FCP's "Back from Sabbatical Spring Tour" Continues
If we were cool like Wednesdays With Webguy, we'd have a catchy name for this morning's Tuesday column. But, alas, we are not that creative...And, whoever said basketball wasn't busy in the off-season (ahem, FCP) was joking, of course. Yesterday was a seriously Manic Monday as the Big 12 and Pac-10 Conferences announced the 2009 Hardwood Series pairings. For those that may have missed the announcement or didn't read FCP's brilliant release on BaylorBears.com, Baylor will head west to the "Valley of the Sun" to face the Arizona State Sun Devils. Opponent sound familiar? It should: Baylor's 87-78 win over the James Harden-led Sun Devils propelled the Bears into the national spotlight in November. Mark your calendars: Baylor at Arizona State, Thurs., Dec. 3 (Time/TV TBA).
Other notable Big12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series matchups include: USC at Texas (Dec. 3), Kansas at UCLA (Dec. 6), Arizona at Oklahoma (Dec. 6), and Oklahoma State at Stanford (Dec. 16).
In other news...
Men's Hoops to Hold Annual Banquet May 7
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And, that is all...
Back from Pseudo-Hiatus and By Somewhat Popular Demand...
Call it a sabbatical. Call it a hiatus. Call it vacation.Whatever your descriptor of choice may be, we're back from our pseudo-hiatus, which lasted all of 16 days - give or take a few hours. We knew The Trilogy To End All Trilogies would not be able to hold over those faithful BaylorNationites until the start of practice in the fall. How could it? Ever since Baylor's epic Central Texas to Central Park sojourn, the Baylor Basketball stratosphere has been somewhat busy...
Of course, we've gotten fan mail...Sample Question: FCP, now that your summer is over, what are you doing? Aside from frolicking in the sun, we've begun the inner workings of next season's media guide (i.e. updating records, historical references, etc.), but we also operate by the pseudonym Full Course Press - ok, not really. But, we also work with men's golf which vies for a Big 12 title next week at the Big 12 Championship. So, it's not completely sunshine and puppy dogs until next season. Or, is it?
Aside from that, April has been a busy month for the Bears beginning with the departure of top assistant coach Matthew Driscoll, who was named the new head coach at North Florida on April 4. Driscoll was a part of the core group of assistants that began the rebuilding process at Baylor in 2003. We wish Coach Driscoll the best of luck.
Friday Trivia, courtesy of FCPedia (and partially, Wikipedia): UNF, which was established in 1969, has an enrollment of more than 16,000 students. The Ospreys (Mascots: Ozzie and Harriet Osprey) compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference and are in their first full year of NCAA Division I membership. Remember that next time you are on Jeopardy!.
In keeping with the coaching theme, former Baylor letterwinner Grant McCasland was named the head men's basketball coach at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. McCasland led the Midland College Chaparrals to a NJCAA championship in 2007 and a national runner-up finish in 2009.
From the court...to the classroom. The Baylor men's basketball program received a public recognition award from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program for having an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score which ranked among the top 10 percent in their sport. The Bears registered a 989 APR score and was one of three Big 12 institutions - joining Kansas and Texas - among the 36 recognized nationally by the NCAA. You can view the complete list by sport, but we've listed the men's basketball programs for your studies:
BAYLOR, Belmont, BYU, Brown, Bucknell, College of the Holy Cross, Columbia, Davidson, Drexel, Duke, Elon, George Mason, Harvard, Lehigh, Loyola (Chicago), Michigan State, N.C. State, Princeton, Rider, U.S. Military Academy (Army), U.S. Naval Academy (Navy), Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina (Chapel Hill), North Carolina (Wilmington), Notre Dame, Pennsylvania, San Diego, Texas, Villanova, VCU, Western Michigan, Winthrop, Yale.
And, finally...Some things are just better left without superfluous introductions. Case in point: Baylor signed a third ESPNU 100 recruit Thursday.
