Setting it straight with Scott Drew
Had a pleasant chat with Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew early Thursday afternoon, which is not big news. Drew has always been pleasant with media.
But this was the first time I spoke with Drew since the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City last March, when I wrote Baylor was “widely considered the worst-coached team in the league.”
Drew sent an e-mail with his phone number around noon on Thursday. I immediately called back.
We started out with small talk. Drew asked about the Thunder, the NBA draft, how long I had covered the Big 12, et al. I asked him if he was still in the running for undeclared high school recruit John Wall.
We meandered our way to the reason Drew wanted to talk, which was my March 14 column, the gist of which was to welcome Baylor basketball to the 2008-09 season with “Where the heck you been?”
A preseason pick to finish tied for third in the Big 12, the Bears had finished ninth with a 5-11 record (one game ahead of Iowa State). They came alive in the conference tournament, advanced to the Big 12 title game against Missouri and went on to finish as the NIT runner-up.
Other than three middle paragraphs criticizing Drew, the 23-paragraph column was extremely positive about Baylor and its players. As is always the case, however, folks remember only the negative.
I explained my side. Drew gave his side. No raised voices. No threats. No cheap shots. A completely civil 10-minute exchange.
I reaffirmed my belief that Baylor had underachieved during the regular season and 2008-09 was an opportunity lost. I also admitted to Drew I was heavyhanded with my words and could have articulated my opinion much differently. He said he appreciated those thoughts and asked if I had any particular questions about his team.
In my column, I wrote Baylor started playing better toward the end of the season probably because Drew started doing less coaching. Drew said the opposite was true. The Bears were far more structured and ran multiple offensive sets toward the end of the season. Why not take that approach earlier in the season? “Because we were 15-3 and things seemed to be working pretty good,” Drew explained.
I asked why guard Curtis Jerrells, who I thought was headed for the NBA, might not even be drafted. Drew said the 6-foot-1 Jerrells has long been considered a tweener. Is he a point guard or shooting guard? I vote shooting guard.
I asked what was in store for power forward Kevin Rogers, who had flashes of brilliance. Drew said Rogers needed to improve on his toughness and envisioned him playing overseas.
Drew did not ask for an apology or a retraction, nor did he ask for my boss’ phone number. He simply said he was glad we had the chance to chat.
Drew mentioned that Baylor fans and his family were surprised a writer in a tournament’s host city would write something so negative. I told Drew the same thing I tell everyone when they are angered with my viewpoint — take it out on me, don’t take it out on the state. Don’t let something I wrote make you think less of Oklahoma.
With that, we said our good-byes and Drew wished me a good summer.
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