We've Seen the Best and Will Again
Now six games into the conference season, the landscape and realistic aptitude of the '09 campaign has begun coming into focus and it's time to weigh the good with the bad.
2:25 P.M. THURSDAY, JAN. 29, 2009
The good news: we've seen what Texas and Oklahoma have to offer.
The bad news: we'll see it once more.
The roadblock that is the Horns and Sooners to this program is one that cannot be overlooked. Baylor has managed to defeat every other team in the south division on a relatively regular basis and against the North, Drew has had plenty of success against conference foes not named Kansas.
It's those games against the burnt orange and crimson and cream that continue to leave us fans frustratingly wanting more. You can see it on our player's, students and coach's faces, they know this hurdle must be cleared before we take the next step and become a prominent, nationally known program.
By exposing our size, the Sooners flexed their muscle inside, outplayed BU in transition situations all day and left little doubt as to who was the team to beat in the Big 12.
Texas, while less impressive than OU, played with such composure on the road in a tight game that even the most optimistic Bears fan couldn't help but feel that a couple big shots from the Longhorns were only moments away.
The good news, and there is a silver lining, is that we shot under 40 percent in nearly knocking off the nation's 12th-ranked team Tuesday. As for OU, they'll be hard pressed to rack up 58 first half points again, just as we're unlikely to be pushed around on our home court.
Ah, the beauty of college basketball, while the season is more than two months old, we still have plenty of time to change the oil before we get that car out there for the home stretch.
Hopefully we'll have some momentum behind our wagon when we revisit our neighbors in Austin and Norman.
The clear and present danger facing this team is well, clear and present. The team heads to Mizzou this weekend where they will be greeted by the conference's surprise story (and your's truly who will, undoubtedly, make his presence known) in the Tigers who, up until Wednesday night, looked like a team deserving of the top 25.
Mizzou's move from the famed Hearnes Center to the sparkling new Mizzou Arena has not brought the program immediate success or restored what is a proud tradition of Tiger basketball, but the team's dominant win in Stillwater last week has turned some heads and the season's biggest crowd of the season is expected on Saturday.
Big Monday Never Bigger
Baylor comes home for a game Monday night that, lets just say, is big. Really big. BU welcomes the defending national champion Jayhawks to town. While I could spit out some stats about KU's overachieving frontcourt, I'd rather just remind my readers just how much this game means while reflecting on the 2001 version of this series.
2/12/01. It was a night that I've replayed thousands of times. It was a night to be proud to be a Baylor student. It was a series of digits that later became my computer center password. I digress.
BU hosted sixth-ranked Kansas on the school's Big Monday television debut nearly eight years ago now. Baylor, led by emerging stars Terry Black and Demarcus Minor were only two years removed from a winless conference season. That year, the team had established some confidence early in the season, going undefeated in non-conference play and though we had suffered some foreseeable setbacks against Big 12 heavyweights, everyone on our campus had this date circled on our calendar.
We were given one shot that year to make a name for ourselves and our school with only one game being played on national TV. (In contrast we will play on national TV at least nine times this season). Added to that, our football team was in the second year of the Kevin Steele `experiment' and our women's basketball program had yet to establish themselves as one of the nation's elite. While we were heavy underdogs, it was evident there was a ton of pressure on the school's cagers that night.
Thankfully, we responded. I remember the electricity in the Ferrell Center that night. Heck, the game was so big that we actually RENTED a replay screen for the evening (for those of you that never saw our old scoreboard, be thankful). From the opening tip, we came out with more bounce in our step, more hunger and more excited to be on the nation's biggest stage.
After nearly letting a 25-point halftime lead completely slip away in the second half, Terry Black and Wendell Greenleaf hooked up for a 45 foot alley-oop with three minutes remaining that nearly brought down the gym and cemented the program's biggest win ever. A few minutes later, we finished off an 85-77 thriller, stormed the court and became the lead story on SportsCenter.
Eight year's later it's still hands-down my favorite memory as a Baylor student. Eight years later, it's time to give some current students a similar memory.