By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
With the first game of the new season right around the corner, Baylor men’s basketball is excited to get things rolling. The No. 5 Bears are coming off back-to-back Big 12 championships and reloaded for what they hope to be another national title run.
“Before you step out on that court every game, you’re nervous, you’re excited. If not, you’re in trouble,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Because you have to have that energy and excitement to play well and to perform. As a coach, you don’t want to let the team down. And players, hopefully they don’t want to let each other and us down the first time you step out there and the band’s playing. We’ll be the first game in college basketball, tip of the spear, and hopefully we get it started out right.”
Going into the new season, Baylor has been ranked fifth nationally and was picked as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12. However, this is just a number to the players and they said they aren’t focused on preseason rankings.
“We really don’t look into it that much,” fifth-year senior guard Adam Flagler said. “We’re extremely grateful and blessed that the country and the Big 12 coaches see us on that highly but at the end of day, we know we have to prove it. Extremely excited for Monday, extremely excited for the season, we’ve been practicing really hard.”
Fifth-year senior forward Flo Thamba mimicked Flagler’s comments.
“For us, we don’t really focus on that, even though we’re appreciative of such and being recognized for the talent our team has,” Thamba said. “First, we just pride ourselves with just going out there and playing to the best of our ability. With this year’s group, we have the ability to do that.”
There are a lot of new faces on the team, but everyone around the team speaks highly of how well the team has transitioned during the offseason. With newcomers such as freshman guard Keyonte George, the highest recruit in program history, there is a lot to look out for with the Bears.
“I’m definitely excited to play my first collegiate game, definitely,” George said. “Just wanna thank my Lord and Savior, for just blessing me with the talent to be able to play at this type of level … I just think that I’ve gotten really stronger. Just being more balanced with my body and just learning how to use my body in different scenarios. So, I feel like I’ve definitely adjusted well, throughout the months that I’ve been here but I’m always looking for somewhere to improve. So, I still have a lot of room to grow.”