By Daniel Wallace
The 2011-12 regular season for the No. 12-ranked men’s basketball program officially tips off at 9 p.m. today at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears will play host to the Texas Southern Tigers in the first game of the season and are eagerly anticipating a strong start.
With six home games, the Bears said they feel confident they can storm out of the gates and produce victories. Head coach Scott Drew said he believes the home-court advantage in the first six games of the season will be very beneficial to his team.
“Home games help anytime,” Drew said. “It’s always great playing at the Ferrell Center in front of fans. We’ve made the home court quite an advantage because of the talent on the court and the great noise from the crowd. I think that gets your season off to a good start with six games here.”
The Bears will have to play the first five games of the season without sophomore forward Perry Jones III.
In March, Jones was handed down a six-game suspension by the NCAA for receiving improper pre-enrollment benefits. Jones averaged 7.2 steals per game and 13.9 points per game for the Bears last season.
Drew, however, said he does not believe it will be difficult for his team to win basketball games with the absence of Jones, because of the depth of the team. He is treating Jones’ suspension similar to an injury.
“That’s the great thing about sports,” Drew said. “You are constantly going to have injuries or illnesses. It’s a team game. Other people have to step up during that time so it gives other players an opportunity to play more minutes and have a bigger role. That’s how you win, with a team, so we will take the positive part out of that. Then when he comes back, we will be that much better.”
One of the players expected to succeed on the court in Jones’ absence is freshman forward Quincy Miller, who said the expectations are not too high to handle heading into the regular season.
“There’s no pressure,” Miller said. “It’s just time for me to improve. It’s time for me to just get better without Perry being on the court. I definitely need to step up, though. Without him it’s kind of hard, but I’m definitely going to step up.”
Miller is one of just two freshmen on the squad. He joins freshman guard Deuce Bellow as the other.
Junior guard A.J. Walton said he has been impressed by the play of the freshmen in practice thus far. He knows what they are capable of and is excited to see what they will contribute to the team at game time.
“They are not playing like they are freshmen,” Walton said. “Even though we are on the same team, we compete. Each one of them knows what they have to do and when they come in the game they know they have to do it and it’s going to be real good to see them come out and produce for us.”
Wednesday, the Baylor men’s team announced three more players will be joining the team next season.
Arlington’s Isaiah Austin, Houston’s Lynden “L.J.” Rose and Fort Worth’s Chad Rykhoek signed National Letters of Intent for 2012-13 on Wednesday.
Baylor’s 2012 signing class is ranked in the top 10 by multiple media outlets.