By Greg DeVries
The No. 16 Baylor men’s basketball team will face the undefeated Boston College Eagles at 2 p.m. today in its first round game at the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.
Seniors Brady Heslip started his career as a member of the Boston College basketball team before transferring to Baylor. Heslip did not play in any games, however.
Heslip started this season shooting just 20 percent from the three-point arc. While his shooting numbers may be down, teams still have to put a defender in his face because he is such an established threat. This stretches the floor and allows guards to penetrate.
The Bears are 2-0 on the season after two convincing home victories over Lehigh and Jackson State by an average margin of 26.5 points per game.
Despite the Bears’ early success, senior guard Pierre Jackson believes that the team can still get better.
“I still think we have a lot to improve on,” Jackson said. “We can be a lot better, but right now we’re playing good. We’re all clicking. We can get better at rebounding, just boxing out the shooter after shooting.”
Boston College is 1-0 on the season after beating Florida International 84-70. The Eagles are led by sophomore forward Ryan Anderson who dropped 29 points, including 11 of 14 shooting from the free throw line, 17 rebounds.
The key to stopping the Eagles is preventing Anderson from getting the ball. The rest of the starters combined to shoot 33 percent from the field including 0 for 10 from beyond the arc. If the Eagles repeat these numbers against Baylor, then they will have a very difficult time keeping up.
Baylor will hope to have freshman center Isaiah Austin back for this game. Austin rolled his ankle after landing on a defender’s foot during Baylor’s game against Lehigh. While head coach Scott Drew said that the injury did not appear to be too serious, he also said it was too early to tell.
“[Isaiah] is rehabbing hard,” Drew said. “Hopefully we can get him back. I’m hoping for Charleston, obviously, but it’s still too early to know for sure.”
Despite playing just 17 minutes in the first two games due to the injury, Austin was named the Big 12 newcomer of the week.
The Bears would like to have their 7-footer back to help defend Boston College’s 7-footer Dennis Clifford. Clifford finished Boston College’s first game with 12 points on six-of-eight shooting and five rebounds in just 18 minutes. He also recorded three blocks in the game.
With Anderson and Clifford down low, Baylor’s interior defense will have to be strong. Luckily for Baylor, the team has recorded 15 blocks in its two games, including eight from junior forward Cory Jefferson.
Since the Eagles play two strong players in the frontcourt, three guards round out the rest of the starting five, but the experience is less than common.
Baylor starts three guards also, but all of them have a lot of experience.
Seniors A.J. Walton and Jackson and junior Brady Heslip all have more experience than each of Boston College’s guards.
“I feel like I’m playing with the best guards in the nation,” freshman forward Rico Gathers said. “That was one of my main reasons for wanting to come here and play for Baylor. Because I knew they had a fire point guard. It’s a blessing.”