Coach looks to future after tough 2010-11 year
By Chris Derrett
After a whirlwind end to an undoubtedly disappointing season, men’s basketball coach Scott Drew held his final press conference of the 2010-11 season Wednesday.
“We’ve had so much success and enjoyed postseason so much. And this year, you’re just left with an empty feeling. Hopefully, that’s something that will help motivate and lead to a great offseason,” Drew said, alone on the podium, as players were not made available.
Drew and the Bears watched Sunday as the NIT selection show revealed Baylor would not receive a bid to the tournament. Falling short of postseason play ended a three-season streak.
“From talking to committee members before [the announcement of the tournament teams], I know they take everything into account. With the uncertainty of Perry [Jones III], I don’t think that was the deciding factor, but still, information is information,” Drew said.
Hindering the Bears’ chances of getting into the NIT was the fact that a record number of automatic qualifying teams made the field. Those 12 teams that won their conference regular season championship but did not receive an invitation to the NCAA tournament were automatically invited to the NIT.
The uncertainty Drew spoke of regarded Jones. The NCAA declared Jones ineligible because of loans that Jones’ mother received from Jones’ high school club basketball coach. Jones’ coach also paid for Jones’ travel to San Diego to see a preseason professional football game.
Baylor was told of Jones’ ineligibility six hours before its Big 12 tournament opening round game against Oklahoma, which the Bears would go on to lose, 84-67.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Drew said Baylor is waiting for the NCAA’s ruling on the Bears’ appeal to reinstate Jones.
“I thought we could hear today, hope to hear to day, but you never know because its their timetable,” Drew said.
Of course, Jones could choose to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft, a choice that standout forward Ekpe Udoh made after helping the Bears to an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. Jones will sit down with Drew soon and talk about the decision.
“We usually give our guys a week or two and bring them in, and at that point discuss what they’re thinking,” Drew said. “Perry comes from a great family, and they’re going to do what’s best for Perry.”
The last week has been tough for Jones, who found it difficult to sit on the bench and watch his team drop its last contest of the year.
“I know he lost eight pounds. That kind of sums up the week,” Drew added.
Jones is not the only Baylor player that could enter the NBA draft. After setting the Big 12 all-time scoring record during his senior season, LaceDarius Dunn might also go pro.
As Drew ponders the absence of his two leading scorers next season, at the same time he welcomes new personnel in standout recruits Deuce Bello and Quincy Miller. The Bears will also have next year in California transfer Gary Franklin and Boston College transfer Brady Heslip.
Drew said Franklin and Heslip could help solve one of the Bears’ biggest problems on the court.
“It was pretty glaring to see that turnovers hurt us all season long,” Drew said. “Defensively, for the most part we were good enough to win and rebounding, for the most part, we were good enough to win. We never really took care of the ball well enough to win.”
Sophomore point guard A.J. Walton will have another year under his belt as the Bears try to improve their turnover margin, which ranked last in conference play last year. Juniors Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones will look to lead the team as well.
“Quincy took a step forward and again will take another step forward next year,” Drew said.
For now, all Drew can do is get back on the recruiting trail and focus on the future.
“It’s very tough. People just assume, OK, do you go on vacation now? Do you watch all the other [tournament] games? When you lose, the last thing you can do is watch other teams play.”