Denton, TX — Ozark Conference teams took first, second, fourth and twelfth place at Big D in Little D this past weekend. While the teams did not face the stiffest opposition, the in-conference competition looks to be quite even. This parity should make for interesting games when the conference tournament rolls around.
1. Oklahoma State – Ultimato did exactly what they needed to do to move into the championship bracket. Except for a lousy first game against Arkansas, Oklahoma State took care of business in pool play, beat their other two opponents, and broke seed. Max Barowski is an extremely talented player who, quite possibly, made the most athletic play of the weekend. A healthy Barowski is key to Oklahoma State’s success. Ultimato also relies heavily on Corey Norton, who is a good handler, but tries to do too much with a limited receiver corps. If Oklahoma State can play within their means they could be a much better team, but they are still going to have to fight tooth and nail to keep up with some of the other teams in this conference.
2. Oklahoma – The Apes of Wrath looked and played like this was the first tournament of their spring season. They came out of the gates slow against tough competition and had issues responding to adverse conditions. Despite the rough edges, they have flashes of brilliance. Mike Rice and Matt Carney stand out, along with Nick Neal who throws his body into the air without regard for his own safety. If they can work out some of the communications issues with their younger players, Oklahoma will be a tough team come end of season.
3. Arkansas – The newly retooled Ludicrous Speed is fun to watch. These guys layout all over the field and get quite a few d’s as a result. Matt Jackson is just as exciting to watch as he has ever been, and Eric Kearney comes up with timely layout d’s. But the best addition to this team is the bevy of talented freshmen who have high-level high school and club experience. Joe Bell is good at getting into the secondary and times his jumps well. Abe Coffin makes some pretty spectacular throws and plays tight defense too. If he could limit his turnovers — Coffin had two dozen in the Oklahoma game — he could be a great player.
4. Kansas State – Last year, Kansas State had a rough time qualifying for Regionals. The Huckstables won their pool on Saturday, but dropped all four Sunday games. This year the Huckstables have gone toe-to-toe with Florida, won the T-Town Throwdown Chumpionship, and took first at Big D in Little D. Before the season started it seemed like there were two, maybe three teams that had a legitimate shot to win the Ozark Conference. Kansas State can be added to that number now.