ZING, ZANG, ZOOM - Baylor Takes the World's Biggest Stage
Tonight is one of the reasons why these guys came to Baylor. Baylor takes to the world's biggest stage Tuesday night when the Bears face the San Diego State Aztecs in the NIT Semifinals at 7 p.m. EDT at Madison Square Garden. During shoot around, we walked around MSG in awe of the banners hanging from the rafters:
BILLY JOEL (with the number 12 - number of consecutive sellouts at MSG), ELTON JOHN (with the number 60 - number of concerts at MSG), New York Knick greats #10 WALT FRAZIER (G, 1967-77; broadcaster),
Also in attendance for Baylor's morning shoot around time were ESPN analysts Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla and Bill Raftery (ONIONS!), along with several star performers from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents ZING ZANG ZOOM. The Voice of the Bears, John Morris even got a sneak-peek at some of the elephants housed at MSG...At the end of practice, the team took a group shot at midcourt in front of the NIT logo - actual photo evidence to follow soon.
Following practice, the team headed back to the hotel for scout, chapel and pre-game meal. But, the reserved media group of FCP, Heath Nielsen, Robert Shiekh and JMo headed to the corner of W. 31st St. and Lexington Ave. for lunch at Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza where we met former Inside Baylor Sports producer Ryan "Diggs" Hendricks. After a relaxing lunch, we made the 20-minute trek back to the Marriott Marquis, crossing 5th Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, Broadway, while also passing the original Macy's in Herald Square.
While JMo does his show live from the ESPNZone in Times Square again today, we'll turn our attention to previewing tonight's showcase showdown between Baylor and the San Diego State Aztecs. So now, we're back with TUESDAY'S OPENING LIST:
SCOUTING THE SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
At 26-9, San Diego State posted its fourth consecutive 20-win campaign - the fifth time the Aztecs have reached the 20-victory plateau under head coach Steve Fisher, its seventh 20-win campaign in 39 Division I seasons and the 14th time in the 88-year history of the program.
San Diego State is led by four All-Mountain West Conference selections, including Kyle Spain, Lorenzo Wade, Richie Williams and Billy White. Spain and Wade were selected to the second team by coaches and media, while Williams and White were named to the third team and honorable mention, respectively. Williams was also named to the MWC All-Defensive team.
KEYS TO VICTORY TONIGHT VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
Baylor's last win in New York City was on March 27, 1948 - a 59-57 victory over New York University at the Olympic Basketball Trials...It's time for a curtain call.
Before we go - don't forget to turn down the volume on your 42-inch HD flat screens (yes, you Justin Cange) and turn up The Voice of the Baylor Bears John Morris and the best color analyst in the business Pat Nunley on ESPN 1660 AM, 1660ESPN.com or BaylorBears.com. Pre-game show begins at 5:30 p.m. CDT courtside at Madison Square Garden. Maybe we'll see Spike Lee tonight...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Look Kids: Big Ben, Parliament
Who says you can't get a crash tour of New York City in 30 minutes? Reminiscent of Clark Griswold on National Lampoon's European Vacation, the Bears got to see most of what midtown Manhattan has to offer, minus all the left-hand turns and constantly getting lost. Throughout the day - before practice, after practice and dinner - the Baylor Bears saw the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, Fashion District and the Wall Street District. Unfortunately, it was all from the bus because of time and traffic constraints.
On the way back from dinner at The Boathouse at Central Park, we were able to see the Mecca of Shopping, Fifth Avenue.
However, we somehow forgot to mention a few of our stops during our post-press conference/pre-dinner free time along Broadway in Times Square...FCP and his predecessor, Heath Nielsen, ventured north of Times Square to The Ed Sullivan Theater - home of The Late Show with David Letterman. FCPedia Fact: The Ed Sullivan Theater is on the National Register of Historic Places. As we made the corner of Broadway and West 53rd Street, there it was...Rupert Jee's Hello Deli, which was made famous by David Letterman. We hope to have photographic proof of FCP's meeting Rupert at the Hello Deli tomorrow.
While the Bears' first day in New York City is in the books, Baylor photographer Matthew Minard is following the Bears during their quest for a NIT championship. And, what do you know - the first photo gallery has been posted.
Since we were rushed with the last post before dinner, we were able to round up a few photos from today's adventures, including one of The Voice John Morris in action at ESPN 1050 AM at the ESPNZone. The other - Dos Tres being interviewed by the aforementioned JMo and "The Mayor" of Midtown Manhattan, Mamadou Diene, taking some time to pose with passers-by. For about a 10-minute span, Dos Tres and Dou were the center of attention along Broadway, posing for pictures who their adoring public.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Who Needs an Alarm When You Have New York City Outside Your Window
The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind. When we arrived at the Marriott Marquis this morning at 1 a.m., it felt like we were in the heat of afternoon rush hour. It was a Sunday night and the streets were packed...The hustle and bustle of the "Big Apple".
This time around, Baylor's travel arrangements were a little easier, arriving in New York some 11 hours after departing Waco on a charter flight. Fifty-nine years ago, Baylor had to travel by rail which took a few days. Even though it took us longer that we thought, I'm just glad I didn't have to ride in one of the luggage cars with the circus animals...
Baylor's first "official" day in NYC began with team breakfast in the hotel, followed by the National Invitation Tournament Press Conference at noon. Local and national media were given the opportunity to interview select players and the head coach from each of the four participating schools. Seniors Curtis Jerrells and Kevin Rogers represented Baylor for the hour-long interview session in the 8th floor Atrium Lounge overlooking Broadway.
Once the one-on-one interviews were complete, the formal program of the NIT Press Conference began at 1 p.m. with an introduction by ESPN color analyst and former St. John's head coach Fran Fraschilla. Coach Fraschilla introduced the head coaches and then allowed each head coach to address the contingent for brief comments. Upon the conclusion of Monday's NIT Press Conference, the team headed to the campus of New York University for its two-hour practice slot. After the team departed for NYU, John Morris and his merry band of gypsies (FCP, Heath Nielsen, Robert Shiekh and Drew Pittman) walked three blocks down Broadway to the ESPNZone where JMo conducted his one-hour radio show from the in-restaurant studio for ESPN 1050 AM.
The team arrived back at the hotel around 4:30 p.m. where they were received by a small media swarm featuring Baylor Bear Inside media guru Jerry Hill alongside Inside Baylor Sports' Robert Shiekh and John Morris. From there, seniors Henry Dugat, Mamadou Diene and Kevin Rogers were interviewed along Broadway in front of the hotel for IBS. Apparently, EVERYONE takes pictures of EVERYTHING in New York City. Dou and K-Rog even stopped for photo ops with several adoring fans. However, Coach Drew was unable to find the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.
Tonight, the teams will enjoy a Welcome Dinner sponsored by the NIT at The Boathouse in Central Park. You know it's pretty swanky when coat and tie are required...Luckily, FCP came prepared.
