(Cushing, Okla.)  Cushing Lions and many members of the community welcomed OSU Basketball Coach Travis Ford to the Lions Den on Tuesday.  Ford was invited to speak to the Lions Club by Lion Terry Brannon and was introduced by Lion John Fechner.

Coach Ford, known for his outgoing and “infectious” personality, has led the Cowboys to participate in 4 out of 6 NCAA championships in the 6 years he has been at OSU and is looking forward to doing so again this year.

“I really, really like our basketball team,” he told the noon crowd. “We’ve regrouped over the summer and recruiting is going really well.”

Ford described his team as the “toughest and grittiest” group he’s seen. “They’re a scrappy bunch of guys,” he said. “They fit my personality.”

He said the Cowboys will face a “very tough schedule” – definitely not the “cupcake” version he first thought of doing.

“Scheduling is a process,” he explained. “It’s like putting together a puzzle – all the pieces have to fit.”

Some of this year’s opponents noted by Ford – Middle Tennessee, Maryland and Kansas State at home and Memphis, Auburn and Kansas away.

Ford is counting on four key players to lead the team to victory this year: team captains Michael Cobbins and Phil Forte, LeBryan Nash and Anthony Hickey.

“If all four play at the level I expect, people will be surprised,” he continued. “If they do what they need to do -the rest [of the team] will fall into place.” Ford considers Cobbins, Forte, Nash and Hickey “the most experienced” and “all have played in ‘big’ games.”

Ford’s love of the game is obvious, but he takes his role as mentor quite seriously – with an emphasis on the “3 Ds” – Defense, Discipline and Dedication.

“I spend more time counseling, meeting with them individually, finding out what’s going on at home, in the classroom – than coaching them in the gym,” he said. “It’s up to me to teach, have them understand expectations and prepare them to leave Oklahoma State.”

“It’s my number one priority,” he said passionately, “that, seeing they get a great education – and along the way – win some games.”

Saturday, November 8th, OSU Cowboy Basketball will take on Missouri Western in Stillwater at 2 p.m. Click here to see complete schedule: OSU Cowboy Basketball

Cushing Lions Club meets each Tuesday at noon in the Lions Den at 124 W. Broadway.