Oklahoma State returns the core of a 24-win team (Getty Images)
In the "Advance Look" series, Yahoo Sports will ask coaches who have faced some of the nation's top teams in preseason exhibition games to share their post-game thoughts and a scouting report. Up next: Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver on Oklahoma State.
Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver knew his team was in trouble when he watched film of Oklahoma State's first exhibition game,
A sloppy, unfocused Cowboys team eked out an unsatisfying win over Cambellsville (Ky.)., which Vandiver figured would inspire a better effort from Oklahoma State when Emporia State came to Stillwater on Friday night.
"That's how it works in exhibition games," Vandiver said. "If you're the second team and the first team got blown out, you know there might be a letdown and you've got a chance to hang with them. But if you're the second team and they played bad the first game, all bets are off the second game."
Unfortunately for Vandiver, his law of exhibition basketball proved true. A motivated Oklahoma State team rolled to an 87-51 rout behind 14 points from Markel Brown and 11 apiece from fellow guards Marcus Smart, Phil Forte and Stevie Clark.
Below are Vandiver's thoughts on Oklahoma State. The former Colorado star weighed in on what impresses him most about Smart, why Clark's emergence as an impact player off the bench at point guard could be crucial and whether Oklahoma State can end Kansas' nine-year run as Big 12 champions.
Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver:
1. They're a strong, physical team. They're relentless. Marcus Smart is a leader. Markel Brown feeds off him, as does Phil Forte. Brian Williams is a glue guy who beats you to every 50-50 ball. LeBryan Nash is a pro when he's locked in and focused. They all know their roles and they play extremely hard. What Coach Ford is doing is really impressive. He's got about 10 guys that he can interchange and play at a high level.
2. Marcus is strong and aggressive, he gets to the rim and he's improving on his shot, but the biggest thing I like about Marcus is his leadership quality. Anytime there was a dead ball or a free throw situation, he'd hold his guys up, rally the troops. Anytime we'd try to do anything to counter them, he'd be the most vocal guy out there. There's a reason why David Stern or whoever the new commissioner is, Adam Silver, will be waiting with a crispy lid and a jersey for him on draft night.
3. The biggest thing I can say about that team is they know who their leader is and guys follow. I've been part of teams or seen teams that have great talent, but guys didn't want to defer or follow the leader. Everyone wanted to be the chef in the kitchen. They know who the leader is and with how hard those guards play and how active those bigs are around the rim, they deserve that No. 8 preseason ranking, if not higher.
4. Stevie is crucial because he allows Marcus to play off the ball sometimes. Stevie is crucial because he creates for Forte. Stevie is crucial because he has a knack for getting to the rim and shooting that floater or lobbing it to [Michael] Cobbins or some of the other bigs. He has to come in and play like a sophomore or junior right off the bat.
5. LeBryan Nash has all the potential in the world, but he can be a first-round NBA draft choice or a guy who's brushing up his foreign language skills with his dictionary. It's all on him. How bad does he want it? When he realizes that he's too big or too strong when he posts up or that he can get to the rim when he takes a couple hard dribbles to the rim, he's unstoppable. He didn't shoot the ball well against us, but to his credit he did all the little things to help them win. He was where he was supposed to be on defense, he posted up hard and he got 50-50 balls. He imposed his will. His stat line wasn't overwhelming, but he did all the little things right.
6. I'd try to cut off the driving lanes and have them beat me from the outside, but I don't think you can just play zone. You've got to play some zone, you've got to play some man, you've got to handle the ball screens different ways and throw different looks at them. You've got to keep them off balance. If you play nothing but zone, they're going to figure it out sooner or later and carve you up. But when they were rolling like against us, there's not much that can stop them.
7. I don't know if they'll dethrone Kansas, but anything's possible. They were the one team last year that went into Phog Allen and won. Those games in Lawrence and Stillwater will be epic. I don't know who to bet on, but I know this: Depending on where they're seeded and what region they're in, they both have a great chance to get to a Final Four.
More from the Advance Look Series:
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- Sports & Recreation
- Shaun Vandiver
- Emporia State