Through The Years
11:45 P.M., TUESDAY, FEB. 15, 2011
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Yeah, I'm dropping Kenny Rogers on all you love birds today. For it doesn't take a superfluous holiday like Valentine's Day to get my emotions all stirred up for one of my true loves-my Alma Mater's basketball team.
Over the weekend, Saturday to be precise, Baylor fans everywhere celebrated the 10-year anniversary of BU's infamous win over sixth-ranked Kansas. That year's `Big Monday Moment' produced a night we won't soon forget. We remember where we were, who we were with, what we were wearing and what it felt like to knock off an elite program on ESPN.
CIL has, of course, dedicated entire entries to the significance of that win, the romanticism that was established that night with this program seems as strong today is at did that night when yours truly was just an underclassmen.
Ten seasons later, I remain as devoted, as passionate, as hungry and as mystified by what our basketball program has done and will likely continue to do in furthering our school's visibility nationwide.
For a decade now no other program who has taken fans on such a roller coaster ride. There have certainly been ups (2010), downs (2003) and seasons in between (current day).
Amid, scandal and heartbreak, there have been thrilling finishes, overtime triumphs and unforgettable postseason runs.
There are still whisperers, there are still conspiracy theorists. There are those who do not appreciate the unparalleled revival that this program has delivered. Some don't believe it is real, others think BU's surge into college basketball's mainstream is tarnished.
Most everyone else has, at some point, acknowledged, even embraced, our remarkable tale. There were seasons, lets not forget, that a 6-5 conference record was nothing short of front page news in Waco.
That is not the case anymore.
Some of us have grown tired and jaded or even numb to the story that is rehashed each time this program makes national news. When the Bears crack the top 25, we hear how it's the umm teenth time we've done so since we lost Patrick. When our name is called on Selection Sunday, coach Drew again answers questions about coming to Waco after such a horrid series of events. When BU climbs one rung hirer on the ladder, we will hear it all again. The emotion will surface, the anger will be impossible to hide and the heartbreak will once again be revisited.
But our pride will never be stronger.
That's why we love this program. It's why we love Coach Drew. It's why we're patient when we lose games we feel we shouldn't drop, but also why we wish we could win games like the one this past Saturday in Austin.
It's why we check the box scores the morning after, follow the recruiting trails, DVR every moment we can and are consumed by everything churned out by the rumor mill.
And it's why we love talking about that night against Kansas when we knew something special had been started.
Some 3,000 days later, we await this program's next `Big Monday Moment.'
Wake Up Call
9:55 P.M., MONDAY, FEB. 7, 2011
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Bears 76, Aggies 74.
With that, the Baylor season may have just received the jolt, the second life, heck, the kick in the pants this team needed. Kudos, indeed, to the Aggies for smacking BU's snooze button.
By upending A&M at Reed Arena Saturday, the Bears have amazingly won three straight overtime road games against in-state rivals UT and A&M. Added to that, Coach Drew is now 9-2 all-time in games containing `free basketball.'
Lurking in the distance is our other, currently undefeated in Big 12 play, rival who will offer us two great opportunities to make a late season splash. Included in this year's series with the Horns is a season-culminating showdown to be witnessed by College Gameday in Waco on Senior Day.
Think that one will matter?
The importance of the A&M triumph is obvious. As of now it is the only win this program can put on their NCAA resume. The fact that it followed arguably the team's most excruciating loss Wednesday afternoon in Norman emphasized the win even more.
Funny what happens to a team when their backs are against the wall.
We've seen this before out of Drew's squads. Our 2008 team won three of their final four conference games when their margin for error to qualify for the dance was seemingly evaporating. Most of the 2009 conference season was spent wondering when the team was going to flip the switch. When they did, albeit a little late for an NCAA berth, the Bears began a historic postseason run that changed the image of the program.
Even last year, as we look back sentimentally on a team that nearly punched a ticket to the final four, we probably forget that the Bears magical March ride was nearly truncated by a scrappy 14th seeded Sam Houston State team on the tourney's first day.
College basketball is goofy, this season is goofy and yes, this team is goofy.
Thankfully, this goofy bunch answered the call in hostile territory on Saturday and unquestionably delivered their best effort of the season. Were the Bears sloppy, ineffective and, at times, rattled by turnovers? Yes. Should the game never have been that close in the first place? Yes. Was Baylor fortunate to even get the game into overtime? Absolutely.
Perhaps we'll look back and count our lucky stars that the A&M game arrived when it did this season.
That's the beauty of this rivalry and when the series renews in Waco later this month, Baylor will likely need a win just as bad again.
Bears fans wouldn't have it any other way.