Posted by Eric Angevine
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have one of the smallest backcourts in the nation. Sophomore Ray Penn is a wiry 5'9", but he can put on a serious game face. Keiton Page, a junior, looks like he should be selling band camp candy door-to-door, but he's one of the most important players on the floor for head coach Travis Ford.
"I put a lot of pressure on him,” Ford told NewsOK. “First, because I know he can handle it. And I have huge, high expectations for him."
Don't fret for Page, however. His head coach knows he can take the heat.
"I know sometimes he's looking at me like, ‘Goodness, what else can I do?'” Ford said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's a great player. I know what he means to our team. I'm going to stay on top of him.”
Big, burly players like Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim might be the most obvious danger to any visitor to Gallagher-Iba arena, but ignore the little guys at your peril. Page is the Cowboys' second-leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game, and he's never going to catch splinters - the 5'10", 165-pounder from Pawnee, OK plays 84 percent of his team's minutes. He takes his fair share of three-pointers, as he showed by draining 5-of-11 from deep to beat Stanford last week, but he's not afraid to go inside and get knocked down, either. Being an 87 percent free throw shooter will do that for a guy.
Penn's stats are similar in every respect, except that the wee Texan is apt to go off for six or seven assists a night and maybe rein in the deep shots a bit. Ford also expects a lot out of his point guard. The team's primary ballhandler was forced to gut out a little pain in a physical game against Alabama on December 18th.
"Ray's cramping out there, wanting a break and he was just worn out,” Ford said. “I said, ‘I can't give you a break. Can't do it.'”
Anyone who's played a pickup game can attest that the smallest guys on the court are often the toughest ballers. With a New Year's Eve game against a big Gonzaga team coming up, followed by a deep dive into the nasty Big 12 schedule, Penn and Page intend to prove that the same is true in Division I.