clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Baylor Basketball Updates: Injuries, Awards, NCAA Tournament and Takes!

New, 7 comments

Sic ‘Em!

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The Injuries:

Kendall just got back from West Virginia/Washington D.C., and is battling a viral infection. He doesn’t have Coronavirus—he’s fever and cough free—but this hasn’t been a thrilling experience for him.

Everything for Baylor revolves around getting healthy. Matt Mayer went down with a hip injury on Saturday. That was particularly concerning because he injured his hip last season and couldn’t play for a while this summer.

Mayer should be good to go though. Scott Drew told the media that Mayer should practice before the Big 12 Tournament.

Drew also said that they’re looking at Tristan Clark for the NCAA Tournament. He’s played just three minutes in Baylor’s last four games. If he misses this week, it will mean he’ll have 23 days with almost zero game time. That should give him plenty of time rest.

Baylor’s defense is much worse when they can’t have Clark or Mayer. That puts too much pressure on Freddie Gillespie to play without fouling, and it means that Mark Vital can’t play much at the five because he has to play so many minutes at the four.

Nothing impacts Baylor like these injuries. If they have their top eight guys ready to go, Baylor is much closer to the team was, at worst, 1B to Kansas for the first 2.5 months of the season. If not, the risk Baylor falls early rises because there is so much pressure on Gillespie and an already hobbled Vital.

Awards:

I attended the D.C. XFL game, and then I spent my afternoon at the doctor, so sorry for not getting something up sooner on the Big 12 award season.

Scott Drew was the easy choice for Big 12 Coach of the Year. And I think the case that’s often made for him winning the award is wrong. The usual case is that Baylor doesn’t have a recruiting services composite top 50 player. While that’s true, he has a very talented team. Davion Mitchell, Matt Mayer, Jared Butler, Tristan Clark and Mark Vital were 4-star prospects on most recruiting services. They’re also all not freshmen, which makes them much more valuable than the No. 41 recruit in lasts year’s class. Drew has a good team.

Drew deserves the award because of what he did as a coach. The Bears had a chance to be a fine team doing things the way they normally do them: play primarily zone and mix some man-to-man. Instead, he elected to copy some of Texas Tech’s defense and then make some changes. The Bears ended the season with the No. 4 KenPom defense. Last year they were No. 75. Baylor had never ranked higher than No. 16 on defense. Freddie Gillespie told me that there were some rough days this summer with that defensive change and it looked like it might not work. But Drew and his staff had the foresight to stick with the change. It paid off and warrants winning the award.

The best of coaching, like so much in life, is adapting. Drew’s done well with guys they missed on, which allowed Baylor to slot in Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell as transfers. And the defensive change meant that on nights when Baylor’s offense wasn’t quite there, the defense could carry them to 15 Big 12 wins. Nobody but Kansas had ever achieved that mark.

Jared Butler was a unanimous selection for All-Big 12 First Team. He joined Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson as the only unanimous selections. There’s really no case for either of those three to not be on the team.

Baylor had all five starters on a league team. MaCio Teague made the second team along with Freddie Gillespie. Davion Mitchell was the newcomer of the year, which made sense with the only other possibility being Teague. Vital, Mitchell and Gillespie were worthy choices on the all defense team. While you can make a fine argument for any of those three for the defensive player of the year, Marcus Garrett was an absolute monster for Kansas and shut down everyone but Butler this season.

This seemed like the best slate of recipients I can remember. I’d have had Gillespie on the first team, but Kristian Doolittle and Desmond Bane are special offensive players. Gillespie’s most improved award was also maybe the most obvious award selection in Big 12 history.

NCAA Tournament:

Despite the loss to West Virginia, Baylor should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Nothing in championship week, barring another injury, should impact that. An injury could let the committee claim that Baylor is not the team that has the full body of work that would normally warrant making Baylor a No. 1 seed.

Baylor is a No. 1 seed on all 122 brackets that appear on Bracketmatrix.com. The Bears have 11 quadrant 1 victories. Kansas is the only other team currently on the No. 1 or No. 2 seed line with that many wins. Nobody else has more than seven such wins. The committee doesn’t care how teams play in their most recent games. They look at full body of work. Baylor’s full body of work—especially with San Diego State taking a second loss—can’t be jumped by other teams. It would be an absolute shock for Baylor to not be a No. 1 seed.

The Bears should start in either Omaha or St. Louis. There are no sites close to Waco for the first two rounds.

Kansas seems assured to be the No. 1 overall seed. As such, they get to pick their regional site. Kansas might pick Houston because the games are at the Toyota Center and the Jayhawks may not want to play some of the top Midwest teams closer to their respective schools than Kansas would be in Indy. Bill Self said KU has made their decision, but they’re not revealing it before the bracket reveal.

Podcast:

We’ll hopefully podcast before Thursday’s game. But with Kendall battling this viral infection and sounding weird when he speaks, the podcast schedule might be different this week.