By this time Tuesday, Baylor will be on the court at Madison Square Garden for pre-game warm-ups...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Finding Teterboro...It's Not as Easy as It Sounds
It's been 59 years and a week since Baylor last played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Everyone is eagerly anticipating Tuesday's NIT semifinal between Baylor and the San Diego State Aztecs. What Baylor has accomplished in the last three weeks has been amazing. And, the Bears are on the cusp of capturing the first NIT (or NCAA) championship in program history. Oh, and by the way, here's a bragging point: Following Oklahoma's loss to North Carolina in the NCAA Elite Eight Sunday, Baylor is now the ONLY Big 12 remaining in postseason play.
We've been planning all week to arrive in Times Square around 8 p.m. EDT and enjoy some of the scenery and the lights of the "Big Apple". Well...as we've seen - especially with the events of this season - nothing goes as scripted. And, that includes traveling. We were intended to depart Waco Regional at 2 p.m. CDT and land in the "Big Apple" at 7 p.m. EDT, followed by an approximate 8:15 p.m. arrival at the Marriott Marquis.
Quick FCPedia reference: Teterboro Airport - a general aviation "reliever" airport - is the oldest operating airport in the New York City and is located in the Boroughs of Teterboro, Moonachie and Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
But, rather than sit and wait on the tarmac at Waco Regional, our pilots opted to head east for Greensboro, N.C., where we would re-fuel, stretch our legs and wait for our "window" of opportunity to open again at Teterboro...Again - nothing has gone as scripted this season and that didn't stop with the second leg of our journey.
We arrived at Piedmont Triad International Airport (Greensboro, N.C.) at 7:05 p.m. EDT (checking itinerary - yup, right around our originally scheduled arrival at Teterboro)...Just checking...
We'd be there 20-25 minutes tops, right? I thought so...After an invigorating cup of hot chocolate in the private aviation lounge, we sat and waited...and waited some more...and some more. Good thing Chase Driscoll (Coach Driscoll's son) found a TV - a few of us were able to hide in the back and watch The Amazing Race on CBS. And, right before the winning team crossed the finish line in Phuket, Thailand, good news came...We were ready to head to our final destination...
We boarded the plane and head for... Allentown, Pa.?!? Ruh-roh, Raggy. According to FCPedia, Allentown is - oh - roughly 90 miles west of where we need to be. Almost the same distance as it is to Dunder-Mifflin's regional office in Scranton... No Michael Scott. No Dwight Schrute. No Jim Halpert. Sad day.
By the time we touched down in Allentown, it was a hair past 10 p.m. EDT...We picked up dinner on the run - approximately 30 pizzas from Domino's in beautiful downtown Allentown - which is beautiful this time of year. Thanks to Coach Brough and Coach Melton for the quick dinner fix.
[Our trip from Allenton to NYC was made a little easier by our on-bus entertainment, Finding Forrester]
From Allentown, we headed east through Easton - home of the Lafayette College Leopards. Before we continue - New Jersey, anyone? Geographic stop number four in our quest for Carmen San Diego.
We crossed the border into `Jersey, passing through Clinton, Bridgewater, Union and as we closed in on Newark, the Empire State Building began to emerge on the horizon. Almost there. We drove through the Holland Tunnel. Then the Lincoln Tunnel. A right onto W. 42nd Street. Followed by a left onto 8th Avenue. Then a right onto W. 46th Street and, finally, a right onto 7th Avenue...
We made it...As the clock struck 1 a.m. EDT on Monday, we arrived at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. It's been a long day.
We've waited 59 years to return to New York City; another 11 hours certainly didn't hurt.
BAYLOR'S ARRIVAL NIT TRIP COUNTER
Waxing Philosophic from Central Texas to Central Park
For those of you that may have missed it yesterday, Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw was Thursday's big 'winner' on ESPN's Around The Horn - and gave Baylor some pretty impressive face time, congratulating the Bears on the NIT Final Four run. The rest of the group wasn't too thrilled about it. Tim even gave some solid Bear Claw action. BaylorNation's Fandamonium is sweeping the country...ESPN First Take's Skip Bayless also gave Baylor love earlier this week, as well.
Friday is the final Baylor practice in the Ferrell Center. The team will get Saturday off before heading to New York City Sunday afternoon...Speaking of Saturday, freshmen Fred Ellis and Quincy Acy will be throwing out the first pitch of Baylor's baseball game vs. Kansas State. Saturday's game is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.
And, unless Baylor fans have been voting over and over again, the Bears' are favored to win the NIT by a large margin, according to the fan poll on the National Invitation Tournament's Official Site. At last count, Baylor had 37.2 percent of the vote (3,880 votes), followed by San Diego State at 22.9 percent (2,387 votes), Penn State at 21.7 percent and Notre Dame at 18.2 percent.
We'll save the Baylor/San Diego State preview - naturally - for Tuesday's reading pleasure, but we will give you a glimpse into Tuesday's other semifinal matchup between Notre Dame and Penn State:
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (21-14)
The Irish, who lost to Baylor at last year's Paradise Jam, is led by junior forward Luke Harangody with 23.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in 35 games. Harangody has recorded 49 career double-doubles - 24 during the 2008-09 season. Notre Dame's guard trio of Ryan Ayers, Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson have combined to average nearly 37 points per game...McAlarney owns the Notre Dame single-season 3-point record with 123 triples. That could make for an interesting championship game matchup if Baylor and Notre Dame were to advance: Dunn vs. McAlarney, the sequel. Although neither had a very good game in their only other meeting in the U.S. Virgin Islands last season - Dunn finished with six points, while McAlarney scored three on 1-of-11 shooting.
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (25-11)
The Nittany Lions are led by sophomore guard Talor Battle, who is averaging a team-best 16.8 points per game. Battle, a New York native, will be making his first appearance as a collegiate in his home state. Senior forward Jamelle Cornley and senior guard Stanley Pringle are averaging 14.2 and 12.9 points per game, respectively, for PSU. Battle earned first-time All-Big Ten honors from both conference coaches and media. Cornley earned second-team honors from the media and third-team honors from the coaches, while Pringle was an honorable mention pick for both.
Friday's FCPedia Trivia: Penn State's athletic teams are known as the Nittany Lions. The nickname refers to the mountain lions that once roamed near the school, and to Mount Nittany, a local landmark. -- Wikipedia, America's trusted information leader.
In other Baylor Basketball-related happenings...
