Scott Drew, King McClure and Jake Lindsey met with the media.
Here are some big takeaways.
Along with turnovers, the 2017-2018 Baylor Bears were crushed by their inability to take and make 3-point shots. They went 1-of-12 from deep in an overtime loss at home to TCU. Baylor finished last season 320th in 3-point attempts and 144th in 3-point percentage.
Scott Drew felt confident the Bears would improve in that category. With Makai Mason, Mario Kegler, Darius Allen, Devonte Bandoo and Jared Butler in the fold, he said, “Last year we didn’t have as much outside shooting...hopefully we shoot a higher percentage and can make more threes.”
As the blinding graphic illustrates, Baylor needs an offensive renaissance this season, and the perimeter seems to be a big place to improve.
All three raved about Makai Mason. They noted that he’s humble and always in the gym. Drew said that he put up 500 shots in the middle of a formal, while he was at Yale.
Baylor will also rely on freshman Jared Butler. Drew picked him out as a guy who will get minutes at point guard, “Jared is someone who has played that role.”
The Bears have been abysmal at avoiding turnovers. With fewer possessions and terrible shooting, it was a miracle the 2017-2018 Bears were a top 100 KenPom offense.
Tristan Clark is primed for a breakout season. He’s once again added an incredible amount of strength. Both Mark Vital and Clark look like they’ve bulked up as much as anyone since Cory Jefferson during his redshirt season.
The 2018-2019 Bears seem like a team that needs 55 games between Clark and Mason. While Butler and McClure can handle playing point guard for long stretches, the team is in a much better spot with Mason running the show. Clark is also astronomically better offensively than any other option at the five (though the dream of Vital at the five lives on).
Mario Kegler recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. He should be ready to play for Baylor men’s basketball team early in season.— John Werner (@JohnWernerTrib) October 3, 2018
Drew didn’t reveal his starting five. I’d be surprised if the Bears don’t roll out Mason, McClure, Kegler, Vital and Clark, when healthy. That lineup should also be quite strong defensively.
The Bears have quite a few new faces. McClure, Clark and Vital are the only returning scholarship players that have played for Baylor. McClure said, “An area to improve is experience...I think once we play a few games we’ll be pretty good.”
Experience certainly matters in basketball, but Baylor’s had some of their best seasons without a ton of returning talent. The 2010 and 2012 Elite Eight teams each had three new starters. The 2017 Sweet 16 team had four new starters.
This squad really feels like it will come down to injuries. If the team stays healthy, then they should shock people and return to the NCAA Tournament. If they have to play a lot of the season without Kegler, Clark or Mason, then they’re going to finish in the bottom half of the league.
The 2018-2019 season should be fun. While it’s sad Lindsey will miss this season, the Bears should push the pace and space the floor much more than they have recently. They should be pretty aggressive on defense and are capable of beating just about anyone. With a quality schedule—including games against Arizona, Oregon and Wichita State in the non-conference—this should be a fun season.