That was fun. Now, it's back to hibernation we go...[we were serious when we said we retired 'it'; see, it's been relegated to a neutral pronoun]
The Trilogy That Will End All Trilogies: An Appropriate Ending
This list is for those BaylorNationites that do not believe that the 2008-09 season was record-breaking, historic and/or amazing...We hope this comprehensive list will 'turn those frowns, upside down' because This is Just the Beginning for Baylor Basketball:
BAYLOR SEASON FIRSTS & HIGHLIGHTS
We've been putting off this day for weeks, literally. Thanks to Baylor's very probable (and predicted) run at the Big 12 Championship and subsequent NIT championship game appearance, FCP was able to enjoy the first full week of April...It's been a very loooooong, but very exciting season that - while Baylor didn't reach the heights some people expected - still saw Baylor venture into unchartered territory. And, while every fan dreams of their team cutting down the nets as the NCAA National Champion, Baylor's historic run in the NIT would have been just as dreamy - whether you admit it or not.
What Baylor has accomplished in two seasons is remarkable. Legendary, perhaps. Even though Baylor didn't hoist the NIT trophy at Madison Square Garden last Thursday, the Bears will still go down in the history books as one of the greatest basketball teams in school history.
And, it was a great honor and privilege to chronicle that throughout the season with or without comic relief, sarcasm or just straight-up facts. Now, all of us - yes, all of us - will begin a new chapter. For some, that will be graduating in May. For others, pursuing a life-long dream of playing in the NBA. For FCP, taking a break and regrouping for next season.
Either way you look at it, 2008 was fun. 2009 was better. 2010 and beyond will be exciting times for the Baylor Bears basketball program.
We appreciate the nearly seven months worth of e-mails that have poured into our inbox since debuting in October. It's been a tremendous amount of fun answering questions, giving feedback, comparing notes and just talking Baylor basketball. We will begin compiling all things basketball during the summer in preparation for our triumphant return in October, or maybe sooner. Who knows. But, FCP will be put on the DL until practice starts up again in October...Maybe we'll make a guest appearance or two throughout the summer.
So, for the final time this year, we leave you with the soon-to-be-retired FCP favorite (unless, there's a petition to bring it back)...AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Trilogy, Part Deux: This is Just the Beginning
Yawn. Basketball season is over. What do we do now? Well, for starters, we can begin prophecising about next season, right? I know some of you are still thinking What If? 'What If' is not the answer. You should be thinking 'What's Next'. What the Bears accomplished this season is just the beginning. Baylor has awoken from a long, long, long hibernation and the Bears are ready to challenge for a Big 12 title every year. And, while the Bears lose arguably the greatest senior class in school history, Baylor still has a pretty solid nucleus of players returning - Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers and LaceDarius Dunn. Carter and Dunn could become a pretty prolific scoring duo next season...In addition, you have Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and transfer Ekpe Udoh. You've had a few days to cry and be sad about the out-going senior class...Baylor will be just fine next season.
But, we'll understand if you shed a tear tomorrow as FCP will be posting - gasp! - our last blog of the 2008-09 season. Yes, we'll be on DL until October. Believe us - we're going through withdrawls already.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Trilogy to End All Trilogies, Part I: Thursday's Final Score Was Merely a Footnote
Ok, so not ALL stories have a happy ending. And, while Thursday's outcome was not what we expected, it was an almost-proper send-off for Baylor's four seniors...But, the stars were not aligned for a Bears victory Thursday night as Penn State prevailed 69-63 in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. What was meant to be a neutral site championship game had all the makings of a Penn State home game - four hours away. We seriously thought - at one point - we were going to fall through the Madison Square Garden floor...The place was rocking.
Let's step back into our DeLorean, Doc Brown, and re-visit what we said Thursday afternoon: Baylor's appearance in the NIT championship game was history enough; the final score was merely a footnote. Consider this:
When no one else believed in them, the Bears believed in themselves. And, while Baylor didn't carry a NIT championship trophy onto the plane yesterday, the Bears are still champions. BAYLOR'S REVENGE TOUR saw the Bears thump Nebraska, Kansas and Texas in the Big 12 Championship. And, then preceeded to slay Georgetown (BIG EAST) at home, Virginia Tech (ACC) and Auburn (SEC) in hostile environments on the road. Baylor won seven games - YES, SEVEN! - in a 21-day stretch. Do the math and Carry the Two: The Bears won two more games than they did in two months against the Big 12.
