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Oklahoma State Basketball

Steve Lutz Working to Build Roster, But Vows to Be Honest With Returning Players About Fit

April 5, 2024

STILLWATER – On Thursday, Oklahoma State officially introduced its new men’s basketball, Steve Lutz. As with all new head coaching hires, there was a good faction of donors, fans and members of the Board of Regents in attendance. There were also a handful of players sitting in front of the stage when Lutz made his way to the lectern. 

It wasn’t the longest press conference I’ve been a part of, but Lutz said a lot without saying a lot. He explained his style of basketball, which is going to be very physical and hard man-to-man defense, a get the ball inside to the post style of offense with not a lot of frills. A style of basketball Oklahoma State fans are desperately hungry for. 

But in my humble opinion, the most telling thing Lutz said throughout the day came during the question portion at the end. After the media asked a handful of questions and right before the presser ended, graduating guard John-Michael Wright raised his hand and asked a very straight forward question about the players who will decide to stay in Stillwater: Will you be honest with [the guys who want to return] and tell them, 'I don't think this is the place for you to be,' or will you let it slide through and when the season comes they just sit the bench?

I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to hear a coach not only get asked that question, but I never thought I’d hear a coach give as good of an answer as Lutz did,

“Justin [McBride], I'm going to put you on the spot a little bit. Justin and I actually talked this morning. Am I honest? Yeah, I'm almost honest to a fault, guys. If there is ever a fault for being too honest. I'm not knocking on Justin because I love him. He's asking good questions. To answer your question, yes. As I said a minute ago, this is not always a fit for everybody. I have a certain vision for the way we want to play and as a player, you have a vision for the way you want to play. If those visions don't align, then it's never going to work out. I always tell them when you walk in the door, and I told them all, I have no preconceived notions as to what they can and can't do because however the previous coaching staff played, that's different than maybe the way I'm going to play, and we value different things. So, someone could maybe be a reserve on another team, but come to our team and could maybe be a star, but the flip of that could happen as well. They are very honest and open conversations. I obviously value history. What I mean by that is shooting numbers and percentages and assist to turnover ratios and rebounding numbers, because the best predictor of the future, obviously, is the past. So, if you're 6'11" and you average .8 rebounds per game, it's going to be hard for me to think I'm going to get you to average eight next year if you haven't done it. With that being said, we also talked about the development piece earlier and that's what my staff and I are tasked with doing. Helping guys get better. I'm definitely not a used car salesman, so you're going to get a straight-up answer from me one way or another."

I’ve never had to put together a roster, but from everything I’ve seen and learned in my nine years of covering Oklahoma State athletics, it’s not an easy thing to do. I would also have to imagine it’s an easy thing to do to just take players that are already on the roster because that’s one less spot Lutz has to fill.

But to not only talk to each of the players and tell them they might not fit in the new system and style of play, but that they’d be best to move on, but to say that in public on a stage in front of the athletic director, president of the university and in front of cameras and live on YouTube takes some guts. 

It’s evident based on the stat sheet from this past season there were guys who won’t fit this new hard-nosed style of offense and defense Lutz is bringing to Cowboy basketball. That’s just a fact. So, to tell each player, administrator and fanbase the players aren’t going to have a year wasted because it’s easy is a breath of fresh air.

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