Location: Waco, Texas
Conference: Big 12
Coach: Scott Drew (7th season)
Record Last Season: 21-11 (9-7 T-4), NCAA Tournament #11 Seed
The Baylor Bears put together an impressive 2007-08 season beyond expectations. Picked to finish 9th in the Big 12 Conference, Baylor won 21 games and finished 4th in the conference. That lead the team to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years, and gave coach Scott Drew Big 12 Coach of the year honors.
It’s clear that this season now starts in the opposite direction — Full of expectations. Baylor only lost one player from last season, and is returning their top 5 scorers. So they are pretty much returning same team that ranked 12th in scoring (81.3 ppg) and 15th in adjusted efficiency (117.6 ORtg) last season.
“I think the big thing is goals changed after went to the NCAA Tournament. Once we left there, the players realized that we had a great year. But now our goal isn’t to make the NCAA Tournament, but it’s to have an opportunity to get back there and win some games. So I think our seniors, their sights are a little higher this year.”, said coach Drew.
Consider this Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll, and the teams they are expected to battle with.
2008-09 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Team – (First Place Votes) – Points
1. Oklahoma (3) 109
2. Texas (4) 107
3. BAYLOR (2) 103
3. Kansas (3) 103
“Baylor’s going to be scary good; they have as good of a shot as anyone of winning the Big 12,” Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said. Impressive, considering that the National Champion (Kansas) came out of the conference last year.
This team is actually quite similar to the this year’s Friar team, in that they play fast tempo games and rely on the three ball. Defense is also not their forte (last year their adjusted defense efficiency was 97.8, which was 105th in the nation).
Baylor has won their first four games of the season. Their first three games were absolute blowouts, as they averaged 94 points a game and only allowed 49. In their last game before the match-up against Providence, Baylor had some trouble putting away Jacksonville but won 76-68. Like the Friars, Baylor is putting up 20+ 3-point attempts per game, but the percentage made is hovering closer to 40%. Baylor haven’t been as careful with the ball as they were last year, but that won’t matter considering how effective they have been shooting this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Curtis Jerrells, Senior Guard
Curtis Jerrells is one of the many Baylor guards who is capable of putting up 20+ points in a game. He has led the Baylor team in scoring in his first three seasons, and made the first team All-Big 12 team as a junior last year while averaging 15.3 points and 3.8 assists per game.
Jerrells seems to shin on the big stage, scoring at least 19 points in every post season game of his career (4 Big 12 tournament games, and 1 NCAA tournament game). He had 27 points and 8 assists in Baylor’s first round NCAA tournament loss to Purdue last year.
So far this season he is among the top scorers on the team, shooting 57% from the field, and 44% from downtown.