Head Coach Scott Drew will be a guest on Fox Sports Radio tonight with JT the Brick at 9:25 p.m. CDT...Join Baylor Alumni, fans, Baylor Bear Foundation and the "B" Association members in New York City as the Bears take on San Diego State in the NIT Semifinals. A pre-game mixer will be held on Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT in the 8th Floor Atrium of the Marriott Marquis, followed by a send-off pep rally at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
FCP and his merry band of gypsies along with the rest of the Baylor Bears basketball team and staff will be departing Central Texas for Central Park (tagline courtesy of Dan Ingham and Adam Winkler of KWTX) Sunday afternoon...It will certainly be a fun ride as the Bears head to New York City to vie for the NIT championship. We'll be back Sunday. So, until then...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Stay Classy, San Diego
Like the title? It's a bit of a stretch, but it was the only quote even remotely close to referencing San Diego that FCPedia could find.
Excitement amongst BaylorNationites is feverishly inching closer to a crescendo as Baylor learned it will face the San Diego State Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference in the first NIT semifinal game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, March 31. See - we told you more lengthy run-on sentences would follow today. San Diego State jumped out to a commanding 13-0 lead on Saint Mary's last night, but later fought off the Gaels in the waning moments of the game for a 70-66 victory.
Are we Livin' the Dream? You betcha. The NIT Final Four Dream. Baylor's 21-11 campaign last season was just the tip of the iceberg. That was the beginning of the beginning. You might as well throw Baylor's record books out of the window after this season. Nearly every team record will be shattered when the final act concludes. But, we will still be left to wonder 'What If?': What if Baylor had played a full 30-game schedule during the 2005-06 season and not just a Big 12 16-game schedule? The possibilities could be endless and you could also be ushering a new all-time scoring leader, too. But, if ifs were skiffs, we'd all own boats. The past is the past; the present is in the here and now.
This team is on the verge of accomplishing something great - winning a NIT championship. Contradictary to what some fans may say, winning the NIT does not mean you are the 66th-best team in the nation. You belong in the upper third of the best in Division I basketball. Now is not the time to take the 'if you're not first, you're last' approach to postseason basketball.
In the grand scheme of things, an appearance in the NIT Final Four and a chance to win a NIT title will go further than last season's first round loss to Purdue in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. This year's run gives the returning Baylor players, notably Lace Dunn, Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers and Quincy Acy, the extra postseason experience necessary to bring the program to another level.
But, enough with trying to convince FCPNation that things turned out just fine. We weathered the storm.
Baylor is no longer living on borrowed time.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Prelude to the NIT Semifinals: San Diego State On Deck
Wonder, no more. Baylor will meet the San Diego State Aztecs in the NIT Semifinals next Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. In case you missed it, the Aztecs held off a furious second-half rally by Saint Mary's and got some help after a Patty Mills turnover late in the game as SDSU held on for a 70-66 win. Like Baylor, San Diego State (26-9) will be making its first NIT Final Four appearance.
The gritty Aztecs are quick, athletic and persistent. They will 'D' you up for 40 minutes, but, after watching how Mills drove through the lane at will, Curtis Jerrells could have a field day against SDSU.
However, Baylor-San Diego State will make for a fun semifinals matchup...The two teams haven't faced each other since 1990 - SDSU leads the all-time series 3-0.
And, who could forget Lace Dunn who probably could score from San Diego if given the opportunity. Dunn is closing in on two historical milestones - Kool is six points shy of becoming the 23rd player in school history with 1,000 career points; he also needs one more 3-point field goal to become only the third player in school history with 100 triples in a season...He needs six more treys to set the new single-season 3-point record (currently at 104).
We'll save you the rest of our rambling run-on sentences for tomorrow...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Who's Having a Garden Party? That Would Be Baylor.
[Formal Introduction] 'The Team that Refuses to Lose'. Meet 'The City that Never Sleeps'. Baylor's Cinderella-like postseason run will feature another unabridged chapter as the Bears have advanced to the NIT Final Four after a 74-72 win over the Auburn Tigers Tuesday night in Auburn. Baylor becomes the third Big 12 team to advance to the NIT Final Four (since 1996-97), joining Texas Tech (2003) and Iowa State (2004).
There was only thing that would have been better following last night's 74-72 win at Auburn - if ESPN would have dropped an 'AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE' reference during its Top 10 Plays on SportsCenter. Oh, and in case you missed it, CJ's sweet behind-the-back pass to Dos Tres was No. 6.
Baylor's quarterfinal victory at Auburn signifies the Bears' first trip to New York City since 1950 - All Together Now: It was also the year of Baylor's last postseason win, which incidentally during the 1950 NCAA Final Four. Coincidence? Maybe. Luck? No. Who's Having a Garden Party Now? That Would Be Baylor. The Bears' remarkable postseason run over the past 14 days has been unprecedented, but not surprising. After a less-than-stellar Big 12 campaign, everyone - and we mean EVERYONE (casually pointing in FCP's general direction) - knew the Bears were poised for a postseason run for the ages. Simply amazing to say the least.
Baylor has been battle-tested and NIT Final Four approved. Without a doubt, last year's magical season was great. While the script was a bit twisted with a few added plot turns, this year's is even better. Granted, Act II of the season (otherwise known as the Big 12 Conference slate) received poor reviews and would likely not be invited back to Broadway. But, Acts III and IV off Broadway have brought the spotlight back to the Bears. Tuesday's nailbiting victory further indicated that Baylor belongs in the NIT Final Four and, while some fans still view it as falling well below the bar, the Bears come out ahead in publicity. In three games, Baylor has played on a national stage on both ESPN and ESPN2 and will play the San Diego State/Saint Mary's winner Tuesday, March 31 at 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN2.
Tuesday's game will be Baylor's 33rd television game (and 17th on the ESPN family of networks). So, don't try arguing that the NCAA Tournament is more publicity because, for the majority of the first two rounds, games are regionalized. And, Baylor played just 14 games on the ESPN family of networks from the 1996-97 season to last season. Like we said earlier this week: if you haven't seen Baylor play on TV by now, then there's a problem. Tuesday night's victory at Auburn capped off a laundry list of milestones for the Baylor men's basketball program:
One of the most anticipated seasons in 103 years of Baylor basketball went from spectacular to revelation to nightmare to outright amazing in the course of four months. We've made it this far, but it isn't the end of the road for these Bears. Who will be included in the latest installment of WHEN BEARS ATTACK? Well, we'll find out tonight whether Baylor will face San Diego State or Saint Mary's. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Three down, two to go.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Have No Fear: The Underdog Bears are Here
If you squint your eyes just enough, you can see the faint lights of Broadway from New York City...Baylor is one win away from advancing to the NIT Final Four for the first time in school history. But, these Bears have embraced their Underdog role in recent weeks...Baylor continues its successful fourth season when the Bears face the No. 1 seeded Auburn Tigers tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN. In the last two weeks, the Underdog Bears have knocked off Texas, Kansas, Georgetown and Virginia Tech and now seek redemption from their SEC loss earlier this season (we hate to keep reminding you of South Carolina's 85-84 win in Ferrell Center on Jan. 2).
