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Five Questions for... Baylor Bears

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Welcome to Five Questions for... Baylor Bears.

Here you'll see five of the most pressing questions for the Bears and our response to them. Feel free to contribute your answers in the comments section.

1. The Bears had tons of hype last season, but never lived up to it. Was it a coaching or personnel issue in your opinion?

2. Speaking of hype, Baylor's got it again this season with a star-studded recruiting class. Which newcomer do you think will have the most impact (Quincy Miller, Deuce Bello or Pierre Jackson)?

3. Perry Jones III may be the most gifted basketball player returning in the Big 12. Where do you think he stacks up for Conference Player of the Year?

4. What defense do you think would be most effective with a group as long and athletic as Baylor?

Finally, the Bears were picked to finish third in the conference. Too high or too low? Do they have a chance to knock off a relatively down Jayhawks team this year?


See the answers after the jump...

1. The Bears had tons of hype last season, but never lived up to it. Was it a coaching or personnel issue in your opinion?

Evan Pfaff: Choosing between the two, I'd say it was coaching. They simply had too much talent to miss the NCAA tournament, and that comes back to Xs and Os. I will admit, though, that there were three personnnel issues at play as well. First, LaceDarius Dunn was a black hole. The ball went in and just didn't come out. With the talent Baylor had, they needed to spread the ball around, and they couldn't with Lace in the game. Second, their PG play was atrocious. Last, Perry Jones wasn't the instant success we all thought he would be. He was good (and had a stretch in the middle of the season where he was great) but he wasn't an instant impact player. He will be this year.

Nathan Kotisso: I believe it was personnel thing. The talent was there but everyone except for Lace Dunn and Quincy Acy wanted to work for it. The addition of Deuce Bello is great and Quincy Miller should further solidify an already stellar and crowded frontline. The point guard position was a major reason for their ineptitude. A.J. Walton was erratic and hopefully Pierre Jackson and ex-Boston College player Brady Heslip can make things better.

Ellen Carnes: I'd place the bulk of the blame on coaching. Although there were certainly personnel issues plaguing the Bears, the coach's job is to address them. Despite LaceDarius Dunn's on-and-off-court struggles and A.J. Walton's shaky guard play, there was a lot of ability on last year's team. Unfortunately, Scott Drew never seemed to be able to turn individual talents into a cohesive unit.

Matt Patton: I think it was a combination of the two. Scott Drew certainly deserves some of the blame for not changing his strategy when it became abundantly clear that top-tier teams weren't fooled by the zone. But LaceDarius Dunn also deserves a lot of credit for being unwilling to take a slightly reduced role with the influx of talent (given you could blame this on Drew as well). Walton certainly wasn't a star, but I felt like he got a bad rap for most of the season because Dunn was a black hole on offense.

2. Speaking of hype, Baylor's got it again this season with a star-studded recruiting class. Which newcomer do you think will have the most impact (Quincy Miller, Deuce Bello or Pierre Jackson)?

EP: Gotta be Quincy Miller. He is long, athletic and a top-10 recruit. But more importantly, with the size Baylor is going to put on the floor, Quincy will get matchups against smaller players. Take your pick between 6-11 Perry Jones, 6-11 J'mison Morgan, 6-7 Quincy Acy and 6-8 Quincy Miller and you have matchup issues for other teams. Pierre will be the cog at guard and Deuce is a top 50 recruit himself, but Miller will have the most impact.

NK: In my mind it's Pierre Jackson. Two years ago, Baylor had Tweety Carter at PG and he was the reason for their Elite 8 appearance. Scott Drew's offense needs a true quarterback in order for this team to be successful and it certainly doesn't hurt that they get the JUCO Player of the Year to set up shop.

EC: Pierre Jackson. He may not have the hype or national profile of Quincy Miller or Deuce Bello, but man, does Baylor need a point guard.

MP: I'll go with Miller too, but it's definitely close. Miller and Jones will make one of the premier frontcourts in the country. Jackson will certainly be crucial, but I think his main job will be not to turn it over and to dump the ball inside. Though, college basketball is a point guard's league and Jackson has the potential to be "the straw that stirs the drink."

