Excitement is growing within the Baylor family as the Baylor basketball season enters the second month of conference play. And, although there were plenty of positives to take away from Monday’s dismantling of the Sooners, I believe the most intriguing aspect of the game was that the Bears were balanced in their scoring and play-making ability.
Throughout the early part of the year and the start of conference play, Baylor was heavily reliant on individual performances. It was Matthew Mayer who almost single handily led the Bears to a comeback win against TCU. King McClure had a career night against Oklahoma State that led Baylor to its first conference road win of the year. Makai Mason continued that trend when he went for 29 points the following Monday night, and Bandoo and Butler have both had explosive offensive games against Iowa State and Texas Tech respectively. It’s been fun to watch different players step up on any given night, leading the Bears to victory.
Monday night’s win felt different, however. Although fans can point to positive plays from each individual player, no player had one of those amazing career nights. And unlike in the previous wins where Baylor was highly reliant on outstanding individual performance, it was a complete team effort, both on offense and defense that propelled the win. This on court team chemistry is important for Baylor going forward. It breeds confidence in the team as a whole, rather than a reliance on an individual. When teams are heavily reliant on individual performance, a game is in doubt before anyone hits the court. I think of some of the Aaron Bruce led teams from the mid-2000s, or the Lacedarius Dunn 2010-2011 led team. If these men were playing well, then our team had a great chance, but if they were slightly off it was going to be an uphill battle.
This team demonstrated that if its senior scorers (Mason & McClure) are off, the younger guys are capable of stepping up, and vice versa. Monday proved that this team can play and win together without the necessity for someone to “step up.” Monday night’s game demonstrated that a balanced attack from a handful of players who are playing well if not great, can wreak havoc on the Big 12 teams.