Like the previous two NIT contests, we won't inundate you with Auburn's scouting report. Keep this stat handy: 3. Only three SEC teams made the NCAA Tournament - LSU, Tennessee and Mississippi STATE (extra special thanks to Connie Kader for correcting our massive error...). Had MSU not won the SEC Tournament, it would have probably just been two teams...But, we will flood you with some interesting Big 12 Postseason Notes:
Tuesday's [UNDERDOG] Multimedia Miscellanea Madness
Don't Get Confused; Auburn and Baylor Both Have a #24 Who are Not Afraid to Shoot
25 from 1,000
Baylor's Winningest Senior Class Goes for More
There's still another chapter to be written for this senior class.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Winter of Our Discontent Has Made Believers of Us All
The months of January, February and the early part of March was The Winter of Baylor Fans' Discontent. But, discontented BaylorNation is no longer. Baylor is now one win away from advancing to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A pretty impressive possibility considering the Bears were written off towards the end of the regular season. But, Baylor's hibernation is over and the Bears have emerged as a legitimate NIT title contender.
The Winter of Our Discontent is over. Just keep believin'.
In 11 days, the Bears have defeated Kansas (first win since 2001), Texas (first win since 1998), Georgetown (first postseason win since 1950) and Virginia Tech. Now Baylor will look to bounce SEC West Division runner-up Auburn in the NIT Quarterfinals Tuesday. Both Baylor and Auburn are making their inaugural NIT Quarterfinals appearance, but only one will survive and advance...
Baylor's remarkable 18-point thrashing of the Hokies last Saturday was its fifth win against a non-Big 12 high-major this season (Providence, Arizona State, Washington State, Georgetown, Virginia Tech). Even more impressive, the Bears held Virginia Tech's fifth all-time leading scorer, A.D. Vassallo, to just 10 points.
For those of you following the NIT, here's an updated bracket. Keep in mind, two NIT second round games are still slated for tonight - Kentucky at Creighton (6 p.m., ESPN) and Davidson at St. Mary's (10:30 p.m., ESPN2).
RANDOM NIT QUARTERFINAL SIDENOTES, COURTESY OF FCPedia
One more win and the Bears will be in New York. But, perhaps more importantly, seniors Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat and Kevin Rogers will become the winningest players in program history. The trio currently shares the all-time lead with Baylor great Micheal Williams with 62 wins.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
When Bears Attack, Part IV: Survive and Advance
Have you figured out the meaning of a `hokie'? It doesn't matter now...The Bears played textbook postseason basketball, surviving and advancing to the NIT Quarterfinals after an 84-66 thrashing of Virginia Tech Saturday in Blacksburg. Similar to the start of last night's Cleveland State/Wake Forest NCAA First Round upset, the Bears came out firing...and firing often. Baylor jumped out to a commanding 22-5 lead at the 8:00 mark of the first half before Virginia Tech called a 30-second timeout. The Hokies were held to one field goal in the first 12-plus minutes of the first half, quickly signaling a 20-point halftime deficit to the Bears, 41-21.
One game left until New York...The final challenge - a date with SEC West Division runner-up Auburn on Tuesday night. Last six games have been sweet, but three more would be sweeter.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
FCP Sweeping Southwest Virginia, One Hokie Stone at a Time
The awesomeness (It's a word in FCP's dictionary) that is the recent play of the Baylor Bears is slowly gripping the nation...That -ness is currently hovering over Blacksburg, Va., for the next 26 hours or so as the Bears and Virginia Tech Hokies clash in a second round NIT matchup at Cassell Coliseum. The winner of tomorrow night's game will face the winner of tonight's game between Auburn and Tulsa...
But, Baylor's Blaze of Glory (Bon Jovi reference number 2 1/2...yesterday's Austin Flagg suggestion counts for partial credit) has the Bears victors in four of their last five contests. FACT: Baylor is 4-1 in its last five games after going 5-11 in previous 16. FACT: Baylor is 9-4 in tournaments over the last two years (Paradise Jam: 3-0; Big 12: 3-2; 76 Classic: 2-1; NCAA: 0-1; NIT: 1-0).
The last time Baylor and Virginia Tech matched wits on the hardwood in 1969, the Hokies were known as V.P.I. (Virginia Polytechnical Institute) and were an independent. In the only other meeting, the Fighting Gobblers were in their final years in the Southern Conference. So, it's been a while.
While walking around Virginia Tech's facilities on campus (before we were FCP, we ventured to Blacksburg a few times while at Marshall), the school's architecture has a unique consistent dolomite limestone. The varied gray, brown, black, pink, orange and maroon coloring is unique to southwestern Virginia and is aptly named Hokie Stone.
We know this is short, but that is all the Rainman-like information we have for you. Practice is over and we are heading back to the hotel to watch some March Madness.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
And That's, Folks, How It's Dunn
Trusty Baylor Athletic Media Relations assistant and undoubtable identical twin to Missouri's Matt Lawrence, Austin Flagg, gave FCP a grand idea last night - why not make a SECOND Bon Jovi reference for Thursday's post. I believe it went something like this: "Georgetown Shot Through the Heart and Baylor's to Blame". Conventional wisdom at its finest. While we had it in the que to go live, we came across one of the best photos of the night. SEE: RIGHT. Doesn't need an explanation. Doesn't need a clever quip.
And, that's how it's Dunn.
And, there were many And-Boom-Goes-the-Dynamite-type plays last night, such as Quincy Acy's Cookie Monster-esque dunk along the baseline or one of Dos Tres' 100 or so alley-oop dunks (ok, not a hundo, but maybe 4 or 5...you catch the drift).
But, more importantly, the best Boom...Dynamite...the moment was the Ferrell Center faithful. You didn't bring a friend; you brought half of McLennan County to the game and, for that, we commend you. This team deserves the best. While they were struggling heading into the Big 12 Championship, they have awoken from their deep hibernation. The Bears are back.
Wednesday night was - by far - the most electric Ferrell Center crowd of the 2008-09 season. Yes, more electric than the A&M game.
In the month of March, the Bears have proven that they can hang among the nation's elite. Let's look at the updated list of WHEN BEARS ATTACK...
March 11 - Nebraska
Baylor now heads to picturesque southwest Virginia, acronymically called SWVA. The Bears are scheduled to depart Waco tonight after practice and arrive late this evening in Roanoke, Va., and then make the short drive to Blacksburg.
Saturday's game will be the first meeting in 40 years between Virginia Tech and Baylor, but the Bears are poised to continue its triumphant season. And, for all of you (yes, ALL of you) wondering, Saturday's NIT second round game will tip at 10 a.m. CDT on ESPN. Sean McDonough (color) and Bob Valvano (pxp) will serve as the commentators from Cassell Coliseum.
