Every year there are a couple of McDonald’s All Americans that just don’t pan out. Sometimes they can’t behave on campus, sometimes they can’t resist the allure of all you can eat dorm food, and sometimes they just weren’t that good to begin with. After his first handful of games in Stillwater, it appeared that Le’Bryan Nash wasn’t going to be the player he was hyped as. The 10th ranked prospect in the country, according to ESPN, was averaging just 12 points under five rebounds a game. Travis Ford benched him after a total no-show against Virginia Tech.
Nash looked lost at times, and over matched at others. Hard to not be frustrated with him if you are an Oklahoma State fan.
In last night’s 72-67 win at Missouri State though, Nash showed some signs of turning the corner. In 29 minutes Nash led the Cowboys in scoring with 19, and added eight rebounds. He played solid defense all night, and pulled down a couple of big rebounds. Most importantly, he looked active and engaged throughout, something that wasn’t the case earlier in the season.
For Oklahoma State to make noise in the Big 12 this season, they need Nash to be really good. The team lacks a go to scorer that can create his own shot. Keiton Page can only score coming off screens. JP Olukemi could be that guy, but he fades in and out of games. Markel had been the team’s best player, but last night managed just one point, and only took four shots.
Nash is the most talented player on the team. He will be the one getting the ball in close games come January and February. Before yesterday, I would have predicted disaster in that situation. After watching him play well on the road, and contribute meaningful minutes down the stretch, it’s clear Le’Bryan Nash has plenty of great nights ahead of him.
Other notes from last night
Oklahoma State is a damn fine defensive team when they want to be. Despite having one of the worst individual defenders in the conference (Page), Travis Ford had his guys playing multiple stretches of great team defense.
That defense will have to keep them in games too, because the Cowboy’s half court offense is really bad. A lot of standing around and hoping someone makes a play. Posting up Nash or sending Page through eight screens seems to be the only two plays they have right now. Otherwise, everyone stands around and waits for the guy with the ball to take a bad, contested jumper.
Cezar Guerrero is trending in the opposite direction of Nash. Guerrero looked like a surprise freshman star after scoring 29 points against Texas San Antonio. He hasn’t been above 10 points in a game since, and played eight scoreless minutes last night. Wasn’t hard to see why either, he took a couple of bad shots yesterday, and was playing too loose with the ball. He’s another guy capable of creating his own shot, so hopefully he can fall back into favor with Travis Ford and start contributing more.
OSU plays next on Saturday afternoon in New York, against #14 Pitt.