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FORT WORTH — Scott Drew held back tears following Baylor’s devastating loss to North Carolina. His team battled back from a 25-point deficit but fell short in overtime, losing to the Tar Heels, 93-86.
“Real proud of these guys and the heart in which they compete, you can lay your head on the pillow at night knowing they gave their all,” an emotional Scott Drew said of his team.
“They’ve really grown. High character individuals. We didn’t win on the court, but we won in life.”
Coach Drew’s praise of his team’s ability to fight through adversity was genuine and authentic. The loss was gut-wrenching, but listening to his words helped keep things in perspective.
Reflecting on the season, this team took significant steps forward, despite the early exit from the tournament.
Think about it. If anybody had a valid excuse to give up and begin focusing on next year, it was the Baylor Bears.
Considering how many players were either injured or gone, the easy option would have been to treat 2021-22 like a “developmental year.”
Four starters from the national title team left the roster and are now playing at the professional level.
Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague are all signed with NBA organizations (including G-League), while Mark Vital is on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad as a Tight End.
Langston Love, a highly-touted 4-star recruit in the 2021 signing class, suffered a season-ending knee injury before the Bears’ first game. He was projected to contribute immediately in 2021-22.
One of Baylor’s leading scorers, LJ Cryer, suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss most of the season.
And perhaps, the most brutal blow to the lineup was losing Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to a season-ending knee injury in mid-February.
Tchatchoua was the heart and soul of this Baylor team. His impact on the court didn’t always show up in the stat sheet but was usually critical to the team’s success.
On top of all that, three other key players missed significant time nursing injuries.
Instead of making excuses and quitting, this team kept fighting.
Won the regular-season Big 12 championship and entered the NCAA Tournament as a #1 seed for the second consecutive year.
I know this isn’t the ending fans wanted, especially after a season that produced a national championship. But keep things in the proper perspective.
Last season proved Baylor basketball could win a championship. This season proved Baylor basketball has a championship culture and foundation.
Don’t be shocked if the Bears evolve from a championship team into a championship dynasty over the next decade.
Quite frankly, the foundation that Scott Drew has built with Baylor basketball seems to have transcended to other programs at the university.
The body of work Baylor athletics has composed makes a compelling case to be considered the flagship school of Texas.
Find another Division I athletic program in the state that has produced a basketball and football conference championship, two Sugar Bowls, and an NCAA Basketball national championship, all in the last five years.
I’ll hang up and listen.
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