The Best of the Best: Top 10 MBB Moments of the Decade
3:05 P.M. WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30, 2009
Happy New Year, fellas.
It's here and I like It!
Forgive me for allowing the lyrical brilliance of Will Smith to sum up my emotions as we near the end of the first decade of this millennium. A lot has changed since this song had (arguably) any credibility or visibility. Together we survived the Y2K scare, our first full decade in the Big 12 and many more obstacles as BU fans. So today, as our current cagers get set for a huge ramp-up week in preparation for conference play, CIL returns in time to reflect on the decade's most memorable moments that happened on the hardwood.
#10 Drew sweeps the Aggies - The 2003 season was played under an ominous cloud as the events from the forthcoming punishment from the school and the NCAA lingered. Regardless, Drew's understaffed crew somehow pulled together four conference wins. The team's 67-61 overtime win at College Station snapped a three-game losing streak at Reed Arena and gave the program hope as the rebuilding project began.
#9 Big Saturday - The 2002 season was remembered for the trio of freshmen Kenny Taylor, Lawrence Roberts and John Lucas III leading the team. Baylor hosted Mizzou on a nationally televised Saturday night classic that ended with MU blue-chipper Kareem Rush misfiring on a 16-footer that sent Baylor fans into delirium as they again rushed the Ferrell Center floor.
#8 The Scott Drew era begins - I still remember getting the phone call in August of 2003 from my old boss that we had found our new coach. For a program in complete disarray following the tragic events that summer, I was simply overjoyed that we had landed a coach of Drew's caliber. The conversation quickly changed from "are we going to have a basketball program next year" to "when will Drew lead this team to the big dance?"
#7 The Bears shock Iowa State - In the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championship in 2001, the eighth-seeded Bears locked horns with top-seeded and eighth-ranked Iowa State. The tandem of Demarcus Minor and Terry Black were too much, scoring a combined 35 points. The win helped secure the Bears a bid in the NIT and was their second against a top 10 team that season.
#6 BU sweeps Tech, finishes 9-7 in Big 12 - The 2008 regular season concluded with the Bears winning a school-record ninth conference game as BU polished off Texas Tech, secured the program's 21st win of the season and got ready for the program's biggest moment on selection Sunday.
#5 BU beats down San Diego State at MSG - The Bears final win of the 2008-09 season came at the world's most famous arena as Baylor manhandled the Aztecs 76-62 at Madison Square Garden in a nationally televised tilt. The victory was the team's seventh postseason win. A school record that is likely to last for years to come.
#4 The Classic in College Station - The signature win of Drew's (thus far) signature season was undoubtedly the Bears five-overtime thriller at A&M. BU entered the game ranked for the first time in nearly a quarter century and became an overnight sensation in knocking off the arch-rival Aggies in the conference's longest-played game ever. Drew's post-game thoughts were captured live on that night's SportsCenter.
#3 The Week that was (March 2009) - For the senior-laden Bears of 2008-09, this was the way they wanted to be remembered. Following a disappointing regular season, BU became a post-season buzzsaw in arguably the program's most memorable week. The Bears kicked off the conference tournament that year by avenging a loss to Nebraska, shocking the top-seeded Jayhawks and beating Texas for the first time in 11 years. A few days later, the seniors got a proper Ferrell Center send off as BU knocked off Georgetown in an NIT opening-round thriller.
#2 Big Monday 2001 - Those that were there still remember the date vividly. February 12, 2001 was unquestionably the biggest win of the Dave Bliss era. On ESPN's Big Monday, the Bears withstood a furious second-half comeback from the fifth-ranked Jayhawks and won 85-77. Terry Black's five highlight reel dunks became screensavers across BU student computers everywhere.
#1 Bears Dance - Selection Sunday 2008 is a memorable day for Baylor faithful. Fans rejoiced everywhere as CBS saved the announcement of Baylor's berth for the final unveiled bracket. The unbridled joy that originated from the Ferrell Center watch party that day is undoubtedly one of the lasting images of the decade. This video still gives me chills.
Here's to the next decade bringing many, many more.
On to Basketball
2:05 P.M. THURSDAY, DEC. 3, 2009
These Are the Breaks
So, the calendar now turns to December, a peculiar month for Baylor students, staff and athletes. Coach Briles' crew wrapped up its season with another gutsy performance in a loss to Texas Tech on Saturday in Arlington.
Much like last season, so much seems "left on the table" by this team. It's easy to say that the Bears season went up in smoke after Robert Griffin's season-ending injury in September, but in actuality, this team had many other bumps and bruises along the way.
Griffin is expected to get his year of eligibility back and with three years remaining his BU career has only just begun. Also returning next season will be offensive playmakers Jay Finley, Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams who each solidified their roles in an offense that proved to be resilient under the direction of a true freshman under center.
A long offseason awaits and brings with it many of the same questions that faced Briles when he first set foot on campus two Decembers ago. If Baylor is going to make up ground in the conference, return to a bowl game and keep around who is, in my opinion, the best coach we have for this task, we have to catch some breaks next year.
Unfortunately, those breaks simply never surfaced this year.
Speaking of breaks, the BU basketball team probably feels like they didn't get one over the Thanksgiving holiday as the Bear hoopsters have already played seven games and are just moments away from again boarding a plane for another road tilt.
In case you missed it, Baylor responded to an opening-night loss to Alabama at the Old Spice Classic with back-to-back wins over the Gales of Iona and Atlantic 10 power house and NCAA tournament regular Xavier.
At 6-1, the Bears have achieved their first win that will appear on their tournament resume (Xavier) and have an opportunity to stack pile a few more Ws with a trio of opponents in BCS conferences beginning Thursday night in Tempe against Arizona State.
While we're all patiently awaiting the return of LaceDarius' shooting touch, the junior is shooting just over 39 percent, the return of Tweety Carter to the lineup has been a tremendous shot in the arm. Carter had a career day in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday morning as he tallied 27 points.
Even more noteworthy has been the play of Junior transfer Ekpe Udoh who, after sitting out a season following his transfer from Michigan, has been a force in the paint. Having tallied 25 blocks already, the Bears starting center could very well be on his way to becoming the next Nigerian Nightmare. For those unfamiliar with mid 90s NFL nicknames, those are the breaks.