We'll see you in the Eastern Time Zone.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Halfway There, Some Are Still Livin' on a Prayer
You can be a Bon Jovi fan sans hair, right? (Taylor, 'sans' means 'without'). We thought it was rather apropos for today's proceedings. Why, FCP? For starters, Wednesday is the midpoint of the week, plus the Baylor Bears host the Georgetown Hoyas tonight at 8:05 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. So, we're halfway there. But, some are still livin' on a prayer because...a Bears win and a Virginia Tech loss to Duquesne (pronounced Du-Cane, not Du-Queen) could signify a second-round NIT game at the Golden Dome. Even if the Bears and Hokies both win, there is a slight - but not very likely - possibility that Baylor could still serve as a second-round host, but don't count on it. If Baylor wins tonight, we should know the Bears' second-round fate soon thereafter.
Since some of Baylor's old and new Bandwagoners need enlightment at times, do you know what happened on March 18, 1950 (Hint: It's NIT related)? Answer: CCNY (that's City College of New York - duh!) beat Bradley, 69-61, for the NIT championship. CCNY also beat Bradley for the NCAA title (yes that was legal then), becoming the only school to win both titles in the same year. We're just saying...History's a crazy thing.
Tuesday was the opening night of the Postseason NIT, featuring eight games that included three of Baylor's regular season opponents - South Carolina, Nebraska and Washington State. USC was unable to overcome Davidson's Stephon Curry as the Wildcats knocked off the Gamecocks, 70-63, in Columbia. The Huskers' season came to an end following an 83-71 loss at New Mexico; Interesting Side Note: Baylor's last NIT game was a road loss at New Mexico. And, in the nightcap - much to the chagrin of Baylor ISP's Stacey Martens - Wazzu lost 68-57 at St. Mary's. So, Baylor opposition is 0-3 thus far in the postseason...
But, despite the madness that is the first round of the NIT, most of the second- and third-round dates have been set in advance (no times or TV availability, yet). The Baylor-Georgetown winner will face the Virginia Tech-Duquesne winner SATURDAY, MARCH 21 at a site to-be-determined. The Auburn Region final will be held TUESDAY, MARCH 24 at a site to-be-determined. Keep those dates in mind.
With that said, how about WEDNESDAY'S OPENING LIST to get your day going:
BAYLOR HOSTS GEORGETOWN IN NIT ROUND FOR FIRST SERIES MEETING
* Baylor is 3-1 this season against first-time opponents (lost to Wake Forest in 76 Classic championship game)
Wait for it....
Baylor's last home game was Senior Night March 7 and the Bears fell to Nebraska, 66-62, while most of the student body and fan base were on spring break...Here's a second chance, BAYLORNATION. Sell out the Ferrell Center for Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat, Kevin Rogers and Mamadou Diene. They deserve it - don't bring a friend, BRING AN ARMY.
Wait for it...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Let's see what else was happening in 1950, shall we?
Average Cost of New House: $8,450.00
Baylor exorcised a pair of demons, if you will, during last week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City...For only the second time in school history, Baylor defeated the Kansas Jayhawks as the Bears became the first team in the Big 12 era to defeat KU in its opening game. Baylor is also the only school in the Big 12 era to defeat a No. 1 seed twice in the quarterfinals (see: 2001 win over Iowa State). The Bears then snapped their 24-game losing streak to Texas, sending the Longhorns home. From there, Baylor advanced to its first Big 12 Championship title game in school history and only its third conference tournament championship game (see: 1987 and 1988 Southwest Conference title game).
The last 96 hours or so have been crammed with NIT preparations - not to mention a tremendous lack in the sleep department. While Wednesday is considered a home game, it is still a NIT/NCAA event, so there are a few extra steps involved. But, there is gold at the end of the rainbow - FCP received his Big 12 Championship gift...An 8 GB iTouch.
Have you Twittered lately? You can get the latest updates, blog posts and other Baylor Bears meanderings on our Twitter page, but you have to be a Twitter member. It's FREE, so go join...And, don't forget to add Baylor Athletics, the official Twitter page of, well, Baylor Athletics, of course!
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Saturday is All But a Blur
Pardon our tardiness, but after practically living out of a suitcase from nearly six days, our schedule has been - well - less scheduled. Baylor's historic run at the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship took its toll on the Bears by Saturday's championship game and certainly did a number or two on FCP and his merry band of Media Relations gypsies (Heath Nielsen and WWW's Brad Sheffield). Plus, three of Baylor's Athletic Media Relations Student Assistants - Ashley Dunn, Taylor Eastman and John Paul Charbonnet - even volunteered to work the tournament in OKC DURING SPRING BREAK. Now, that's what we call dedication. Or, just Baylor Proud (FCP's monthly Jeff Brown reference).
We broke the news nearly two months ago and it was confirmed Sunday night...Baylor's in the postseason. Not that FCP likes to rehash things (yes, we do when we are right), but FCP was right. While Baylor didn't make the NCAA Tournament (they almost did), the Bears are in the NIT for only the fourth time in school history. Baylor will host the Georgetown Hoyas Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. CDT on ESPN2 at the Ferrell Center. Brad Nessler (pxp) and Jimmy Dykes (color) will serve as the TV talent.
As for last week, the Bears finished one game short of becoming the first team in Big 12 history to win four games in four days en route to a Big 12 Conference tournament title. Roughly two weeks ago, the BaylorNation Bandwagon had plenty of good seats available, but by the time Baylor finished off Texas, 76-70, Friday night, Baylor's Bandwagon was overflowing...Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State fans were cheering for the Green and Gold. We even spotted some Kansas faithful - decked in blue and red Jayhawk attire - doing the Bear Claw during the Baylor Line. Not to mention, some of Baylor's fans from the beginning of the season who jumped off the bandwagon got back on after either Thursday or Friday...Let's hope those guys stay on for a while this time.
Syracuse May Have 6 Overtimes, but They Still Talk about Baylor
Unfortunately, that's what we've got for now as FCP will be putting the finishing touches on our Postseason NIT notes for Wednesday's game. Welcome back to the BaylorNation Bandwagon...
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
A Season to Forget is Now a Season to Remember for "The Cinderella of Cinderellas"
It's a time for BaylorNation to rejoice! And, for those fans that jumped off the bandwagon, say - oh around the beginning of February - welcome back. Tonight is going to be a fun ride. And, we guarantee that there will be a large amount of green and gold in attendance when the Big 12 Championship title game tips at 5 p.m. on ESPN.
Baylor is now a media darling. "The Cinderella of Cinderellas", according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
NO TEAM HAS EVER GONE 4-0 IN A BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP. A Baylor win today vs. Missouri would make the No. 9-seeded Bears the 4-0 team and the lowest-seeded champion. Say, FCP, just how many times has a team won four games in a four days for a conference championship? Glad you asked; here's your answer:
FRIDAY'S BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINAL PLAYER OF THE GAME: A three-way tie (Kevin Rogers, LaceDarius Dunn and Henry Dugat)
What does Baylor, N.C. State (1983) and Villanova (1985) have in a common?
Three Down, One to Go...
