It's that time of the year again, folks. The college basketball schedules have been finalized, and as your Baylor Basketball Community Leader (and avid Bear Pit member), I will be breaking down the Bears' lineup.
Scott Drew's crew will tune up for the year by taking on Central Oklahoma in an exhibition game on November 6th, which will be followed by home contests against Norfolk State and Hartford.
The Bears will then visit sunny Lake Buena Vista, Florida as they join teams like Alabama, Creighton, Xavier, Marquette, and Michigan for a Thanksgiving basketball fest. A Baylor-Michigan game would make things interesting as former Big Ten All-Defensive star Ekpe Udoh now wears the green and gold.
It will then be a December to remember as Baylor faces Arizona State in a rematch from last year's 76 Classic. Afterwards, the Bears get a three-game homestand against Jackson State, UT-Arlington and Southern, before closing out 2009 in Little Rock against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
To open up 2010, the Bears will once again face South Carolina in Columbia before returning home to take on Morgan State.
Then the challenging part comes. They open their Big 12 schedule against a Griffin-less Oklahoma team in the Ferrell Center. In this beginning stretch, the Bears go back and forth between home and away as they then travel to Boulder to face the Buffaloes of Colorado, then return to Waco to face Oklahoma State.
From there on out, Baylor has a load of interesting match-ups. Baylor takes on Kansas, who they bounced out of the Big 12 tournament. Drew catches a break with a rare non-conference home battle against UMass before his team hosts Kansas State.
But then comes a must-watch game: Baylor meets Texas in Austin on January 30th. Baylor snapped its 24-game losing streak to the Horns in last year's Big 12 semifinals; the Horns are no doubt out for retribution.
After they play Iowa State at home, Baylor has yet another interesting game as the team travels to College Station to play the Aggies. The road team won both games in '08, but the home team won both games in '09. What kind of result can we expect from this newly-resurrected rivalry?
A few days afterward, the team has Nebraska. Another interesting game—against Missouri—follows the Cornhusker game. The Bears then close out the season by hosting Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M They also play road games in Lubbock, Norman, and Stillwater.
After last year, many are skeptical about the Bears' chances this year. With the loss of Mamadou Diene, Kevin Rogers, Henry Dugat, and Curtis Jerrells, the squad has become more youthful.
However, the team still has strong leaders in the form of Josh Lomers, Tweety Carter, and Lacedarius Dunn. They get new energy that Quincy Acy and football star Kendall Wright bring to Waco.
My prediction: A strong finish in non-conference, maybe a couple of losses, and then a better year in the conference.
MY PREDICTED STARTERS:
Center: Josh Lomers (Senior, 7-foot, 280 lbs.)
Guard: Tweety Carter (Senior, 5-foot-11, 185 lbs.)
Guard: LaceDarius Dunn (Junior, 6-foot-4, 201 lbs.)
Forward: Quincy Acy (Sophomore, 6-foot-7, 215 lbs.)
Guard: Kendall Wright (Sophomore, 6-foot, 180 lbs.)
REASONS: Tweety and Dunn are already starters; give them the nod. Lomers is the only experienced center on the Baylor squad, and he did wonders during the postseason. Acy has been doing great on the court, and while Anthony Jones is a decent shooter beyond the arc, Acy gets it done inside the paint.
And finally, I give Wright the nod based on the little playing time he got last year. When he did get to play, he sunk shots from NBA range and showed us how high he can fly.
This is my pick for the starting lineup, and I welcome any and all feedback on this piece.