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Daily Bears Report 11/17

Lady Bears will attempt to dethrone UConn.

NCAA Womens Basketball: UCLA at Baylor
Kalani Brown
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

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Lady Bears Basketball

Streak in jeopardy?: UConn’s 76-game winning streak is the second longest in NCAA history behind UConn’s own 90-game streak. Since the start of the 2008-09 season the only programs to win consecutive games against the Huskies are Baylor and Notre Dame. Also, Baylor was the higher ranked team in three of the previous five meetings. UConn is 6-5 when facing a team ranked higher in the Associated Press’ poll. Two of the losses came to Baylor and the other three against Notre Dame.

  • Alexis Morris and Didi Richards of Baylor women's basketball's 2017 recruiting class have been named to the 2017 Naismith High School Girls Player of the Year Preseason Watch List. From Baylor Bears dot com.

The guards, who signed with the Lady Bears in the early signing period, are two of 50 players on the watch list, which narrows to 25 players on Jan. 12, 2017.

Morris, a 5-6 guard from Legacy Christian Academy in Beaumont, Texas, is the nation's No. 6 ranked point guard and the No. 18 ranked player overall according to ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, Morris averaged 25.6 points, nine rebounds and 8.4 assists per game, leading her team to the TAPPS 3A state tournament final. The five-star recruit notched four 40-point performances and nine 30-point games that year alone.

A three-year letterwinner, Morris has earned three-straight Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 3A Player of the Year accolades (2014, 2015, 2016). She was also a 2016 USA Today All-Texas second team honoree and named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List previously in 2016. In her career, Morris has amassed 2,650 points, 852 rebounds, 545 assists, 599 steals and 191 blocked shots. She owns a single-game-high scoring effort of 53 points.

Richards, a 6-1 guard from Cypress Ranch High School in Houston, Texas, is the No. 4 ranked guard and No. 16 player overall in her class according to ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, Richards averaged 22.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game, leading the Mustangs to the regional quarterfinal of the 6A state playoffs and a 22-12 record. With one season remaining, Richards is the first player, male or female, in Cypress Ranch High School history to score over 1,000 points.

The three-year basketball letterwinner and all-time leading scorer at Cypress Ranch High School is a two-time All-District first-team honoree (2015, 2016). Richards was also named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List in 2016 and recently earned 2017 All USA Preseason Girls Basketball Team recognition. The five=star recruit has also been recognized as a McDonald's Invitational Most Valuable Player (2016), Newcomer of the Year (2014) and Nike National Champion (2013).


  • Baylor volleyball (20-9, 8-5 Big 12) fell in a tight, five-setter to the TCU Horned Frogs (12-12, 5-9 Big 12), 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 13-15, Wednesday evening in the University Recreation Center. From Baylor Bears dot com.

Baylor had an explosive night on offense, hitting .298 with huge nights from a number of hitters.

Katie Staiger paced the Bears on offense, pounding out 29 kills and adding 21 digs, becoming the 11th player in Baylor history to post a 20-20 match, the first since Katie Sanders in 2008.

Camryn Freiberg broke out with a career night, notching a career-high 19 kills, leading Baylor hitters with a .436 hitting clip.

In set one, the Horned Frogs pulled away late, hitting .452 to Baylor’s .333 to take the 1-0 lead on a 25-21 set win.

In the second, the Bears recovered from an early hole, closing the set on a 3-0 run to tie the match at 1-1 on a 25-23 set win.

In the third, BU had jumped out to a 17-14 lead, but TCU rattled off a 6-0 run to take the lead. After Baylor managed to tie the set at 23-23, the Horned Frogs snuck out a 2-0 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Bears responded big in the fourth, hitting a match-high .459 to tie it at 2-2 and force the fifth.

In the fifth, TCU took a quick start, leading by as much as four at 10-6. The Bears responded again, able to tie the match at 13-13. Two quick kills by the Horned Frogs snuck out the fifth and final set, sealing the match in five.

Katie Staiger (29 kills, 21 digs) became the 11th player in Baylor history to post a 20-20 match, the first since Katie Sanders in 2008. Staiger (590) surpassed Kia Young (561, 1999) to move into No. 6 on Baylor’s single-season kills list. Staiger’s 590 kills are the most among Big 12 hitters since 2004 (Mira Topic, Texas, 593).

Camryn Freiberg (19 kills) posted a career-high kill mark, eclipsing her previous high of 18 at High Point. Jana Brusek (501 digs) jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 on Baylor’s single-season digs list, passing Allison King, Sarah Grace, Kristen Schramek, and Jenny Delue, the most digs for Baylor since King’s 2009 season.

STAT OF THE DAY: 5 – the number of Baylor hitters at or above .250 for the match: Katie Staiger (.268), Aniah Philo(.278), Nicole Thomas (.364), Camryn Freiberg (.436), and Morgan Reed (.667).

