The Win We Needed, Now Our Waterloo
Baylor's convincing win at Kansas State Wednesday night was exactly what the doctor ordered. Following an underwhelming performance at A&M and a hair-raising overtime win at home against OSU, the Bears showed up in Manhattan and showed a national TV audience why this team could still make a run at the conference championship.
2:25 P.M. THURSDAY, JAN. 22, 2009
For BU fans, we caught a glimpse of the team that has vastly improved defensively over last season, we saw a team that wasted no time in silencing a near capacity crowd and stood witness to one of our school's greatest shooting performances from behind the arc.
And did I mention we did so on national TV (ESPN2)? That can't be understated.
LaceDarius Dunn, our new age Vinnie Johnson, is becoming one of the more prolific scorers in the conference. Coming off the bench and draining NINE treys on his way to a season-high 33 points produced that rare yet clearly audible "noooo!" from K-State fans each time Dunn got the ball behind the arc.
Make no mistake, Dunn is our secret (perhaps no longer) weapon. Dunn's 3-point accuracy coupled with dominant point guard play from CJ and strong interior performances from Kevin Rogers and Quincy Acy will give this team a fighting chance in every game the rest of the way this year.
The win in Manhattan came just in time as the Bears prepare to embark on the most demanding part of their schedule, particularly their next two games.
Up next is a trip to Norman where the Bears will, for the first time this year, be considered significant underdogs. The Sooners, a team with tremendous presence down low with All-America Blake Griffin, could give the Bears fits. Then again, if Acy and Rogers can control the boards and Dunn or Jerrells shoot ANYTHING like they did in Manhattan, we should be fine.
Sure, there's still plenty to be determined this season with conference play only ¼ complete, but a win on the road Saturday would definitely cement this team's place in the conference as the Bears could leave town in uncommon territory, first place in the Big 12.
That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
However, the gauntlet of games staring down the Bears these next couple of games is clearly ominous. Following their tilt against the Sooners, BU hosts Texas in what should be the most charged crowd the Ferrell Center hosts all season. Despite the program's revival under Scott Drew, the team has been unable to upend the Longhorns, an elusive win that, quite frankly, the team needs for recruiting, morale and... well, bragging rights.
After facing off against arguably the two biggest opponents in the conference's South `division,' BU gets a shot against the North's two most talented teams with a trip up here to Columbia against Mizzou and then the program's long-awaited return to ESPN's Big Monday as we host Kansas.
If you divide the conference season into four four-game blocks, it's time to pause and feel good about the Bears start to conference play. A 3-1 mark is nothing to scoff at. The next two weeks will either showcase or expose this team's true potential. To put it simply, it's gut-check time.
Here's an ambitious prediction, we haven't seen the last of Microwave 2.0.