Marcus Smart’s meltdown has dominated the college basketball news cycle since late Saturday night.

 

 

Jim Boeheim weighed in, as did a bunch of current Cuse players.

Boeheim’s characterization of the incident as "a fluke" is absolutely spot on, and comparisons to the “Malace at the Palace” are utterly absurd.

 

It was a momentary lapse in judgment by a guy who should have left for the NBA and been a top 5 pick last year, but instead has suffered through a disappointing sophomore season at Oklahoma State.

Anyone trying to make this into a societal commentary, referendum on the state of collegiate athletics, or any other high and mighty assessment of so-called bigger issues at stake is a clown.

The real intrigue concerns the on court response Smart makes after returning from his 3 game suspension (which begins tonight), and by extension the ultimate outcome of Oklahoma State’s season.

When whole, this was a team with the talent to make a Final Four run. But a season-ending injury suffered by starting center Michael Cobbins, the dismissal of backup guard Stevie Clark, and a couple of blowups by their supposed leader and best player have turned a title contender into a bubble team in less than two months.

The wheels have been coming off for weeks, but now that they’re fully off, Smart has a decision to make. He’s a natural leader who will take the Cowboys in whatever direction he goes, so his fate and the team’s fate are essentially one and the same. Smart can continue to pout and play out the string on a miserable season before jumping to the NBA as potentially damaged goods. Or he can refocus on being a dominant physical force and an even more impactful teammate, raising his own draft stock and achieving the kind of team success this talented roster deserves.

Even without Cobbins and Clark, OK State has the pieces to make some noise in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. But the rest of the pieces make no sense if they’re being led by the petulant, irritated version of Marcus Smart we’ve seen recently as opposed to the surefire lottery pick and future NBA superstar he should be.