We ended the season full of memories. Anaheim. The Palouse. New York City. It would have been hard to fathom four years ago that we would be standing here as the runner-up in the 2009 NIT. Runner-up doesn't sound as good as 'Champion', but...as far as this team and program is concerned, this is perfect. We Are Baylor. We Are the Bears.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
After Tonight, We Will Always Remember the Bears
Those truly dedicated Baylor fans that have never wavered even through the darkest nights and lowest of the lows will always remember tonight. This season. This team. And, those who have been on and off the bandwagon throughout the season will remembr tonight, too. We've already made history; tonight will be another footnote in the annals of Baylor basketball.
Let the critics criticize. Let the pessimists drink their half-empty glasses. The relevance of tonight's game is historic. If you use the 2005-06 season (the seniors' freshman year) as a barometer, tonight seemed like a far-flung dream. But now, Baylor is in the forefront of college basketball - even if it's just for a night. To win a NIT championship is a tremendous honor. That does not make you the 66th-best team in Division I nor is it a consolation prize. Before the 1970s, the NIT was considered to be more prestigous than the NCAA Tournament...Of the 340 or so Division I basketball programs, only FOUR will finish their season with a win - NCAA champion, NIT champion, CBI champion (winner of Oregon State/UTEP) and the CIT champion (Old Dominion). After tonight, we will always Remember the Bears. These Bears. This team. But, let the critics and pessimists complain...
You should be proud to don the green and gold. We've had numerous people stop us on the street over the last few days wishing us good luck...There even have taxi drivers stopping to tell us they'll be watching us on TV tonight. Everyone loves a feel-good story.
It's always a good feeling when you know that tonight IS your last night. As the curtain begins to open for the final act tonight on Broadway, we present to you - for the final time - THURSDAY'S OPENING LIST:
Baylor's memorable 2008-09 season will have one final chapter to write Thursday night when the Bears face the Penn State Nittany Lions in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. Baylor, who has won seven of its last eight games, including six games away from home will be the Bears' first game played in the month of April in program history.
BEARS MARCHING ON. Thursday's NIT championship game vs. Penn State will be only Baylor's 15th game to be played on or after March 18th in school history (Baylor is 8-6 in those contests thus far). Baylor played a school-record six games after March 18th during its NCAA runner-up finish in 1948.
BAYLOR AND THE "BIG APPLE". Baylor is 3-3 all-time in New York City after posting its first win in the "Big Apple" since 1948. In 1948, Baylor lost to Kentucky in the NCAA title game 58-42 at Madison Square Garden, but later beat NYU in the Olympic Basketball Trials in NYC.
THE LUCKY CHARM. Baylor is 7-1 in non-Big 12 Conference games while wearing its green jerseys away from Waco. Six of those seven wins have occurred since the conclusion of the regular season (Baylor wore its home white jerseys vs. Georgetown on March 18). Baylor's only other non-conference game away from Waco was a 58-52 win at Washington State on Dec. 6
BAYLOR IN NCAA/NIT POSTSEASON PLAY. Baylor is 7-10 all-time in the postseason, including a 3-7 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 4-3 mark in the NIT. Before this season, Baylor was 3-10 all-time in eight postseason appearances. Baylor's four postseason wins this season tie the 1948 team's record for postseason victories (BU won two games in the NCAA Division Six Playoffs before winning two games in the West Regional).
BAYLOR AIMING FOR BIG 12'S FIRST NIT CROWN. The Bears are the first Big 12 team (since the league's inception in 1996-97) to advance to the NIT championship game. BU is the third conference squad to play in the semifinals, following Texas Tech (2003) and Iowa State (2004). In the history of the NIT, only three current Big 12 members have captured the title - Colorado (1940), Texas (1978) and Nebraska (1996).
