Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sixty years is a long, long time to wait
NEW ORLEANS -- Who knew it would take longer for the Baylor Bears to win an NCAA tournament game than for the school to end its ban on dancing?
They've been boot-scooting at Baylor since 1996, but they're still waiting on that elusive first Big Dance victory party. You know it's been a long time when the era of your last postseason accolades falls under the Wikipedia heading of: "Post-World War II Success."
"I don't know exactly when," said senior point guard Tweety Carter, who is 0-1 in NCAA tournament games, "but I know it's been a long time."
Last season's Bears captured the program's first postseason win at the NIT in 60 years. Now, the time is near for an NCAA victory. Baylor couldn't do it in 1988 or 2008, but 2010 seems just about right. Only the scrappy, up-tempo, 3-point-shooting No. 14 Sam Houston State Bearkats stand between the Bears and all of Waco celebrating like it's 1950 (with dancing fully encouraged, of course.)
Tip is scheduled for approximately 1:35 p.m., following No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 11 Old Dominion.
"Any time you get an opportunity to make history, you want to do that, and you want to do it by winning games," Carter said, knowing full well the Baylor program has plowed through enough infamy. "So we've got to continue to just strive for that.
"A first win for Baylor would be huge for this program. We didn't come up here just to win one game. We've come up here to win games. And that's what we've worked to do all season long. So we're going to continue to do that."
The Bears know that two wins in New Orleans sends them to Houston for the Sweet 16. The South Region is not loaded with powerhouses, in fact, some critics have conspired that the selection committee designed it for a Duke run to the Final Four. The Blue Devils and Bears, if both advance, would meet in an Elite 8 showdown at Reliant Stadium.
But, that type of speculation is for another day. Today is for taking that first, overdue step, a single victory 60 years in the making.
"What it would mean to win in the NCAA tournament?" seventh-year Baylor coach Scott Drew asked. "Any time anybody -- no matter how many games you have or haven't won in the NCAA tournament -- any time you win those are great memories and something that a school remembers and cherishes."