Drew gets rave reviews for job at Baylor

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's late January. Could a guy with only one conference victory this deep into the season be a candidate for Big 12 coach of the year?

If he's at Baylor, then the answer is probably yes.

Scott Drew, the 33-year-old optimist who agreed to become the Bears' coach in the wake of tumult and tragedy, has only one conference win heading into this week.

But that's as many as Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and one more than Texas A&M.

And none of those schools had some of their top players transfer elsewhere following the killing of one player and the resignation of their coach amid allegations of NCAA violations.

The Bears were picked for the bottom of the Big 12 in this transition year, and that is almost certainly where they'll end up. But they raised their Big 12 record to 1-3 and their overall mark to 6-11 Saturday with a 63-59 victory over Iowa State that brought cheers from just about every team in the league except Iowa State.

"I think he's done a great job," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said Monday. "They could have beaten Texas Tech. He's put those kids in positions where they can be successful. They had a great win over Iowa State. You can tell they've gotten better."

Perhaps no other coach in the Big 12 can appreciate Drew more than Nebraska's Barry Collier. Drew was Collier's student assistant at Butler.

"It's very obvious that the circumstances he's having to deal with are extraordinary," Collier said. "I think he's doing a marvelous job."

Collier, for one, would not be surprised to see Drew get coach-of-the-year consideration.

A shattered program

"Just holding the program together for the time being would be a major coup," he said. "I'm sure it's very difficult day after day for the players to come to practice and retain their enthusiasm. That's probably one of the biggest challenges."

Of course, there's a downside to playing better than everyone expected.

"When people play us now they'll be a little more focused or have their players' attention a little more, which will be more difficult for us," Drew said. "I know we're not going to feel invincible. Coaches never overlook an opponent, but players sometimes just look at a record."

Winless Aggies

Anybody who's just looking at records might not be very impressed right now with Texas A&M. The hard-luck Aggies are 0-4 in the conference. But they seem to be playing almost everybody close, including Texas Tech in Saturday's 80-78 loss to the Red Raiders.

"We've got to make something happen," said Watkins, who entered his fifth-season with an overall record of 53-91 at A&M. "We've got to make a couple of plays down near the end."

The attitude is good, Watkins insists.

"Unfortunately, we aren't seeing the W's yet," he said.

While Watkins struggles to reach that next level, Missouri coach Quin Snyder is feeling better about his Tigers, who moved to 8-7 and 3-2 Saturday with a 72-51 blowout of Nebraska.

Snyder is also dismissing any suggestions the distractions caused by the Ricky Clemons saga had anything to do with his team's December slump.

"One could make that argument," Snyder said. "But I don't think that's what was going on. More than anything, we have a group of guys who had to find who they are collectively. A lot of our guys have found their individual identity within the team's identity as opposed to looking for their individual identity first."

Noteworthy

  • Today is the third anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of 10 people associated with the Oklahoma State program. The school plans no official observance.

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