11: 36 PM ET
Myron MedcalfESPN Team Creator
- Covers college basketball
- Joined ESPN.com in 2011
- Graduate of Minnesota Converse College, Mankato
INDIANAPOLIS — Merely about an hour after Baylor captured its first males’s basketball nationwide title thru an 86-70 pummeling of Gonzaga on Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bears coach Scott Drew sat on a dais with a Coca-Cola in his hand, the championship gain around his neck and a smile on his face.
“Initially, I must thank God for blessing us with this different tonight,” Drew acknowledged after the game. “I know the blokes indulge in worked genuinely onerous. And I’m so happy they salvage a guess to indulge in an even time now. On the same time, I have faith for Coach [Mark] Few and his crew because they’re such class acts. And Coach Few is a Corridor of Popularity coach and an mighty man. An even bigger particular person than he is a coach. And you detest when guests must not feeling factual.”
The buildup to Monday’s contest suggested the liked Gonzaga squad would shoot the remaining scene of its Disney movie by profitable the nationwide title and winding up the first ideal season in 45 years. As an different, the glorious chapter of Baylor’s tale became written.
When he arrived in 2003, Drew became in his early 30s, tasked with a rebuild job unlike any in college basketball history. Baylor participant Carlton Dotson had impartial true been charged with murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy. Then pale Baylor head coach Dave Bliss became caught on tape telling players to paint Dennehy as a drug dealer to cover illicit funds and totally different NCAA violations within this system.
Ahead of Drew’s third season, the NCAA dropped the hammer and banned Baylor from taking half in nonconference games.
To non-public his roster that one year, he held delivery tryouts. The crew accomplished 4-13.
“Effectively, clearly, going into every game being 30- or 40-point underdogs and half of your crew stroll-ons, and also you know as a coach, if we are able to impartial true assist it conclude, assist it within 20 by the first half of or 10,” Drew acknowledged. “Nevertheless genuinely credit rating those guys who won [four] games that one year. They laid the muse. These guys indulge in stayed with this system and helped make stronger these guys. And that’s the reason what you tackle. Over 18 years, there is so many folk that build in onerous work and sweat.”
On Monday night, there became confetti covering the court that had been the stage for a program’s remaining achievement, illustrating its gallop from afterthought to champion.
Baylor made hasty progress after its annoying early years beneath Drew and quickly grew to alter into a threat in college basketball. In 2010, Baylor reached the Elite Eight, impartial true 5 years after the NCAA had slashed its schedule in half of.
A few years ago, Drew led a tour of his crew’s fairly serene apply facility. To liberate the doors, he build his hand on a tackle scanner.
Interior, there were large TVs above every participant’s stall, which moreover featured on-line game programs. There became an enormous theater display cover for film intervals, and there were chilly tubs for postgame restoration.
“Develop no longer remark too a lot about that,” Drew acknowledged concerning the products and companies then. “I form no longer genuinely want too many folk to take dangle of.”
On the time, the notion of one other crew copying the blueprint of his crew’s facility within the center of the nationwide arms flee shy Drew. After Baylor’s exhaust over Gonzaga within the nationwide title game, on the opposite hand, Drew may perhaps presumably well want every crew within the nation browsing for ways to emulate his program.
It’s no longer forever impartial true the exhaust. It’s a ways the history hooked as a lot as Baylor’s first nationwide championship.
The Bears dominated — and beneath no conditions trailed — against an undefeated Gonzaga squad aiming to full the first ideal season since 1976. They didn’t hit a buzzer-beater or salvage the exhaust on a number of questionable calls. They kicked Gonzaga’s butt and stole its buzz. Few didn’t indulge in any solutions for Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Adam Flagler and Davion Mitchell, who mixed to form with 69 parts and a diversity of exquisite highlights.
Butler, who scored 22 parts and drained four 3-pointers, won the Final Four Most Outstanding Participant award.
Gonzaga shot 51% from the field but couldn’t overcome its turnovers (14) and Baylor’s second-likelihood alternatives (16 offensive rebounds, 16 second-likelihood parts).The Bears made 44% of their 3-pointers. They moreover won every particular particular person matchup.
Baylor became impartial true better than Gonzaga, as the Bears accomplished notion to be one of essentially the most spectacular runs in most modern NCAA tournament history — and the Bulldogs grew to alter into the fifth crew since 1976 to enter the tourney with an undefeated file but fail to exhaust the title.
The confetti, the cameras, the followers and the metropolis itself were all making willing for a historic second. And they all obtained what they’d anticipated … impartial true with one other crew.
A one year after profitable 23 games in a row and likely getting into as a top seed within the NCAA tournament had it no longer been canceled, Baylor introduced assist every key participant who contributed to that flee.
While they started sturdy by profitable their first 18 games this season, the Bears were mostly overshadowed by Gonzaga, which appeared succesful of ending the campaign as the first crew for the reason that 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers — and the first crew for the reason that NCAA tournament expanded to 64 groups in 1985 — to full a ideal season.
Plus, Baylor’s slack return from a three-week close attributable to COVID-19 protocols wasn’t encouraging.
After a heart-broken efficiency against a subpar Iowa Converse crew and losses to Kansas within the humble season after which Oklahoma Converse within the Wide 12 tournament, it became stunning to ask if Baylor had lost something while it became sidelined with out the flexibility to full stout practices.
Drew, on the opposite hand, told ESPN the early loss to Oklahoma Converse within the Wide 12 tournament helped his crew refocus and prepare for this flee.
While the aftermath of Monday’s matchup will likely heart on Gonzaga lacking its shot at history and the impact on a program that appeared destined for an unblemished season, what unfolded for Baylor became equally properly off for the reason that Bears moreover indulge in an underdog tale.
Baylor ended the 2020-21 season as the finest crew in The US and a champion. It earned that victory over a crew that had no longer lost all season. Gonzaga looked to be notion to be one of the game’s large juggernauts.
On Monday, on the opposite hand, a coach who as soon as needed to comb his campus for stroll-ons infamous his program’s first nationwide championship.
That’s the tale.
“Our crew,” Drew acknowledged, “has been particular.”