FORT HOOD — For the second consecutive year, the Baylor men’s basketball team will play a regular season game at Fort Hood.
The fourth-ranked Bears (8-0) will take on Jackson State (2-6) at the Abrams Physical Fitness Center on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Prior to hosting a clinic for Fort Hood kids at the Bronco Youth Center on Saturday, Baylor head coach Scott Drew held a news conference and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to both hold the clinic and compete in a game on the base.
“This is our second year down here, and we are extremely excited,” Drew said. “We had a great time with the clinic last year and look forward to helping the young kids. We tell them that the more they yell at our game, the better it is.
“As far as our team goes, it’s a great honor and a privilege for us to have an opportunity to give back to our country, and thank all the soldiers and everybody at Fort Hood for what they do for our freedom and giving us an opportunity to do what we love to do.”
Col. Todd Fox, Fort Hood garrison commander, was grateful for Baylor’s contributions.
“We are really appreciative of all that Baylor has done to support Fort Hood over the last couple years, especially with this game,” Fox said. “The last game last year was over for about five minutes, and I was already getting calls about when the next one was.
“So we’re really excited not just to have a partner willing to do things for soldiers and families, but when you have a program that’s fourth in the nation, that really says a lot about their commitment of giving this opportunity to soldiers and families here at Fort Hood.”
Baylor has gone from unranked to the top five in a hurry this season while capturing highlight victories over No. 24 Oregon, Michigan State, No. 11 Louisville and No. 13 Xavier.
But Drew wants the Bears to simply keep their heads down and continue to improve as conference play nears.
“Hopefully, we can keep getting better each and every week and get ourselves ready for the Big 12,” Drew said. “There’s currently nine teams ranked in the top 50 in the RPI in the Big 12. So it’s going to be another great year in Big 12 Conference play.”
Many different factors have had an effect on Baylor’s success thus far, none more than its team chemistry.
“The team really has shared the ball, been very unselfish and played good defense,” Drew said. “We have great leadership, even though we only have one senior. Ishmail Wainright has done a great job, and several games now we’ve been behind at halftime, keeping guys together — keeping them positive and motivated.
“It sounds a lot like what you do with the armed forces. As long as you stay together, stay motivated and have good leadership, you have a good chance to be successful.”
And the Bears won’t be taking Jackson State lightly.
“Jackson State is one of those teams that is usually top three in their conference,” Drew said. “Usually has a chance to go to the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. In their nonconference schedule they’re used to upsetting teams, so we don’t like that.
“In Division I there is 351 schools, and the great thing is there’s so much parity. Anybody can beat anybody, and the rankings don’t mean anything.”