Hardin-Simmons Added to Baylor's 09-10 Home Slate
Remember that mysterious home game to be added at a later date we mentioned back in July when the Bears unveiled their 2009-10 schedule? Well, it has come to fruition as Baylor has added a Nov. 22nd date with Hardin-Simmons at the Ferrell Center to conclude its 2009-10 schedule. Hardin-Simmons, a member of the NCAA Division III American Southwest Conference, ended the 2008-09 season with a 9-16 overall record (8-13 in ASC play).
The addition of Hardin-Simmons brings Baylor's home basketball slate to 17 games (if you include the Nov. 5th exhibition vs. Central Oklahoma). Tick, Tick, Tick...We are less than 49 days away from the official start of practice (Oct. 16).
Gottlieb Thinks Baylor Has "the Goods" to Contend in 2009-10
Inspired by Dick Vitale's Top 40 released in July, ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb has made his list of 30 teams that weren't in Vitale's rankings - 30 teams worth watching and discussing. And, in Tuesday's third and final installment, Gottlieb lists Baylor as one of his 30 teams that "have the goods to contend" in 2009-10.
Gottlieb's analysis on Baylor: "Ask anyone in the Big 12 which team has great young talent and they'll tell you it's Baylor. So he won't have the pressure to score 25 a night, LaceDarius Dunn is surely pleased former Memphis signee Nolan Dennis is around to carry some of the load. A.J. Walton, ranked among the top 10 incoming freshman point guards, will compete with Tweety Carter for the starts at the 1 (they might play together some, too). Quincy Acy and newcomer Cory Jefferson make them much better inside than in years past, and Mark McLaughlin gives them yet another scorer. The Bears finished well and recruited well. If they will guard someone, they have the ability to make things interesting in the Big 12."
Drew to Appear on The 700 Club Wednesday, Aug. 26*
Baylor head men's basketball coach Scott Drew will appear on Monday's episode of the Wed., Aug. 26th episode of The 700 Club on The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). CBN news reporter and anchor Carolyn Castleberry will discuss lessons from sports on how to find a job with Drew and one of the nation's top executive recruiters and The Power of WHO author Bob Beaudine.
The 700 Club, a live television program that airs weekdays before a studio audience from The CBN studios in Virginia, airs locally in Central Texas on ABC Family (Time Warner Ch. 40, Grande Ch. 53) at 9 a.m. CT and on CBN (Time Warner Ch. 40, Grande Digital Ch. 192) at 2 p.m. CT.
Video of the interview will be available Monday on The 700 Club website at www.CBN.com.
Baylor's 2009 Senior Class Finishes Perfect 5-for-5
After the 2009 senior class became the winningest class in school history and arguably the greatest group of seniors ever to don the green and gold on the hardwood, the Baylor men's basketball program accomplished one more goal Saturday morning. Delbert Simpson, a two-year letterwinner for the Bears during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, received his degree during Saturday's Summer Commencement ceremony.
In addition, Baylor 1,000-point scorer-turned NBA Star-turned Baylor student manager David Wesley also walked across the stage in May.
Congratulations to Delbert (and to Mamadou, Henry, Curtis, Kevin and David once again) on earning your degree(s).
CBSSports.com's Off-season Observations
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com offered its Big 12 off-season observations Thursday afternoon. The preseason synopsis on the Bears should not surprise Baylor fans: Baylor managed to go deeper in a postseason tournament than any Big 12 team [in 2008-09], yet could fly under the radar when the 2009-10 season begins.
Baylor Among Rivals.com's 2010 NCAA Tourney Hopefuls
Can Baylor make a postseason berth for a school-record third consecutive season? Well, Rivals.com College Basketball staff writer David Fox certainly thinks so as Baylor is among his 2010 NCAA Tourney hopefuls Wednesday.
Baylor is one of eight 2009 NIT teams looking good for a 2010 NCAA bid. Fox had this to say of the Bears:
"...Baylor collapsed in Big 12 play last season, finishing the regular season on a 2-10 skid. In the postseason, though, coach Scott Drew tweaked the lineup, and the team showed more commitment defensively in reaching the final of both the Big 12 tournament and the NIT. Curtis Jerrells and Kevin Rogers are gone, but LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter and Josh Lomers, who all played key roles in the postseason, are back."
Those lining up behind the Bears as NCAA hopefuls: Creighton (possible Old Spice Classic opponent), Georgetown (Baylor's first postseason win since 1950), Jacksonville (Baylor defeated last season, 76-68), Kansas State (Lace ties school record in Baylor's 83-65 win last season), Kentucky, Tulsa and Washington State (Baylor won 58-52 last season). Under Fox's "An NCAA bid is possible" group - 2009 NIT opponents Virginia Tech, San Diego State and Penn State, as well as 2009 and 2010 opponent South Carolina.
