The Baylor Bears of the NIT tournament have been playing much better than the Baylor Bears throughout the regular season. Sure, the season had some spurts, but they failed to be consistent throughout the entire year, and this caused them to fall to some lower quality teams, and couldn't boast a strong enough resume to make it into the premier tournament. What's done is done as far as that goes, and the best the Bears can do now is show how they have improved throughout the season by making a strong run in the NIT, preferably winning it. The Baylor men also garnered themselves three extra senior nights, the last of which will be this Wednesday and will hopefully end in the Bears being awarded tickets for a trip to NYC to play in Madison Square Garden. Sure, Pierre Jackson couldn't make it to the big stage of the NCAA tournament, but he should be a lot of fun to watch at the Garden if the Bears can win their next game.
The number one thing I'm noticing thus far with the team now that I can actually watch them again is that their ball movement has improved. If Baylor moves the ball and works it both in and outside of the post, then their offense can be really dangerous. It's when the offense gets stagnant that they have a problem getting things going. Cory Jefferson has proved himself as a dominating force inside, and has also developed a very nice jumper this year. I'd love to see or hear about what he has done in practice in order to improve that. Anyway, the emergence of Jefferson has brought more attention to him while the Bears are on offense, causing the long-range shooters to have a little more room on the outside.
I love Brady Heslip as much as anyone else, but he is not someone who can create a shot off the dribble so he benefits a lot from throwing in an entry pass and then re-positioning himself if the defender turns his head for a kick out pass from the post. This may, or may not, be one of the reasons why Heslip has found his stroke from beyond the arc. Whatever the cause, I'm very happy Heslip has started hitting shots again. Against Arizona State, aside from the officiating slowing down the pace of the game, Baylor had a stretch where they fell in love with the outside shot and had possession after possession where they would come down, miss a jumper, not get the rebound, give up points, and repeat. Jackson can get to the rim pretty much whenever he wants, and while Baylor has been shooting from outside with much more consistency lately, they still need to get the ball going towards the rim.
Isaiah Austin is a very intriguing player to me. He has a ton of upside, but right now his upside is all he has. He's had games where he's put up a 20 and 10 performance, then has game like he had against Oklahoma State, when he managed to score two more points than I did. Austin is a very talented player, with an arsenal of tools, but lacks development . He has a good inside game with his running hook shots, and has a nice jumper for a man his size form beyond the arc, but as a 7'1" player he needs to go to the rim. His running hooks go away from the rim, and while these are good shots to have in his arsenal, he has the footwork and ability to be able to get shots right at the basket instead of falling away.
Austin has been playing better as of late, but for someone who is considered to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, it's weird to think that he is the third or fourth option offensively on a team that didn't even make the tournament. Personally I hope he stays another year, because he has the potential to be a top 3 overall pick if he continues working. That probably won't happen though. He dominated Arizona State's 7 plus footer, although he was not very good at all, and he seems to be adjusting to playing on a bigger stage. He needs to bring it three more times so that this team can go on and win the NIT.
Something that can't go not talked about in this article is how ugly A.J. Walton's shoes are. I couldn't find a picture to exemplify how disgusting they really are, but just take a look next time so you know what I'm talking about. Also, speaking of shoes, Pierre Jackson must come into a games without at least two to three pairs. He warmed up and started last game in one pair, and then switched to another after he substituted back into the game. Whatever shoes work for you, Pierre, I'm good with. The ones he had on during warm-ups are the same ones I wear, so that was nice to see.
Also, as far as my hiatus from writing any posts in the last about two months, pledging a fraternity takes up a lot of time so i didn't even have that much time to sit down and watch a game much less write about the team. I'm happy to be back writing now though, and also happy to be a Pi Kappa Phi.