BAYLOR BASKETBALL UPDATE: Bears fall to Purdue in NCAA Tourney, garner highly successful season with Drew at the helm
By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent
WACO, Texas – Now that the bracket’s been notched down to the Sweet 16, it’s time to take a look back at the season that was for the Baylor Bears basketball team.
The green and gold men’s hoops team, under the direction and leadership of the one and only Scott Drew, had a highly successful season – compiling a 21-11 overall record while establishing the team as one of the up-and-coming programs in a very elite conference with a 9-7 mark in Big 12 play.
Despite a disappointing first round Big 12 Tourney loss to Colorado in double overtime, the Bears still made the Big Dance – with BU bursting their bubble status when the final pairings were announced on Selection Sunday.
“How sweet man,” Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells said following the news the team had made the NCAA Tourney. “I was a little nervous. It was faith. First off, we just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity for being a part of the NCAA Tournament.
“This is something that we set out to do all season. We felt like we worked hard enough to do it, and it just came down to that last spot. We just had to have faith, so we just want to thank God.”
Coach Drew concurred with his junior star guard.
“I think I lost my voice in all of the screaming and the excitement, so I apologize for that,” Drew said. “I also want to echo CJ’s [Curtis Jerrells] thoughts about thanking the Lord for helping us get to this situation. Being the 65th pick is indicative of the Baylor Bears; we persist and we hang in there. When it looks like we are down and out, we are able to come through. This is very exciting for us and the fans.
“When you put in perspective, it is the second time Baylor has been to the NCAA tournament in 58 years. So it has been a long time coming. Being able to progress this far as we have in such a short time is just a tribute to the players that we brought in, the school administration and the community that has been able to support us over this time.”
And regardless of a first round 90-79 loss to Purdue when the NCAA Tournament tipped off last week, the Baylor Bears still have a lot to be proud of – and they also have a lot to look forward to.
“It wasn’t the performance that we wanted, but at the same time I think this team has accomplished a tremendous amount this year,” Drew said. “It’s something that hopefully they can be proud of the rest of their lives.”
Jerrells led the way for Baylor in their match-up with Purdue, netting 27 points while dishing out eight assists in the Bears first round loss to the Boilermakers.
“In the second half, we thought we were coming back,” Baylor sophomore guard Tweety Carter said. “We had all season long. But we just couldn’t come back [against Purdue].”
Also contributing in the scoring department for BU were freshman guard LaceDarius Dunn with 15 points and junior guard Henry Dugat, who matched his freshman teammate by chipping in with 15 points.
“We gained a lot; we gained hunger,” Jerrells said. “I think the taste in our mouth will be a whole lot better next year. And we’ll actually guard somebody.”
One way or the other, the Bears have a lot to be proud of – as senior guard Aaron Bruce can testify.
“When I first got here, thinking of days like this and thinking about going to the tournament wasn’t even in the picture,” Bruce said. “I think it is just a testament [to this program]; the coaching staff, and the people that they brought in. We’re fighters and we are going to keep fighting.
“You count us out, we are going to show up on a board on the NCAA tournament sooner or later, and that is what we did. It is just a credit to those guys, credit to the staff, and everybody that has something to do with [the Baylor basketball program].”
In addition to leading the team in scoring in a losing effort for Baylor against Purdue, Jerrells also became the first player to score at least 27 points and eight or more assists since Dwyane Wade put up 29 points and dished out 11 assists for Marquette in an Elite Eight battle with Kentucky on March 29, 2003 – a game that Wade and the Golden Eagles won to advance to the Final Four.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org