Niagara Gazette

Z_CNHI News Service

February 11, 2014

Will Marcus Smart's hoop dreams rebound from confrontation with fan?

This isn’t the year that Oklahoma State University or its star sophomore guard, Marcus Smart, expected. This was supposed to be a season where the Cowboys would compete in a tough league for a Big 12 Conference championship, then make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Who would predict otherwise when a team was built around one of the nation’s premiere players? Smart was the guy who turned his back on a certain pro contract for one more season of college stardom and success.

That’s what fans expected. That’s what Smart expected. Now, that’s not likely to happen.

By now most fans - and non-fans, too - have seen the ugly confrontation last weekend in Lubbock where Smart shoved an obnoxious Texas Tech booster who'd made a derogatory court-side comment.

Players never intentionally go after a fan - unless their goal is to embarrass their teammates and their school. That’s forbidden.

Had this been Smart’s first outburst, one might wonder if it was a momentary lapse of judgment. But it wasn’t. There was the game at West Virginia in late January where Smart had a chair-kicking tantrum against the Mountaineers.  There have been other examples of boorish behavior this season, as well.

None of these other incidents seemed to draw the ire or anger of Smart's coaches. As of Saturday, he had started in all of Oklahoma State's 23 games, averaging 31.6 minutes per contest. Punishment? What punishment?

It begs the question: Where were his coaches when he needed them most?

In Lubbock, it was Smart's teammates who ushered him away from the ugly situation against Texas Tech.

Has Smart been allowed to become another coddled athlete too valuable to discipline? Was he a star performer who thought the rules applied only to someone else? It would seem the answer to both questions is yes.

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