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October 24, 2017

Scott Drew

Kansas City, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the Baylor coach, Scott Drew. Coach, welcome.

SCOTT DREW: Well, like every coach you're always excited until you lose the first game. I know we have a lot to replace with Al Freeman, Ish Wainright, Johnathan Motley no longer at Baylor. They achieved great things while they were there. But each and every year you have new guys that have an opportunity to step up. We have four seniors, Terry Maston, Nuni Omot, point guard Manu is returning and Big Joe in the middle is returning, so excited for those four to have a chance to lead this team.

As far as the season goes, probably the toughest thing each and every year it seems like is picking the coach's preseason poll from the standpoint there is so much parity in the league. That's why in the RPI we finished first, first and second the last four years. There is no easy game, there is no bottom and so many games come down to one or two possessions, who makes the free throws, who makes the right plays, and what makes Big 12 college basketball so exciting. That's all I got.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach?

Q. You mentioned the preseason poll and the coaches put Jamie third. As you think back on your first year in the league 10 or 12 years ago, what were your impressions of what he did his first year in the league?
SCOTT DREW: I'm up to 15, so I like 10 or 12. Everyone knew coming in that they returned a lot of good players, and Coach Dixon has a great reputation, does an outstanding job in getting teams to play as a team and to their full capability. But we knew coming in talentwise they were going to be good and they were. Excited they won the NIT! We also won that and it gave us a big boost for the next year.

Q. Scott, is Joe ready to take the next step offensively? I know you lose a lot with Johnathan.
SCOTT DREW: I think every player has their own strengths and he's such a good defensive player, led the Big 12 in blocked shots, all-defensive team. Johnathan Motley is such an efficient scorer. Joe has improved that area but what makes Joe special defensively he's one of the best in the country. Definitely he will pick up some of scoring slack, but I know what makes him special for us is his defensive prowess.

Q. In that same vein, do you become more of a -- kind of the hallmark of Baylor since you've been there is you have had some good inside scorers, especially on your best teams? Do you become more of a perimeter team this year without Motley or do you think you can makeup for his production inside?
SCOTT DREW: Well, the reason we've been so successful I think with interior scorers is each and every year the returning players improve so much.

I think, again, because of the leadership and the young guys going against great players each and every day in the inside has made them better. Iron sharpens, iron. I know TJ is capable of scoring. Tristan Clark, our freshman is capable. Joe has improved. So I think we will have that interior scoring at the same time. Our perimeter with Manu is the most proven in best returning scorer.

Q. Is there an update on Leonard Allen? Is he going to be with you guys?
SCOTT DREW: Right now there is no schedule of return time. So he's taking care of personal issues and once that's resolved then he will return.

Q. How difficult has it been not just Leonard being out, but Tyson is hurt, couple of other guys banged up. How difficult has that been getting everyone together before the season?
SCOTT DREW: The toughest thing is it takes 5-on-5 and now we're down to seven scholarshipped players that are healthy. The best thing is when you are going against other scholarship players in practice you get a better indication of what areas you need to improve in and what areas you need to get better in. When you only have seven out there and you have guys going against walk-ons, then it's fool's gold sometimes as far as what you need to work on and improve. The other thing is it changes what you need to do contactwise because you can't risk other injuries. So we will get Tristan Clark back here shortly and that will get us to eight and then from there hopefully we will continue to get some people back in the next couple of weeks. If you have any good noncontact drills please pass 'em this way.

Q. After your time in the league and as you said 15 years going Sweet 16 last year and a run of Sweet 16s. You're picked fifth in the league this year behind a team that lost 22 games last year and TCU on the upswing. Is that an accurate representation do you think of where this team is right now?
SCOTT DREW: I think it's a tribute to what we lost. Also for the other teams, what they returned. But I know coaches never put too much stock in the preseason polls because injuries, chemistry, leadership, that stuff all reveals itself during the course of the season and one thing every Big 12 coach will tell you is there is no bottom in the Big 12 and because of the parity, if you win a couple of close games you get the momentum, the confidence and now you have a great year, you lose a couple close games and if you don't have good leadership now that can lead to a down spiral and a bad year. Your margin of error is so thin in the Big 12 and, again that's why RPIwise it's been the best conference three out of the four years and second last year.

Q. Coach, I was wondering, Motley was an example of what can happen when you redshirt in college basketball which is kind of rare. Mark went through that last year as a redshirt. How do you find success getting kids to redshirt when they want to play right away?
SCOTT DREW: Everybody would like to be in the league after one year. We know that, yeah.

Q. How did Mark take that redshirting last year and did it benefit him?
SCOTT DREW: The good thing is we have had success with players that redshirt. Cory Jefferson, Johnathan Motley, (indiscernible) sat out one year and then was a sixth pick in the draft. I think the big thing is when people choose to redshirt because we never make anyone redshirt. We will present options to them. They listen to their peers a lot and the past players, the older players are allowed to tell them how they feel and how it went.

I think because of those examples, people have been more apt to take advantage of that. The great thing is if Johnathan Motley would have wanted to come back he would have been able to. So that's where it's -- each person has their own individual choices, some people are injured. Al Freeman was injured and that's why he chose to redshirt.

Again, each situation is different. Big scheme of things, normal people are better players at 22 than they are at 18.

Q. Coach, the league has changed obviously since you came in fifteen years ago. What are the challenges for new guys like Jamie and Chris and now Mike in this league?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think the toughest thing for any coach in the league is just the margin of error is so small. You go into a game and so many games come down to one or two possessions, and you can have a big win, you can have a big loss and the next game is just as tough no matter perceptionwise you might be playing a top-10 ranked team and then you're on the road against a team that's not ranked and people think should be an easy win and there are no easy wins and that's just as hard of a game as the game you had previously. The longer you're in the league the more you understand that and I think that's why returning players are so critical, because they can -- they've gone through the rigors of the Big 12. They've gone through the ups and downs and hopefully they don't get too high after a win or too low after a loss because if you are not ready for the next game you got no chance.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Good luck this season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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