March 16, 2022
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
THE MODERATOR: Scott Drew, head coach for the Baylor Bears. We'll start with opening statement and questions in the room. And then anything on ZOOM, virtually, raise your hands and we'll get to you.
SCOTT DREW: Well, we're definitely excited to be a part of March Madness. And it is different. Already arrived and you see people, there's bands, and fans, and the hotels are full.
And it's a little different than the bubble and the year before when things were canceled with COVID. So people bring energy, fans bring energy. And it's exciting to be back.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll start front-row on the left.
Q. Scott, having played a 16 seed last year, does that help in focusing this team, having already done that?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think each and every year is different. But having returning players that have been and experienced what that's like to be a one seed, hopefully, will be helpful and beneficial.
What makes March Madness March Madness is those seed numbers don't matter. Coaches know that. And our players are definitely aware of just how good and talented Norfolk is.
THE MODERATOR: Far-right, second row.
Q. Your assistant coach, Jerome Tang has been on a lot of hot board lists. If he gets the opportunity, what would it mean to you? And what kind of coach would somebody potentially be getting?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think first and foremost, Coach Tang has had opportunities in the past. And people see that he does a great job and would be a great head coach.
And the good thing is he can be selective. He's never just taken something for money or because he wants to be a head coach. When he feels called to go somewhere, he's going to go. And definitely it'll be exciting for us.
Coach Driskel, Coach Mills, have all had those opportunities and done well. And Coach Tang will do exceptionally well when he gets that opportunity also. No doubt about it.
Q. Yeah, Scott, I was just wondering: We talked a lot about how much experience can play a factor. I was just wondering, in your experience, how much do you see experience playing out in this tournament?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think every coach would rather have it than not have it. And we don't have as much as we've had in the past. But at the same time, we have more in terms of people that have actually won a championship and know what it's like and what it takes.
There's no guarantees in March Madness about anything; depth, experience, best player in the tournament. That's why it's March Madness. Once you think you've got it figured out, you don't.
So it's just exciting to be a part of and you want to do everything you can do to stay in it as long as possible.
THE MODERATOR: Stay on the right side, one seat over.
Q. Coach, hey, just not having been in it, how much better is it to be out of the bubble?
SCOTT DREW: Well, the bubble was pretty good to us now. All right? (Laughing.) So there was a lot of positives about the bubble. We ended up not only having a great time together, but most importantly, winning it. I think there's more distractions with fans, there's more energy with fans. So you have to do a good job of managing both.
Q. Scott, just talk about a little bit about the leadership that Adam Flagler has shown this year with the injuries to Cryer and Jonathan, what he's meant to this team since he was part of the -- was an essential part of last year's championship run.
SCOTT DREW: Yeah, Adam's one of those guys that when he's done playing basketball, he wants to be a pediatrician. And, normally, you don't want to be a pediatrician unless you really care for other people.
So any time you have an experienced player, a leader that cares that much about his teammates, you know they're going to make a great leader. And we have the ultimate faith in Adam and know that he always has the team's best interest at heart.
And so, it's easy to hear and listen to the advice he gives other players and the thoughts he has for us as a staff. And he's somebody that has battled injuries, as well.
And I know LJ Cryer will not be available this weekend. So it's more -- even more onus on him and James and Dale to make sure that they're at their best.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Second row on the right side.
Q. You mentioned on Sunday last year you guys needed practice, this time you needed rest to heal a little bit. What have you thought about how you guys have looked the last couple days as you guys get ready to play tomorrow?
SCOTT DREW: Well, first, I'll tell you as a coach, no matter how you warm up, no matter what you say in the pregame, how practice has been before, there's no guarantee it's going to translate.
At the same time, you always want to have better practices and feel like guys are focused and locked in. And I thought last year after a three-week pause, we needed to get back to the basics.
This year, we needed a couple days to recover and rest and rehab. And Dave Schneider has been the busiest man this season. Done a phenomenal job, and Charlie Melton, in getting guys ready.
But at the same time, once we came back to practice, we had tremendous practices. And excited for how our guys are locked in and ready to go for this week.
THE MODERATOR: Back-left corner to Robbie.
Q. Going back to this Adam question here: What was your first impression of him personally and athletically?
SCOTT DREW: Well, Adam's one of those guys that when you watch film and tape of, you love guys that let the game come to them, make the game look easy, selfless out there.
And his athletic ability allows him to do virtually anything out there, meaning he can be a facilitator, he can be a scorer, he can be a defensive stopper, he can rebound for you. And he usually delivers whatever we need.
Q. Just talk about the impact of your two freshmen. And did you expect them to play this much going into this year before he had all the injuries?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think going into the year with the -- you knew that they had potential to definitely be major contributors and help your team.
At the same time, when you add more depth around them, it allowed them to maybe have freshmen games. And what I mean by that, if they didn't play well, weren't ready, normally with freshmen, you get more up and downs more than you do upperclassmen. You had experienced players there to pick up the slack because of the injuries and what our team's gone through, it's made it where you needed more consistency out of them if you were going to win.
And they've delivered. They've done a great job in helping us win the toughest conference in the country, along with Kansas. And I think from where they were in December and November to where they are now, they definitely have benefited from those minutes and responsibility.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DREW: He's fine, physically. So that's a good thing for us.
