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Men's Basketball Preseason Predictions Revisited

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We look back and see which preseason predictions were right and which were so, so wrong.

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In a time long past, before there was hope and before there was crushing defeat, I made predictions on how the Baylor Bears' season would shake out. It's high time we reviewed those predictions to see how it all turned out. I got some things exactly right and some things embarrassingly wrong.

I'll return to hand out the actual awards and provide a full season recap, but for now let's just laugh at how wrong I was.

Predictions I Do Not Regret

These are predictions that I nailed right on the head. There aren't many, and they were mostly low-hanging fruit, but hey, low-hanging fruit is still darn tasty.

The Gunner: Taurean Prince

At times this season, Prince was the entirety of the Baylor offense. Recall, for example, his 20 points in the final 12 minutes in the season finale comeback against Texas Tech. Prince was more than just a streaky shooter, though. He was Baylor's most reliable offensive player all season long. Prince totaled 354 field goal attempts, 62 more than Rico Gathers, who was second on the team in attempts with 292, and 73 more than point guard Kenny Chery (281 attempts). Prince posted a team high usage rate (% of the team's possessions used when on the floor) of 26.4% and a team high shot percentage (% of the team's shots taken while on the floor) of 29.9%. He nearly took every third shot for the Bears when he was on the floor. Now that's a gunner.

The Mean Mugger: Rico Gathers

The lowest-hanging of the fruit.

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Mr. Everything: Royce O'Neale

Here are O'Neale's team rankings in various statistical categories from this season: 5th in field goal attempts, 4th in free throw attempts, 2nd in total rebounds, 2nd in assists, 4th in steals, 4th in blocks, and 3rd in points. He led the team in 3pt% at .438. The most indicative statistic of O'Neale's importance to the team, however, was his minutes played. He led the team in 1060 minutes played. Royce did everything Scott Drew needed. We'll miss you, buddy.

Predictions I Only Kind of Regret

I got pretty close on these, but there are limits to my clairvoyance.

Early/Late Season Starters

Here's what I had to say back then:

Early: Chery, Freeman, O'Neale, Gathers, Motley

Late: Chery, O'Neale, Prince, Deng, Gathers

Having watched exactly zero practices, I have no way to justify these starter predictions other than "Scott Drew lineups start the season weird and finish the season predictable." Granted, that's maybe 70% of college basketball, but it's especially true for Drew. This is the man who inexplicably started A. J. Walton over Pierre Jackson for half a season. With only two returning starters, two upperclassmen who came off the bench last season, two redshirt freshmen, and two JUCO transfers, it's impossible to know how Drew will mix and match. Baylor might lead the nation in number of players started this season, if only because it (sic) can.

So close! Medford as a starter really took me by surprise, but as the season wore on and Al Freeman made more and more mistakes, it became clear why Drew trusted Medford as a starter over him.

In a stunning twist, Drew never actually changed the starting lineup, even with Prince tearing up the Big 12.

Sixth Man: Lester Medford

Runner up: Taurean Prince

My runner-up turned out to be the actual Sixth Man. In fact, he was the Sixth Man of the entire Big 12. I should've pulled the trigger and gone with the gunner off the bench. Live and learn.

Predictions I Definitely Regret

I totally flopped on these predictions. I should have seen these coming.

MVP: Kenny Chery

Runner up: Royce O'Neale.

A total miss, but this one doesn't sting too much. Chery was an immensely important player for Baylor, but Gathers and Prince were both more valuable to the team's success. I did, however, predict Chery would lead the team in expressionless faces after made shots, and that proved completely accurate:

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The Inaugural Ish Wainright Award: Johnathan Motley

Runner up: Ish Wainright

Oof. Not only did Motley prove himself to be a solid contributor and stick in the starting lineup all season, but Wainright even had a game or two where he looked like a reliable rotation player. Motley declined after a hot start, and Wainright still couldn't lay claim to consistent minutes, but neither player dramatically underperformed the preseason expectations.

Midseason Switch Up: Deng Deng

Dang, dang. What a blunder. Deng might have been a more spastic player than Deuce Bello and Prince in their freshman seasons. When you fall behind Wainright and walk-on transfer Austin Mills in the rotation, it probably wasn't a great season for you. Oh what could have been.

Prediction I Could Not Have Been More Wrong About

I'll just leave this here...

Quick Season Prediction

The Bears go 18-13 overall (assuming I correctly understand how that early season tournament works) and 8-10 in the regular season, finish 7th in the Big 12, and fail to overcome the Odd Year Curse, claiming a 1 or 2 seed in the NIT, where they reach Madison Square Garden but fall in the semis. This season's Bears have some talent, but too little experience and no game-changer in the middle. The Bears are a run-and-fun team who hemorrhage points on defense. Drew has yet to prove he can coach a capable man-to-man defense and doesn't have the requisite size to play his signature 2-3 zone.

*Stares into flickering florescent light*