We've Reached the End...For Now
It feels like it's been longer than three weeks, but we've finally reach the end of our non-conference opponent preview.
Based on the small world phenomenon concept, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a trivia game that rests on the assumption that any actor or actress can be linked through film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. While not an exact science, that general concept can be loosely applied to the Baylor-UMass connection. How so? For instance, just yesterday Baylor announced the hiring of former UMass associate head coach Tim Maloney as the Bears' new director of basketball operations.
In addition, current Director of Athletics Ian McCaw served as UMass' AD before taking over at Baylor in Sept. 2003. Moreover, Baylor Senior Associate AD Nick Joos spent three years directing the media relations office at...UMass. Plus, Baylor and UMass both defeated Kansas during the 2008-09 season. One more UMass tidbit for the road - When UMass and Baylor play in Jan. 2010, it will be a match-up of the previous two NIT runners-up. We fell just short of six degrees, but five will do...
UMASS MINUTEMEN (Web Site)
Information courtesy of UMass season preview at UMassAthletics.com.
UMass enters its second season under alumnus and head coach Derek Kellogg. In his first season at the helm in 2008-09, the Minutemen finished 12-18 overall. In addition to All-Atlantic selection Ricky Harris and guard Anthony Gurley, UMass will welcome seven new players in 2009-10 headed by one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. The Minutemen will also add redshirt transfers Sean Carter (Oregon State) and Hashim Bailey (Memphis) to the front court. The 6-10 Bailey was a part of two NCAA Tournament teams at Memphis.
A FEW UMASS NOTES:
January's meeting will be the first between the schools. While it may be smack-dab in the middle of Big 12 play, this game might as well count in the Big 12 standings - the Minutement are big, tough and physical and will be a strong non-conference test on the Bears' home floor.
MORGAN STATE BEARS (Web Site)
Morgan State, tucked away in Baltimore, Md., made the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 under the leadership of head coach Todd Bozeman. Bozeman's Bears recorded non-conference wins over Marshall, DePaul, Maryland and Towson in an ESPN BracketBusters matchup. MSU finished the season ranked No. 23 in the Mid-Major Top 25.
The Morgan State Bears return leading scorer Reggie Holmes, who averaged 16.8 points in 35 games (587 total points), but do lose second-leading scorer Marquise Kately (11.0 points in 35 games). Holmes led the Bears in scoring in 10 of their final 11 games of the season, including four 20-point contests.
In its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, Morgan State allowed No. 2 seed Oklahoma to score 82 points; the Sooners were the first MSU opponent to score 70 or more points in 19 games (Norfolk State scored 70 points in Morgan State's 74-70 win Jan. 12, 2009).
Interesting Morgan State fact: Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman, along with student-athletes Reggie Holmes and Troy Smith appeared in May 2009 episode of "The Deal" on BET, which discussed the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Pretty cool.
SWAC of All Trades
We've managed to stretch our non-conference opponent preview to a third week (insert applause here). And, if you've been scoring at home, you know that we have four teams remaining - Jackson State, Southern, Morgan State and UMass. To kick off the new week, let's start with Baylor's two 2009-10 SWAC opponents, Jackson State and Southern.
WHEN FCP AND NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS COLLIDE, Week 2.5
JACKSON STATE TIGERS (Web Site)
Jackson State came very close last season to becoming Baylor's 10th opponent to advance to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. How close, you ask? JSU lost to Alabama State, 65-58, in the SWAC Championship title game. That's how close. Jackson State is very similar to Iona in terms of a deceiving record. JSU is a very good 18-15 team and should have been a 20-win team. Consider this: The Tigers held their opponents to under 70 points in the final six games of the 2008-09 season (5-1 in those games) and 16 of their 33 games (14-2).
Another interesting stat? Baylor was the only team to score in triple figures against the Tigers last season (Texas A&M came the closest, winning 96-78).
Jackson State returns 10 lettermen from last season, including three starters. The Tigers return leading scorer Grant Maxey (16.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG), but lose Jeremy Caldwell (11.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG), who gave the Bears fits during last season's meeting. Joining Maxey will be 2008-09 SWAC Freshman of the Year Rod Melvin, who averaged 4.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds last season.
