By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
STILLWATER (AP) — Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton had plenty to deal with as a new head coach before lead assistant Lamont Evans got caught in a scandal.
Evans was among those charged with corruption and bribery last month. The Department of Justice charged Evans and three assistants at other schools, along with an Adidas executive and five others.
Boynton had his first media availability of the season on Thursday. Instead of talking about how he would try to keep the program moving into the right direction after last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance, he spent most of the time talking about Evans, who has been fired.
“I certainly wish I was here talking about the first season as a head coach and having this opportunity that’s great to represent this university,” Evans said.
The players have offered a bit of a sanctuary for the 35-year-old Boynton as he has dealt with the craziness surrounding the program.
“They’ve probably been my greatest sense of relief in the fact that we did have to start practice so quickly afterward,” he said. “There wasn’t this long time to speculate or focus on all these other things. These guys are excited about starting the season, and so am I.”
Point guard Jawun Evans left for the NBA and guard Phil Forte finally ran out of eligibility, but Jeffrey Carroll is back after averaging 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in a breakout season. Boynton is trying his best to get the remaining Cowboys ready to play in their opener Nov. 10 against Pepperdine.
“We’re operating business as usual, trying to get prepared for a game which is close to a month away,” Boynton said.
Boynton has been forced to make adjustments on his coaching staff. He said assistant Keiton Page has been assigned some of Evans’ duties.
“It’s a challenge, like a lot of other challenges, just in a different form,” he said. “Obviously, he’s someone who had the respect of our players, someone who had worked at this university before. So anytime you’re down staff, it makes everybody else have to take on more responsibility.”
Oklahoma State spokesman Gary Shutt said Thursday that the school has hired a compliance group to assist with an internal review. Boynton said dealing with outside noise is something he taught about long before the Lamont Evans issue came up.
“One of our jobs is to try to eliminate the effect that those distractions have on our team,” Boynton said. “I told our team this is a distraction, one that may linger on longer than we’d like, but one that we’ll certainly be able to look past, and our guys have been tremendous the first few days of practice.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25 .
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