This is my first post on this site. Last year, I started doing these scouting reports for Baylor MBB games. The idea behind them is that it is more enjoyable to watch the game (and root for the Bears) if you know a thing or two about the other team. An additional bonus is showing off your knowledge to family and friends by sharing obscure fun facts and statistics with them during the game and being told, "you care way too much about Baylor basketball." Most of the research that goes into these reports is fairly rudimentary. I will try to do one for every opponent we face this season. As we go along, they should be more informative as I am better able to study film on upcoming opponents.
Game 1 (Banner/Ring Night): Friday, November 12, 2021, at 7:30 PM CT on ESPN+
Opponent: University of Incarnate Word Cardinals (0-1), Southland (0-0), KenPom Rank (353/358)
The Cardinals joined Division I in 2013 as a part of the Southland Conference. Fun Fact: Baylor will play 3 Southland teams in their nonconference schedule this year including their first 2 games of the season. After transferring from Division II, the Cardinals were ineligible for postseason play until 2018. In their last 3 seasons, the Cardinals have gone 23-61 (27%). Last season, the team had 4 games cancelled outright due to COVID-19 as well as 4 postponements due to either the pandemic or weather (winter storm last February). UIW lost their final 6 games of the season to finish 8-14. Last year, UIW was 2nd in their conference in 3P% and also in 3Ps allowed. They finished near or at the bottom of the conference in most statistical categories including notably, free-throw attempts, free-throw attempts allowed, and rebounds per game. Last year, the Cardinals qualified for the conference tournament for the first time in school history. This year projects to be another tough one for UIW as they lost their top 2 scorers from a year ago along with their top 2 leaders in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Keaston Willis, the team's only 10+ PPG scorer last season (averaging nearly 19 PPG) transferred to Louisiana Tech. Marcus Larsson, the team's best big man from last year, transferred to the University of Illinois-Chicago (the Flames). Des Balentine, another leader from last year's squad, is now a graduate assistant for the program. New players and returning players in new roles is the norm and something both teams in this game will be facing.
Carson Cunningham - Head Coach - 4th season with the program. Indiana native played point guard at Oregon State where he broke Gary Payton's freshman scoring record. He transferred to Purdue, where he was a 3-year starter. He played internationally for a couple of seasons in Estonia and Australia. He earned a Ph.D. in American history (also has a MBA) from Purdue and became a professor of history at DePaul where he taught for 7 years. He is the author of 5 books. Since arriving at UIW, he has placed a strong emphasis on academic performance and community engagement for his players.
Brandon Swaby - #5 Junior 6'3" Guard - Top returning scorer and minute getter. Swaby is a Florida native who struggled mightily as a freshman and started to put the pieces together last year. He attempted more than 3 3P attempts per game, converting over 43% (after hitting just 27% as a freshman). Likely to play off-ball, SG-type role.
Drew Lutz - #3 Junior 6'1" Guard - Likely the starting PG. The Indiana native saw his minutes dip last year (25 MPG after 32 MPG his freshman year). Solid all around player with decent passing and defensive skills. Mediocre 3P shooter (career 33% on about 4 3P attempts per game).
Josh Morgan - #13 Sophomore 6'3" Guard - This Canadian guard primarily came of the bench a year ago. Horrible efficiency on his 2P attempts (34%) as a freshman but a solid 3P shooter (45%). However, only 40% of his field goal attempts were from deep. Showed promise as a perimeter defender.
Robert "RJ" Glasper - #1 Senior 6'0" Guard - Arkansas native, grad transfer from Oral Roberts where he only played one season (shortened by injury) after three seasons at Arkansas Tech (the Wonder Boys, Division II). High-volume, moderate efficiency scorer (44% from the field and 35% from deep last year; 11 PPG). One of the most productive players in program history at Arkansas Tech (6th all-time with 18.7 PPG and over 400 assists). Disruptive perimeter defender.
Johnny Hughes III - #11 Senior 6'8" Forward - North Carolina native, grad transfer from Mount Olive (in North Carolina; the Trojans; Division II) where he spent the last 2 years. High-volume, high-efficiency forward who led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding last year, shooting 51% from the field and 43% from deep.
Benjamin Griscti - #24 Freshman 6'11" Center - Australian native played for the South Australian Premier League development team and led his team to the junior national championship and he won a player of year award. Intends to study mechanical engineering. Good defensive footwork and runs the floor in transition. Nice touch away from the basket.