Baylor plays its final regular season road match, travelling to Norman to face the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m.


  • Baylor men's tennis head coach Matt Knoll announced the signing of Roy Smith (New Haven, Conn.) to a National Letter of Intent Wednesday. From Baylor Bears dot com.

“This is a great day for Baylor men’s tennis,” Knoll said. “We are excited to get Roy to campus, because we believe with his skills and overall athleticism he can make an immediate impact for us.”

“When I went up to watch Roy play and meet his family, I was immediately struck by his dynamic game,” Knoll added. “It is not every day that you see a lefty that serves 130 mph and can really drive the ball off the forehand and the backhand sides. In addition, both of his parents and his sister are lawyers, so the culture of academic excellence he brings to the program will benefit everyone.”

Smith is joining a Baylor program that has won 13 Big 12 Conference regular season titles and eight tournament crowns over the 20-year history of the league. Under head coach Matt Knoll’s guidance, Baylor has become one of the nation's most successful collegiate men's tennis teams over the past 14 seasons (2002-16). During that span, the Bears have reached the NCAA Championship semifinals five times, winning the national championship in 2004, and reaching at least the round of 16 in 13 of those 14 years.

Track and Field

“Overall this is one of our top signing classes in several years,” Harbour said. “This was no doubt one of our most challenging recruiting seasons ever, but our entire staff worked extremely hard identifying our needs and the end result is an outstanding group of young people who will represent all that is great about Baylor University. Our entire staff is excited to welcome them into the Baylor family.”

The class features seven women and three men, including nine Texas athletes and one from Colorado. The women's class is made up of two sprinters, two hurdlers, a middle distance runner, a distance athlete and a jumper.

The women’s athletes have won a combined eight state titles, including a two-time triple jump champion in Alex Madlock and the reigning 400-meter state title winner in Tonytana Sanders. Meanwhile, Colorado hurdler Sarah Yocum has five state trophies of her own.

Meanwhile the men’s group features a hurdler, a pole vaulter and a jumper. All three athletes captured state titles at their respective event in 2016, while Jayson Baldridge being the nation’s top 300-meter hurdler, Riley Richards owning the country’s second-best pole vault and Jalen Seals being the nation’s top returning long jumper.

Cross Country

  • The Baylor women’s cross country team looks to make its impact known to the nation at the 2016 NCAA Championships 10 a.m. Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. From Baylor Lariat.

At the 2016 NCAA South Central Region Championship, the women’s cross country team obtained a second-place finish, earning them an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. This is the 16th time in the program’s history that it makes an appearance at the NCAA Championships.

“It was a nice bounce-back week for us knowing that we had a little bit of a tough time at conference. I thought the ladies responded really well and just did a super job. They did what they needed to do. They took care of business and made sure we were at the NCAA meet,” said head coach Todd Harbour. “This group has definitely taken some pride in getting us back to the NCAAs. It is not an easy championship to make, and Rice ran really, really well. If we had not brought our A-game, we would not have been second.”

Sophomore runner Lindsey Bradley is in her first year with Baylor after she transferred from the University of Washington. Bradley definitely has a goal in mind for herself heading into nationals.

“I’m usually not one to voice my individual goals, but I would say that being an All-American would be super cool, and that just seems crazy to say just because I never thought I would be at that point this year,” Bradley said. “I just feel so blessed to have that opportunity and to be able to make that goal.”

Baylor Athletics

  • For the third consecutive year and the seventh time overall, Baylor led the Big 12 Conference in Graduation Success Rate based on data released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). From Baylor Bears dot com.

Baylor's Big 12 co-leading Graduation Success Rate score of 87 was again matched by TCU and ranked ahead of Oklahoma (85), Kansas (85), Texas (84), West Virginia (83), Kansas State (82), Iowa State (82), Texas Tech (81) and Oklahoma State (68) among league schools. BU, which has finished either first or second among Big 12 schools in composite GSR score eight times in the last 10 years, also produced the Big 12's top GSR mark in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015. BU's 2017 score was 1 point lower than its 2015 mark.

Baylor's 2016 male student-athlete GSR score of 81 tied TCU and Kansas for the top spot in the Big 12, while its female GSR score of 93 tied with Iowa State and Texas for fourth in the conference behind Oklahoma (95), TCU (94) and West Virginia (94). BU's male GSR score equaled its 2015 mark, while its female GSR score dropped 1 point from a year ago.

Four Baylor programs produced league-leading GSR scores---men's golf (100), women's golf (100), women's tennis (100) and men's cross country/track & field (90), while 12 of its programs met or exceeded the national GSR threshold in their respective sport for all Division I institutions.

The NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was developed to more accurately assess the academic performance of student-athletes. The rate holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees and is calculated for every sport. Under the calculation, institutions are not penalized for outgoing students who leave in good academic standing. The outgoing transfers are included in the receiving institution's GSR cohort. The most recent Division I Graduation Success Rates are based on the four entering classes from 2006-2009. The NCAA began compiling these figures with the entering freshmen class of 1995.

