Transfers step up for Baylor, Creighton in March Madness
By PAT GRAHAM
DENVER (AP) There’s some good-natured debate over which is the better Baylor - Scheierman or the Bears.
Some answers arrive on Sunday when Baylor Scheierman and No. 6 seed Creighton take on third-seeded Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
One thing both schools can agree on: the importance of a transfer stepping in to fill a missing piece for an otherwise-solid program. There are schools that use the transfer portal to get good quick. Then there are schools like Baylor (23-10) and Creighton (22-12) that use the portal to stay good for a while.
The Bears brought in two players in Jalen Bridges (from West Virginia) and Caleb Lohner (BYU) to fill in holes and try to make a run to a second title in three seasons.
For Creighton, the big addition was Scheierman, the highly sought-after player who left South Dakota State and chose to stay close to home (he's from Nebraska).
He's definitely on the radar of Baylor coach Scott Drew.
“Love his name,” Drew cracked. “Hopefully, this Baylor does better than that Baylor tomorrow.”
Scheierman made a big impression in a first-round win over North Carolina State, sealing the game with a late basket and blowing a kiss to the crowd in celebration.
Safe to say he has settled into his new surroundings.
“Ever since I stepped on campus, the guys have taken me in and treated like I’ve been there all along,” said Scheierman, who was the 2021-22 Summit League player of the year at South Dakota State. “The process coming in has been smooth and the chemistry on the team is very good, and at a very high level right now.”
The same can be said at Baylor (the school).
When Bridges was considering a new program for this season, he had a definitive checklist with warm weather, winning culture and family atmosphere leading the way.
Check, check and check with the Bears.
“It was kind of easy to see myself here because they played in a way that fits my style,” said Bridges, who is averaging 10.2 points 5.6 rebounds this season. "I just try to do my best to make a play.”
Same with Lohner, who appeared in 62 games with BYU before joining Baylor this season. He scored a season-high 13 points in a first-round win over Santa Barbara on Friday.
“For me, (the transfer portal) has been awesome,” Lohner said. “One of those situations that all lined up and I’m really grateful and blessed to be in a spot like this.”
At South Dakota State, Scheierman was counted on for his scoring (more specifically, his 3-point shooting).
At Creighton, he has plenty of company. The Bluejays have big man Ryan Kalkbrenner and guard Trey Alexander to help carry the scoring load.
“Coming in, I knew my role is going to be much different than it was in South Dakota State and I was accepting of that,” Scheierman said. “I knew that if we put everything together and we made a deep run that it would eventually help all of our individual goals pan out.”
Sharing the same name as the school the Bluejays are about to play has been "a lot of fun,” Scheierman said.
Along with it, a bit of confusion.
“The past 24 hours the coaches have been saying Baylor a lot and it’s kind of thrown me off a little bit,” Scheierman cracked. “I didn’t really follow them a lot growing up and what-not. Obviously, I always knew that we had the same name, but at the end of the day, it’s just another basketball game.” ---
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Updated March 18, 2023