SOUTHERN JAGUARS (Web Site)
Southern started the 2008-09 season with 12 consecutive losses, including an 85-43 loss at the Ferrell Center in November. All of Southern's eight wins came in SWAC play. Southern does lose leading scorer Chris Davis, who led the Jaguars with 14.8 points (16.4 in 18 SWAC games). Returning are the Jaguars' second- and third-leading scorers in Steffon Wiley and Barry Honore'. Wiley averaged 9.7 points in just 24 games (10.9 in 16 SWAC games), while Honore' chipped in 8.8 points in 30 games (10.1 in 18 SWAC contests).
A Renewed Rivalry
Since Baylor released its 2009-10 schedule last month, Baylor basketball fans have had Dec. 30, 2009, circled on their calendars, making the renewal of a long-time rivalry from the days of the old Southwest Conference - Baylor vs. Arkansas. The schools have met 142 times on the hardwood, but just once since Arkansas left the SWC for the SEC after the 1990-91 season.
December's game on New Year's Eve Eve will be the first series meeting since Jan. 5, 2008. After the first 20 minutes of that game, it appeared Baylor was on cruise control as the Bears held a seven-point lead at halftime, 48-41. Then, Arkansas' Robert Weems went on a second-half tear, scoring 18 of his game-high 21 points after halftime, lifting Arkansas to an 85-78 win and effectively ending Baylor's six-game winning streak. Curtis Jerrells paced the Bears with 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting, but was 0-for-8 from 3-point range. When the teams meet this season, only Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn and Josh Lomers will remain from that game for Baylor. Dunn, one of the most feared 3-point shooters in the nation, was rendered ineffective vs. Arkansas in 2008, scoring just 7 points in 21 minutes.
Like the last series meeting in 2008 (at Dallas' American Airlines Arena), this year's contest will be of the neutral-site variety as the Bears and Razorbacks will tussle in North Little Rock, Ark., at Verizon Arena (formerly known as Alltel Arena).
WHEN FCP AND NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS COLLIDE, Week 2
ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (Web Site)
Arkansas enters its third season under head coach John Pelphrey. In his first year at the helm of Razorbacks program in 2007-08, Pelphrey led Arkansas to a 23-12 record, an appearance in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament and the best first-year coaching performance in school history. Last season, Arkansas opened with a 12-1 record, including upset victories over Oklahoma (96-88) and Texas (67-61). But, following their win over the Longhorns, the Razorbacks stumbled, losing 15 of their final 17 games to finish 14-16.
Three of Arkansas' four top scorers return from last season, including senior forward/center Michael Washington who led the Razorbacks with 15.5 points in 30 games. Sophomore guard Courtney Fortson ranked second on the squad last season with 14.8 points in 29 games. However, the Razorbacks return just half of their 3-point production from last season (102 of 202 3-point field goals made).
A COMPARISON FOR COMPARISON'S SAKE: Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn made a school-record 109 3-point field goals last season.
When you break down Arkansas' roster from a year ago, the Razorbacks' offense runs through Washington at the post - 15.5 points, 9.8 rebounds in 30.0 minutes. And when it wasn't going through Washington, it was in Fortson's hands. Pelphrey added seven newcomers around Washington and Fortson - only one from the state of Arkansas (Arkansas will have four in-state players this season, compared to seven in 2008-09).
To reiterate Thursday's comments, Baylor's December tilt with Arkansas is a part of a crucial non-conference test prior to the start of Big 12 play. Be sure to bring an army of BaylorNationites to the banks of the Arkansas River for a renewed rivalry...
Don't Be Alarmed: You May Experience a Case of Déjà Vu
Déjà vu? Perhaps. On Dec. 20, 2008, the 21st-ranked Baylor Bears trailed the UT Arlington Mavericks by nine at halftime, 41-32. The Bears hadn't lost to UTA since 1980 (in Waco), but were struggling to find their rhythm...in steps Curtis Jerrells. Jerrells scored 24 of his team-high 29 points in the second half, while making 16-of-17 free throw attempts (he missed #17) as the Bears survived a scare of monumental proportions, edging the 2008 NCAA Tournament participants 79-76.
If you experience a case of déjà vu, it's ok - you won't be the only one. On Dec. 20, 2009 (yes, the same date - a year later), UTA returns to the Ferrell Center to face the Bears, marking the first time the teams have met in consecutive seasons in over 25 years (last instance was during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons). UTA is one of six non-conference 2008-09 opponents Baylor will play during the 2009-10 season - Hartford (Nov. 15), Arizona State (Dec. 3), Jackson State (Dec. 15), UTA (Dec. 20), Southern (Dec. 22) and South Carolina (Jan. 2).
