With one month remaining in the regular season, league volleyball teams open the second half of conference play. Big XII Mid-season Recap.
This week’s slate is highlighted by Saturday’s matchups, which pit the league’s top four teams against each other with a top-10 match between No. 2 Texas and No. 6 Kansas in Lawrence. Baylor will travel to Kansas State.
Sixty-seven percent of the league’s teams (six-of-nine) are ranked in this week’s NCAA RPI top 50, including five (56 percent) in the top 31. The 67 percent within the top 50 is the highest among all conferences, while the Big 12 is one of three conferences with more than 50 percent of its teams in the top 31. The Big 12 has finished with five teams in the final NCAA RPI top 50 each of the past two seasons.
Ishmail Wainright Interviews Holly Rowe
Baylor has had some memorable moments in March under coach Scott Drew, who took over a program in shambles and has since made postseason tournaments a regular occurrence. From USA Today.
But there were crushing finishes in the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, when the Bears lost their opening games against double-digit seeds each time.
"Well, we were hoping after the first loss we'd learn the lesson for the second one," said Drew, who is going into his 14th season. "We've had a lot of success in the postseason. And we've also lost in the first round the last two years. ... That drives your returning players to work that much harder to do better in March."
The finale last season was a loss to 12th-seeded Yale, a year after the Bears blew a 12-point lead in the last 3 minutes of a loss to 13th-seeded Georgia State.
As difficult as those endings were, Drew knows the only way to do better in the NCAA Tournament is to get there again. Baylor has also been to the Elite Eight twice, losing to the eventual national champion both times, and made the Sweet 16 another time.
Friday’s news today: Baylor junior forward Johnathan Motley will be suspended for the Nov. 11 season opener against Oral Roberts after he violated NCAA rules by playing in a summer league game. From WacoTrib.
Motley is a preseason all-Big 12 choice after averaging 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks as a sophomore last season.
Additionally, junior college transfer Nuni Omot is academically ineligible until the end of the fall semester after transferring from Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College.
Omot, a 6-9 forward, is expected to be eligible to play in mid-December.
Baylor Lariat’s Jordon Smith says Bears set national standard.
Baylor has run the football better than any Big 12 team this season, rushing for a total of 1,697 yards on 300 carries with 16 touchdowns. However, that success goes further back than just this year. Ever since the win over TCU on Nov. 30, 2013, Baylor has scored at least one rushing touchdown in every single game, putting its streak to 35 games in a row with a rushing touchdown, which is the longest streak of any team in a Power Five Conference.
The Baylor Bears are undefeated and nationally relevant because of the excellent play of their defense. That’s what hook’em dot com says.
Yes, you’re reading this correctly.
Sure, Baylor still is dynamic on offense. That’s as automatic as sweating through a Texas summer. The Bears’ up-tempo mix of run and pass is the trendiest offense in the country. Even Texas, which hosts Baylor this Saturday, hired offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert in the offseason to install a version of the Baylor brand.
But it’s Baylor’s defense, which is tops in the Big 12, that has proven to be the most significant surprise of the league, especially considering the Bears were forced to change to a 3-4 scheme because they had so few linemen.
Like most quarterbacks, Seth Russell believes the most important statistic is the one that shows up in the win column. From WacoTrib’s Brice Cherry.
That’s not to say Russell is ignorant of stats, only that he tries to keep them in perspective. With Baylor at 6-0 entering Saturday’s Texas game and Russell still unbeaten as a starting quarterback in his career at 13-0, that’s the bigger deal to the Bears.
Russell is completing 57 percent of his passes. Would he like that number to be higher? Sure. What quarterback wouldn’t?
But he’ll take 9-of-22 in a win over 45-of-62 in a loss any day.
“If I can complete the ball more, that would be a lot better,” Russell said. “But for the most part I don’t have a statistic that I want to hit. As long as we win the game, that’s all that matters.”
Still, Russell isn’t completing a particularly high percentage of his passes, compared to his peers across the country or simply in the Big 12. He ranks ninth in the conference and 81st nationally in completion percentage.
Charlie Strong is running out of time to prove himself as the Longhorn’s head coach. Strong still believes this year’s squad can be the best during his tenure at Texas. From The Daily Texan online dot com.
Charlie Strong is seven games into his third season as the Longhorns’ head coach. Just as in his first two campaigns, his team holds a 3–4 record. With his tenure at Texas growing more uncertain week by week, Strong addressed the media Monday morning ahead of a tough matchup with No. 8 Baylor on Saturday.
Here are two main takeaways from Strong and his players: Running out of excuses and Baylor surpassing Texas.
UT athletic director’s support only means so much for Charlie Strong. From the Houston Chronicle.
The University of Texas' former athletic director used to make a public appearance with his head football coach every Monday, and this is how it went:
DeLoss Dodds entered Bellmont Hall's Centennial Room alongside Mack Brown, who would walk through the door and take a right, toward the reporters waiting for his weekly news conference.
Dodds, meanwhile, would take a left, toward the buffet line. Then he'd fix himself a plate of food and take it back to his office for lunch.
As for what kind of message that conveyed, why would Dodds care? Everyone knew how he felt, and everyone knew he was in charge, so he didn't have to worry about how things looked.