After a difficult and unexpected loss against Northwestern last week, Baylor is preparing to host Lamar University and hoping to get back on the upside of its so-far roller coaster season.
A Baylor team that started the season 17-0 last year now sits at 5-3 with only four non-conference games left.
“17-0 went a lot smoother than 5-3, I can promise you that,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew joked. “But I think it shows what we’re capable of on the high end and also shows what we’re capable of on the low…at the end of the day, if we do what we’re supposed to do for the first 38 minutes, hopefully the last two minutes don’t dictate the outcome of games so much; so trying to get more consistency through that.”
Consistency. That seems to be the key to success that Baylor is lacking in the beginning of this new season. However, Drew and many of his players agree inconsistency is expected with a younger team and the learning curve that must be taken into consideration.
“It’s a lot different,” guard Brady Heslip said about the momentum this year. “Last year we didn’t lose until Kansas, but this year we lose now and we learn from it. We’re a different team than we were last year. We’re younger, so you know that’s just part of it. We’ve got to just take the losses and learn from them because every season’s not going to be the same.”
Two out of Baylor’s five projected starters for its game against Lamar on Wednesday are in their first year as starting players – junior forward Cory Jefferson and freshman center Isaiah Austin – and that trend won’t die as Drew continues to give more responsibility to newer players.
“I think that’s typical with young teams,” Drew said. “There’s a lot more ups and downs than there are with veteran teams, and even the older players who are playing, like Cory (Jefferson), haven’t been in the kind of roles they’re in right now, so each game you get more experienced and each game, I think, everyone gets used to playing with each other.”
Luckily for the Bears, Lamar is also a young team still in the process of developing a team dynamic and rhythm.
“They’re in transition because last year, they were a real veteran team, and now they’re [Pat Knight’s] recruits but it’s a young team,” Drew observed.
With a young team as the next opponent, Baylor hopes to regain some of its lost confidence against Lamar and successfully move on to more difficult games like Gonzaga and BYU before conference play.
With conference play quickly approaching and two important games in between now and then, Drew said he is using these last few games to try to figure out how to get all his players to fit into the team smoothly and overcome the struggles the team has faced in the beginning of the season.
“From the coaching standpoint, if in the non-conference you can figure out who you and who you’re playing, then it’s been a successful non-conference,” Drew said. “With us, right now we’re still trying to work that out and see who needs more minutes, who needs less minutes and what combinations work well together for the most part.”
Baylor tips off on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. CT in the Ferrell Center after the Lady Bears face Oral Roberts at 6 p.m. CT on the same court. -- Savannah Pullin