If Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton wants to get his message across to his players that they need to put the disappointment of an NCAA Tournament snub behind them and focus on the NIT Tournament, all he has to do is point them to Steph Curry.
In 2009, Boynton was an assistant coach at South Carolina. The Gamecocks went 21-10, finished second in the SEC East with a 10-6 record , but they were left out of the Field of 68.
“It was hard to get over it,” Boynton said Sunday night in Stillwater. “Then in the NIT, we had a kid from Davidson who plays for the Golden State Warriors now coming to our place a couple days later, and I think the disappointment — and also, I think no one except me knew how good he was, because I coached against him the year before (at Wofford) — and (32) points later from him, our season was over.
“So this first game is the hardest game of this tournament. As opposed to the other tournament, it gets harder as you go along. Not that this one gets easier, but just the psychological part of it from this tournament is challenging.”
The Cowboys (19-14) must put aside their discontent with missing the NCAA bracket when Florida Gulf Coast (23-11) comes to Stillwater Tuesday for an 8 p.m. game at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“Any time you go through something that’s really disappointing, especially if you’re motivated by the right things, it can give you an extra edge in terms of the way you work and the way you focus,” Boynton said. “We’re gonna remember this moment and we’re never gonna want it to happen again. And I will continue remind them when I see there’s something that’s not trending in that direction.”
As a 2-seed, OSU thought it was closer to the NCAA Tournament field than it actually was. That part surprised Boynton.
“We weren’t as close to the bubble as most people thought, so part of me thinks maybe if we beat Kansas a third time, we get on the bubble,” Boynton said with a laugh. “And I don’t know if that’s ever been the standard set.”
The NIT has been called, among other things, the Nobody’s Interested Tournament. Boynton wants his players and OSU fans to ignore that.
“Every time we have a chance to play, we have a statement to make because we represent this university and all the people who believe in us,” Boynton said.
“It probably won’t be as good a crowd as we had last Saturday. But I certainly hope that our fans understand that this team works really hard for them.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.