Baylor's Tournament Run Begins at Home for CarterMarch 16, 2010
When CBS' Greg Gumbel announced Sunday afternoon that the third-seeded Bears would take on Sam Houston State in the tournament tomorrow, a huge cheer erupted among the hundreds who attended a watch party at the Ferrell Center. But one player in particular exulted not only in the fact that the Bears were playing, but where they were playing. For senior guard Tweety Carter, the all-time leading scorer in not only Louisiana's history, but the nation's history, it's a chance to play in a city just a short trip down the Mississippi River from where he grew up.
Reserve, Louisiana is a town of just under 10,000 people 35 miles from the French Quarter, in an area where the Mississippi meanders up and down before darting south towards the Big Easy and the Gulf. It's a town filled with Tweety Carter fans and family, many of whom made the trip to Waco just recently. Head coach Scott Drew already knew Tweety's immediate family, but met a few more two and a half weeks ago on senior day.
Extra pep in his step would almost be superfluous for the always-smiling Carter, who has wowed fans with his ability to defend, score, and pass during his four seasons in green and gold.
But Coach Drew says it's more than just Tweety's ability to run the show from the point guard position, but along with fellow guard and northern Louisiana native Lacedarius Dunn, to provide leadership and stability for a program with a number of players appearing in their first big dance.
The duo of Carter and Dunn is considered one of the best backcourts in the nation. Their style of play combined with their home state drew them a nickname that should play well among Baylor fans in the New Orleans Areana--the Louisianimals.
For a senior leader who spurned more-established programs to establish a new identity at Baylor, there's a certain symmetry to going back home to try and win your program's first tournament game in more than a half century. But amidst the hoopla of the tourney and excitement of the family, Tweety tempers that enthusiasm by focusing on the business of ensuring that his college career doesn't end there.
So while Carter deals with not just the twenty-some-odd family members who showed up for senior day in Waco, but perhaps dozens more as well, Coach Drew is counting on him to help his teammates keep the same mentality they've shown all year.
Satisfied or happy just to be there? No. But to play for the program you helped rebuild in your home region, an area that's gone through a major rebuilding of it's own? That stirs something in the senior.
Carter and the Bears take on Sam Houston State tomorrow afternoon, with tipoff taking place at approximately 2 p.m. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.