THE MODERATOR: And that was a follow-up in regards to Brown.
Middle to the left.
Q. Since the John Wooden days, it's been really hard or rare to go back-to-back. It's only been done twice. What are the biggest challenges you see in trying to pull that off, especially with the dynamics of the game the way it is today?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think first, it's very hard to do. Because in this day, if you win it all, probably you have a lot of pros that leave. And then with the transfer portal, people leave. And it's hard to have enough talent or chemistry or experience to repeat.
And we're blessed to where we're in a position that we have that opportunity. At the same time, you know there's normally more pressure and expectations when you're the reigning champ. But at the same time with us, it's such a new team and we've lost so much, I think there's plenty of excitement. And we haven't approached it with pressure, but more opportunity. And our guys have responded and done a great job with that.
THE MODERATOR: Middle on the right.
Q. Just in terms of this team as a one that's pretty good team at self-motiving themselves, or do you feel that you have to be the coach with the raw raw, hey, let's go out and play?
SCOTT DREW: No, I think this is a team that's more -- they're hard workers. They're a quieter group, but they're self-motivated, and that's why we've been able to be successful. They're the ones that put in the work and gotten the stops and scored the buckets and gotten the rebounds.
So they know what they have to do. And it's a group that prides itself on working hard and competing.
THE MODERATOR: Front row on the left.
Q. Scott, what do you see from Norfolk? It looks like they have some pretty good size.
SCOTT DREW: Yeah. So with Norfolk, I mean, Coach Jones has done a tremendous job, one of the winningest coaches in the country for his conference, meaning each year they're extremely competitive and normally top-four. And they've had tournament success. They've beaten Missouri when it was a 15-2 game. They've beaten Alabama in the NIT. Last year, they beat App State. So it's a team that is used to winning, used to playing well. They got the player of the year in their conference with their point guard, Bryant.
And then if you like dunks and Sports Center dunks, they've got a player that you'll want to watch film on. I think the Morgan State game, he had four dunks, I think, before the first media time-out. And Bankston is somebody that is really fun to watch, if you like dunks and athleticism.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We have about five minutes left with Coach Drew. Do we have any more questions?
Q. Coach, just playing a 16 seed, have you talked at all about the years that you guys lost to Yale and Georgia State, just to keep them from overlooking this opponent?
SCOTT DREW: I think our staff does a good job of always making sure that they know what the competition is and the team you're facing, what their strengths are and what they're capable of doing.
And I think at the same time, that's what makes March Madness March Madness. I mean, everybody knows that there's upsets, and you've got to be on opponent or you're one of them.
We don't spend a ton of time talking about our lower moments. But they're aware of them, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Middle on the left. No?
Q. I know this is a big picture question. You're focusing on one game. But, obviously, you've got the a lot of success over your tenure here with Baylor. Is there a next level for this program, or what do you -- what can you say about the vision of where you brought this program and what you want the next step to be?
SCOTT DREW: I think every coach wants consistency. And if you look at it, there's only two teams in the power five that have won 18 or more since 2008, us and Kansas. And I have so much respect for what Coach Self's done at Kansas. And that's consistency.
I think if you look at three years ago, we were going to get a number one seed; so that's three straight years with the No. 1 seed. Only Gonzaga, Baylor, and Kansas has done that since 2010.
So, I mean, consistency is what coaches strive for. There's no guarantees in the tournament. But I'm proud of what our staff and players have been able to accomplish over time and not just a one-hit wonders.
THE MODERATOR: When we had Coach Smart in the room, we mentioned he had looked at the possible sites for these first round, thinking he might be able to get back to Texas. At what point did you see that Forth Worth might be a possibility and the great home court advantage you're likely to enjoy tomorrow?
SCOTT DREW: We saw it a lot sooner. We knew that in December. (Laughing).
So we were -- that's why you want to do well during the regular season, so you have an opportunity to play in front of your family and fans, and we have that in Fort Worth. It was great to take a bus trip up here rather than jumping on an airplane. So really excited to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach Drew?
One more front, second row.
Q. Scott, you mentioned that LJ wouldn't be available this weekend. Is there a chance you get him back the next weekend? And then can you also talk about what Dale has done, just in terms of filling in in that role?
SCOTT DREW: There's always a chance. And, basically, it's something where the doctors have cleared him. So it's up to pain tolerance. And over time, everything heals. So if he walks in and says he's ready to go, it's a go. When I can't play him is when the doctors or trainers say you can't. And he's a tough kid. So I know if he can go, he'll go.
Dale is somebody that has really defensively done a tremendous job all year long. And offensively, he's really talented. Last game, he showed some of that.
In practice, I mean, he's somebody that routinely knocks down shots and can finish at the rim. He can score at all three levels. He was a 43 percent free-throw shooter last year. So I know statistically, he hasn't shot it the way that he's capable of, but we have confidence in him. And when he shots, we think it's going in.
Again, defensively, he's been tremendous. And offensively, he doesn't take bad shots. He's a ball mover and does a great -- he's a great teammate. So he's done a great job.
In some games when we were healthy and he didn't play, he's tremendous on the bench. And then other games where you need him and he's -- he's played a lot of minutes, he's been outstanding.
So that's really hard as a player, from not playing to playing major minutes and being able to be a great teammate through it all.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time. Good luck tomorrow.
SCOTT DREW: Thank you.
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