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Baylor Basketball

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Baylor's Week of Sports

January 2, 2023

The Big 12 will be represented in the National Championship Game thanks to the Bears' arch-rival. But, unlike football, the Baylor women know how to beat TCU, while the Cyclones left Scott Drew and crew's heads spinning in Ames, plus more. 

Here's a look at The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from the past week in Baylor Athletics. 

The Good

Coaching Hires — Dave Aranda made two crucial and highly-anticipated hires last week, bringing former safeties and special teams coach Matthew Powledge back to Waco after one season as Oregon's Co-DC. Whether Powledge will also handle safeties or special teams remains to be seen. That seems like a bit much on his plate, so those questions remain for the time being. Special teams, in particular, were an area where the drop-off was more than just a result of losing some talented, experienced players. It was also an area of advantage the Bears seemed to relinquish this past season. 

Elsewhere, Aranda tabbed former Auburn LB coach Christian Robinson as the team's new inside linebackers coach. Ironically, Robinson's time with the Tigers ended with former Baylor DC Ron Roberts taking hold of a new defensive staff under Hugh Freeze. Before last season, Robinson spent four years in the same role with Florida.

It's good to see a couple of significant puzzle pieces finalized, and hopefully, Powledge's second stint in Waco will be as successful as the first. But this defense has lots of questions, and then again, the whole team does at this point. And Powledge's return can only partially solve issues like attitude, confidence, and execution. 

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365

Qualan Jones — The senior-to-be running back seemingly announced his return to Waco in 2022 with a highlight video on social media. Jones found a better stride toward the end of the season. We saw how flimsy or lacking RB depth could be in 2022, so this is a good return in my eyes, and he's got room to be even more impactful next season, outside of pure stats. 

Roster Moves — The Bears need numbers flexibility to rework the roster and received more room this week with transfer announcements from defensive backs Al Walcott and Mike Harris. Walcott's Sugar Bowl pick-six will live in green and gold lore, and he seemed to have a knack for big plays the defense was missing overall. However, those plays aren't irreplaceable. Still, I wish he could have closed his career in Waco on a brighter and more impactful note. Harris' departure is unsurprising. 

RGIII — The school's lone Heisman winner continues to make his mark in major media and should remain a great ambassador in NFL and CFB roles for the foreseeable future. During Georgia's semifinal win over Ohio State, Griffin's role as a father took precedence over everything, including his role in ESPN2's "Field Pass with The Pat McAfee Show" Fiesta Bowl broadcast leading to a memorable clip. At publishing time, the Griffin family was still awaiting the arrival of their newest addition.

Best wishes. 

Many former college players occupy air time nationally, but Baylor has a real gem in Griffin that shines brighter than many others.  

New Big 12 — I will never turn into a full-blown conference cheerleader a la the SEC homers and propagandists, but seeing a non-OU (or Texas) squad make it to the National Championship game is incredible and oh-so timely. A Horned Frogs national title would be colossal for the conference's reputation and record books. Sure, there are also some downsides for Baylor individually, but the conference that was once on life support has fought back admirably. 

XFL Bears — The league held their supplemental draft on New Year's Day. The Seattle Sea Dragons picked WR Josh Gordon. The San Antonio Brahmas picked up linebacker Jordan Williams. 

Previously, Abram Smith (DC), KD Cannon (DC), Raleigh Texada (Houston), and Jameson Houston (Vegas) were all picked in the XFL's primary draft in November. And quarterbacks get assigned by the league, with former Bears QB Jalon McClendon selected for the DC Defenders, thus joining Smith and Cannon. The Rock's new XFL relaunches on Saturday, February 18.

WBB — The Bears went on a 15-2 run late and took down TCU in Saturday's conference opener, 64-42. Caitlin Bickle led the way with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. They'll host No. 20 Oklahoma on Tuesday and take on No. 22 Kansas in Lawrence on Saturday. 

Jalen Pitre — The Texans are awful, but Pitre's stellar rookie campaign continued with his fifth interception this season and, in turn, a creative, fun celebration. 

Men's Tennis — Michael Woodson announced the signing of Great Britain's Louis Bowden. He'll join the team this fall. 

The Bad

MBB — Many are adjusting expectations, especially after Saturday's painful stumble in Ames. A long way to go, of course, and Iowa State is plenty respectable, but a relentless gauntlet of tests is only beginning. Getting LJ Cryer healthy sooner rather than later would help, but the team's current issues from defense to offense go much deeper. The Bears will hope to take advantage of back-to-back home games against TCU on Wednesday and Jerome Tang-led Kansas State on Saturday. 

The Ugly

Loss in Ames — Scott Drew's recent New Year's ownership of Hilton Coliseum and regular season dominance over Iowa State came to a close this weekend, as the Bears fell to the Cyclones in the Big 12 opener, 77-62. The Bears, now 20-3 overall, had a horrific middle stretch relinquishing the lead amidst a 23-3 ISU run. 

TCU — The arch-rival Frogs have unfortunately put themselves on yet another level as a program with their CFP win over Michigan. Now they stand one win from immortality and an improbable National Championship. Of course, this outcome was all so preventable — just seconds away in Waco, in fact — but credit where credit is due. Before this season, the Bears were a hot program to name as the top contender in the new Big 12. But now? All football conversations must start in Fort Worth; from there, it's anyone's guess as to where the Bears are in the upcoming shuffle. 

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Baylor's Week of Sports

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