Just one day after the Texas Tech basketball team was completely jobbed by the Big 12 officiating crew that worked Saturday’s 52-51 loss to Oklahoma State, head coach Mark Adams was on the receiving end of another Big 12 farce. Sunday, Adams was not named Big 12 Coach of the Year, an honor that went to Baylor’s Scott Drew in what has to be one of the biggest travesties in the history of the annual award.
There’s no denying that Drew did a solid job with the Bears by guiding them to the regular-season league title despite losing several key players from the 2020-21 team and having to navigate an unusually high number of in-season injuries. But the job he did pales in comparison to what Mark Adams did this season.
Remember, Drew already had in place the foundation for a terrific squad with players like Matthew Mayer, Adam Flagler, Flo Thamba, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, and LJ Cryer all coming back from last season’s team. That group in and of itself would be good enough to form the core of a top-25 team.
Meanwhile, Adams took over a program that was essentially gutted by the departure of his predecessor. In fact, of the players Adams had return from last season, only Kevin McCullar Jr., Terrence Shannon Jr., and Marcus Santos-Silva averaged over nine minutes per game in 2020-21.
So while Drew was rebuilding around a roster already stocked with enough talent to compete in the Big 12, Adams was asked to rebuild from scratch. Thus, Adams had the much tougher task entering this season.
Don’t forget that despite the fact that Baylor and Tech have spent most of the past month in the same neighborhood in the national polls, the two teams began the year in vastly different places. While Tech entered this season unranked, Baylor sat at No. 8 in the preseason top 25.
So in other words, Drew was expected to have one of the best teams in the nation. Adams, on the other hand, was supposed to have a team that might scrape its way into the NCAA Tournament by the skin of its teeth at best.
But instead, Baylor and Tech were separated by just two games in the standings at season’s end. Thus, logic would imply that Adams did more to improve the standing of his team than Drew did his.
What’s more, the way the regular-season awards played out, there’s every reason to believe that Drew was working with a more talented roster. Drew had a first-team All-Big 12 honoree in James Akinjo and a second-team honoree in Flagler. What’s more, Mayer and Jeremy Sochan were given honorable mention recognition. Speaking of Sochan, he was named the conference’s sixth-man of the year while his teammate, Tchamwa Tchatchoua, was named the conference defensive co-player of the year. That’s quite the acknowledgment by the Big 12 coaches that Baylor’s roster was stacked.
Meanwhile, Tech had only one player on the three All-Big 12 teams, senior Bryson Williams, a first-team honoree. While McCullar, Shannon, Adonis Arms, Kevin Obanor, and Marcus Santos-Silva all earned honorable mention honors, there’s no denying that Drew’s roster was held in much higher regard than was the roster Adams was working with.
Additionally, it isn’t as if Adam’s team was able to completely escape the injury bug either. This season, both McCullar and Shannon have missed multiple games due to injury as has key reserve, Daniel Batcho. While none of their injuries were as catastrophic as the season-ending injury sustained by Tchamwa Tchatchoua, they were all significant, especially those sustained by McCullar and Shannon who have been rendered shells of their normal selves as they’ve tried to play through their injuries.
Then there is the little matter of the fact that Tech went 2-0 against Baylor this year. That means that twice, Adams went toe-to-toe with Drew and came out on top despite having what the Big 12 awards would suggest was the lesser roster. Oh, and don’t ever forget that Baylor’s recent run of success over the past three seasons has come because Drew and his staff have copied the defensive system that Adams developed. (That fact doesn’t really factor into who did the better job this season but it is worth keeping in mind when comparing the two coaches.)
Scott Drew is an excellent coach. There’s no denying that. He’s got the hardware to prove it. But he wasn’t the Big 12’s best coach this year.
Still, the conference voters did what they almost always do and either give the award to one of the most high-profile coaches in the league (usually Bill Self) or the coach of the regular-season champion (again, usually Bill Self). That’s a lazy way to evaluate the work of the league’s coaches and it often yields farcical results. Of course, that’s also about par for the Big 12.