Baylor needs to hit somebody. Observations from their trip to Lawrence.

Thomas Robinson made a pretty good case for national player of the year after lats night's game.

Big Monday was BIG … on paper. Even though the Baylor – KU game turned out to be a dud for the casual fan, TYS has a couple interesting observations about the Bears after last night. Bears have some time to figure it out though … still only halfway through the season

Observations by DJ

“Beware of the Phog”

“Gotta beat the best to be the best”

“The road to the Big 12 goes through Lawrence, Kansas”

Pick your cliché that described this game last night. All of them were said b/c there were plenty of choices. Though they are cheesy, they do make a point. If Baylor were to establish itself as a legit Big 12 contender, not just this year but the next few years; then they ought to play the Jayhawks tough when time comes.

And the time was last night. There was more at stake during this game than just the inside road to the Big 12 championship. Here are just a couple of facts as Baylor got off the bus in Lawrence:

1. Baylor was trying to remain unbeaten and ‘Cuse just won their game earlier last night. The only asterisk next to that statement is that Baylor actually played some legit teams (BYU and K State) unlike Syracuse. (Yes, I don’t believe the hype with the Orange … will save that one for later)

2. The National Player of the Year honor was at stake – Thomas Robinson vs. Perry Jones III. If this were College Football, the winner of this game would immediately surpass the other in the Heisman race. But thankfully this is college basketball, not football.

Dickie V had all the facts about Thomas Robinson down in his production notes. Perry Jones III might easily be the first overall pick in the draft unless Anthony Davis’ unibrow impresses the NBA scouts during the workouts.

So those are the known facts. But this is a stiff test for Baylor. There were still some questions left about them despite their unbeaten record. The number of questions only went up after this game. Here are a few observations about Baylor and what it means for this team if they want to compete for a Final Four.

The Bears need to buy more Windex against bigger teams

Baylor can clean the glass better than most teams. But can they do it with the best of them? Coming into this game, the fans knew that Baylor had some trees. Jay Bilas would rave about their wingspan for days if possible. Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy all probably have about a 7 foot wingspan. Throw in senior Anthony Jones, that’s even more depth and lengthy bodies that can be thrown at the opponents during the game. So they should hit the boards consistently right?

Yes … but with teams that can match their size in the paint? Not really. Their Offensive Rebounding % after 17 games this season is 37.5. That’s pretty freaking good. But if you look inside the #s a little bit more, they have a rough time against bigger teams. Look at two of their close losses this season …

Beat BYU 86-83 … there is a guy on BYU named Brandon Davies who is a stud on the boards. Baylor was out-rebounded 41 to 26!!! Unfortunately, Davies’ personal life was the headline coming into this season but he is having a great year on the boards and had 13 rebounds against the Baylor big men.

Beat WVU 83-81 … Bob Thuggins’ teams are tough on the boards and on defense. Once again, Baylor was out-rebounded 36 to 31! Think this is a trend?

Kansas took it to them on the glass last night – 36 to 21!! Kansas had 14 boards on the offensive glass. It wasn’t just Thomas Robinson, there was another guy – Jeff Withey. Withey had 9 out of those 14 offensive boards. Quick shout out to John Gasaway who wrote an article on ESPN Insider about KU and specifically called out Withey as the X-Factor. Check it out if you get a chance, Gasaway also writes at Basketball Prospectus which is a must read. But, please finish this article first.

All of that length on Baylor needs to be used efficiently. No point in staying away from contact and out of the paint especially on the defensive glass when you play key games on the road. The programs from Kansas might be the only ones in the Big 12 that have some beef to compete with Baylor but they are bound to see some size in the tournament.

The contact-averse nature of these big guys was not just obvious with the boards but even on their offensive play and that leads to the next observation.

There you go PJ III! Use your moves in the paint.

Don’t fall in love with your jumper

When you have size and post moves like Perry Jones III … you go down low. If you are not shooting 75% of your shots in the paint, that’s just cheating your talent. Even if there are big guys on the other team that make you earn your shots, you still try to pound it down low. What’s the worst that could happen?? Thomas Robinson would have broken a sweat on the defensive end last night? Maybe picked up a foul or two early in the 2nd half? That’s not such a bad thing.

Scott Drew ought to watch the all-time classic baseball movie – Major League. Every time Willy Mays Hays hits a pop up, he is forced to do push-ups. Even during the game, that’s the rule. Drew ought to yank his players for shooting an 18 foot jump-shot ESPECIALLY if it is early in the shot clock. Pull the player out and make them do push-ups during the game. Willy Mays Hays had speed, so his job was to get on base. PJ III, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy have length … so get into the paint and look for that shot first before shooting open jumpers. NBA tryouts don’t start for another 3 months, so there is no need to impress them with your 18 foot range until then.

“DOOOOORRNNNNNNN” – Just had to throw that in there b/c of the Major League movie reference.

Another reason to play down low is to increase your free throw attempts. Get some free points. Despite a below average free throw % of 73, Baylor’s big men need to get to the free throw line more. If your jumpers don’t fall, stay aggressive and get your confidence up at the line. Robinson was UNTOUCHED last night except for a couple of post moves by PJ III. Want another statistic that displays the lack of aggressiveness by Perry Jones III? Free Throw Rate.

Look at Jones’ FT rate compared to three other big guys who are enjoying good seasons, including Robinson.

PJ III (27.6), Thomas Robinson (47.6), Jared Sullinger (49) and Cody Zeller (60.7)

Because PJ III has such a low rate of getting to the free throw line, or even attempts … a by-product is that he doesn’t get his counterparts in foul trouble. Look at the fouls drawn per 40 minutes by these four big men.

PJ III (3.7), Thomas Robinson (5.9), Jared Sullinger (6) and Cody Zeller (5.6)

Sullinger just backs his big !@# into the paint and draws a foul. He is the closest to a Shaq we have seen in college hoops since Sean May. May had some sick post moves too but his weight was too much to handle in the paint.

Jones needs to impose his will against the other big guys. There is too much talent and way too good of footwork that is wasted if he settles for jump-shots. Robinson on the other hand last night did the exact opposite. He drove into the paint; consistently forcing the Bears to match his aggressiveness. But they backed off.

One way to get tougher … get into a fight, during the game. Nothing major like Xavier did but get your juices flowing, it might help.

Robinson’s physical nature was contagious last night. Releford was all over the offensive glass in the 2nd half on certain possessions. Baylor needs to be persistent about finding their big guys down low too. There were too many times during last night’s game when they looked for a pass to PJ III but couldn’t find it b/c of Robinson’s defense. So they ended up settling for a jump-shot.

One other interesting aspect about last night’s game was guard play. Pierre Jackson is still a wild card and the game on the road was a good test to see his ability to keep his team calm. But the guard play discussion can be thrown out of the window during the game b/c Tyshawn Taylor was hitting shots from everywhere. It was THAT kind of night! So let’s consider this game an outlier in terms of guard play b/c Taylor is not very consistent.

Taylor’s consistency might be a missing piece of this Jayhawk team b/c Robinson is for real. KU visits Baylor in a few weeks and obviously that game will be hyped up again. Baylor has some time to figure out these issues before then. They have too much talent but just need a few nudges during the game.

Both of these teams are definitely in the top 8 … possibly even top 5 by the end of the season. All of this should make for an exciting Big 12 race for sure. There is no better way to end this post but to quote Dickie V … “I must be a sex symbol .. man.”

Yea, he is awesome. And so is Thomas Robinson.

2 Responses to “Baylor needs to hit somebody. Observations from their trip to Lawrence.”

  1. Great article!

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