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Taking cues from Oklahoma State

There was a little more than a minute left in a tight second-round NCAA women's basketball game between No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 11 Florida State.

During a time out, coach Kurt Burdke reported asked each of his Oklahoma State players to give him everything they had left. Leave everything on the floor.

The Cowgirls did and they held off Florida State for a 73-72 overtime win Monday night.

Back in the ESPN studios, commentator Doris Burke pointed out the importance of that coaching strategy. Burdke didn't put any pressure on his players. There was no pleading to make plays. Just work hard. Work as hard as you can. By focusing on that, the plays would come. And if by chance the plays didn't come it surely wasn't for a lack of effort (which is in your control) just a lack of chance (which is out of your control).

In the three races I've entered to date, my triathlon coach has always given me the same race plan -- sprint the final bit, finish strong. There might be plenty of technical things I can think about at the end of a race but it comes down to just going for it, putting my head down, sucking it up and knowing there are pancakes in my future if I can just gut out this final mile, this final lap or heck, even this final .1 mile.

The emphasis on effort and working hard when you're not blessed with tons of talent has made me a fan of Oklahoma State this season.

So too has the fact that just two years ago they went 0-16 in the Big 12 conference.

Now they're in the Sweet 16.

The change didn't happen overnight and I'm betting it didn't come easily.

But the turnaround took place thanks to work, belief and effort.

It's just the kind of inspirational story to get me through the dregs of March with that warm spring weather somewhere around the corner.

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