BAYLOR ADVANCES TO THIRD TOURNAMENT TITLE GAME IN 2008-09. With Tuesday's 76-62 win over San Diego State, Baylor advanced to its third tournament title game of the 2008-09 season. Baylor is 0-2 in its previous tournament title game appearances. Baylor lost 87-74 to NCAA Tournament participate Wake Forest in the title game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. More than two weeks ago, Baylor's magical run in the Big 12 Championship came to a close with a 73-60 loss to Missouri.
AND, THAT'S HOW IT'S DUNN: LACE BREAKS SINGLE-SEASON 3-POINT RECORD. Sophomore LaceDarius Dunn enjoyed a record-setting night Tuesday vs. San Diego State as the Monroe, La., native set the new Baylor single-season record for 3-point field goals made, draining five triples. Dunn's 105 treys surpassed Aundre Branch's record of 104 set during the 1994-95 season.
SCOUTING THE PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
And, for those of you that still may think the NIT is a consolation, Penn State brought 20 fan buses to the Garden for the NIT semifinal game Tuesday. Penn State sold out its original allotment of 1,200 student tickets before noon on Wednesday. By days end over 2,000 student tickets had been sold and 28 student buses scheduled tomake the trip to the Garden. Including basketball club, Alumni Association, athletic staff and other fan buses, the number reached more than 36 buses rolling to the Garden for Thursday's final as of 8:00 p.m.Wednesday. Something tells us that the NIT is a pretty big deal at Penn State...The crowd shouldn't be a factor.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Closing in on Baylor's Finest Hour
Cheesecake must be New Yorker for 'pie'. After dinner tonight at Carmine's, "The Pie Club" - sans co-founder Pat Nunley - enjoyed a delicious piece of Italian ambrosia. Baylor is 3-0 since the inception of "The Pie Club"; we're just saying...
We are closing in on Baylor's 'Finest Hour'. It's hard to argue that the last two seasons are the greatest in school history - Baylor made three NCAA Tournament appearances between 1946 and 1950, including two final four appearances. The last two seasons could be included as a very close second. Baylor's historical season will commence Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Baylor will be vying to become only the third NCAA member (all divisions) from the state of Texas to win a NCAA or NIT championship (UTEP - then Texas Western - won the 1966 NCAA title; Texas won the 1978 NIT title).
Without a doubt, Thursday will be an emotional night. A four-year journey will conclude as arguably the greatest class in program history looks to cap an amazing career. It's a celebration for the future, not the past. This is just the beginning of the beginning.
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM?
Before we forget, outstanding job by former Baylor Assistant Media Relations Director and current Baylor Proud information man Jeff Brown...What did he do FCP!?!? Well, he mentioned FCP and excellent in the same sentence. Perfect timing...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!
The Last Hoorah: Win One for "The Pie Club"
Cuttin' in the Baylor Line's Justin Cange echos FCP's sentiments in his latest post Wednesday. So we echo Cange's echo.
Before our journey across most of Manhattan Island began, there was another celebrity sighting inside the Marriott Marquis this morning...The one. The only. Don King ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant...We tried getting a Baylor shirt for him, but he walked away before we could deliver it. His hair was in full force. Sweeeeeet.
One wrong turn on the New York subway system and you end up in Jersey...We should have zigged instead of zagged. Inside Baylor Sports senior producer Robert Shiekh, The Voice of the Bears John Morris, Baylor photographer Matthew Minard, yours truly and some guy named Heath Nielsen were meaning to head on the No. 1 to Central Park to shoot intros for Sunday's men's hoops-laden IBS show, but...we took a right at Albuquerque instead of a left. Once we exited the subway stop at W. 72nd Street, we were on the Upper West Side, not Lower West Side. Five blocks later, we were looking across the Hudson River at New Jersey - according to the map, we should have been looking at the park...Well, JMo improvised and shoot footage on a pier along the Hudson. Following that shoot, we made the 10-block hike back to the subway stop and headed to Lower Manhattan to the Financial District and Wall Street.
