By Andrew Miner
The Baylor Bears are sweet to the 16th degree.
The star of the second and third rounds is sophomore Brady Heslip. Just call him the ‘Downtown Canadian,’ because all he does is rain 3-pointers. He does not flip his hair often, but when he does, it means he’s nailing jumpers.
Against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a 14 seed, Heslip was 5 for 10 from a 3-point land for a game total of 17 points. He was one point under the team high: 18 from true jackrabbit and junior college transfer Pierre Jackson.
Heslip, who is also a transfer from Boston College, was not done. His next victim would be former Big 12 foe Colorado. This time around he put the team on his back by making nine of 12 three balls to torch the Buffaloes. This is when he became famous, trending on Twitter.
In order to continue dancing on to New Orleans, it is imperative that each individual on the team performs small jobs. Jackson and Heslip carry the team in an increasingly guard-oriented game.
While the rest of the nation is focused on other players, these two have been the key to the Bears’ success all along, with Jackson distributing and Heslip donning his three-goggles. The key is to utilize everyone on the floor.
In 2010, seniors Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones were on the squad when Baylor lost to Duke in the Regional Final. Both bring valuable experience to this year’s team.
Acy is the clear-cut emotional leader. He will no doubt lead the team on and off the court and when the team is struggling, head coach Scott Drew falls back on Jones to weather the storm.
These seniors must have a positive influence on the two players who arguably receive the most criticism: sophomore Perry Jones III and freshman Quincy Miller.
In 44 minutes, Miller had 18 points and nine rebounds, while in 60 minutes Jones III had nine points and 15 rebounds. Many, including Baylor fans, claim these numbers are disgraceful from two (hopefully distant) future NBA lottery picks.
I disagree, however, as both players performed pivotal plays in both games and will continue to play pivotal roles for the rest of the tournament.
After they moved on to the Sweet 16, I could feel the Bears’ energy. Brady’s wide smile showed what these kids must feel on a daily basis.
The question is, are the players having fun? I am not qualified to give the team basketball advice, but with the inevitable, growing pressure each round, I believe the entire team can take this to heart.
Have fun, guys. Simply put, have fun. Enjoy every moment: the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the press conferences and, ultimately, the game itself. Disregard the criticism, trust the coaches and play your game. Why listen to the critics? You, and not they, are in the arena. Have fun perfecting the little things and everything else will fall into place.
Only you guys can win. Nobody else.
But even if you do fall, we are Baylor Nation and you guys will still be heroes to us.
Andrew Miner is a freshman pre-business major from Great Falls, Va.