STILLWATER — In front of the best crowd of the year, the Cowboys might’ve played their best game of the year.
Oklahoma State beat Tulsa 82-56 on Friday in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Here is everything OSU coach Mike Boynton said after his team’s win.
“Obviously a slower start tonight than we had been experiencing. Proud of our guys for just staying in there and allowing our defense to kind of hold the line until things kind of broke loose. And a lot of the credit for breaking loose goes to three guys who came off the bench. I thought Chris Harris, and Tyreek Smith showed what veteran guys can do when needed to come in and make a difference. I thought Quion Williams made his most impact in terms of just finding a way to make plays, whether it be steals or offensive rebounds. Those guys really helped spark what became whatever the run was, I don’t know the numbers, but they were really, really big part of us getting going there.”
On Quion Williams
“Yeah, I think it’s that simple. I mean, there’s no way to really — you can’t simulate this stuff. And the only way to learn is to go through it. We all hope that it goes smooth from start to finish and it’s not the reality for most everybody. So, the key is, you can’t lose confidence through the grind, through the murky waters so to speak. You got to continue to believe that you’re here for a reason. And that the coaches are still putting you out there, there’s confidence in your ability to help us and then not put pressure on whatever the artificial expectations may be, of the number of points you should be scoring or number of shots you should be getting. Just go out there and play the game the right way. And he’s continued to do that, and because of that, he’ll continue to find ways to impact us. Some days he’ll score, some days he may not, but I thought playing the game the right way is really what’s given him a chance. where I was when I was giving him a chance.”
On whether that is harder because he is the only freshman
“It probably is. Yeah, I would imagine being a guy who’s going through that without anyone really feeling sorry for you. If there’s another freshman they’re also kind of foggy right now and maybe they can kind of sulk at one another. And really just in there with a bunch of guys who they’ve had their moments. Avery (Anderson), Chris (Harris) and Kalib (Boone) they had those. They don’t feel bad for him. They get that that’s a part of it to get where they are now. So certainly being the only freshman kind of amplifies that, because everybody’s looking at you like, ‘You’ll be okay.’”
On whether OSU’s success started coming when they were playing inside-out
“That was the game plan going in. We thought we had a size advantage. We did miss a couple closer in. KB [Kalib Boone] missed his first shot right there at the rim. We missed an offensive rebound. And sometimes the perimeter guys start to feel like, ‘OK, we gave them a chance.’ And that’s not really it. Just stick with it. The truth is, and we told our guys this in the game, our bigs are pretty unselfish guys. They put a lot of work in helping our guards, whether it’s screening for them, offensive rebounding for them, blocking shots when they get beat off the dribble. Those guys need to feel like they’re a part of it.
“And the amplified truth to the matter is we’re better when we play inside-out. We get better 3s when we drive into the paint or throw it into the post. We just gotta make a more conscious effort to play that way consistently.”
On Chris Harris
“He has the ability [to facilitate] because he’s smart. I don’t know what a traditional point guard is anymore. I’m retired, so I guess us old guys, there’s not many of us anymore. He’s in a point guard’s body, but he’s a shooter. But he knows how to play, so that gives him the ability, if he’s out there with other playmakers to do both. And tonight he just made really good decisions for the most part. For us, we need — if Avery is in foul trouble and John-Mike doesn’t have it, BT [Bryce Thompson] was in scoring mode today — so we need somebody else to kind of settle us down, and he was able to do that tonight.”
On maintaining a lead
“It’s been, obviously, something we’ve talked about. We watch the same games. We’ve talked about, ‘How do we become the best versions of ourselves?’ We have to identify issues. We have to own them. And then we gotta go out there and be intentional about fixing the issues. Tonight they were pretty intentional and executed well in terms of extending the lead from one media timeout to the next — and really all the way to the very last two or three minutes we had done that throughout the half. So I was pleased in that regard.”
On Bryce Thompson
“Bryce is a really good player. And what happens is sometimes when you have expectations like he had coming out of high school and you don’t meet what people think you should do, for some people like him, he internalizes a lot. He’s not a super outwardly emotional kid, but he works his tail off. But there’s something in him that’s telling him that he’s not doing well, because of what he’s hearing. And if you allow him to just have a normal process, then this is what you start to see as a junior in college, is consistently being able to score in double-figures. But when you don’t do it when you’re expected to as a freshman and sophomore and people looking at you as a junior, like why are you still in college, which is absurd. That can start to feel like pressure. I want him to just get back to having joy playing the game and not feel like he’s got to meet some arbitrary number about when he should be out of college because the truth is, he should stay in college as long as possible.
“Like there’s no experience quite like this. And I’ve got a couple guys currently playing in that other league that will tell you the same thing. The money is great. They are living a lifestyle that very few people have an opportunity to, but you don’t have it like this. You lose friends, you lose you know, you gain a lot of kind of vultures. Life changes in many ways. So, while you’re here you should enjoy it as much as possible, because once you leave when you do make that jump, it’s never the same. So that’s been kind of my message to him is just get back to having fun playing basketball. And I think if he does that, he’ll have more success. And he’ll feel less pressure about proving whatever other people expect of him because he’s good enough. Like it’s not like he’s being asked to do something he’s not capable of doing, right? If people thought I should be in the NBA, then there would be a problem. It’s their problem. Like I’m not good enough to do that. So just take the pressure off. You got other teammates who are capable of helping you. Allow them to help you, allow your coaches to help you and then when you go out there on game nights, enjoy it.”