IBS shot another set of intros in front of the New York Stock Exchange before doing one final set of wrap-ups with the Charging Bull.
Here's the quick FCPedia sidebar: The Charging Bull (sometimes called the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull) is a 7,000-pound bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica that sits in Bowling Green park near Wall Street. The sculpture depicts a bull - the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity - leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. - courtesy of Wikipedia, America's most trusted leader in accurate information.
Because of time constraints and crazy foot traffic at 2 p.m., we headed back to the subway and on to Times Square in time for JMo to do The John Morris Show from 3-4 p.m. EDT at the ESPNZone. While JMo did his radio gig, the remainder of the group headed to W. 55th Street and Broadway to Ray's Pizza. Ray's Pizza is not Mama Baris (two slices of pie and a drink was $11.65), but it was definitely worth the chance to try authentic New York pizza...
But, what about pie? Yes, pie. The self-proclaimed "Pie Club" - head coach Scott Drew, John Morris, Pat Nunley, Heath Nielsen and FCP - will have its final hoorah tonight at Carmine's. You see - we've become a little superstitious here at FCP...The night before Baylor's systematic thrashing of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Coach Drew grabbed a Boston Cream pie from the kitchen and we enjoyed a little piece of heaven before hitting the hay...Well, we won. Then, the night before the Auburn game, we had chocolate cake...And, we won. On Monday night at the NIT Welcome Dinner, we enjoyed chocolate souflee as our final course. And...you get the point. 3-for-3. We'll be going for the cycle tonight for our Last Stand.
Apparently, our early-morning post today made some people cry (ahem, Ashley Dunn), but it's the truth. We haven't steered you wrong this season...We're just straight cold, hard facts.
Go to bed early tonight, BaylorNation. Tomorrow's going to be a fun day.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Baylor's Ready-for-Primetime Players Have One Final Curtain Call
We've made it to April...And, we are STILL playing basketball. However, Thursday is the day we've all feared for four years - the end of the road for seniors Curtis Jerrells, Kevin Rogers, Henry Dugat and Mamadou Diene. But, the made-for-Broadway script for these now-ready-for-primetime players has one last act...a NIT championship game against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The World's Biggest Stage was no match for the Bears as the San Diego State Aztecs ran into a buzzsaw Tuesday night...While SDSU applied pressure at times and beat the Bears down court for transition buckets, Baylor knocked the Aztecs down again and again. CJ couldn't miss in the first half - 11 of Baylor's 12 first-half field goals came through Jerrells (six field goals, five assists). Even though CJ cooled off in the second half for a moment, LaceDarius Dunn was heating up...Not only did Kool become the 23rd player in school history - and second sophomore - to score 1,000 career points, he also set a new school single-season mark with 105 3-point field goals made. HE'S ONLY A SOPHOMORE! Dunn could become the first Bear to challenge Terry Teagle's career record of 2,189 points.
Four months ago, Baylor was celebrating an AP Top 25 ranking...Three months ago, Baylor was 12-2 entering Big 12 play and the Bears were poised to challenge Oklahoma and Texas for the conference title...Two months ago, Baylor was in the midst of a difficult conference losing streak that played the Bears out of the title chase...One month ago, Baylor was nearly left for dead in any postseason talk as the Bears were locked into the No. 9 spot of the Big 12 Championship and not given much hope.
The last three weeks of March could go down as one of the greatest stretches in program history...And, it's been made possible by this senior class. Maybe their jerseys should hang in the Ferrell Center rafters. Maybe their bronze statues will line the outside of the Golden Dome. Or maybe they will remain in the memory of BaylorNation forever. Whatever the case may be, these four have played a remarkable role in rebuilding Baylor basketball.
While most of the nation may not know these four by name or reiterate their historical importance in Baylor lore, Baylor fans will always remember their place in school history...
Now, it's time to celebrate. Paint the town green. Baylor's Ready-for-Primetime Players have one final curtain call. The final act will begin shortly.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.