Coach: Scott Drew (81-95 at Baylor, 101-106 overall)
Coach Scott Drew has done a great job turning around the Baylor program. The team fell short of their NCAA aspirations last year and they do lose three starters this season, but the staff continues to bring talent into the program and the Bears are headed in the right direction despite last year’s late season setback.
Key Losses: C Mamadou Diene, G Henry Dugat, G Curtis Jerrells, F Kevin Rogers
Even without Henry Dugat and Curtis Jerrells, this is a talented backcourt. Tweety Carter will run the show and he had a great assist-to-turnover ratio last season. But Carter is most known for his outside shooting ability. He connected on 2.3 per contest and hit over 40 percent of his attempts. And if you thought Carter was the best shooter on the team, you were wrong. LaceDarius Dunn hit a school record 109 three-pointers during his sophomore campaign and will almost certainly become the Bear’s all-time career leader in that category late in his junior campaign or early in his senior season.
The frontcourt is where there are a few more questions. Quincy Acy had a relatively successful freshman campaign, earning ten starts and averaging 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds. Baylor needs him to be able to play more minutes, be productive under the basket and stay out of foul trouble. Josh Lomers is the big body under the basket and will help replace Kevin Rogers. Lomers only averaged 11.5 minutes per game last year, but he could step into a full-time starting role this season. The other returning option up front is Anthony Jones. He did not play too much as a freshman, but he did show that he can develop into a dynamic inside-outside threat.
Who’s In for Baylor:
Nolan Dennis and Mark McLaughlin are a couple of talented wings who will battle for playing time right away. Dennis is not the best shooter around, but he can help out on the glass when Baylor opts to play small. Point guard A.J. Walton could see some playing time backing up the point, but he is also a fine outside shooter and could provide an offensive spark off the bench. The frontcourt gets four new faces, most notably Ekpe Udoh, a transfer from Michigan, and the highly touted Cory Jefferson.
During the 2007-2008 season Udoh blocked 92 shots. The Bears lacked a consistent shot blocker last season, although Acy certainly has the potential to turn into one, but Udoh will provide a majority of the defense under the basket this year. Coach Drew will have a ton of different options to put on the floor depending on the competition and the situation. Acy can play the three or four spot and Udoh can play power forward or center. There could be times when the 6-7 Acy is on the wing with the 6-10 Udoh and the 7-0 Lomers in the frontcourt.
Final 2009-2010 Baylor Projection:
Playing that big would be a large adjustment compared to last year’s team, but at least Baylor has options this year. More likely Udoh and Lomers will share time at the center spot and Acy will spend most of his time at power forward and one of the newcomers will join Dunn on the wing. The options are there and the talent is there, but Baylor is a pretty young team and they will have to find a way to be consistent, something they lacked last year even with Jerrell’s leadership, if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.