Big 12 Media Day: Scott Drew

Scott Drew answers questions regarding the upcoming Baylor Basketball season. See what he says about newcomers like Demond "Tweety" Carter and about the impact of veterans like Aaron Bruce.

An interview with:
COACH SCOTT DREW

PETER IRWIN: We would like to welcome Coach Scott Drew from Baylor University. Coach, welcome to the podium. We will take -- if you would make an opening comment or two and then we will take questions.

COACH DREW: I know we are an excited bunch this year. We get to play right away and the easiest way to sum that up would be probably to say no one is looking more forward to a nonconference schedule than our team this year, having a full set of scholarships for the first time and ready to go. So with that, I had the Starbucks this morning, so questions?

Q. Hi, Coach. A year ago at this time we were asking you what will it was like not having a preseason. You gave your best prediction you could. Now looking back on it, what was it like, all that process?

COACH DREW: Definitely wouldn't recommend it for anybody. The biggest and the toughest thing was not playing games when the games started and watching everybody. But once the games actually did start, you are so far behind, everybody else and the expectations are so high and you are so excited for those first couple games and now you are out there and not performing at what you thought you were capable of doing. That really was an even bigger let-down than early in the year when people started playing and you felt that withdraw of not being able to play. So the first couple months was pretty tough on the guys. Finally, about the second half of conference, we were able to get our legs under us, get caught up to game speed and be able to be more competitive and obviously finish on a better note.

Q. Scott, I wonder if you can talk about the change in coaching throughout this conference. Are you kind of excited about going against some new guys and what do you think it will mean for the Big 12?

COACH DREW: We have had so many things to concentrate on at Baylor University, we really haven't had time to focus on everybody else. In the Big 12 you will always have great coaches. You will always have great players and you will have great fan support. None of that changes. We are just excited to be more competitive to play against these schools now.

Q. Scott, a lot of talk about your three newcomers. What have you seen there?

COACH DREW: Well, the great thing is all three are different and all three can definitely help us in different ways this season, starting with Tweety Carter. Any time you get nicknames as players, you know you are pretty good. Tweety, Demond Carter is someone who can really score as he has a good feel for the game. Being someone that has played so many AU tournaments and all-star games and all the exposure he has gotten, he is ready to step in and have a chance to play right away and not be in awe of college or the Big 12.

And then you have Penny, Djibril Thiam. He is someone that has grown eight inches in the last three years. Coaches always hear about players growing and somehow when we recruited them in the past, they never did grow. But this is different because we had a 6' 1" point guard when we first looked at him and now he is 6' 9". So we are excited with the different things he can do. Basically at 6' 9" with those kind of perimeter skills, he gives us someone who is a match-up problem for people.

And the big guy in the middle, Josh Lomers, at 7', 265, gives Mamadou someone to go against every day in practice. And because of his size and strength, he is definitely someone that will do well in the Big 12. No nickname for him. So we got to work on that.

Q. You guys and Texas A&M are picked higher than ever in the coaches polls. Why do you think your two programs in particular have been able to recruit the way you have in a short period of time. What does that say about the players that are out there, and now the competition in the Big 12 with more and more teams being competitive?

COACH DREW: I know with Baylor University, you have a school that has a lot to offer. I know Texas A&M has a lot to offer. And especially in the area that we are located, there is a lot of good talent and now players are choosing to stay close to home. That definitely helps you attract that kind of talent. Also, I think you bring in some good players and then other players want to play with those players. So in our situation, you bring in someone like Aaron Bruce and other players, you see him being successful his freshman year and they want to play with him and that has helped as well.

Q. Scott, I wonder if you could talk about Aaron's role with this team and how it has evolved over the two years it has been in your program?

COACH DREW: Aaron is somebody, again, when he came to Baylor he was asked to do so much as far as especially scoring. And because of how hard he plays and with what passion he plays, I think it attracted other recruits and other people to Baylor University. It has elevate other players on the team to play with that kind of passion and excitement. Now, I think as we have gotten better and better personnel around Aaron, one of his best attributes is his passing. And I think, again, each year his scoring might go down, but his numbers will go, up especially with the assist. Now we are working on cutting down the turnovers because sometimes he likes to make those passes -- I mean, he is used to playing in the world championships. We got good players, but we might not have Andrew Bogut just yet, so we are trying to work on that ratio right now.

Q. Coach, is it a different feeling not being the team that's picked at the bottom of the league like your first three years? First three years people are like, Oh, they are Baylor, they are going through growing pains, and now they are talking you might have a chance to go the post-season?

COACH DREW: I think it is a compliment to our players and how far the program has come in a short period of time. I think every coach and person associated with athletics will tell you the preseason polls don't matter half as much as the post-season. What we are doing is concentrating on where we finish up and how we prepare to get ready to do that. It is a great sign of respect for our program and just how far it has come and we take that very appreciably.

Q. Scott, we know with Curtis Jerrells, Aaron Bruce, now Tweety Carter, you got the perimeter game to play with anybody in the Big 12. Has your inside scoring ability improved along with the perimeter?

COACH DREW: I know each year with big guys, they tend to mature a little bit slower than the guards sometimes and each year, the Mamadous and Kevin Rogers and our inside players will continue to get better and better, especially with the strength and conditioning part of it. Charlie Melton, our strength coach has done an excellent job. So again each year, I expect them to continue to improve and get better. As far as right now, I think they will benefit more from that nonconference schedule than anybody else on our team from the standpoint they will have a chance to hopefully get some confidence in the nonconference schedule rather than going up against the Big 12 big guys they had to go up against last year. And, again, every year they should improve.

Q. Scott, in terms of the post-season, I wonder, how much are you talking to the guys about those four magic letters, NCAA? How much are you talking to them about the tournament? That's clearly the goal.

COACH DREW: I think right now the guys are just trying to survive practices. The first couple days of practice, you know you are never in good of shape as the coach wants you to be. Right now "practice over" is what they want to hear more than "NCAA" right now. I think it is a situation whereas we start to play -- get closer to game time and we play our exhibition games, we will sit down and come up with our team goals and what we would like to achieve this year and see where we are at that point. Good thing we don't have any injuries yet. That's always a good thing for coaches early in the year.

Q. Coach, with all the perimeter players, could we see something like Villanova did last year where you have four guards out on the court at the same time?

COACH DREW: That is definitely an option and I think with more and more schools, seeing the success at Villanova and some programs that have played three guards have had, I think that leads to more and more guards being played. So that's definitely an option for us. It is nice to have options for once, too.

PETER IRWIN: Okay, coach. We wish you the best of luck for the season. Thank you very much.


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