Baylor knocked off Central Arkansas 101-65. Here are five thoughts on the early game.
1) Jared Butler is fantastic
He’s not going to shoot 8-of-12 from three much this season, but he’s going to make plenty of triples. Butler hit 45% of his threes during Big 12 play last season. And his off the dribble three remains spectacular:
Butler is the surest bet to get a bucket by a Baylor guard since Pierre Jackson. He mixes a hesitation dribble with an incredibly quick shot. There’s almost no bad shot for Butler.
2) The four guards are something
Baylor will head to Alaska to face Washington with plenty of confidence.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 5, 2019
Bears had 25 assists on 40 made field-goals in today's 44-point rout of Central Arkansas.
Scott Drew has more guards than Shawshank.
Davion Mitchell is the best defensive Baylor guard ever. That might seem like a crazy take after one game, but he was unstoppable defending the ball. The Bears feel so confident in him as a defender that they played man-to-man the whole game.
Devonte Bandoo was much more aggressive. He was Baylor’s best player in Italy, and he used his explosiveness to get to the hoop:
MaCio Teague also showed his athleticism. The UNC-Asheville transfer was an excellent 3-point shooter in his two seasons there. He’s going to be able to create his own shot at this level:
We’re not done talking about Mitchell. With so many other good guards, and when Tristan Clark gets going (more on him below), Mitchell is going to get some easier defensive assignments. Good luck to anyone trying to keep up with him:
3) It’s okay that Tristan Clark will need a second to get back to normal
Clark didn’t look like he did last season. That makes sense. Scott Drew had been warning everyone that he isn’t back to where he was last season. The 6-foot-9 junior led the country in field goal percentage through early January. Then he didn’t play high level basketball until today.
I’m a Tristan Clark fan but was a little queasy about all of the pre-season hype for the @BaylorMBB junior. The Bears will go as their 4 guards go this year while Clark shakes off the rust.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) November 5, 2019
Clark still needs to get his feel back. That may not happen until later in the season. That’s fine, given the strength of the team. But we should all wait a bit before freaking out (hopefully I won’t need to remind myself of that later this month).
4) We can stop thinking of Freddie Gillespie as a former walk-on
Gillespie finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He’s mastered the short jumper. Baylor’s lone senior scholarship player added four offensive rebounds.
Anyone new to Baylor basketball should marvel at Gillespie’s story. He was a DIII player that elected to walk-on at Baylor. That was a fun story last season and a nice tale when Gillespie was a fringe rotation guy.
Gillespie is a good player. We should all spend more time talking about how good he is at this level and less time talking about how he once played at a lower level.
5) Enjoy this season
Baylor’s No. 11 on KenPom. They have their best backcourt ever. Clark is waiting to return to form. They have a potential lottery ticket in Matt Mayer. Gillespie has figured it out. Mark Vital can play aggressively on defense because he knows Baylor has the depth they didn’t have last season.
The Bears have some issues they’ll need to work on. They had stretches today where they struggled to score, and their more aggressive defense will lead to some foul-heavy nights.
Scott Drew’s team is extremely talented and well-coached. The rest of their Big 12 challengers have major issues. This is Baylor’s best chance to win the league, and if they stay healthy, I think they’ll do it.