Ken Cross, Columnist
When the curtain came down on the 2011-12 Baylor Bears season Sunday in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, Quincy Acy walked off the court as one of the most respected and celebrated seniors in the nation and in Baylor basketball history. He garnered 34 minutes of playing time and scored a game-high 22 points with eight rebounds in the Bears’ 82-70 loss to Kentucky in the South regional final and was the lone Bear elected to the all-South Region team.
Watching Baylor up close in the win over Xavier and the loss to Kentucky, I saw an ultimate warrior in Acy. He was a team player that exemplified a work ethic that many of his teammates needed to emulate as well. In truth, the Bears were afraid to attack Kentucky early in Sunday’s game and when they fell behind by 20 points at the half, any type of attack they would mount would be fruitless.
Acy served as a role model to players like Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller in how to bring energy and attack to the opponent. At times, they would bring the fire to the court and at other times, such as in the first half Sunday, they would get stonewalled by an opponent with a more aggressive mantra and mindset.
That was the biggest knock on the Bears this season – in big games, they were generally the cub instead of the aggressor. Sunday, Jones, who had a 15-lb. size advantage on Kentucky’s Anthony Davis didn’t bring the aggression until the second half when then game was essentially decided.
“In the second half, we did a better job of playing hard and showing more effort,” Acy said in showing his selflessness in taking the blame for the team’s lack of first half energy, “First half, we didn't do that as a whole. It's not a one player game. It's not based on my intensity. I've got to do a better job of getting guys going because I'm a senior leader.”
He has been a spokesman in the locker room as well. After the win over Xavier, Baylor’s talented point guard, Pierre Jackson, noted how the Bears had been excited and were jumping around and fashioning a celebratory mood. Jackson said that Acy was one of the first to step in and remind the Bears of what was yet to come.
“Tweety (Carter), Curtis (Jerrells), when all those guys were younger, they really stayed on me,” said Acy, “They saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. They saw a great leader and they would always tell me that ‘you’re a great leader, you just have to settle down, focus, and be serious.”
Baylor coach Scott Drew noted how Acy’s work ethic and maturity had played a key role in the program from the time he stepped on the Waco campus until the end of the game on Sunday afternoon.
“For those who never saw Quincy Acy as a freshman, if he didn't dunk, there was no way he could score,” commented Baylor coach Drew on the individual improvement process, “And that's five on zero, one on zero. I mean, the old Mikan drill. He couldn't get two in a row. And the fact he's worked this hard to develop his game, it's a real credit and testament to him.”
In Sunday’s game, he scored on two power moves in the lane to give the Bears a five-point lead, 3:45 into the game. This was before Kentucky’s 16-0 run which pretty much settled the game in its first eight minutes. Interestingly, Acy would be the man to end the run with another power move for a layup at 11:11. It was his first shot since putting Baylor ahead at 10-5.
The impact of a great player and his will was on display just as it had been with his 20-point, 15-rebound effort some two nights earlier against the Musketeers. The 15 rebounds were one off his career high.
“I pride myself on my work ethic,” noted Acy, “Everyday after practice, I lift weights. I started that a while back and guys have started following. I started off by myself, and now guys have followed. I do pride myself on my physicality, and to a certain extent you can’t be too physical. It’s not football, but just having the will to outwork people comes into play.”
As the horn sounded and Baylor closed the chapter on a very successful 30-8 campaign and it’s second Elite Eight appearance in three years, Acy walked off the court, saddened by the ending, but happy for the totality. In the end this 6-7, 235-lb. senior was at peace with his decision of going to Baylor to play basketball and with the end of a career that saw him finish in the top 10 in Bears history in scoring, third in career field goal percentage, second in career blocks, and fifth in career rebounding.
“I wouldn't have asked to go anywhere else,” Acy summarized, “The coaching staff, all the players... I wouldn't trade them for the world. We fought hard. I'm happy to be a Baylor Bear. It hasn't really hit me you know, there's emotion after the game, but I don't think it's really set in.”
Amazingly, Acy leaves his career at Baylor, shooting just over 60% in four years while clutching around six rebounds per game. In the end, look for him on an NBA roster as it’s a certainty that he will continue to work hard and player at the next level.
“When someone asked Quincy Acy about our last win, I didn't realize it was their 100th win for the senior class,” Drew illustrated Acy’s care, “For them to care about that and to know about that without being told, I think that just shows you what kind of teammates they are and just how happy they are for one another and what they care about the school.”
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