Baylor Bears Firing on All Cyclinders
The Baylor Bears entered the Maui Invitational as a team that lacked consistency. Although the Bears left empty-handed, the group was challenged in every contest. Key players that had sleepwalked their way through the early part of the non-conference slate finally began to get into a groove.
Consistency is the key for the Bears moving forward. Head coach Scott Drew made some interesting decisions during the Maui Invitational that possibly cost the Bears the championship, but inevitably made the team better moving forward.
Drew kept his hot hand Brady Heslip on the bench during crucial minutes, and he had minimal impact in the tournament. This minor tweak in the second half of the semifinals against Dayton allowed players like Royce O’ Neale and Gary Franklin to become options on the offensive side of the glass.
The tweak also placed Ish Wainright as the team’s defensive specialist, which will be vital entering conference play. Instead of riding the hot shooting of Heslip, Drew was able to elevate the game of three players.
Another minor adjustment in the Dayton game was electing to leave Isaiah Austin on the bench in favor of Rico Gathers to start the second half. This move did two things. The first was it instilled confidence in Gathers. Secondly, it lit a fire under Austin. With this one move, Drew was able to take some of the burden off the shoulders of Cory Jefferson.
Drew’s adjustments paid dividends on Sunday against Hardin-Simmons. Six of their players were in double figures in their 104-59 victory. The Bears didn’t double up the Cowboys on the scoreboard, but they did in the rebounding category with a 43-20 advantage. While the opponent may not have been a top-25 caliber squad, the Bears played 40 minutes of flawless basketball.