After leading the Big 12 a year ago with a federal graduation rate of 77 percent for all student-athletes, Baylor graduated 61 percent in the most-recent study to rank eighth overall among Big 12 institutions. BU and Iowa State led the conference with a 61 percent federal graduation rate for its male student-athletes while BU's female student-athlete fed rate also stood at 61 percent.

Baylor has finished either first or second in the fed grad rate report 10 times in the league's 21-year history, produced the league's top mark in 2015, 2012, 2004, 2001, 2000, 1998 and 1996, and has graduated at least 60 percent of its student-athletes 17 times in the Big 12's 21-year history.


  • The Wichita Eagle says Kansas State remains wary of Baylor despite Bears' recent struggles. From Kansas dot com.

Three short weeks ago, Baylor was undefeated and ranked in the top 10.

Today, the Bears are considered underdogs as they prepare for a game against a Kansas State team searching for its first victory over an opponent with a winning record this season.

That’s how fast and hard the tumble has been in Waco, Texas. Baylor has gone from 6-0 to 6-3, from dreaming about the playoff to hoping for a decent bowl, from steamrolling non-conference foes to losing 62-22 to TCU. The fall has taken a considerable toll on the roster’s collective psyche.

“Any time you are working really hard and coming up short, it is hard on any football team,” interim Baylor coach Jim Grobe said. “I am sure our guys aren’t happy with having three straight losses. Hopefully, we can bounce back this week.”

Kansas State takes on the Baylor Bears in Waco on Saturday with an 11:00 a.m. kickoff time. Pregame coverage on 580 WIBW is set for 9:00 a.m.

Head Coach Bill Snyder had his weekly press conference on Tuesday, he spoke about the bye week, his kicking situation, the team bouncing back after the Oklahoma State loss plus what stands out about a Bears team that is struggling.

With Seth Russell’s college career over as a result of a dislocated ankle, true freshman Zach Smith has risen to the level of starting quarterback. So, what happens if Smith goes down? The new backup QB is true freshman Preston Heard, a walk-on out of Episcopal High School near Houston.

Obviously Baylor hopes it can keep Smith upright for the next four games, including a bowl game. But the coaches will put Heard through increased reps in practice, just in case.

“Preston Heard has some wiggle in him,” BU senior cornerback Ryan Reid said. “I like the way he throws, like the way he moves. He looks good back there. He was on scout team with us, and he can move around on you. I hope if he gets his chance he can show everybody.”

Heard played sparingly at the end of the Northwestern State and Kansas games, and is 0-for-1 passing on the year. The only other quarterback on the roster is redshirt freshman Zach Bennema, another walk-on.

Smith understands the role of the backup QB as well as anyone, to prepare like a starter and be ready if called upon. He said he’ll help groom Heard, now that the walk-on has ascended to that next-man-up spot.

“I’ve got to really teach him the ropes a little bit now, like Seth has taught me, and just teach him about the offense and give him any pointers that Seth might have given to me,” Smith said.

  • Baylor senior quarterback Seth Russell had surgery Wednesday on his fractured left ankle. From ESPN.

According to a statement from his family, Russell's surgery in Fort Worth was successful and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Russell suffered the gruesome injury in the third quarter of Baylor's 45-24 loss at Big 12-leading Oklahoma on Saturday.

The family statement said that Russell was questionable to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28, a game for which the quarterback has already accepted an invitation, but should be ready for the 2017 NFL combine, which begins Feb. 28 in Indianapolis.

Russell had 2,126 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and also ran for 506 yards and eight more scores this season. He was 14-3 as the Bears' starter.

Baylor Regents

Neither Bears for Leadership Reform nor anyone else concerned should be outfoxed by initial reform ideas crafted for Baylor University’s embattled Board of Regents. While we’re glad some regents are earnestly discussing useful ways to improve board transparency and accountability in the wake of a sexual-assault scandal that has tarnished administrators, coaches, players and especially regents, no one should assume mere publishing of board minutes and agendas will halt protest, including some very angry and vocal donors. One reason public uproar over Baylor’s mishandling of sexual-assault allegations has continued for more than a year is because regents’ secrecy has created an increasingly isolated echo chamber of governance. Whether the topic involves the firings of Baylor President Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles last May; October’s stinging departure of Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford, who was supposed to lead the charge to correct these matters; or multiplying allegations of more rapes and more assaults, regents contributed to it all through erratic accountability.

In an interview with Trib higher education writer Phillip Ericksen, regent chairman Ron Murff said internal conversations between the board’s executive committee and governance committee produced the decision to post agendas and minutes starting next year. Only catch: The university already issues press statements summarizing action by regents (or at least what they choose to publicize after their closed-door meetings). To us, it sounds as if the board will be taking those press releases, stamping “Minutes” on them and claiming “transparency.”