WHEN FCP AND NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS COLLIDE, Week 2
UT ARLINGTOM MAVERICKS (Web Site)
UTA returns tremendous height with five guys 6-foot-4 or above, while adding 6-6 and 6-10 freshman forwards.
The Mavs will again serve as a solid non-conference test for the Bears before their SEC road swing at Arkansas (Dec. 30) and at South Carolina (Jan. 2).
Baylor's December Opens in "The Valley of the Sun"
On Monday, we wrapped up the eight-team Old Spice Classic field with three 2009 NCAA Tournament participants. Yesterday, we announced the Bears will play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round at the Milk House. The Baylor-Alabama game marks the second straight season that the Bears will play on ESPN2 Thanksgiving Day.
Speaking of last season's tournament Thanksgiving weekend, Baylor played at the ESPN-owned 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center in the shadows of Disneyland. Baylor's opponents that weekend? Providence, Wake Forest and Arizona State.
The Bears drew Arizona State as their second Pac-10 opponent as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. For the second year in a row, Baylor will venture west to face a Pac-10 school on its home court (Baylor defeated Washington State, 58-52, in Pullman in 2008). And, in similar fashion to 2008, Baylor will play in an ESPN-owned tournament before heading west for a Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series showdown.
WHEN FCP AND NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS COLLIDE, Week 2
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (Web Site)
Junior guard/forward Rihards Kuksiks is the leading returning scorer with 10.3 points and 3.8 rebounds. Guard Derek Glasser returns for his senior season after averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 assists last season.
Both teams matched up very well during last season's second-round meeting at the 76 Classic, which the Bears won 87-78 behind Dunn's 27 points. Last season, Baylor proved it could play at a hostile environment on the road and win (see: Friel Court at Wazzu). This season, the Bears will have the unenviable task of playing the Sun Devils on their home floor at Wells Fargo Arena.
Old Spice Has Baylor Singing the Blues: Marquette, Michigan and Xavier Shades of Blue, That Is
Week one of When FCP and Non-Conference Opponents Collide was pretty intense. In case you missed it, here's a recap of what learned last week (not in this particular order):
We've finally entered the home stretch of FCP's Old Spice Classic opponent preview. It seems fitting to conclude the tournament field with three 2009 NCAA Tournament participants - Marquette, Michigan and Xavier. Baylor is quite familiar with the BIG EAST, ACC, SEC and Big Ten - the Bears played one school from each of the four conferences during the 2009 NIT.
Last time Baylor played a BIG EAST team? March 18, 2009, vs. Georgetown (a 74-72 Baylor win).
A quick programming note: On Tuesday, ESPN will be announcing the official brackets for The Worldwide Leader's five owned and operated men's basketball exempt events - O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Charleston Classic, 76 Classic, Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and the Old Spice Classic - live on ESPNEWS during the 1-2 p.m. CT hour. The EA Sports Maui Invitational bracket will also be announced during the program.
WHEN FCP AND NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS COLLIDE, Week 2
MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES (Web Site)
Forward Lazar Hayward, who ranked third in scoring (16.3) and first in rebounding (8.6) last season, returns at Marquette's lone starter. Hayward started all 35 games last season and is the only Golden Eagle on the team that started in 2008-09; senior David Cubillan is the only other Marquette player with at least one start in his career - one start as a freshman in 2006-07.
MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (Web Site)
Michigan returns four of its five starters from its 2009 NCAA Tournament team, including guard Manny Harris and forward DeShawn Sims. Harris, an All-Big Ten first team selection by the coaches and media, led all Wolverines with 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists; Sims, an All-Big Ten second team pick by the media, ranked second with 15.4 points and shared the team rebounding lead with Harris.
XAVIER MUSKETEERS (Web Site)
In addition to losing their head coach, the Musketeers lost last season's top two leading scorers - B.J. Raymond and Derrick Brown. Raymond led XU with 14.1 points per game as well as 84 3-point field goals. Brown averaged 13.7 points, while grabbing a team-best 6.1 rebounds. Xavier's third-leading scorer, C.J. Anderson (9.9), is also gone. Xavier's top returning scorers combined for 467 points in 35 games last season. A COMPARISON FOR COMPARISON'S SAKE: Baylor junior LaceDarius Dunn scored 614 points in 39 games in 2008-09 (Tweety Carter scored 383 in 36 games).
The 2009 Old Spice Classic field is impressive, very impressive. And, to no surprise at all to FCP, Baylor is evenly matched against all seven teams. So, what's next after a week at the Milk House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.? A trip to "The Valley of the Sun" to face the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.