Logan Bracamonte - #14 Sophomore 6'5" Forward - Hawaii native started 11 of 18 games played in as a freshman but only averaged 18 MPG. High-volume, medium-efficiency scorer (42% from the field and 38% from deep; over 77% of his field goal attempts last year were 3-pointers).
Godsgift "GG" Ezedinma - #23 Sophomore 6'7" Forward - Nigerian native (Waco, TX Midway HS grad). Low-volume player last year (18 MPG) could threaten to crack the starting lineup this season. As a freshman, he went 44% from the field (4 field goal attempts per game) and 6-15 (40%) from deep.
Dylan Hayman - #12 Freshman 6'6" Forward - California native was a high-volume scorer in high school as well as an excellent student in (4.0 GPA).
Bradley Akhile - #0 Senior 6'7" Forward - Houston native is a transfer from the (JUCO) Gillette College Pronghorns in Wyoming. Last year was his first at the NCAA Division I level. He struggled as a shooter (just 44% from the field including 25% from deep).
Kevin Schutte - #15 Senior 6'9" Center - Dutch native is a grad-transfer from Hoftsra where he played 3 seasons. Terrible FT shooter (44% in his collegiate career). Formidable rebounder.
Thomas Zevgaras - #21 Sophomore 6'8" Forward - Greek native won two championships in the Greek Basketball League (junior professional). Played in 11 games (less than 7 MPG) for the Cardinals a year ago. Coaching staff raves about his strength, size, and passion for the game.
Charlie Yoder - #2 Freshman 6'4" Guard - Indiana native redshirted last year, appearing in 6 games. Shot 67% from the field including ¾ from deep a year ago. Played a season at the Spire Institute Academy (post-high school, in Ohio). He was a dominant high school player averaging over 27 PPG, 11 RPG, 5 APG, and 3 SPG on 63% from the field and also led his team to a 91-19 record and four conference championships.
Davante Dennis - #4 Freshman 6'7" Forward - Baltimore native and scorer of over 1000 career points in high school. High character guy, great toughness. Received multiple Division I offers as a defensive end for football.
Sese Hassan Mobutu - #10 Freshman 6'3" Guard - Native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a high-volume scorer and solid passer in high school.
Reggie Abram - #25 Freshman 5'9" Guard - Indiana native was part of the high school teams that combined to have the best winning percentage in school history. He is a National Honor Society member.
Bryan Armstrong - #20 Freshman 6'2" Guard - San Antonio native won two state championships in basketball (private school). He was a successful wide receiver for the football team and triple jump participant for the track team in high school as well. Bryan is an engineering major. His father played for UIW.
Jacob Treer - #33 Freshman 6'7" Forward - San Antonio native earned all-state honors (private school) as a senior. He is a National Honor Society member.
Incarnate Word's season opener against Texas State (KenPom Rank: 152/358) on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Final Score: The Bobcats defeated the Cardinals 75-57.
- Cardinals started a small lineup with 3 guards (Swaby, Lutz, and Glasper) and two undersized guys in the frontcourt including freshman Hayman and transfer Hughes.
- Lutz can create his own shot off the bounce or catch and shoot from beyond the arc.
- Morgan and Gristci are the first guys off the bench.
- Team committed a lot of turnovers (mostly offensive fouls: illegal screens and charges) in the first half of the game.
- Offense is built around penetration and ball movement. They run quite a bit of four-out sets and the ball frequently ends up in the corner.
- Defense is man-man which they are willing to extend above the elbows if dictated to do so by the offense, some hedging of ball screens, prepared to switch and double in the post.
- Swaby was largely a non-factor, failing to score in 18 minutes on the floor and only attempting a single field goal. Meanwhile, Morgan used his 29 minutes off the bench to be the team's leading scorer on the night with 16 on 6/8 from the field and 2/2 from deep.
- Glasper and Lutz were the top two shot takers in the game although neither was particularly efficient.
- The team took a ton of 3P shots (over 55% of their field goal attempts were from beyond the arc) but they only converted 29%.
Baylor will look understandably rusty in at least the first 4-8 minutes of action (maybe even the entire first half). Turnovers and clunky ball movement will allow the Cardinals to hang around for a bit. Eventually, the offense will find its rhythm and settle down enough for Baylor to pull away in the second half (plenty of garbage-time minutes for our deep bench guys). After all, Incarnate Word projects to not only be the worst team Baylor plays this season, but one of the worst teams in the nation. If the Bears were to face this foe a few weeks from now I might say it'd be a 50-point beatdown. Baylor will defeat Incarnate Word 83-54.