year — will possibly be out for Saturday’s contest after taking an elbow to the mouth during practice Wednesday.
“He got popped pretty good, got 12 stitches ... it totally split his lip in half,” Ford said. “It doesn’t look good (for Saturday). We’ll move on and figure it out.
“He’d just been playing so well for us lately. He may not have the most staggering numbers, but his presence means a lot to us. But it doesn’t look good, and at this point I don’t expect it.”
Cobbins had just started back practicing with the team this week, while fellow forward Marek Soucek was scheduled to suit up for practice again on Thursday.
“Michael will dress out ... as far as how much he can give us, I’m not sure yet. But it’s good to have him back out there,” Ford said. “... The word I’m getting on Soucek is he has not been on the court yet, but (Thursday) he might be able to shoot, but no contact. But I don’t expect him to play Saturday at all, but that could change depending on his progress.”
With the injuries plaguing the Cowboys — Brian Williams and Jean-Paul Olukemi are already out for the season due to the injury bug — Ford has been relying on his freshman class more. While it’s not entirely a surprise to see Marcus Smart and Phil Forte getting significant playing time, forward Kamari Murphy has been plunged into the starting lineup due to the injuries in the post position.
Murphy has started in all five games for the Pokes and is averaging 25.6 minutes of action. He is second on the squad in rebounds, averaging 6.8 per game, while contributing a modest 5 points per contest.
“I think he’s handled the opportunity very well,” Ford said. “... A lot of freshmen that would be put into this type of situation may relax a little bit and think it’s easy and go through an entitlement phase. But he hasn’t done that.
“Now he’s got areas he’s got to get better at. But it has nothing to do with him thinking this is easy or that he’s a big shot. What he’s given our basketball team is pretty good.”
Virginia Tech (6-0) could pose a problem for the Pokes. The Hokies have a 6-foot-7 forward in Jarell Eddie, who is averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The leading rebounder, Cadarian Raines, stands at 6-9 and is averaging 7.2 boards per game to go with 9 points per contest.
In the front court, 6-3 guard Erick Green leads the Hokies in scoring with 24.3 points per game. Virginia Tech is also getting 12.7 points per game from 6-5 guard Robert Brown.
“They match up with us size by size at every position, which most teams do not as far as our guards are concerned,” Ford said. “Their point guard is as big as ours.”