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October 24, 2018

Scott Drew

Kansas City, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Baylor coach, Scott Drew. Coach, welcome and your thoughts about the upcoming season?

SCOTT DREW: It's been a good first couple of weeks for us. Our SID David Kaye said, I got good news for you. And I said what is it? He says, we've researched it and in the Power Five conferences you have the fewest returning lettermen of anybody and I know you like to win so at least you're winning that.

We're a younger team. We've been in the last few years able to have veteran leadership and stay old. This year we're back to teaching. The good news is when you have this many new guys you see a lot of improvement and other days you come home and thank goodness for Advil.

As far as returning players we have three returning lettermen, King McClure, a senior, is somebody that whenever a coach has a senior that loves the school as much as the staff does, you know you're in good shape. He's been a great teammate and leader during his time at Baylor and is doing a great job with the young guys.

We have Tristan Clark who was our second most efficient player in offense in Big 12 play using KenPom stats, so we need him to progress and continue to have a great year for us.

Mark Vital is the third returning lettermen and he was 8th in rebound inning Big 12 play so those are the guys that have to do a good job of leading.

Jake Lindsey is helping us coach right now as he rehabs and he says he would obviously much rather play because this coaching stuff is harder than he thought.

As far as Big 12 play, what makes the Big 12 Conference isn't one or two or three good teams, it's top to bottom and trying to make sure all our younger guys understand the importance of each and every possession.

Last year in our 18 Big 12 games, 11 of them were in the last five minutes two possessions or less. So everything they do on the court is important. We play a challenging non-conference schedule again, previous to last year. We had the number one strength of schedule for the four years before that, using ESPN's RPI numbers and this year we challenged ourselves against in the non-conference as you can see with the teams that we face. Hopefully that will get us ready for what we will face in Big 12 play. That's all I got!

Q. Scott, roster turnover is nothing new in this sport but for you guys this year it's out of the norm. Maybe the Readers Digest version of why y'all are in this predicament and would you be gobbling Advil if you didn't have Mason?
SCOTT DREW: Well, the reason we're in this predicament, you had some guys leave early and some guys transfer and that's common with everybody in college basketball. With us it hit it more this year than any other year that we've had.

As far as -- there's always good news, too, and with the grad transfers bringing in someone like Makai Mason. He scored 31 points and upset us in the NCAA tournament. We didn't have to explain who he was or what he could do, they saw it all firsthand. Why we recruited him wasn't just because of our game, it was because of what he had done that whole year and when he played SMU-Duke-USC he was efficient in our game. He's somebody who when he is healthy he is a very good leader and player and he needs to be healthy for us. Second of all, we need to keep getting that rust off from not playing very much in the last two years.

As far as with, again, I think every coach would rather be older and more experienced. The trick nowadays is trying to get to that point and it's a lot harder than it used to be.

Q. Coach, with the addition of Makai Mason coming on, he has missed the past two seasons due to injury. What have you seen so far in terms of rehabbing and what do you expect he can bring to your program this year?
SCOTT DREW: Makai is one of those guys that when we recruited him the Yale coaching staff told us he went to a dance and he was on a scooter and he left the dance early and got 500 shots up. He is a guy who lives in the gym. He will be rehabbing in and around the gym for four or five hours. The big thing as a coaching staff is making sure he's not doing too much.

That's tough for us because you love guys that are in the gym and wanting to get better. He's one of those guys when he's in the gym he's working on his craft, he's not wasting time. Protecting him and working with our trainers first and foremost as far as with him practicing, we've limited a lot of reps that he gets and we've given him extra days off and tried to make sure. We have given his extra days off. We're careful and smart with that. At the same time when he's been healthy and fresh, he's been very effective and when you.

As a coach, if you're going to have experience you want it in the backcourt and him being a fifth year guy and King McClure being a fourth year guy that does give you experience in the backcourt.

Hopefully we can keep him healthy and when he's been fresh he obviously is fundamentally sound, makes it easier on the coaching part for us. He knows what plays to make. At the same time, it's good having a lot of length and athleticism that you have in Big 12 practices because that allows you to adjust and get ready for what you're going to face during the year as well.

Q. How is Matthew Mayer come in as a recruit? Has he been adjusting pretty well to the system? Has he made an impact on your team so far?
SCOTT DREW: Well, Matt is somebody that can really score. He can get a shot off, which is a skill in itself. As most freshmen when they come in, the biggest adjustment as every coach will tell you is making sure they understand the shot selection and making sure that they understand the importance of the defensive educational background and every possession from the standpoint. In high school a lot of guys shot when they wanted and defensively had to not be too aggressive because they had to stay on the court and couldn't get in foul trouble. Those are always your bigger adjustments for freshmen, making sure they fit in with other talented players around them. He's doing that and he's growing from that.

As far as the defensive end, like all our freshmen, he's improving. As far as talent level, he's somebody that definitely is going to help us this season and in the future. He's someone that has NBA talent.

Q. Coach, thanks and good luck for the season.
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