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Boynton was Worried About Defense and Rebounding, Is He Still Heading to UTA

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton was concerned in practice with his rebounding and defense, is he still with the opener here

STILLWATER -- A couple of weeks ago Mike Boynton was on a Zoom call with the media, like he has done weekly since the start of preseason practice, and I asked him what his major concerns were with his basketball team. It took the Cowboys head basketball coach a split second to start his answer. In Stillwater if a basketball team in orange and black struggles with defense then that is not good. Cowboy basketball is built on a foundation where the bedrock is defense. From Henry Iba to Eddie Sutton and now to Mike Boynton, defense has to be played even if the pups are playing.

"Can we play defensively? We were really, really bad defensively about three weeks ago," Boynton said of his team that will have 10 first-year players at Oklahoma State on the road trip to open at Texas-Arlington and at least two in the starting line-up. 

How bad was the defense in practice? Boynton thought about conjering up the ghost of Oklahoma State coaches past for help.

"In fact, I was ready to go sit in Mr. Iba's chair out in the arena and ask for advice because we were so far off," Boynton said chuckling. "We've come a long way defensively and it's a concept that we understand now. We're not very good at it yet, but conceptually we understand that we're not going to score 95 points every night or even score 90. We now have with Keylan (Boone), Chris (Harris Jr.), Ferron (Flavors), and Bryce (Williams) that will space out and spread the floor so that Cade (Cunningham) and Ice (Isaac Likekele) can make plays."

Boynton explained as he made it clear his team understands there are two ends to the court and two phases to the game. Boynton is a fundamentalist and defense is the most important phase to him and his staff, but the players will learn. Hopefully, not with a hard lesson, but UTA returns a pretty good team with several of the better Sun Belt players.

Oklahoma State Expected Starting Line-Up

2  Cade Cunningham, G, 6-8, 220, Fr., Arlington, Texas

31 Ferron Flavors Jr., G, 6-3, 190, Grad, Federal Way, Wash.

13 Isaac Likekele, G, 6-5, 215, Jr., Arlington, Texas

20 Keylan Boone, F/G, 6-8, 200, So., Tulsa, Okla.

22 Kalib Boone, F, 6-9, 210, So., Tulsa, Okla.

They likely will line up with a bigger line-up than the Cowboys, and the rebounding, especially on the defensive end has been Boynton's other major concern.

"It's got better because I think I have Ice (Likekele) and Keylan (Boone), who have got better on the glass the last couple of weeks," Boynton said of his lament over rebounding during the preseason. "They have to understand that they are going to have to help us a lot in there. Cade is going to be on the perimeter a lot, both ends of the floor. They both have to understand that they are going to have to play the four for us. Keylan is going to have to help us and Donovan Williams has come on the past couple of weeks. We'll figure it out and we have to figure it out soon because one thing I've seen is that Texas-Arlington is long and athletic. If we don't block out that is one way they will hurt us."

Tip-off is at 3 p.m. on ESPN2 and with the Cowboy Radio Network. Time for the Cade Cunningham era or single year in Cowboys basketball to begin.