Baylor Bears

Five Thoughts On Baylor Women’s Basketball Entering Big 12 Play

Sarah Andrews, Caitlin Bickle and Ja'Mee Asberry

The Baylor Bears are 9-3 after playing its pre-Big 12 schedule and are now preparing for its conference opener against TCU on Dec. 31.

With that, we have five thoughts about the Bears at the break.

 

At the Moment

Baylor has probably played more ranked teams than any other Big 12 women’s team to this point. The Bears’ record — 1-3. The only win came against Villanova. The losses came to Maryland, Michigan, and Arizona. The last loss, to the Wildcats, was by 19 points on a neutral court in Dallas.

The Bears have dominated every other game. But the Bears are likely going to focus on that 1-3 record against ranked teams as a focal point going into league play, especially since one of them — Maryland — was at home at the Ferrell Center.

The Roster

Bears holdovers like forward Caitlin Bickle were happy the team has depth this season, even though Bickle had to miss the first few games with an injury. Without NaLyssa Smith as a focal point, the team is talented enough to balance out the scoring, with guard Sarah Andrews averaging 13.4 points per game.

 

Guard Aijha Blackwell, the Missouri transfer, missed a month with a knee injury. But she’s back and is averaging 11 points in five games. Jaden Owens (10.9 points, 6.4 assists) has capably taken over as the point guard, while Bickle (10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) and freshman guard Bella Fontleroy (10.7 points, 6.5 rebounds) has capitalized on the extra playing time during Blackwell’s injury. The same goes for another freshman guard, Darianna Littlepage-Buggs (9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds).

With guard Ja’Mee Asberry (9.6 points), the Bears have seven players that average nine or more points per game. Forward Kendra Gillispie, guard Jana Van Gytenbeek, and guard Catarina Ferreira are all averaging 13 minutes per game. The Bears have a deep team, but there’s something missing (and we’ll get to that).

The Recruiting Class

Baylor coach Nicki Collen snagged just one player in the early-signing window, but it was a big get. Letycia Vasconcelos is a 6-foot-7 center from Brazil who is currently playing at the Montverde Academy in Florida. ESPN.com ranks her as the nation’s No. 36 recruit.

Signing a Brazilian center has worked out well for Iowa State with the transfer of Stephanie Soares, who is averaging nearly a double-double. Vasconcelos projects as the tallest player on Baylor’s roster next season. And, with five players on the current roster listed as seniors, there is room for more in April.

 

The Concern

Dre’Una Edwards. She hasn’t played yet due to an eligibility waiver issue. She transferred in from Kentucky and the expectation was that she would slide into the starting lineup after a fine season with the Wildcats, averaging 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. But, to this point, she hasn’t been cleared. She was going into her redshirt senior season in 2022-23.

Baylor hasn’t disclosed what the eligibility issues are. But, if she clears the waiver, then she can help elevate this rotation on both ends of the floor and put Baylor in a position to challenge even more convincingly for the Big 12 title.

The Big Stretch

Starting with Feb. 1, the Bears have a particularly tough six-game stretch. It starts with three ranked teams — Kansas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma — followed by resurgent Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and ranked Iowa State. Yep, the Bears get Iowa State twice in a 14-day stretch. This stretch could decide if the Bears are able to defend their Big 12 regular-season crown, especially with a trip to Austin on Feb. 27 to face Texas in the Bears’ penultimate regular-season game.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

To Top