On whether Bryce Thompson lost his joy of playing basketball
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily that I think he lost the joy, but there’s a difference in the summertime, getting that swagger back and then having to come out and do it in front of people. And again, it not going great off the top. So he hasn’t had one of his super-high efficient scoring games that we’ve seen him have. And then the noise. These guys read everything that’s written about them. I wish there was away for me to block it out for them, but the truth is they can’t and they don’t. And so, whether they respond outwardly or they do like him, internalize it, it’s there, and it weighs on him. And then he feels like he’s got to go out and do it for something that’s externally motivated, instead of doing it for his teammates. So I think the joy is there. I just think sometimes it gets misplaced. I’ve always had the mindset, because I get people thinking you’re not succeeding. There were probably people who didn’t imagine I would be coaching a sixth season as the head coach here. But the way I thought about it is there were people who did think that I would be successful here. I try to focus my attention on a positive. I wanted to prove those people right. So I was going to work hard, I was going to enjoy it. There was gonna be some bumps in the road, but I wasn’t going to focus on trying to prove people wrong, that’s not the mindset for me. Mike Holder and Chad Weiberg and the Board of Regents believes something about what I could do. And I’ll focus all my energy and efforts into making sure that they feel like they got it right, and not whether other people out there question whether I should be here. I think the more people that take that approach, they’ll find more joy in what they’re doing.”
On whether he and Bryce Thompson are going through something similar
“Yeah, you know, obviously, in very different ways. People expected me to fail. That’s the biggest difference, right? They expected him to succeed in an unreasonable way. So sort of, right? The expectations are out of whack, but in very different ways. Most of you guys were in here, even Cade (Cunningham), he had some moments where it didn’t go great, but there were so many other moments that people saw and it’s all about what lens you’re looking through. So to a certain degree, sure. Kalib Boone has been very successful here. Some people don’t believe that. It’s okay. Avery Anderson has been very successful here, the best thing about those guys, in May, they’re going to walk across the stage in that arena and shake Dr. (Kayse) Shrum’s hand and have a college degree. That’s what this is all about.”
On the crowd with tickets being $1
“I enjoyed the energy in the building. I hope that many of those people also show out for our football team tomorrow for senior day. I’m certainly willing to do whatever we can to help continue to have those type of environments. I think it’s good. It help, there’s no question about it. Our fans, they’re knowledgeable. I think the lack of our program’s sustained success kind of wore on people, so I get it. But the truth is, if we want to become the program that people used to feel such an affinity for, then everybody’s got a part in that. I’m not here to tell people how to spend their money. It’s not what I do. I get it’s hard to come to a game sometimes, but all the best programs in the country that succeed, they have consistently good crowds. I got no doubt that we’ll get back there. We have to do our part. We have to give them a product that they want to see, and we have to have players out there that they want to watch. That’s on me and my staff, but once we do that, we need them to take us over the top.”
On giving his tickets out each week on social media
“I hope it sends the message that I’m all in. I bought them. Those are tickets that I was given, wrote a check to our ticketing office and bought four season tickets because I wanted to be invested just the same way I’m asking my fans to. And obviously I can’t ever sit there. So I want to try to make sure that the seats are filled. So it’s kind of a way to kind of reinvest in our fan base. And I’ll continue to do that as long as I can just so that people don’t think I’m a hypocrite, because obviously, I would be saying for them to spend their money when I’m not willing to do it. So I’m all in with them. I love this place. I think this place can be elite. It has been elite before. And I think our kids deserve to know that what they’re working for, they have people with them that are working as well.”
On the subs that came in and why it flipped the momentum of the game
“Every game kind of takes on a life of its own. So again, I’ll go back in the film and see. We didn’t change anything we were doing from a strategic standpoint. The game plan didn’t change five minutes in. Sometimes there’s less pressure on guys coming off the bench, guys are playing a little bit freer. There’s an expectation that comes with being a starter, having your name called, being out there, get that ball, execute and getting ourselves off to a good start. And again, those five games we did that. We didn’t do it all the way through sometimes, but that’s not an easy job. And sometimes it’s a little easier to come off the bench and kind of be the person to kind of change the momentum of the game.”
On how he decides he trivia questions to ask on social media for the free tickets
“It’s pretty random, but I always try to tie it to our program so that people know first of all who the people are that have been successful here with teams that have been successful, the things we’ve done. Obviously talked about the Sweet 16s. Talk about our starting point guards on our Final Four teams. It’s gonna always be about our program and our fans’ knowledge of the success of our problem. I hope that triggers in their mind, ‘Man I want to help coach and his team and this program get back to doing those type of things.”
On walk-on Naz Brown
“Naz is a really good player. Naz had kind of an unfortunate time in that he got injured in his junior summer. It’s really a time where your recruitment can really take off. When you’re kind of off the radar there, makes it hard. I think he was getting recruited by some good midmajor schools, and then the injury kinda took him off the radar. It worked out for us that then he was available to walk-on. He played on an AAU program with a couple of guys that I recruited before, so I was familiar with him. I’m thankful he’s here. He’s a talented kid. He knows how to play. He’s made an impact in our practices from a scouting standpoint in getting us prepared for these games.”