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ODB Mailbag - Men’s Basketball Rolling Edition: Answered

Baylor MBB, Football, and Baseball questions answered.

PioneerSkies: MBB now control their own destiny for a share of the conference title, right? Will they make the three peat happen??

Joe Goodman: Of course they will. They may never lose again.

pocketchange: Technically, yes, but it’s still early in the season and the Big 12 is brutal. The three-peat is in play, which didn’t look to be the case 2 weeks ago, and that itself is cause for optimism, if of the cautious kind.

David Hornbeak: As easy as it flipped, it can flip back. No gimmes in America’s Toughest Conference. I’ve seen projections listing the Big 12 champ around 11-7 (which would be wild), so I’ll say yes but hold on tight and knock on wood.

BNT: With five straight wins after stubbing our toe at the start of conference play, I feel good about our chances. We’ve seen Scott Drew teams get on a roll before and once they hit their stride, they’re had to stop.

aintathangbutachickenwing: Why did Dain Dainja and Matthew Mayer transfer to Illinoise? And what would our lineup look like if both had stayed at Baylor?

pocketchange: Not a lot of hard info to work on, but Dainja just didn’t have a clear path to a lot of playing time, and Mayer had just run his course in the program and needed new scenery. With Tchamwa-Tchatchoua out, Dainja would have been a valuable piece to have. Mayer...he’s playing great in Illinois and I’m very happy for him there!

BNT: Dainia, playing time. Mayer, we had to make a decision on Bridges so there wasn’t a spot...not that he would have stayed.

PioneerSkies: Did Dale Bonner play at all against KU? If not, why? What’s the story with Adam Flagler’s hand? It looked like he had a finger taped up at halftime?

Joe Goodman: Bonner did not play. We are reaching the point of the season where the staff is shrinking its rotations for the best of the team. I know people adore Dale, rightfully so, the dude always plays hard. But he’s still raw and it’s time to ensure the best of the best on the team are getting minutes.To Flagler, he fell weird on his hand on a drive where he was fouled and got up shaking his hand. I’m sure that’s where the tape came from. No news on an injury and he played fine down the stretch, not something I’m overly worried about.

BNT: Bonner, while a defensive stalwart is an offensive liability. Plain and simple, Love passed him in the rotation. Flagler should be fine.

aintathangbutachickenwing: Why is MBB bench not scoring up to their capabilities and potential?

Joe Goodman: I think they’re scoring fine for the opponents they face. They do have a tendency to get out of rhythm offensively from time to time, but so did the national title team. We play some of the best defenses in the country in this conference, I’d say our offense is doing great all things considered.

pocketchange: Aside from Langston Love, there’s no one coming off the bench who is a particularly potent scorer. Baylor’s been spoiled in recent years with guys like Flagler and Cryer coming off the bench who can fill it up. Now, especially since the rotation has shrunk to 8, only Love has real scoring capabilities. Josh Ojianwuna and Caleb Lohner are fine in their roles, but neither is a spot-up shooter and are garbagemen otherwise, meaning they clean up on offensive rebounding or lobs and don’t do much to create their own offense. Part of what Drew has started to do is stagger his starting guards a lot more so that 1 or 2 of them are out there at all times. We’re just not seeing many pure bench lineups anymore. And with starters as potent as these guys, that’s okay.

BNT: Love is a match up nightmare off the bench. Ojianwuna is still learning the game and will become a monster around the rim. Lohner still has 3 years, so he’s learning to play facing the basket as opposed to being on the blocks with his back to the rim...which is how BYU used him.

Barebearberry: Key seems like he has at least one head scratching play a game (if we’re lucky), how do you cut down on these mistakes? Do you think it’s more coaching or effort?

pocketchange: One mistake a game is pretty good! He’s 18, playing huge minutes, and college defense is far more complicated than high school. George plays hard on both ends, so it’s mostly a learning curve.

Joe Goodman: I think it’s called being a freshman. No amount of AAU or high end high school ball can prepare you for the Big 12 gauntlet. He’s never had this level of practice, games, school, media, everything involved with being a college athlete before. You take some mistakes from a freshman and expect them to hit a wall here and there cause it’s a lot to handle. He’s doing great.

BNT: Um, yeah....

PioneerSkies: What grades would you give the recent FB coaching hires (Powledge, Steward, Hancock) and why?

Joe Goodman; I don’t think I can put a grade on them. I will say I think Powledge was the sensical hire, and I like some of the other guys who’ve been brought in both from a coaching and recruiting POV. But I won’t tell you if they were an A or C grade until I see them in action.

BNT: Not really into grading them yet, but it seems the hires are an excellent fit and

PioneerSkies: Just how excited about this MBB team should I let myself get? Have these last three wins been more a result of the team gelling or the fact that they’ve been playing the bottom feeders of the conference? At this stage, what do you think a realistic outcome would be for the conference slate? Or for March?

Joe Goodman: The ceiling for this team, meaning if they become the sum of all of their parts, is a national title. They haven’t played to that level for the majority of the year. But I love what I’ve seen lately, and the biggest piece is we are seeing the defense really come together. The guards also seem to be fully in sync offensively and have been great at letting the hot hand lead. The key word for me is identity, and I think the staff and players are finding it. This team can win the big 12 and if the shooting doesn’t betray them they can win any tournament. Drink the Kool aid, it tastes great.

pocketchange: KenPom now projects a 4-way tie for the conference at 11-7. Anything is in play. Realistically, the odds are against Baylor winning the conference, especially outright. Having banked 3 losses puts them behind. Still, they’re just 1 game out of first place, and we know the team is capable of beating anyone in any game. The same goes the other way, though. Realistic outcome is that Baylor finishes top 4 in the conference, gets a 3 or 4 seed, and is one of the most dangerous teams in the NCAA Tournament field.

BNT: Realistic outcome for conference and March? Conference will be tough as it’s a buzz saw, but I like our chances. March? I’ve already booked my room in Htown!

PioneerSkies: Baseball is a month away. How do you think Mitch’s first season back will go?

Mitch will do very well as the HC. I know one of his big concerns is to trim down a bloated roster. I plan on going to games and supporting this team. Probably won’t happen over night, but he should have us moving in the right direction pretty fast.

Post comments and other questions below. Sic ‘em!