All Things Considered, FCP - or, as they say in Italia: Pressa Piena Della Corte - Told You So
Proud Baylor alumnus and former Baylor Athletic Media Relations student Justin Cange of Cuttin' in the Baylor Line fame beat us to the proverbial blog punch Thursday afternoon following Baylor's 71-64 upset of No. 11 Kansas in the Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals. While we intended to blog about Baylor's second-ever win over the Jayhawks on Thursday, we were a little swamped here at FCP'S ROAD HEADQUARTERS (the Ford Center Media Room). We were getting phone calls from all over the board; we even received an e-mail from loyal fans in Italy, congratulating the team on its win over Kansas. You know you've arrived when you are mentioned on Uni Watch AND have basketball fans in Italy. For the duration of the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Postseason, we hereby change our name to the Italian form: Pressa Piena Della Corte.
PPDC (it will catch on like wildfire, trust us) doesn't want to overload you with ALL the screencaps from yesterday's win, so we've linked you to the Baylor Newsstand.
All things considered, Pressa Piena Della Corte told you so. We did. We said Baylor still had fight left and that the Bears were poised for a deep tournament run. Guess what, BaylorNation? The time is now. The Bears will get one last crack at the Texas Longhorns tonight at 6 p.m. on THE BIG 12 NETWORK [Complete TV Listings]. Head coach Scott Drew is 0-13 vs. Texas and the Bears senior class is 0-9...It's about time to say good-bye to that 24-game losing streak to the 'Horns, right?
And, for those not in 'the know', Baylor is not only loaded with leading scorers Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn; the Bears are apparently also blessed (this, according to ESPN.com) with phenoms Curtis Juhrells and LosDarius Dunn. Dude, where have these guys been? Don't believe us? Watch the video on yesterday's ESPN.com recap.
Two down, two to go...
One Down, Three to Go: Baylor Lives to See Another Day
Tuesday morning's pre-practice pep talk appears to have paid dividends Wednesday afternoon. (Quick Side Story: Head coach Scott Drew brought the team to the main floor of the Cox Communications Convention Center, home of the Big 12 Women's Championship. Well, 11 years ago, the facility was known as 'The Myriad' and hosted the 1998 NCAA Midwest Men's Region...To make a long story longer, The Myriad was home to "The Shot", when Valpo's Bryce Drew hit a 23-foot 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Crusaders to an upset of No. 4 seed Ole Miss, 70-69.)...Now that we are up to speed, yes, Bryce Drew is Coach Drew's younger brother...Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as Santa Claus and, yes, miracle tournament runs do exist. See: Georgia's run in 2008 SEC Championship. Speaking of UGA, when the Bulldogs began the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome, they had lost 11 of their last 13 games. And, Baylor lost 10 of its final 12 before opening the Big 12 Championship Wednesday...
We're just saying...
If you watched the game or chatted with online guru Wednesdays With Webguy (aka Baylor Athletics on the in-game interactive blog), BaylorNation should be happy. Finally, for the first time in a while, the Bears played like - well, the nationally ranked Baylor Bears of two months ago. Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn handled the offense effeciently, while Kevin Rogers (ahem, All-Underrated by The Oklahoman) cleaned the glass early and often. It was refreshing; it was fun; it was Baylor Basketball. Baylor's path to its first Big 12 men's basketball tournament title doesn't get any easier as the Bears face the No. 1 seed Kansas Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2.
For those that were interactive blogging and such, we had over 600 unique users on today's edition. Well done, BaylorNation! Do it again, tomorrow.
We'll make this short, sweet and to the point.
WEDNESDAY'S BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ONE MVP: Kevin Rogers. We don't feel that an explanation is needed, but for those that need documented proof, Rogers set a new Baylor Big 12 tournament record for career rebounds (now with 47); established a new Baylor record for rebounds in a Big 12 Championship game (shattered old mark of 14); moved into fourth place all-time on Baylor's career list with 810 career boards; set a new career high (former 18); recorded his 24th career - and seventh season - double-double; finished one short of tying Big 12 Championship record (Drew Gooden, 21). Do you need more?
Baylor's season continues Thursday against the top-seeded Jayhawks. Tip-off is set for 11:37 a.m. CT on ESPN2 with Ron Franklin (pxp) and Fran Fraschilla (color). One down, three to go.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
BREAKING NEWS: CJ Named to USBWA All-District VII Team
Baylor senior Curtis Jerrells was named to the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-District VII Team (Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana) Tuesday morning. Joining CJ on the All-District Team were A.J. Abrams (Texas), Josh Carter (Texas A&M), Aubrey Coleman (Houston), Stefon Jackson (UTEP), Damion James (Texas), Tasmin Mitchell (LSU), John Roberson (Texas Tech), Marcus Thornton (LSU) and Michael Washington (Arkansas). LSU swept the specialty awards - Thornton (Player of the Year) and Trent Johnson (Coach of the Year).
Now, it's off to practice we go...
On the Road to OKC: Baylor's Quest for a Big 12 Championship
In case you missed it Sunday morning, former-Baylor-standout-turned-NBA-star-turned-student-manager David Wesley was the feature story on ESPN's Where Are They Now? segment that ran on the 11 a.m. edition of SportsCenter. IFHO (In FCP's humble opinion), it was an excellent story. Special thanks again to John Cunningham and his class for allowing ESPN to film last Wednesday morning.
While the 2008-09 season was filled so much promise and expectations for Baylor, the Bears fell short in the regular season, posting a 17-13 overall record with a 5-11 mark in the Big 12. FCP knows that BaylorNation is disappointed. However, there are three parts to a basketball season: Preseason, Regular Season and Postseason. Like we said before the Bears opened the Big 12 season vs. Texas Tech on Jan. 10, it's a new season. The slate has been wiped clean...The eight teams that will play on Wednesday in the opening round of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship are 0-0, including the Bears.
So, what does that mean? Forget Baylor's loss to Nebraska on Saturday. That was LAST SEASON. Forget the Bears' run to the NCAA Tournament in 2008. That was THREE SEASONS AGO. It's March Madness, baby. These are the times that try college basketball team's souls. Like that reference? I thought so.
On the road to Oklahoma City...
During the four-plus-hour bus ride to OKC, we watched The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, the true and inspirational story of 1961 Heisman Trophy winner and Syracuse running back Ernie Davis. Two years after winning the Heisman, Davis passed away from leukemia at the age of 23. He signed to play professional football with the Cleveland Browns, joining former Syracuse standout Jim Brown. Despite never playing a down, the Browns retired Davis' No. 45.
Remember the Titans? Well, we sure do...One of the best sports movies in recent years. Another inspirational story. Are you noticing a pattern here?
