ESPN's Franschilla Asks Boynton About the Need at Some Point for Cunningham to Score
STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State has had their media availabilities throughout the preseason and they have included every single player and head coach Mike Boynton as a regular guest for the media. It has in no way been all Cade Cunningham in the preseason and leading up to Wednesday's opening game at University of Texas-Arlington, right down the road from where Cunningham grew up.
The Cowboys 6-7 star from Arlington, Texas and Montverde Academy in Florida may be the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year, All-Big 12, and preseason A.P. All-American, but he is being treated like any other member of the team. We've been told he wants it that way.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla is doing the Cowboys first game of the season on Wednesday on ESPN2 and the veteran college head coach and now longtime ESPN voice that is kind of a voice for college basketball asked Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton what Cunningham needs to do to make himself better, for his team and for his future.
"I talked to Cade Cunningham about this very thing this morning and I alluded to it earlier. The first thing that Cade Cunningham has to do is have fun," Boynton said emphatically. "With that comes a lot of things, good things, but there is pressure too. He just turned 19 in September. I couldn't imagine it when I was 19. I was just glad Coach (Eddie) Fogler put me in at the end of games sometimes just to rest somebody. To be a preseason All-American and a potential number one (NBA) pick, he needs to enjoy this process. Part of the way that he enjoys this process is that he lets the game come to him, that he doesn't have to take the first five shots and that he can work his way closer to the basket."
Boynton kept going and you can tell this is the part where Cunningham can do something to help his team, which is big man challenged going into the season.
"Offensively, it's an area that he is a little more passive and I think he could get more aggressive when he gets in the paint," Boynton said of his freshman that is on both the Naismith and Cousy Award watch lists. "He defers to passing and when you are 6-7 or 6-8 and you are against 6-3 guy in the paint, the missed shot is more valuable for you because you probably have another defender coming over and a teammate that can get second shot to finish for you anyway. Just looking to get more aggressive in the paint.
The Cowboys head coach went on to add the added dimension of getting to the charity stripe.
"Then getting to the free throw line where he is a good free throw shooter," Boynton continued. "Against a smaller defender he should get to the free throw line 10-to-12 times a game. Again, if he is getting eight points from the free throw line then he doesn't have to shot 20 times a game to get to 20 points. He can be more efficient in offensive situations."
Finally, the coach to coach portion of the Zoom session finished with Fraschilla coming back with a follow-up question on whether Boynton has thought about that point in a game this season that he will have to look at Cunningham and tell him that he has to be selfish and that his team needs him to be greedy and score.
"That is something that our staff has talked about this summer and I know you've seen him (Cade) a lot the last few years, but Cade is not a naturally scoring minded player," Boynton said of the star that truly has a point guard mentality. "That is not his first tendency. He is a distributor and he wants to get other guys involved. There is no question there is going to be a game where I am going to need him to score and take 25 shots. We are running this and we aren't running it for you to find somebody. We are running this for you to score. Not that he is going to take bad shots, but he is going to have to take tougher shots rather than passing it to a teammate that is not as capable."
All I know is that I'm anxious to see Cunningham and his teammates and what Fraschilla, one of my favorite basketball analysts, has to say about them on Wednesday.