#27 Baylor: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #27
Conference Rank: #4 Big 12 Conference
2009-10: 28-8, 11-5
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Scott Drew (109-103 at Baylor, 129-114 overall)
Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh were one of the best inside-outside duos in the nation last season and Baylor will have a tough time replacing those two…not to mention fellow starter Josh Lomers. Coach Scott Drew has done an absolutely tremendous job rebuilding the Bears program and another trip to the NCAA Tournament should be waiting in 2011, but this is probably not a team that will waltz into the Elite Eight again.
Key Losses: G Tweety Carter, C Josh Lomers, F Ekpe Udoh
The good news is Coach Drew keeps bringing talent into the program and Baylor basketball is not going away anytime soon. Perry Jones is a great recruit for the program and arguably the best ever to commit to Baylor. The 6-11 forward is a great athlete who can be extremely productive on both ends of the floor. The addition of UCLA transfer J’mison Morgan will give the Bears a little more experience in the frontcourt. Morgan, a 6-10, 240 pound junior, may earn the starting job early in the year, but Jones will be pushing him from day one. Stargell Love and Levi Norwood will need to provide some depth to the thin group on the perimeter.
Carter may have created a lot of opportunities for his teammates, but it was LaceDarius Dunn who finished them off. After leading the team with 19.6 points and 3.2 three-pointers per contest, Dunn is ready to emerge as the leader of this team. Dunn does not have to be open to knock down shots and many times he will put up a shot that looks awful, but goes in anyway. That is usually the only way anybody can shoot 41.9 percent from beyond the arc. However, Dunn is suspended indefinitely and his status is unknown at this point. Former sixth man Quincy Acy figures to step into the other wing spot. Acy did not start any games last year, but the 6-7 junior still ranked fourth on the team with 9.3 points per game and second with 5.1 rebounds. Acy is not a shooter, but he is a slasher who can finish above the rim. Nolan Dennis was a big recruit, but rarely showed his stuff during his freshman campaign. While everybody on the perimeter will help replace Carter’s scoring, the most pressure could fall on Dennis to turn into a quality backup for Dunn and Acy.
Anthony Jones is the only returning starter in the frontcourt; and he was the unheralded big man. At 6-10 and 195 pounds, Jones is not a big bodied forward, but he is a pretty good rebounder and had some superb outings during his sophomore campaign. Jones can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting and with a little more consistency he could average ten points and seven or eight rebounds per game. Fred Ellis and Dragan Sekelja will be given the opportunity to play some more minutes this year. Ellis has been down the bench a ways for two seasons, but has the experience to step up his game. Sekelja is a seven-footer who needs to improve his overall game if he wants to beat out the newcomers for minutes.
Who to Watch:
Replacing Carter’s 5.9 assists per game may be the biggest issue this team faces. A.J. Walton had one year to learn from the master and now it is his turn to take over the point guard duties. Walton did average 17.6 minutes per game and is certainly a combo guard who can score in a variety of ways. He is a great shooter, but this team needs him to be a distributor first and a scorer second. Yet, if he can be the next Carter and do a lot of both, nobody in Waco, Texas would mind.
The Bears lose too much to be as good as they were last season. But they were pretty darn good last year. Baylor will still be near the top of the Big 12 conference standings, but it is hard to see them replacing Carter and Udoh without taking a step back. That still may lead to a Sweet Sixteen run, but that depends on Walton picking up the point and the newcomers filling in for Udoh effectively.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
A.J. Walton, Sophomore, Guard, 3.8 ppg
LaceDarius Dunn, Senior, Guard, 19.6 ppg
Quincy Acy, Junior, Forward, 9.3 ppg
Anthony Jones, Junior, Forward, 6.2 ppg
J’mison Morgan, Junior, Center, DNP last season
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