STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton has handled the constant change around him by being steady and consistent.
Last season, the Cowboys were picked to finish last in the 10-team Big 12 after coach Brad Underwood left for Illinois. And before Boynton coached his first game, the school fired assistant Lamont Evans, who was named in a federal bribery investigation.
Through it all, the Cowboys went 21-15 and reached the NIT quarterfinals. The Cowboys beat six ranked teams, including Oklahoma and Kansas twice. Boynton was rewarded with a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season.
This season, Boynton has a different set of challenges. The 36-year-old rising star has nine newcomers and only three returnees who played significant minutes. One of those newcomers, Michael Weathers, has been charged with grand larceny, and the school has suspended him indefinitely as he awaits a court date.
Boynton is unaffected by it all because he sees his job as an opportunity to mold young men more than anything else. He said while every season is new and the faces change, his purpose doesn’t change.
“It’s only different in terms of it being a different group of guys,” he said. “For me, the job remains the same. I’ve tried to approach it exactly as I did last year in terms of, my job is to come out here every day and be a teacher. To try to educate these kids the same way they’re educated in their English classes or their algebra classes or whatever it is, but as it relates to basketball.”
Thomas Dziagwa, a junior guard and a team captain, said Boynton has been consistent with his message, and it has affected the players on and off the court.
“Toughness and hard working,” he said. “Those are core values on the court, and then off the court, respect, accountability. Not only will they transition for this year, but they’ll transition for the rest of my life. That’s kind of the type of coach that he is. He’s teaching us how to play basketball, no doubt, but he also is teaching us how to be great young men in society.”
Forward Cameron McGriff said Boynton has shown what he expects since day one, and it has rubbed off on the players.
“Just bringing the same mindset every day - being ready to work,” McGriff said. “Don’t take a day off.”
Boynton expects the most out of the staff, too. He expects his coaches to stay out of trouble, but he won’t be looking over their shoulders, even after what happened with Evans last year.
“I feel very confident in the people that we have here trying to help do what our mission is, which is to impact these kids’ lives,” he said. “No, I don’t micromanage people. I believe in the people we have and the character of the people in our organization.”
Boynton values his role as a teacher, yet he knows the perception of the program is tied to winning.
“The outside expectations of what’s going on will only be seen based on the games we play, and I get that, and that’s ultimately how we’ll be judged.”
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.