Nobody voting in the associated press poll believes this is a top 25 team. The Bears will begin their quest to prove those people wrong at 6:00 tonight at the Ferrell Center. The game will air on ESPNU.
The Bears season begins with the loss of the school’s all-time leading rebounder in Rico Gathers, a lottery pick in Taurean Prince, and their starting point guard, Lester Medford.
But the Bears have a group ready to make up for those losses. This team may not rebound like last year’s team, but Johnathan Motley was the only big man to make the All-Big 12 team. They may not have one scorer as good as Taurean Prince, but Al Freeman should be improved and King McClure should provide strong play in an increased role.
Then there’s Manu Lecomte. Lecomte begins his junior season after sitting out last season following his transfer from Miami. Lecomte’s strength is his three point range. He shot 46% as a sophomore at Miami. Against Duke two years ago, Lecomte helped the Hurricanes upset a Duke team—at Cameron Indoor— that went on to win the national title, with shots like this:
Led by their lone senior, Ish Wainright, the Bears are an overwhelming favorite against Oral Roberts. KenPom gives the Bears a 95% chance of victory. Oral Roberts finished just 14-17 last season. They are not expected to turn things around this year.
The Bears will be without Motley tonight. Motley is suspended because he played in a summer league game. Motley will return for the Bears second game—and giant test—against Oregon at 2:30 P.M. next Tuesday in Waco.
With Motley out tonight, the Bears will turn to an additional newcomer, Jo Acuil. Acuil sat out last season after worries about his heart. At Neosho County Community College, Acuil averaged 4.5 blocks a game, as you can imagine seeing him block this shot:
The Bears should win this one comfortably and play a number of new guys as they get their rotation figured out. If you’re in Waco, go watch this team. Although the A.P. might not believe in them, they have more than enough talent to make their fourth straight tournament. And if things break right, we’ll all be wondering how this team entered the season unranked.