This week's 2-3 zone is brought to you by finals week, which is to blame for no games to look back on in the last week so we will go back a little further to Kentucky.
1) I have mostly discussed Isaiah Austin in terms of why we beat Kentucky, who despite losing again to North Carolina, remains in the top 15 according to Ken Pomeroy. I need to further point out that Royce O'Neale hit multiple big shots for us and Kenny Chery has the most developed mid-range game of anyone I have seen this year in college basketball, with maybe CJ Fair being the only exception. These two transfers have been vital to the team's early season success over rather formidable competition. It is difficult to believe that after coming from the JUCO ranks that Chery is executing at such a high level at arguably the most difficult position on the court - all against the 15th toughest schedule to date in college basketball.
2) Player Ranks!
So normally, this will be a feature on the podcast where we will rank the players however we see fit individually, not based on the whole season or whole career, but on "what have you done for me lately." We did not get to his feature on the podcast this last week because we mainly just gave an overview of what has happened so far and a little bit of what to expect. So without further explanation, as I believe the best explanation is often just showing it, here are this week's player ranks - be sure to add yours in the comments.
*Since we only have a 9 man rotation we will only rank 10 guys*
1. Isaiah Austin (Last Week: N/A)
So when Austin decides to play like a lottery pick, he throws dunks down over other future lottery picks, makes difficult shots over potential top five picks and wins us games with his length and athleticism on both ends of the court. Congratulations Isaiah, after your performance against Kentucky you find yourself sitting at number one in the inaugural player ranks. If he continues to play like this, Austin will graduate from tooth pick to ice pick.
2.Kenny Chery (Last Week: N/A)
It was difficult for me not to put him at number one, but this is more a testament to how Austin played than to how Chery has been playing. If we need a big shot, if we need to create space offensively and heck - even when we need a big steal (see: Chery ripping Julius Randle towards the end of the Kentucky game) he has made the necessary plays you want to see from your point guard. We're beginning to see All-Big 12 potential at a position we had no clue about heading into the season. Stay out of foul trouble Kenny, that's the biggest ask.
3. Royce O'Neale (Last Week: N/A)
O'Neale is shooting 70% from the field, and 72.7% from three. Yes, you read that right. He is easily our most efficient player (like by a long shot) and always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Credit Drew for finding a guy who is not only talented, but has a knack for making big plays.
4. Rico Gathers (Last Week: N/A)
Rico grabs rebounds on his way to Penland Dining Hall. And forces guys out of the paint while taking his finals. I get legitimately scared that he is going to pop the ball when he pulls down a defensive board. But please Rico, no more jump shots from beyond 10 feet.
5. Cory Jefferson (Last Week: N/A)
While his overall stat line was solid (13 points, 8 rebounds), his four turnovers slide someone I expect to normally see in the top three all the way to number five. I do not know of anywhere on the web that tracks this, but I would be willing to bet that Jefferson is close to, if not, leading the league in walks. Hope to see him fix this problem heading into conference play, because he has the ability to completely dominate the paint if he is not traveling in it.
6. Taurean Prince (Last Week: N/A)
Prince returned to early season form against Kentucky and Hardin-Simmons. Early on (against Colorado and South Carolina), Prince was cleaning house on the stat line and making his presence felt. He fell victim to a couple of off shooting night and a lack of minutes, but against the Wildcats in limited action he did exactly what we needed him to do: Played great defense, got a couple of scrappy boards and made a couple of unexpected buckets (including a huge bankshot late).
7. Brady Heslip (Last Week: N/A)
While Brady has been fantastic coming of the bench - he was completely shut down against Kentucky. I think this is in part because Calipari's game plan included taking him out of the game, but Heslip is going to have to find ways to get his even when the other teams are long and athletic. Also, missing three of four free throws? Unacceptable, and he knows it. Another member of the "I should be higher on this list" club.
8. Gary Franklin (Last Week: N/A)
Franklin opened against Kentucky with a three and we are seeing in spurts what was true of him in high school - he is capable of being a scoring machine. A lot of people are probably still unsure of the decision to start Franklin over Heslip, but I definitely think that the first unit is better with Franklin in it, and the second unit is better with Heslip. At least so far.
9. Ish Wainwright (Last Week: N/A)
We have nine guys in the rotation, and if not for the necessity of needing someone to fill in for Chery when he needs a breather, Wainright would be the first guy to see the bench for the entirety of a game. He is a bit of a turnover machine right now and although he is a fantastic physical specimen and shown a couple of plays (pointed out in this film study I did a few weeks ago) that make me excited for the future, but Wainright is not where the preseason chatter had him, and that is okay. He is a true freshman and seems to have a good attitude, so the things he needs to work on will get worked on.
10. Logan Lowery (Last Week: N/A)
Because he is not in the rotation but is averaging a point per game. That's kind of impressive.
Tweet of the Week
feels like we haven't had a game in bout 3 months.. Not really, but still— Cory Jefferson (@CoryJay34) December 15, 2013
1) The Bears take on Northwestern State on Wednesday in the Ferrell Center. It is safe to say that Baylor will win big. Though games are not transferable from one to the next, it should say something that the Bears beat Louisiana Lafayette by 19, and that the Ragin' Cajuns beat Northwestern State by 31. Do not expect a Hardin-Simmons-esque beatdown, but John Heard and Logan Lowery should see action.
2) If I am Scott Drew, I tell the team that for every turnover against this inferior opponent, sprints are the consequence. If we can fix this issue, I said it on the podcast last night while we were recording - I am not scared of facing any team in the country. But right now? We are turning the ball over on 22% of our possessions right now and beating good teams. That is amazing but not maintainable.
3) We play Southern on Sunday before the next 2-3 zone comes out. You'll get more on them later this week, but YonDarius Johnson is not only a member of the all-name team, he is shooting lights out from three and Baylor cannot let him get going or else we will see a repeat of the Chaminade game - the game was ultimately won handily, but not without its moments of doubt.
That's it for this week's version of the 2-3 zone! You got an extra amount this week with the player ranks so be sure to add yours to the comments!