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Men's basketball to open season against Hillsdale Baptist

Nov. 19, 2004

By DREW WILLIAMSON, sports writer

Monday, the Baylor men's basketball team will kick off year two of the massive rebuilding project that head Coach Scott Drew and his staff agreed to take on last summer.

While the Bears return just one scholarship player from last year's team, and will only have seven scholarship players this year, the upside lies in Drew's experience in dealing with a depleted team.

Last season, many people around the nation thought that Drew should have been coach of the year for getting his short-handed team to overachieve.

Drew and his staff are geared up for the season and are excited about the way the team has looked so far in practice.

Kristen Feller | Lariat staff
Freshman Aaron Bruce, left, and senior Ryan Prior practice Thursday afternoon for the season opener against Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College.
"As we've started to get in better shape and more used to playing with one another, we've gotten better in all facets," Drew said. "This coaching staff is excited about the improvements we've been able to make so far."

Sophomore transfer Roscoe Biggers will most likely start the season at point guard, with senior Ryan Prior and sophomore Turner Phipps providing depth at the position.

At shooting guard, Baylor has two newcomers who will fill most of the minutes. Junior college transfer Kevis Shipman and Aaron Bruce, a true freshman from Australia, will be looked to provide most of the outside shooting.

"If I had to give you one guy who has really stepped up so far it would be Kevis," junior center Tommy Swanson said. "He has really impressed me with his shooting, defense and overall court awareness."

Bruce, a prized international recruit, is widely known for his hard-nosed style.

"Last year, Matt Sayman was a crowd favorite," Drew said. "Our staff could see Aaron Bruce taking over that roll from a stand point that he plays so hard and will provide those type of hustle plays."

Sophomore transfer Patrick Fields, along with sophomore Tim Bush, and freshmen Hall Henderson and Richard Hurd will provide depth at the small forward position.

Bush, who will also see a lot of time at power forward, transferred from Louisiana State University last season. Bush lost an incredible 50 pounds since he arrived last fall.

"Our fans are really going to be excited to see Tim Bush play because he's really improved," Drew said. "He's going to provide strength inside and a big body that you need to compete in the Big 12."

Along with Bush, Swanson and freshman Mark Shepherd will also get minutes at the power forward position.

At center, Swanson will provide the leadership as the only returning scholarship player. Backing up Swanson will be another international recruit, 7-foot freshman Mamadou Diene from Senegal. Diene, along with Bush, will join the Bears after the fall semester.

The Bears will likely open up Monday with a starting lineup of Biggers, Shipman, Bruce, Fields and Swanson. The lineup will likely change after the fall semester.

The 2004-2005 team is hoping to turn heads yet again and are asking for student support.

"Come to one game. Just give us one chance. That's all we'll need," Bruce said. "If you come to one game, I think you'll see that we're a different group, and I think you will keep coming back."

The Bears tip off the season at 7 p.m. Monday at the Ferrell Special Events Center against Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College.