3. What defense do you think would be most effective against a group as long and athletic as Baylor?

EP: Teams simply trying to account for their lack of size will have to go to a zone and try to keep the ball at the top of the key. As we saw last year, the way to beat BU is to not let the ball go in down low. Baylor will be better on the perimeter this season, but they won't win games because of their outside play, their strength is inside, and if you can tempt them to shoot outside, and box out, you'll give yourself a better chance of winning. Man Ds won't work because not only are they bigger, but they have replacement parts as big as their starters.

NK: Jim Boeheim would be happy to here this, but I think a 2-3 zone is best. Goodness that whole team can jump out of the gym. Best case scenario is that you can force some charges when Flight Bello or Flight Jones takeoff. More power to you if you have big guards especially since Cal transfer Gary Franklin is 6-2, Walton is 6-1 and Jackson is 5-10. Not allowing those guards to get it to their bigs easily will make a huge difference.

EC: Baylor is big, athletic, and deep. They have an intimidating frontcourt with Jones and the Quincies Miller and Acy. Opposing teams better stick to the zone and try to force outside shots.

MP: I think it's totally on the aggressiveness of Acy, Miller and Jones. If those three go after the ball and try to get into position every play, the Bears will be borderline impossible to beat. I'd guess going zone with gang rebounding would be the best bet, but if they're killing you on the glass I'd try and go as big as possible and stick to man-to-man. This should be fascinating to watch once we get this Bear team off paper and onto the basketball court.

4. Perry Jones III may be the most gifted basketball player returning in the Big 12. Where do you think he stacks up for Conference Player of the Year?

EP: First off, what's the story with 'III' at Baylor? Robert Griffin III and Perry Jones III? But I digress. Perry Jones is definitely in the mix for Big 12 POY, along with Thomas Robinson and Khris Middleton. He kind of faded towards the end of last season, scoring 10 or less in 4 of his final 5 games, but I can chalk that up to a freshman slump. After a full year in the system, and without the Lace factor, Jones' numbers should improve greatly and he's probably a good bet for POY honors.

NK: It's Perry Jones and maybe Khris Middleton over at Texas A&M to contend for Big 12 Player of the Year. To be nearly 7-foot and be as gifted athletically and have the handles like a guard is unreal. It's his team now.

EC: I wouldn't bet against Baylor taking both men's and women's POY honors with Perry Jones and Brittney Griner. Of course, Jones will have to fend off A&M's Khris Middleton, Mizzou's Marcus Denmon, and KU's Thomas Robinson.

MP: My personal bet is Thomas Robinson. After being spurned last year as the Jayhawks' waltzed to another conference title, I'm not wagering against them again, and he should be their most valuable asset. That said, if Jones steps up to his hype, no one will stand in his way. He's nearly seven feet tall and he can shoot. Especially if he's added some weight during the offseason, look out.

5. Finally, the Bears were picked to finish third in the conference. Too high or too low? Do they have a chance to knock off a relatively down Jayhawks team this year?

EP: I think Baylor wins the conference. Similar to reasons stated above, I think they're too long and too athletic. The key, though, is their guard play. If Pierre and Deuce can make instant contributions, and if A.J. Walton doesn't stink the place up again, I don't see another conference team winning more games than the Bears.

NK: The coaches got it just about right. I pick Baylor to finish 2nd in the conference behind the Aggies, who have a boatload of not only seniority but seniority that were contributors in their regular rotation. Once again, point guard play will either lift them or doom them.

EC: Too low, but just by a bit. I would put Baylor second to KU. Kansas has tough match ups against teams like Kentucky early in the season, while the Bears aren't exactly taxing themselves during non-conference play. Kansas is going to be tested and ready to face Big 12 teams. To me, this is typical of Bill Self vs. Scott Drew. The best coach in the Big 12 (for my money) vs. the coach who wasn't able to scrape together an NCAA berth for last year's promising team. This may be the most talented Baylor team ever, but I'm not so sure that trumps Self's coaching.

MP: First things first, I love that we have three different teams finishing first in three answers. Two, I think Baylor will tie with Kansas at the top of the conference (with KU sweeping the series). That said, I wouldn't be all that surprised at all if the Bears finished fourth or fifth because of inconsistency.