The Baylor Bears got their season started yesterday afternoon in the Ferrell Center, following the Lady Bears blowout victory over Lamar. Here are my observations.
- Cory Jefferson had the breakout game that many of us have known he was capable of, with a 26 point 13 rebound performance. He looked like a completely different player than he did in his limited minutes last season.
- Enjoy Isaiah Austin while you can this season folks, because he is most definitely one and done. His 22 point, 4 rebound game, was the type of production we'd expected from Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller upon their arrivals in Waco. The most impressive part is that it came in only 17 minutes of action before he left with what appears to be an ankle sprain.
- Pierre Jackson looked great as I expected him to. His ability to get in to the paint and dish the ball to Austin and Jefferson, who look like they'll be able to consistently finish at the rim, is what we were missing last year. If this is the case, we're going to cause problems for some people.
- The pleasant surprise of the night was Taurean Prince. He saw his first action of the game shortly after Austin went down with the ankle injury, and proceeded to get 8 points and 6 rebounds in 11 minutes of play. The reports from the summer and fall were that even though he is raw, his combination of size, athleticism, and effort were going to be hard to keep off of the court. If last night was any indication, Prince could turn out to be a great 4 year player.
- Brady Heslip was cold from beyond the arc, but showed an ability to get in the paint and finish (or at least leave something for the bigs clean-up) that he didn’t last year. His shot will come around, and when it does, coupled with his new found ability to drive inside, he’ll be that much more dangerous.
- Deuce Bello showed (IMO) what looked to be a much improved shooting motion, Gary Franklin looked to be a little lighter and quicker, and AJ Walton looked like, well, AJ Walton. Rico Gathers is a grown man, now, and will do a good job keeping the glass clean, but he needs to rebuild his free throw motion.
While it is very early, I was really pleased with what I saw yesterday. The Bears still need to cut down on the turnovers, but the 28-16 assist to turnover ratio is something I can live with at this time of the season. We didn’t have any one player on the team with a negative assist to turnover ratio, and that’s an improvement. Defensive rebounding has to get better, but we still won the overall rebounding battle 44-32. Even though Lehigh was without two of their starters, I’ll take a win right out of the gate over a solid NCAA tournament team every time. I think it’s going to be a good season. Sic’em Bears!