The Baylor men’s basketball team came up just short last night in its quest for a postseason title, losing 69-63 to Penn State in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. Still, that’s nothing to hang one’s head about, when one considers all that the program has gone through in recent years, months and even weeks.
With the season now complete, I just wanted to take a minute to thank this team for energizing both the campus and alumni. A big thank you goes out to the man who headed all this up, head coach Scott Drew, who took on a rebuilding challenge like no college basketball team had ever seen before has carried the Bears to heights that were unfathomable just a few years ago. We look forward to where you can take this team as we go forward.
(Here’s a parallel to hope for: In 2002, head coach Kim Mulkey led the Lady Bears to the NCAA Tournament. the next year, they lost a close one in the WNIT title game. Since then, they’ve made the NCAA Tournament every season, including a fourth Sweet 16 appearance this year and a national championship just two years after that WNIT run. How about it, men?)
More in the moment, I want to thank the graduating seniors. Thank you, Mamadou Diene — head coach Scott Drew’s first recruit at Baylor who first brought attention to Drew’s recruiting abilities. Thank you, Curtis Jerrells, Kevin Rogers and Henry Dugat, for choosing Baylor when others around you questioned why a trio of top-100 national recruits would pick Baylor, a program not long removed from scandal.
Thank you, seniors, for transforming Baylor men’s basketball into a program to be reckoned with. Thank you for leading this program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years, its first postseason wins in over 50 years, its first-ever back-to-back 20-win seasons — the list just goes on.
Now, as you move on, we look forward to following you wherever your careers may take you. And we look forward to seeing you back at games in the Ferrell Center, joining us in watching Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn and Anthony Jones and others that Drew brings to Baylor, as the Bears continue to build on the winning foundation you have laid.
Sic ’em, Baylor basketball — past, present and future!