By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball has struggled to get things going. It’s been a month since the Bears started the season 15-0 and reclaimed the No.1 rank in the nation. Since then, the defending champs are 4-4 and dropped nine spots, currently sitting at No. 10 after their big 83-59 loss to No. 8 University of Kansas on Saturday.
Head coach Scott Drew said the team will watch the film and learn from it, but won’t dwell on the loss because they have to stay focused on one game at a time.
“Rebounding and transition defense were the biggest culprits Saturday,” Drew said. “We’ll address both of those issues … We’re going to spend some time on it, but not enough that it will cost us the game on Wednesday, because we can’t replay that night. We will do our best to make improvements, make adjustments and then at the same time, get prepared.”
Senior forward Matthew Mayer agreed it was important for the team to improve on rebounding and transition defense, but also said the team has a lot to learn on the other side of the floor as well.
“We’re going to have to learn a lot on offense, just how to keep the ball moving more,” Mayer said. “I think the main thing is transition and rebounding, so we’ll figure that out.”
Freshman forward Jeremy Sochan said the team has to regroup and pick up the energy it brings into the game. Sochan also added that the team will continue to look forward and focus on the task at hand rather than be stuck on what could have been.
“It’s definitely tough,” Sochan said. “But you can’t dwell on the past. We just have to lock in on the future and the present and just do our thing. We all know we could’ve had a different outcome to that game, but we can’t change it.”
Baylor is also awaiting the return of its leading scorer, sophomore guard LJ Cryer, who has missed the last three games with injury. The last time the Bears were at full strength they were still undefeated, but have had key players in-and-out of the lineup since their Jan. 8, 76-64 win over Texas Christian University. Drew said the injuries make it difficult to get into a rhythm with different players healthy at different times, and the players aren’t all at 100% even though they have returned from injury.
“Adam [Flagler] is getting better, James [Akinjo] is getting better, now we are just waiting for LJ and hopefully we get him back,” Drew said. “We haven’t lost since we had everybody. Having everybody in practice and being in rhythm go hand in hand.”
The Bears play Kansas State University (12-10, 4-6 Big 12) for the second time this season at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. Last time the two teams faced off was on Jan. 25 at the Ferrell Center, when Baylor came out victorious with a 25-point win. Drew said his team needs to get their minds off of Kansas and focus on a KSU team ready for revenge.
“Coach [Bruce] Webber has done a good job bringing in some transfers that can score and then the returning players have gotten better,” Drew said. “It’s a team that we know they’re going to be just as excited to play us as we will probably be to play Kansas again.”