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March 19, 2015

Michael Cobbins

Travis Ford

Phil Forte

Anthony Hickey

Le'Bryan Nash


THE MODERATOR: The Oklahoma State Cowboys are with us, No. 9 seed in the West. They are out of the Big 12 conference, they will play Oregon on Friday. Phil Forte, Anthony Hickey, Le'Bryan Nash and Michael Cobbins represent the student body. Questions for our student-athletes?

Q. Le'Bryan, can you talk about two years ago your recollection of that game against Oregon and getting another shot at them your senior year?
LE'BRYAN NASH: It's going to be a good test. It will be a good game like it was two years ago; and two different teams. They was a low seed, the 12th seed, and we was a 5th seed, so I guess the tables are turned. And it's anybody's game, 8 and 9 seed, they think we're equal, so it's anybody's game.

Q. Le'Bryan, would you have thought when you came to Oklahoma State that you would be here your senior year? Was it ever a thought that you would be here this long?
LE'BRYAN NASH: To be honest with you, no, I was caught up in the hype that everybody had for me, one-year, two-year-and-done type of guy. I'm here for my senior year; I'm glad, I'm blessed I get to graduate and I still have opportunities to get better every day.

Q. Michael, can you describe the feeling of getting off the bus today after missing this tournament last year because of injury?
MICHAEL COBBINS: It was a little bit overwhelming. Really emotional, but just a humbling feeling as well, and a sense of excitement just to be back out here and back out here with all these guys.

Q. Kind of some similar match-ups with you guys' size, maybe you and Joe Young as the sharp shooter and Le'Bryan and Elgin Cook kind of similar. Do you see some similar traits in the rosters?
PHIL FORTE: I think we both like to play an up-tempo style of basketball, and I think when you look on paper, the height thing is kind of similar when you go through our positions. But I think L.B. kind of said it will be a good game, and we're excited for it and we are happy to have an opportunity to extend our season at least one more game.

Q. Phil, Baylor and Iowa State were upset today, and Texas lost as well. That's going to lead to a lot of talk about the Big 12 being overrated. How good is the Big 12 in your mind?
PHIL FORTE: In my opinion I think it's the toughest league in America. We did go 0-3, but that's out of our control. We can't go out there and play for those games for other teams, so hopefully all we can do is worry about our game tomorrow evening. And we will just take it one game at a time and that's all we can really control; that's all that's in our hands.

Q. Le'Bryan, you talked about this the other day and just alluded to it a second ago, sort of the hype that surrounded you when you first arrived at Oklahoma State. When you announced, obviously you had the big foam hat. I have a two-part question. Can you talk about how that came to be, that that was the way you announced and where is the foam hat now? Where does it live now?
LE'BRYAN NASH: Well, you know, I just wanted to make a memory of my mom and me. I'm blessed to get to college. I just wanted -- I'm just an outgoing guy. I just love making people smile and people laugh, so the foam hat was one of my friends's ideas, so I put it on. I don't know where it's at right now. Probably still with my mom. She collect everything, so I don't know where it's at. Hopefully it's with her. I always think about it every time I see it.

Q. Le'Bryan, you spend any time this week kind of looking back, coming to the end, whether it's this game or the next few down the road. Do you kind of look back at all on your career or kind of feel a sense of urgency to keep it going as long as you can?
LE'BRYAN NASH: No. I'll think about that whenever the game is over, whatever the results it. I'm worried about focusing on Oregon right now and helping my teammates get focused on Oregon, and that's all we are worried about right now. After all that is said and done, then I'll think about that.

Q. Michael, how about your thoughts on the match-up? Neither team has kind of a real big guy, and you see some similarities in terms of the way the lineup is set up and the match-up is tomorrow?
MICHAEL COBBINS: It will definitely be a pretty good match-up with us. They match up with us pretty well. Just looking over the film and just seeing everything that they like to do, they like to crash the boards and get out in transition. I think it will be a very good game tomorrow.

ANTHONY HICKEY: Yeah, I agree with Michael Cobbins. Basically it's going to come down to who makes the most plays and who is going to stop it on the defensive end.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for your time and good luck tomorrow. As advertised, the head coach of the Cowboys is here, Travis Ford. We will ask him for a statement and go to questions after that.

