Oklahoma State out to reverse program's fade

Oklahoma State out to reverse program's fade

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Travis Ford is counting on a pair of McDonald's All-Americans to lead his Oklahoma State program out of the bottom half of the Big 12.

Freshman point guard Marcus Smart will join second-year forward Le'Bryan Nash this season and the pair will try to reverse a consistent fade by the Cowboys over the past few seasons.

Oklahoma State went the second round of the NCAA tournament in Ford's first season as coach, then got knocked off in the first round the following year. Then came the real dip, a quick exit in the NIT followed by last season's 15-18 finish with no postseason appearance.

This season starts Nov. 9 with a home game against UC Davis.

``We know that last year wasn't a good year for us, so we're just looking back on that and trying to respond from that,'' Nash said. ``We're talented. There's no about that. ... We're talented. It's just: Go out there and do it.''

That starts with Nash, who was a unanimous all-Big 12 preseason selection by the coaches after averaging 13.3 points as the league's top freshman a season ago. His numbers were even better in conference play before he missed the end of the season with a broken left hand.

``I get a lot of comments that I had a bad year. To me, I don't think I had a bad year,'' Nash said. ``I ain't going to say I had a great year but I had an average freshman year - you know, 13 points is real good to be a freshman.''

Ford wants even more from Nash, starting with a willingness to play harder and give second and third efforts. Ford believes that, unlike this time a year ago, Nash understands what he's demanding.

``The difference is last year I couldn't tell him what he did in high school is not going to equate that easily in college,'' Ford said. ``Some guys have to go through it to understand it. He went through it - the frustrations, huge peaks and valleys. Now he gets it. Is he mature player? We'll see. There's a maturity process and he went through it. Do I see improvement in his play? No doubt about it. He's got a better mindset.''

Ford, who's in the fifth year of a seven-year, $9.1 million contract, doesn't see the same issues with Smart.

``He won't struggle with what most freshman will. As far as playing hard, competing physically at this level, he has all that,'' Ford said. ``He makes more extra effort plays than most freshmen.''

Ford expects the 6-foot-4 Smart to play point guard more than he did in high school and solidify a position that has been a revolving door since Byron Eaton finished his senior year in Ford's debut season. Three players who manned the position last season - Fred Gulley, Reger Dowell and Cezar Guerrero - transferred out of the program over the course of the past year.

Smart has grabbed the reins, starting with a preseason exhibition tour in Spain and carrying over into practice when Nash has noticed him chasing down offensive rebounds and making key steals.

``He's just a winner. We need guys like that, especially at the point guard position,'' Nash said. ``We need a floor general.''

Despite the recent results, the Big 12's coaches thought highly enough of the Cowboys to pick them to finish third in the preseason poll, behind No. 7 Kansas and No. 19 Baylor. Those selections came before Oklahoma State lost starting forward Brian Williams to a season-ending wrist injury, possibly forcing Nash to shift more to power forward than his preferred place on the wing.

``I like the versatility of this team. We should be long and athletic. We lose some athleticism with Brian Williams out but we're still long and hopefully that can cause some havoc defensively,'' Ford said. ``But I like that we have some guys from last year that got some very valuable experience that understand what they are about to get into.''

That's certainly the case for Nash.

``I've got one year under my belt, so I know what's going to come from the teams, and obviously teams in the Big 12. I'm ready,'' Nash said. ``It's just another mindset that I want to win a Big 12 championship. ... I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this team win a Big 12 championship.''

Quick Links

Capitals Draft Tracker


Capitals Draft Tracker

The 2018 NHL Draft starts on Friday with the first round and runs through Saturday. Here's a running tracker of the Caps' picks.

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

3rd round, 93rd overall: 

4th round, 124th overall: 

6th round, 186th overall: 

7th round, 217th overall: 

Quick Links

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7


Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.