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Looking at Value Add Metric
5:15 P.M., THURS., DEC. 20, 2012
DAVID KAYE
Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Value Add Basketball is a system developed by John Pudner that ranks individual men's college basketball players based on the projected value they add to their respective teams. It's basically a basketball equivalent to baseball's WAR (Wins Above Replacement [Player]).

For example, A Value Add of 9% or more indicates an All-American, and 3% or more indicates a strong BCS or Mid-Major starter. A player could hypothetically have a value add of 12.10%, which would indicate that if his team would have lost a game 74-75 without him, then his presence would change the score to an 82-71 win because on average he adds 8.10% to his team's score and takes 4.00% away from opponents' scores for a total Value Add of 11.71%.

To read more on this metric, check out this article written by Sports llustrated's Luke Winn:

Through 10 games, Pierre Jackson leads Baylor players with an 8.97 Value Add, which ranks 14th nationally out of approximately 4,000 players. Cory Jefferson comes in at No. 79 with a 6.83 Value Add, while A.J. Walton is 578th at 2.94, Isaiah Austin is 601st at 2.85 and Brady Heslip is 743rd at 2.42.

Though Taurean Prince has played limited minutes off the bench, his production has been the best of any Baylor bench player according to Value Add, where he ranks 1,155th at 1.52. Rico Gathers is the next closest at 1,545th with a 0.93 Value Add.

Baylor as a team ranks 7th nationally with a 35.21 PG Per, trailing only Indiana, UCLA, Memphis, Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina State.

Here's a breakdown of where the top seven ranked Baylor players currently sit, followed by where they ranked in the preseason projection:

Pierre Jackson - currently 14th with 8.97 VA -- projected 53rd with 6.74 VA
Cory Jefferson - currently 79th with 6.83 VA -- projected 727th with 2.00 VA
A.J. Walton - currently 578th with 2.94 VA -- projected 659th with 2.19 VA
Isaiah Austin - currently 601st with 2.85 VA -- projected 75th with 6.10 VA
Brady Heslip - currently 743rd with 2.42 VA -- projected 38th with 7.07 VA
Taurean Prince - currently 1,155th with 1.52 VA -- no projection
Rico Gathers - currently 1,545th with 0.93 VA -- projected 434th with 2.99 VA

We're only about 25% of the way through the season, so there's plenty of time for these numbers to change, but it's safe to say the projections did not see Cory Jefferson coming. Check back throughout the season for updates on where the Bears rank in the Value Add metric.


Bears Entering Hostile Territory
2:35 P.M., FRI., NOV. 30, 2012
DAVID KAYE
Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Baylor plays two of the nation's toughest non-conference road games this month.

The first of these is Saturday's game at Kentucky's famed Rupp Arena. The Wildcats have never lost at Rupp Arena during the four-year tenure of head coach John Calipari, and their 55-game home winning streak is 30 games longer than the nation's next longest active streak.



Kentucky has the nation's longest active home winning streak at 55 games.

Kentucky has lost only 60 games in 36 seasons playing at Rupp Arena, and the Wildcats have averaged more than 20,000 fans per game in all 36 seasons.

Baylor's game at Kentucky is the first time the Bears have played a non-conference road game against a top-10 team since Dec. 12, 1986 at Illinois.

Saturday's game is a chance for Baylor to set a number of firsts. A win would ...
• Give Baylor its first-ever win against Kentucky (0-7).
• Be Baylor's first non-conference road win against an AP Top 25 team in program history (0-18).
• Be Baylor's first win against a team ranked No. 8 in the AP Top 25 since defeating Arkansas on Feb. 11, 1982.
• Be the first time Kentucky has lost at home during John Calipari's tenure.
• Snap the nation's longest active home winning streak at 55 games, which is 30 games longer than the next closest active streak.

It doesn't get much easier for the Bears after their trip to Kentucky. Baylor plays at Gonzaga on Dec. 28, and the Bulldogs are 109-7 all-time at The New Kennel (McCarthey Athletic Center).


Gonzaga is 109-7 in nine seasons at The New Kennel.

Though much smaller than Rupp Arena with seating for 6,000, the Kennel has proven to be a significant home court advantage for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga has averaged less than one home loss in each of its nine seasons at The New Kennel, and the Bulldogs' current 16-game home winning streak is tied for the nation's seventh-longest active streak.

Both of these games will be challenging for Baylor, and a win in either would go a long way come Selection Sunday, but simply gaining experience playing in front of these two hostile crowds will also help prepare the Bears for their nine Big 12 Conference road games.


