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Post players key to Baylor success

Nov. 16, 2006

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Sophomore forward Kevin Rogers slams the ball down in the Bears' 90-65 showing against Angelo State on Saturday. Rogers has averaged 16 points per game so far this season.
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By DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD
Sports editor

While the Baylor basketball team's guards garnered most of the attention in the offseason, it may be the play of the Baylor post players that determines how well this season will go.

With junior standout Aaron Bruce, sophomores Curtis Jerrells and Henry Dugat and freshman phenom Tweety Carter, the Bears have no shortage of offensive firepower out of their back court.

However, for the team to be as successful as it hopes to be, the Bears will need production on both ends of the court from their posts to take some pressure off the guards.

"A big focus for our team this year is for our bigs to help our guards out," sophomore forward Kevin Rogers said. "They draw so much attention, and when they hit us for open shots, we've got to be able to finish."

Through the Bears' first two games, Rogers has had little trouble doing that. In the Bears' games against Angelo State and Colorado State, he's averaged 16 points and eight rebounds.

Head Coach Scott Drew said he's glad to see Rogers coming into his own and being aggressive.

"Kevin has really had a chance to get comfortable and it's great to see him do some positive things," Drew said.

But while Rogers has been an impact player for the Bears this season, there have been some questions surrounding their other post options.

Sophomore center Mamadou Diene, who was the Bears' best defensive post player and rebounder last season, has been nursing an ankle injury early this year. He's expected to be a force in the middle of Bears' defense, but his tendency to quickly pick up fouls will test the Bears' depth at the position.

Josh Lomers, a freshman center who has seen extensive playing time in Baylor's first two games, has a similar problem. While he's averaged seven points and four rebounds a game, he fouled out in just 11 minutes into the Bears 87-82 double overtime victory over Colorado State in the first round of the of NIT Preseason Tipoff in Spokane, Wash.

Drew said he understands his team is still learning, and he expects the Bears to improve as the season continues. However, their inability to stay on the floor has forced 6-foot-6 senior Tim Bush and junior walkon Mark Shepherd into action early this season.

Bush, who scored 17 points in the Bears opener and was a catalyst for the team late in the Colorado State game, said the nonconference schedule will help the posts improve.

He also said the guards play has opened up a lot of opportunities for the Bears' front court and made it easy for them to perform well.

"When you have guards like Aaron Bruce, Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat and Tweety, you can't sag off those guys," Bush said.

"But when you (play tight defense) on those guys, you're in trouble because they have confidence in me making shots and they're going to come see me every time."