Traditionally, the Baylor Bears have been the red-headed stepchild of the Big 12 Conference, both in football and men's basketball. And in football, they remain a struggling program, having not made a bowl game since 1994. In basketball, they have endured even more in the recent past, with former coach Dave Bliss committing NCAA infraction after NCAA infraction, most notably the tragic death of the late Patrick Dennehey, a Baylor player under Bliss. Bliss, besides illegally providing financial aid to players among other NCAA infractions, attempted to hide some of the evidence about the murder, which was the death-knell for any potential future as a college coach.
Enter Scott Drew. Drew took over the most ravaged program in America, and had the task of virtually building it up from scratch. And to make matters worse, he had to do this in one of the best conferences in the country, the Big 12, against the likes of powerhouses such as Kansas and Texas. He had quite possibly the toughest job in America the first couple of years on the job, but he still found a way to get talent to Waco.
He took over the reigns of the Baylor Bear program in the 2003-04 season, meaning his first recruiting class was the Class of 2004. Starting with that class, here is all of the talent he has brought in:
2004: PG Aaron Bruce and C Mamdou Diene
2005: SG Henry Dugat, PG Curtis Jerrells and PF Kevin Rogers
2006: C Josh Lomers and SG Tweety Carter
2007: SG LaceDarius Dunn
Among other recruits, he brought in eight high-end players that make up the majority of Drew's rotation, taking the majority of the minutes. They are led by their five-guard rotation, ranging from a senior in Aaron Bruce to a freshman in LaceDarius Dunn, with three players in between.
They have boatloads of talent, especially on the perimeter, and they know how to use it. And with how bad our perimeter defense has struggled these past three games, especially by Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers, I am deathly afraid of the five-headed monster of Jerrels, Carter, Bruce, Dunn and Dugat. For the first time all season long, someone's backcourt will be deeper than ours, and possibly better, forcing us to play up to our potential just to keep up with the Bears. Big defensive games will be needed by both Russell and Mario, if they continue to simply allow free passage to the lane, we could very well lose. To Baylor. In Allen Field House.
But for how deep and awesome their backcourt is, their frontcourt is mostly a combination of only three players (Rogers, Lomers and Diene), with Diene serving mostly as a defensive stopper. Lomers isn't a scoring machine by his own right, leaving almost all of the low post scoring to Kevin Rogers. And as good and talented as Rogers is, he isn't good enough to take on our entire frontcourt on the Bears' offensive end. Look for Billy Self to double Rogers and, if our guards do their part, force Lomers and Diene to beat us.
In any case, this team is just as dangerous as the team up in Manhattan, and if this game was in Waco, it wouldn't end too well.
But it isn't in Waco, it is in the comfy and incredibly noisy Allen Field House, and that is the X-Factor that allows us to come out on top.