It’s hard to guess what history looks and feels like until you see it It was the green and yellow confetti that fell from the rafters of a just packed, oversized football stadium to a group of players and staff who had imagined for a long time

Baylor is on their way to the Final Four, after an 81-72 win over Arkansas that has never been so doubtful, a double-digit lead that was tight but never uncomfortable, the work of an experienced team that didn’t want to miss a moment had passed them before

Baylor’s first Final Four trip since 1950? That was supposed to happen a year ago The bears were 26-4 before the pandemic ended a watershed season If you’ve waited 70 years what’s another right? But any college team could tell you, this one felt so much longer. Twelve months ago, Baylor’s story could have centered on the long, long cycle of rebirth of a once-broken program that was ravaged by an unthinkable scandal, and that is exactly what just happened, but hey, a lot of other things have happened since then

Continuity is a popular college basketball catchphrase that is typically used to describe teams ready to grow old together and those fortunate enough to coach them, which really is what it suggests Stability in the face of change and how rare it can be The roles shift, the players come and go and individual skills continue to develop, as is common in the sports landscape. The best coaches figure out how to put these little fragments back together / p>

Scott Drew has been on the wave for 17 years in Waco, all for that weird Final Four trip that is now a simple bus ride to the hotel and back. Drew was on the cusp, falling twice against eventual champions Duke and Kentucky back with Elite Eight losses in 2010 and 2012 He has weathered first round surprises and some NIT trips (and since we’ve been here he’s won a NIT championship) He’s now the back-to-back Big 12 Coach of the Year, but Baylor has come this far, in large part because of his serious facial expression in the Midwest – and his unusual laissez-faire reliance on a group that followed suit

“I think he connects with us because he takes care of us. When I got here, I honestly wasn’t sure,” says MaCio Teague, who for the most part can’t suppress a grin A piece of net is hastily tied over the closure of his back cap. “College basketball players will tell you this: If you get recruited, coaches, somehow when you get into school they switch when you get to school. It’s like they’re showing you all the good stuff when you get to school they don’t care that much about you and things like that

“When I got here I was a little worried. But over time I really understood that Coach Drew really cares about his players,” continues Teague. “He asks you how you are, like he’s trying Getting to know player He’s trying to keep the connection going he knows the team leaders are an extension of him on the floor. He tries to build trust and a relationship. It’s not just for basketball. ”

What Drew built last season returned to him in spades. Four Baylor starters returned to double the foundation they put together. Unexpected changes could have had very different effects, and all four sacrificed The Bears couldn’t be here without Davion Mitchell’s evolution from defensive specialist to two-way dynamo, bonafide seamstress, and pro. As his role has grown, he also had to figure out how to play within the offense and postpone that evolution was made possible by a patient, Jared Butler, who through no fault of his own has switched from the All-American star to one of the many faces on his team

The fiery Mark Vital put more effort than ever into a role that has quietly shrunk, and Matthew Mayer is a more potent threat to the Tor Teague is always the third or fourth name you hear on the Many Bears staff honor him as the player whose calm leadership sparked a culture shift upon arrival from UNC-Asheville, of course, it was Teague who led the team in shots, finishing with 22 points on Tuesday

“Individually, it’s one thing to get better. It’s another thing to sacrifice for the team because when you’re a good player you feel like I can take that shot or I can on my husband.” come over or I can, “says Drew.” Because you’ve put the work in and you want to show what you’ve been working on. Drew pointed to his team’s 17 templates and nine sales as evidence. “But my boys were so selfless when we are at our best they sacrifice each other and all year long we have won ”

The game itself wasn’t entirely balletic and consisted of two teams scoring 39 fouls As Drew put it on his day off, “There’s a method to the insanity of what both [teams] do” The mess would someone’s His one-way ticket Both sides played with the ball safety Baylor won the sales battle by nine to 15 Arkansas was double-digit on each of its three tournament wins It was left with 10 minutes within four There was no comeback For 40 minutes, the Razorbacks did not lead a single one Times

“If either of us makes a mistake,” says Drew, “we admit it and move on And everyone stays together Stay positive And at the end of the day they believe in each other and when you have a team that does that, you have You the chance to be special

“It’s not our first time in the fire,” says Teague More lie ahead, a Texas-shaped Final Four matchup with Houston is just around the corner. Baylor won’t look past it or admit it if the bears do it We all know how to do that: Everyone else will do this part of the conversation for them.One much-touted price war with No. 1 Gonzaga – set to take place here in Indianapolis – was Moonlight Graham, who was off schedule back in December by COVID-19 concerns Now there is a possible well-written ending for the greatest trophy of all

But it’s not about the Spokane team just yet. It shouldn’t be. Well, it could still be. Give Baylor at least a few days. If there’s one thing the bears – and everyone else – should have figured out by now , it’s how to wait

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