Charleston Classic Rewind
5:35 P.M., TUES., NOV. 20, 2012
DAVID KAYE
Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Baylor finished the Charleston Classic with a 2-1 record and won the third-place game against St. John's, 97-78, on Sunday night at TD Arena. Pierre Jackson and Cory Jefferson were named to the five-member all-tournament team, making Baylor the only school with two selections. We're now five games into the season and the Bears are 4-1, marking the seventh consecutive season the Bears have won at least four of their first five games.


Cory Jefferson was named to the all-tournament team after 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

CHARLESTON CLASSIC RESULTS
Baylor 84, Boston College 74 - recap/highlights
Colorado 60, Baylor 58 - recap/highlights
Baylor 97, St. John's 78 - recap  highlights

There were plenty of strong performances by Baylor players throughout the tournament, but none was more impressive and encouraing than Brady Heslip's career-high 29 points on Sunday against St. John's. Heslip was 5-of-22 on 3-point attempts in his first four games of the season, but he went 8-of-12 against the Red Storm, and that was after missing his first two attempts.

The unsung hero of the St. John's game was A.J. Walton. Not only did he tie a career-high with 10 assists, Walton also chipped in 6 points and 3 steals, but most importantly, he shut down St. John's sharpshooter D'Angelo Harrison in the second half. Harrison connected on his first five shot attempts - all 3-pointers - before Walton shut him down in the second half by denying him the ball. Harrison finished 7-of-11 from the field and committed 3 turnovers.


A.J. Walton tied a career high with 10 assists and played strong defense against St. John's

One of the questions the Bears had to answer entering the season was who will step in to replace the three frontcourt players now in the NBA. Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson have locked down the starting roles, and both recorded double-doubles on Sunday. Jefferson had 20 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Austin had 13 points and 13 boards.

Austin's 10 rebounds at the half were one more than the entire St. John's team had to that point. Baylor more than doubled-up St. John's on the boards, 41-20. The Bears also capitalized on second chances created with offensive rebounds, as 10 of the 12 possessions that were extended with offensive boards were converted into points.

Pierre Jackson also had a solid performance, as he scored 19 points, had 8 assists and added 2 steals. Jackson has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games, averaging 18.6 points and 6.5 assists during the streak.

All five Baylor starters played big minutes - Austin's 26 were the fewest, while Jackson, Jefferson, Walton and Heslip all played 35+ minutes. Their offensive numbers were impressive, but it was the second half defense that won the game. St. John's came out on fire, shooting 55% in the first half, and it wasn't until a few minutes into the second half that they started to cool down. Baylor ended up holding the Red Storm to 47% in the game by limiting them to 40% in the second half.

The second-round game against Colorado obviously didn't go Baylor's way. The Bears were held to 37% shooting, despite Jefferson going 7-of-7 from the field. If you remove Jefferson's line, the rest of the team shot 15-of-52, which is just under 29%. Not many teams will win with that shooting percentage, so it's easy to see why the Bears didn't come out on top.

There were still plenty of positives. Even with the shooting struggles, the Bears forced 17 turnovers and allowed only 6 assists. Despite being outrebounded and being limited to a season-low 7 assists, Baylor still had a shot to tie the game in the final second. Every team has games like that, and it's better to face that kind of adversity before you get into conference play. Coach Drew said one of the things he was interested to see on Sunday was how the team would respond to the loss, and with the performance against St. John's, it was clear the Bears bounced back just fine.

Another little-disgusted circumstance of the loss was the fact the Bears were playing their second game in as many days and their fourth game in an eight-day span. That can be tough on any team, but it was especially difficult on a Baylor squad with so many guys playing more minutes than in the past. Jefferson had never played more than 25 minutes in a game before this season, but he's gone over that total in all five games this year. Walton and Jackson are also both playing more minutes than last year, and Austin played 34 minutes in both the Boston College and Colorado games, less than a week after leaving the season opener with a sprained ankle.

Baylor's tournament opener against Boston College was another impressive win. Like St. John's with Harrison, the Bears faced another big-time scorer in Ryan Anderson, who scored 25 points. Jackson matched him point for point and finished with a season-high 31, while also dishing out 7 assists. Austin, Heslip and Walton each contributed double-figure scoring, and the Bears got 14+ minutes from three players off the bench - Rico Gathers, Deuce Bello and Gary Franklin.


Pierre Jackson scored 31 points against BC and was named to the all-tournament team.

All told, going 2-1 and finishing in third place was a solid showing for an inexperienced team. It shows how far Baylor has come that it was somewhat disappointing not to leave with a tournament title. With the loss, Baylor dropped to No. 21 in the coaches poll (from No. 17) and No. 24 in the AP Top 25 (from No. 16).