COACH FORD: We're excited to be here. I tell you, Omaha has done a great job. Everybody has just treated us unbelievable, from everyone at the hotel to everyone associated with NCAA. It's been good so far. So we're excited to be here, especially, you know, we're sitting here four or five months ago, and nobody gave us much of a chance to be an at-large team. Everybody kind of wrote us off before the season started, so to be sitting here with a No. 9 seed, we're excited about that. We've won a lot of big games to be a part of this NCAA Tournament. Our team has been a bit of overachievers at times in the fact that we have been a scrappy group of guys. We haven't played or probably succeeded as well as we'd like here lately, but this is a brand-new opportunity for our basketball team to go out and play. I know they're all excited about being part of the Tournament. That was one of their goals before the year started to make it here. We're playing against a really, really good, very good Oregon basketball team that's playing great basketball, and we've got a lot of respect for them and their program and what Dana Altman is doing.

Q. Travis, Oregon's talked a little bit about there's kind of similar match-ups, maybe Le'Bryan and Elgin Cook, and kind of Phil Forte and Joe Young are both some shooters. Do you see similarities between the teams?
COACH FORD: There are some similarities. I think we probably both probably looked at it, after you got to know each other. You hear your name called against a specific team, and then all of a sudden you run to the computers and figure out how do you match up with this team and this and that, and they probably looked at us and said they match up pretty well as far as size-wise, as we did. I think you look at Nash and Cook, both guys are very versatile players at that 4 position, can play inside/outside. Joe Young is one of the most prolific scorers in the country, can score in so many ways. I've watched so many games of theirs. I think I've watched their last seven, eight, nine games, and I don't think he's missed a shot yet. I can't remember him missing a shot. I mean he's made every shot seems like I have watched, from every angle, from every spot on the court. He is a talented individual, very talented.

Q. Travis, I know you guys are focused on your game obviously, but I also know that the coaches in the Big 12 have a lot of pride in the league, and you guys are 0-3 today. I'm just wondering if you can comment on the start of the league and the disappointment I'm sure that you guys are feeling right now.
COACH FORD: Yeah, obviously it's been a rough day for the Big 12. You know, I fielded a lot of questions the last two to three days about the Big 12 has been the best league in America all year long. All the numbers say it, you can go through it all, and the popular question was, well, what if you don't do so good? And I said, that doesn't matter. I'm not going to base anything on one day or three weeks on what we have done in the last four months. What we do in the Big 12 nobody else in the BCS leagues do. We play everybody twice. From 1 through 10 we're very balanced, very strong. We've proven ourselves for the last four months. Is today disappointing? Sure, no question about it. But as I've said, NCAA Tournament, you know, we've been here five out of the last seven years, which is great. Now, we haven't done the greatest since we've been here, but we have been here. But it's all different years. One year doesn't correlate to the other years. Just because -- and once you get here, it's about, as you've seen the last two to three days, anything can happen! I mean it's about match-ups, it's about who is getting hot, who is not, who has more injuries at a certain time. There are all those kinds of things that go into play when you're talking about one game, one basketball game. That's what all these are. Every one of these are one game, every one of them. That's what makes this time of year so special, the greatest time of year. So as disappointed and, yeah, it's been a rough day. It can happen. It doesn't -- I don't think it reflects -- I don't. I'm sure a lot of people -- I don't think it reflects bad on the Big 12, oh, the Big 12 is a bad league -- no, that doesn't have anything to do with it. Big 12 had a bad day, yes, but just because you lost a game today doesn't mean it's a bad league, no different than if you lost a game two weeks ago or in nonconference play. I've never understood that. We're still proven ourselves for the last four months.

Q. Travis, you mentioned people writing this team off before the season and you guys at times overachieving. What's been the single biggest reason you have been able to overachieve like that?
COACH FORD: Well, I think for that reason -- I think the team played with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder at times, something to prove. There hasn't been a lot of egos on this basketball team. They've been a very unselfish team, but just the scrappiness of wanting to prove themselves, and thank goodness, we went through a stretch where we really proved ourselves. That's why we're here today and played against some great basketball teams and won some big basketball games! So from that aspect, I think they had a mentality of just wanting to prove people wrong to an extent, because there was a lot of negativity about this team, because of what we lost and different things like that. I think that motivated them to an extent.

