Regardless of Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears falling to Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight this year, they should be more than proud of their remarkable story.
The young hoops team only awaits a bright future well beyond anyone’s expectations.
Except for maybe Drew, his coaching staff, and the players donning the green and gold jerseys on a daily basis.
All along the way, they were aiming for a national title—coming up just two games, and three wins, shy of accomplishing that mighty goal.
“These are the hardest press conference of the year always when you have to say goodbye to players that blessed you for their career, and helped make your program. But at the same time we want to thank all the fans,” Drew told the media following the Bears loss to Duke in the Elite Eight.
“I thought we had a tremendous showing. Did we break the regional record? No, we didn’t. But second largest crowd. Want to thank all the state of Texas fans and all the Big 12 fans and all the Baylor fans for cheering for us and being here to support us.
“We have to give Duke credit. They got big offensive rebounds, they made big threes, 11 for 23. So they won the game, and we wish them good luck.”
Asked to talk about his “swagger” and not being intimated by the Duke Blue Devils, Baylor senior guard Tweety Carter had a simple answer.
“You know, God blessed us all this year. Even with this loss, we felt like we gave everything we had,” Carter said. “You know, we didn’t come out on top, but we know that this Baylor team fought all this year. Through ups and downs, and people doubting us, you know, we fought. But we’ve been playing this way all year long. Credit to them [Duke]. They came out and they won the game.”
The Bears may not have come out on top, but they have absolutely endeared the Baylor basketball program to the state, if not the nation.
“I’d like to just thank God for this opportunity,” Carter told the media following the team’s tough loss to Duke. “You know, I learned a lot. I learned a lot all four years here. It’s not over for this program. It’s not over for this team. You know, we’re a family. We’re going to always keep in touch. You hate for it to end as far as you playing this year.
“You know, we worked to make it to the Final Four and win the national championship, but, you know, it didn’t go that way. But God blessed us all this year, man. And we’re just thankful for this opportunity that we got today.”
Carter’s BU teammates echoed the star senior’s sentiments on the season.
“Well, I’m definitely proud of the team and the things that we have accomplished this year even though, you know, we didn’t want this to be our ending point, but things happen,” Bears junior LaceDarius Dunn said.
“Just throughout this year the team just really pulled together and did some things that the outsiders didn’t think we could do. You know, being picked 10 in the Big 12, making it to the Elite Eight, getting to play a great team like Duke going to the Final Four. It’s been a great season.
“Like I told my teammates, like Tweety said, it’s not over for this program. It’s not over for this team. I just think we had a great season. I think my teammates should hold their head up high and be proud of the things they’ve accomplished this year.”
After sitting out a year upon transferring, Ekpe Udoh also made a giant name for himself this postseason run—and he talked about the magical moments leading up to the Elite Eight with the media following Baylor’s heartbreaking defeat.
“I mean, it all started in the summer,” Udoh said. “Nobody thought we had something special coming together. You know, we all just came together and we loved each other. You know, we fought each other. We made it to the Elite Eight. I mean, I’ve never been to the tournament. This is a great experience. We thank God, but there it is.”
But like they all said, it’s not over for this program or this team.
The Bears are destined for greatness, and they only plan on getting better from here on out...
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org