The Bears Basketball Caravan arrived in OKC around 7:40 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel, adjacent to the Cox Communications Convention Center. After a quick change of clothes, we headed over to The Petroleum Club for dinner where we were greeted by Baylor alum Jim Daniel, former Baylor baseball coach Dutch Schroeder, Baylor Senior Associate AD for Development Doug Smith and Baylor Executive Director for Athletic Fundraising Rick Darnell. After dinner, the team was treated to guest speaker Colonel Russell, whose battalion captured Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13, 2003, in Iraq. While he provided the group with a great wealth of knowledge and determination, we left dinner with one of the most important messages - his battalion's motto: Deeds, Not Words. Such a powerful phrase.
In Case You Missed Anything, we've put it together in MONDAY'S CLOSING LIST:
Senior Curtis Jerrells was named to the All-Big 12 Third Team, while LaceDarius Dunn and Kevin Rogers were named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention on Sunday. Dunn also earned the program's first Sixth Man Award. In other Big 12 postseason honors, CJ was named to The Oklahoman's All-Big 12 third team...Lace and K-Rog were named All-Bench and All-Underrated, respectively, by The Oklahoman. Dunn (All-Reserve) and Acy (All-Freshman) were selected for specialty awards by a group of media who regularly cover the Big 12. Jerrells earned the latest Big 12 honor when he was named to the AP's All-Big 12 third team.
Tuesday is the "first day" of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship as the Bears take the Ford Center floor at Noon for practice. We are nearing 36 hours until tip-off between Baylor and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Wednesday's game WILL BE televised live on the Big 12 Network in Central Texas on CWTX/The CW (Time Warner Digital Channel 165/Grande Channel 15). It's been a long day...Time to turn out the lights. The fun starts tomorrow.
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
The Ferrell Center: Where March Madness Begins
The final home game for Mamadou Diene, Henry Dugat, Curtis Jerrells and Kevin Rogers is almost upon us. It's the day that none of us thought would ever come - or at least seem not so quickly. More commentary will follow Saturday morning, of course, but TOMORROW (MARCH 7) will be the Beginning of the Beginning. The Beginning of the Arrival of Baylor Basketball. The Bears are - without question - better today than their first game in 2006, right? After all, isn't that what a four-year senior class supposed to do? Leave the program in better condition than in which they found it? Remember to show your support and appreciation for these four on Saturday. They deserve a sell-out.
Hopefully, we can add a nice TV icon above so you can click on it. You know, make it snazzy! Since we don't have that, we just have text - [Complete TV Listings].
GAME NIGHT STORY LINES
NEBRASKA SCOUTING REPORT
We've got your MARCH MADNESS right here! Baylor's March to March Madness begins Saturday.
For All Intents and Purposes, It All Starts Here
MEMO TO FCPNATION:
The last 36 hours have been, well, hectic. It began with an all-day out-of-office marathon on Wednesday as an ESPN crew was on campus for its David Wesley featurette. We are a little more than 24 hours away from Baylor's regular season finale against the Nebraska Cornhuskers - tip-off is set for 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Network. Better get used to seeing the Huskers...Baylor plays them again on Wednesday in game one of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship in O-K-C. Do you know the last time that occured for the Bears? A: 2003. Baylor defeated Texas Tech in the season finale, 74-68, but lost to the Red Raiders in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Dallas.
Before we head into our senior capsules, let's span the college basketball world for Baylor hoops news in FRIDAY'S OPENING LIST:
Aaron Bruce Named NBL Rookie of the Year. Former Baylor standout Aaron Bruce averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds, helping Adelaide return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus and earning NBL Rookie of the Year honors.
Lomers Named First Team Academic All-Big 12. Baylor junior center Josh Lomers was selected to the 2009 Academic All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Team, the league office announced. Lomers becomes the first Baylor player in the Big 12 era to earn back-to-back first-team honors.
CJ Named NABC All-District in Back-to-Back Seasons. Baylor senior guard Curtis Jerrells has been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division I All-District 8 second team. It marks the second-straight year that Jerrells has been named to an All-District team by the NABC.
Prior to Saturday's game, Baylor will honor eight members of its senior class (Wait a minute! FCP, we only have four seniors. What an astute observation, but there are four others "behind the scenes" that we don't want to overlook. We'll start with that group first:
Alex Cho (Cupertino, Calif.), Student Athletic Trainer. He may have only been with the team for the 2008-09 season, but Cho has played an integral part in the day-to-day duties as an athletic trainer, assisting Associate Athletic Trainer David Chandler and fellow student assistant Hunt Whitten. Cho will graduate in May with a degree in athletic training.
Ty Beard (Midlothian, Texas), Stephen Perkins (Waco) and Will Phipps (Lubbock, Texas), Student Managers. For four years, these managers have worked countless hours as a key component in Baylor's basketball operation. Their behind-the-scenes contributions were appreciated at all Baylor home and away games, as an assistant on the managerial staff.
Mamadou Diene (Yeumbeul, Senegal). He ranks second in both career blocks (137) and career blocks per game (1.54) in school history behind only current L.A. Clipper Brian Skinner. A gregarious crowd and campus favorite, he is known as "The Mayor". He became the first Baylor male and first Big 12 men's basketball student-athlete to be named Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year in 2008. He graduated in December with a degree in communication. [Ferrell Center PA extraordinaire: Mama-dooooooooooooooooo Diennnnnnnnnnne]
Henry Dugat (Dayton, Texas). He is known for his highlight-reel quality drives, dunks and blocks, while also praised by the coaching staff for his defensive skills. He ranks sixth all-time at Baylor with 138 career steals. Earlier this season, he became the 21st player in school history to score 1,000 career points and currently ranks 14th all-time with 1,167. He ranks sixth all-time with 154 3-point field goals. He will graduate in May with a degree in General Studies.. [Ferrell Center PA extraordinaire: Henreee Duuuuuuu-goooooot]
Curtis Jerrells (Austin, Texas). He ranks sixth in school history with 1,658 career points. He is one of only two players in Baylor history to amass 1,000 points, 400 assists and 100 steals. A First Team All-Big 12 guard in 2008, he recorded only the fourth triple-double earlier this season vs. Hartford. He holds the Baylor career record for games started and minutes played. He will graduate in May with a degree in General Studies. [Ferrell Center PA extraordinaire: Curtiiiis Jeerrrrrells]
Kevin Rogers (Dallas, Texas). He ranks fifth all-time at Baylor with 784 career rebounds and sixth with 81 blocked shots. Earlier this season, he became the 22nd player in school history with 1,000 career points and currently ranks 10th all-time with 1,232. He is one of only seven players in school history with 1,000 points and 700 rebounds. He will graduate in May with a degree in General Studies. [Ferrell Center PA extraordinaire: Keeeeeeeeeeevin 'Dooos Tresss' Roooogers]
What a way to start Senior Day eve...You know? For All Intents and Purposes, the New Season Starts Here.