Early season polls are always fluid, but it's notable that the Bears dropped eight spots in the AP poll despite their only loss coming by two points to a now-ranked team. If the Bears had found a way to score three more points and win that game, they likely would've moved up at least two spots, which would mean those three points would've been worth 10 spots in the rankings.

At this point the polls don't mean much, but it's still nice to be ranked for the 23rd consecutive poll. That streak will be tested as the Bears head into two of the toughest road games any team can play - at Kentucky (Dec. 1), where the Wildcats have never lost under John Calipari, and at Gonzaga (Dec. 28), where the Bulldogs are 107-7 over their nine seasons in The Kennel.

For updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB).


Blue Ribbon College Basketball Preview
11:35 A.M., THURS., OCT. 18, 2012
DAVID KAYE
Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Blue Ribbon has sent out its College Basbetball Yearbook, and there is plenty of information on the 2012-13 Baylor squad. Here's a breakdown of Blue Ribbon's thoughts on the Bears.

Pierre Jackson - Second Team All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year, All-Big 12 Team

Team ranked No. 19 nationally - "The NBA draft and last season's deep NCAA run show just how far Baylor has come as a program under Drew. A daunting rebuilding project is complete ... Drew has been able to put together a program that can now be considered one of the nation's best."

Team picked No. 2 in Big 12 Conference.

Baylor backcourt ranked No. 1 in Big 12 (Kansas No. 2, Texas No. 3)

Baylor frontcourt picked No. 2 in Big 12 (Kansas No. 1, Kansas State No. 3)

Team Grades - Backcourt (A), Frontcourt (B-), Bench/Depth (A), Intangibles (B).

Where do those grades rank in the Big 12? Baylor had higher grades in all four categories than Texas and Texas Tech. The Bears had higher grades in three of four categories than Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The Bears were ranked higher in two of four against Kansas, and they were ranked higher in two of three and tied in the other against Oklahoma and TCU.

There's plenty more information available on every D1 team in the nation in the yearbook, which can be purchased on newsstands and through www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com.

For updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB).


Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview
4:20 P.M., WEDS., OCT. 10, 2012
DAVID KAYE
Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

It's that time of year when magazines preview the 2012-13 season. Over the next week we'll take a look at what some of the major national publications have to say about the 2012-13 Bears. We'll begin with Athlon Sports' 2012-13 Preview, which features Baylor's Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Pierre Jackson as one of three players on the cover.

Part of the reason Jackson is on the cover is because he's picked as a first-team All-American, but Athlon also lists its top 10 in a number of superlatives. Jackson is listed as the nation's No. 1 scorer, junior guard Brady Heslip is No. 6 nationally among shooters, and freshman center Isaiah Austin is No. 3 among post men.

Heslip is picked as one of 10 members of Athlon's International Dream Team: "Every team needs a 3-point sharpshooter, and our squad has one of the best in the nation, Baylor's Brady Heslip."

Austin is tabbed as one of 10 Impact Freshmen: "The 7-footer from Arlington, Texas, will be one of the best big men in the Big 12 in '12-13. His game has few weaknesses, if any. He has the skills to play on the win but has the size to be a dominant player around the basket -- both offensively and defensively." Austin is also tabbed as an honorable mention All-American.

As a team, the Bears are picked No. 17 nationally, which is second in the Big 12 behind only Kansas (No. 4). Two of Baylor's non-conference opponents are listed in the preseason top 25: No. 3 Kentucky and No. 25 Gonzaga - both road games.

In the Big 12 Conference preview portion, the Bears are picked second behind Kansas: "Led by Pierre Jackson, the Bears boast one of the country's deepest backcourts, but their two most talented post players are both freshmen."

Jackson is tabbed as Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 pick, while Austin is named second-team All-Big 12 and Heslip is picked to the third team.

Baylor's incoming recruiting class is picked as the league's best: "Isaiah Austin is the highest-rated prospect headed to the Big 12, but Baylor also snagged top-100 prospects Ricardo Gathers and L.J. Rose, plus talented big man Chad Rykhoek." Don't forget about the last member of the signing class, Taurean Prince.

There's an entire page breaking down the Bears, but we won't detail all of that information. Here's the magazine's Final Analysis: "The Bears would love to win an outright conference championship for the first time since 1948 ... The keys to ending Kansas' streak will be another banner season from Jackson and Heslip, breakthrough performances from (Deuce) Bello and (Cory) Jefferson and significant contributions from freshman Austin and Gathers, both of whom must develop quickly. If those things occur, the Bears' potential is limitless."

Check back with Full Court Press for another preseason publication preview in the near future, and don't forget about Moonlight Madness on Friday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the event starts at 8:30 p.m. There will tons of giveaways, including electricity jerseys, so be sure to be at the Ferrell Center on Friday as the Bears kick off the 2012-13 season.

For updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB).