Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Z_CNHI News Service

February 11, 2014

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

(Continued)

Smart was a unanimous pre-season all-American, though Oklahoma State had a 16-7 record to show for it going into Tuesday night's game against Texas. It’s clear the Cowboys have underachieved this season. To say the same of Smart isn’t a stretch, either.

Now, with Smart serving a three-game suspension imposed by Oklahoma State and The Big 12, the Cowboys’ post-season hopes appear dashed. Even before the shoving incident, analysts were suggesting OSU’s demise and questioning Smart’s less-than-sterling production.

Overall, Smart has hit a modest 42.2 percent of his field goal attempts and a weak 28.1 percent of his three-point tries. He has been averaging 17.5 points a game.

Perhaps even more biting has been Oklahoma State’s recent slump. Headed into Tuesday, it had lost four games in a row and five of six. A team among the nation’s Top 10 a little more than a week ago has dropped out of the Top 25.

Smart must be wondering if he made a mistake by not turning pro after last season’s 24-9 run. This was supposed to be the year where he polished his game in a super-strong sophomore year. Travis Ford, coach at Oklahoma State, has said as much.

The pressure of living up to all-star billing hasn’t been easy. Being the target of relentless defensive pressure – as well as hostile and unruly fans – never is.

Smart’s sanction is far worse than a three-game suspension. As Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder said, the reputation a person has spent a lifetime building “can be gone in a blink of an eye.”

Blink.

Smart apologized for his actions, sounding sincere. Is there enough time left to show that he can yet be trusted to do the right things?

In a world that accepts trash talk - where it's commonplace to call a player “a piece of crap," as Smart was, and where athletes' performances are assailed on social media - outrageous actions will replace athletic ones.

Marcus Smart needs to clean up his act. The same goes for loud-mouthed fans.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

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