You Know You've Arrived When You're Mentioned on Paul Lukas' Uni Watch Blog
Yesterday, we had two blog entries; you can see the latest one from Tuesday, but you can't see the first one. Why? FCP Error. In the process of providing you with a plethora of information, we managed to delete our first posting. For those that saw it, great. For those that didn't, we'll provide you with a rather not-so-brief summation: Saturday is Senior Day. These four seniors have helped resurrect the Baylor Bear basketball program, awaking a sleeping giant from hibernation. And, while this season hasn't lived up the preseason hype and expectations, these men deserve the utmost respect from BAYLORNATION on Saturday for their final home game as Baylor Bears.
Last week in his Colorado post-game press conference, Coach Drew asked fans to bring a friend to this Saturday's Senior Day game vs. Nebraska. DON'T BRING A FRIEND; BRING AN ARMY. Sell out the Ferrell Center and stand behind YOUR Baylor Bears as they drive towards the postseason. Baylor still has a chance to achieve a Big 12 championship (a tournament title, as pointed out by Baylor Media Relations Student Assistant Sean Doerre) and make a second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
For those of you who have labeled this season as a 'disappointment', shame on you. As we've preached all year long, you play AN ENTIRE REGULAR SEASON AND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE for a reason. If you don't play well in the regular season, you have one more chance in your respective conference tournament (while it may still be hard for some schools trying to reach The Dance).
FCP TRIVIA: How many times has Baylor made back-to-back postseason tournaments? (Answer: Once. Baylor made the NIT in 1986-87 and the NCAA Tournament in 1987-88). If Baylor doesn't make the NCAA Tournament, the Bears will make the NIT. That isn't as bad as some claim. Translation: The possibility of a top-four seed and first-round home game.
L-I-V-I-N the ESPN Dream...
After filming on campus (ESPN filmed a sequence of David walking from the shadows of Pat Neff to the sidewalk outside the Castellaw Communications Building where one unsuspecting student didn't know who Wesley was), the ESPN crew headed to the Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. Practice Facility to set up shop in the men's practice gym. The piece is slated to air Sunday morning on SportsCenter. When we get a precise time, we will send out a 'Tweet' - see, you should be on Twitter.
You Know You've Arrived When You Are Mentioned on Uni Watch
Mark Your Calendars
FCP'S SENIOR SPOTLIGHT
And now, for this week's Public Service Announcement (to replace 'BOOM...DYNAMITE' just for this week): DON'T BRING A FRIEND; BRING AN ARMY.
If the NIT started today, five Baylor opponents would make the 32-team field: Providence (No. 1 seed in Providence Region), South Carolina (No. 2 seed in Providence Region), Nebraska (No. 5 seed in Virginia Tech Region), Washington State (No. 7 seed in Virginia Tech Region) and Kansas State (No. 1 seed in Kansas State Region).
And, as of the latest NIT predictions, Baylor is a solid pick in the field, while all four No. 7 and No. 8 seeds are on the bubble, but in the projected tournament field - Northern Iowa, Wazzu, Mississippi State, Green Bay, Cleveland State, Miami (Ohio), Northeastern and UALR.
For those of you dying to know those teams on the NIT bubble that are likely to receive tournament bids to the CBI or CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (yes, there is a FOURTH postseason tournament): Evansville, Duquesne, UTEP, Nevada, Binghamton, Bradley, Houston, Hofstra, Wyoming, Wright State, St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt, Fairfield, N.C. State, Seton Hall, Boise State, Old Dominion, Iowa, Stanford, College of Charleston, La Salle, Akron, Portland, Drexel, St. Louis, Alabama, Portland State, New Mexico State, Troy, Arkansas, Mount St. Mary's and [The Fighting Wednesdays With Webguys of] North Texas.
Just Another Manic Monday? No, Just ESPN Big Monday
It's a BE.A.Utiful Monday morning along the banks of the Brazos...
For the second time this season, Baylor fans get to enjoy the Bears in stellar primetime HD as the Baylor Bears visit long-time rival Texas tonight on ESPN's Big Monday at 8 p.m. Don't have HD or won't be around a TV? That's ok - the game is also available on ESPN360 or you can tune in to ESPN 1660 AM with John Morris and Pat Nunley, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
It's the final week of the regular season and, while some teams are jockeying for position atop the league standings, it appears as though Baylor may be a lock for the 8-9 game of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. That is an 11:30 a.m. tip on the Big 12 Network. If everything remained the same for the remainder of the week, Baylor would end its regular season at home vs. Nebraska and would open the Big 12 Championship against the Huskers in the first round. The winner of the 8-9 game would face the No. 1 seed (presumably Kansas, as of today) March 12 at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2.
But, it's still early and we have two more games on the docket. So, without further conviction...Here's MONDAY [NOT SO ABBREVIATED] PRIMETIME OPENING LIST:
No video icon? Yeah, we decided to forgo a video icon...but, there is video for the game for free on ESPN360.com. Pretty sweet, huh?
GAME NIGHT STORY LINES
TEXAS SCOUTING REPORT
LAST TIME VS. TEXAS - JAN. 27, 2009
WE'LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS...Baylor basketball returned to the Ferrell Center last Saturday as the Bears crushed Colorado in the second half en route to a 75-57 win. Now, the Bears invade the capital city as they try to stop their 23-game losing streak to the Longhorns. You've Gotta Believe. AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.
Sunday Morning Point Guard: The 24-Points-in-the-Second-Half Edition
They're BAAAAAAAAAAAACKKKK. If you weren't one of the 7,000-plus fans on hand at the Ferrell Center to witness the return of Baylor Basketball, shame on you. While the first half was low scoring (BU led 26-24 at the break), the Bears rose from hibernation in the second half thanks to senior Curtis Jerrells. Colorado held Jerrells to only five points in the first half, but CJ was at his finest in the second period. Jerrells sliced and diced through the lane and picked apart Colorado's defense with precision. It was...AWESOME.
Jerrells scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including 18 in the game's final 10 minutes. Wait, he scored 24 of his 29 points in the second half? That should sound familiar to Baylor fans...That's because he pulled the same second-half heroics on Dec. 20 vs. UT Arlington at the Ferrell Center. CJ scored 24 in the second half that game as well, while going 16-of-17 from the free throw line. Could this be the turning point? It very well could be and now the Bears face a very beatable Texas team that lost on the road at Oklahoma State Saturday (see, Baylor's not the only team to leave Stillwater without a win).
Saturday's outcome featured the Baylor team that excited fans through the first 18 games of the season...The run-and-gun offense that electrified the crowd and even those of us who aren't allowed to cheer at games (ahem). With that said, the final two games are upon us and we'll leave you with this: At 17-11 (5-9 in Big 12), Baylor still can reach its goal of winning a Big 12 title and return to the NCAA Tournament. You know why? Because It's March Madness. Anything is within the realm of possibility. And, quite frankly, if Baylor catches fire these last two games, we don't see very many teams eager to play the Bears in the Big 12 Tournament, do you?
AND, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.