Q. It was written before the Big 12 that Michael Cobbins was maybe playing the best basketball of his career down the stretch, down the last five games or so. What has made him play so well in that time span?
COACH FORD: Well, Michael has a great understanding of the game. He's a fifth-year senior for us; he's been around our system, he understands what we want. He's one of our leaders on our basketball team. His understanding of the game allows him to be in the right place at the right time a lot, as far as blocking shots and rebounding, things like that. He understands how to get open. He just understands our system, and he understands the game, and it puts him in the right place at the right time a lot to have some success. You know, he's an important part of our team, somebody who we rely on to protect the basket, somebody we rely on to get rebounds. He gives us great flow within our offense. Doesn't get as many touches as he probably should get at times, but he understands how to keep the ball moving within our offense, things like that.

Q. How do you describe Le'Bryan's development, evolution from when he came here to now, four years later when he leaves?
COACH FORD: Well, evolution is a good word for it, and that's what he's done. I don't know if I've coached it. This is my 18th year as a college head coach, and I don't know if I've coached a player who I have put in as many different roles as I have put Le'Bryan Nash from the day he came to Oklahoma State. What I mean by that is the first year we kind of -- as a freshman kind of threw him out there and told him, you need to go score all the points, you need to go get all the rebounds, you need to go do all this and wasn't surrounded by the greatest team, and it put a lot of pressure on him, and it made everybody else say, what's wrong with Le'Bryan Nash? Everybody, oh, I thought he was supposed to be this and that. Well, we -- he was Freshman of the Year in the Big 12. He did do a lot for us, but we -- we put him in a bad spot a lot of times because we made him -- wanted him to do everything. Then the next year, where he goes his first year to getting all these touches, the second year we kind of put him as a role player. Last year he kind of played in the shadows of Marcus Martin and Markel Brown, but he still led the Big 12 in field goal percentage and had very, very good stats. Now he comes back this year and we're asking him to kind of be the man again and do different things. So he's evolved in a lot of different areas and played a lot of different type roles for our basketball team. But he's evolved in understanding his game, I think, more than anything, what his strengths and weaknesses are. He's been playing more to his strengths than ever before right now.

Q. Le'Bryan, again, a lot of players of his similar ability will leave after a year or two, not get a degree; basketball doesn't work out, and they spend the rest of their lives regretting it. What factors led to Le'Bryan making a decision, a patient decision, a mature decision?
COACH FORD: Yeah. I think that gets lost a lot, first and foremost, because he could have left and would have been drafted. It's not like he had to stay. He would have been drafted somewhere, a couple of different years. After his freshman year, all the talk of one-and-done and everything was attached to his name a lot, not by him necessarily; never by me, or anything like that. But it was attached to him. After his freshman year, we had a rough, rough year as a team, and he went through his really ups and downs as a freshman, and I just kind of talked about why. So he needed to stay for that sophomore year. And then he comes back for his sophomore year, and we have a heck of a year, and we have other guys that could have left, and they all said they were going to stay. And one thing led to another after his sophomore year and things like that, and then it becomes his junior year. And he could have left; he would have been drafted somewhere, I don't know where, but he would have been drafted somewhere. But he and I talked about it. I never try to sway my players one way or the other whether to leave. I give them my thoughts, my opinions and give them the facts that I have learned from personnel in the NBA and give them those facts and my opinions. There wasn't much of a conversation because he wanted to stay. He wanted this kind of to be his team to an extent. He wanted that feeling, and he thought there was some things he wanted to continue to work on. But he could have left. He could have done that. But he decided to stay and he's on track to graduate and do some good things. So yeah, I think he's made some mature decisions in that manner, and I think he's put himself in a better position to try to go play basketball for a living, because he has stayed for four years, and I think it will benefit him for what you said, which is an incredible point. I think it's going to benefit him more rather than leave early and play for a couple of years and then all of a sudden you don't have anything, I think maybe this will prolong his career, make him money for basketball.

Q. Travis, you guys obviously played a couple of years ago in the NCAA Tournament, and I know the personnel-wise these teams are not the same at all, but is there anything you can take from that, whether it's Dana's coaching style or whatever?
COACH FORD: Yeah, I think both teams do a few things very similar, but like you said, teams are different. But there is familiarity. I said when it popped up there, Oregon, you immediately know Oregon and you know kind of their tradition; and I'm sure they said the same thing, Oklahoma State again! Especially from a coaching standpoint. So you kind of understand -- just familiar with the name more than anything and kind of the, I don't know the best way, the aura around that a little bit. Totally different teams, though, totally different teams, totally different.

THE MODERATOR: Travis, thank you very much and best of luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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