It starts in November and ends in April with one team cutting down nets in Tampa! Finally, the NCAA women’s basketball season begins tomorrow.
On this week’s Dishin & Swishin podcast, we welcome in the season with the annual preseason preview roundtable. The participants in this year’s discussion are:
There is a lot to discuss, as it should be a very interesting season for many reasons!
Start at the top, can Connecticut three-peat, and keep almost everyone’s preseason Player of the Year Breanna Stewart on course to achieve her goal of four years at UConn and four national titles? This is a different group of Huskies though, with their leaders Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley gone to the WNBA. In their place are players that are unproven or inexperienced. Still, they do possess three of the top players in the country in Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and Moriah Jefferson so no one is shedding tears for Geno Auriemma yet.
UConn is not the only highly-rated program that lost key players, but high hopes still exist; in fact, it is a bit of a theme this season.
Notre Dame lost Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa to graduation. Duke lost guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston to graduation, and Alexis Jones first to injury and then transfer to Baylor. Speaking of Baylor, how do the Bears replace guard Odyssey Sims? Maryland lost Alyssa Thomas, and moves to the Big Ten conference, while Louisville has to replace Shoni Schimmel while adjusting to the ACC.
Then there is that upstart SEC program that will not be under the radar any longer. Dawn Staley has changed the culture at South Carolina; the football school is now women’s basketball crazy. Like UConn, South Carolina has three of the top returning players in the country in Tiffany Mitchell, Aleighsa Welch, and Alaina Coates, plus one of the top incoming freshman in A’ja Wilson. Circle February 9, 2015 on your calendars: South Carolina at Connecticut.
Along with Wilson, there is no doubt youth will be served this year. UConn guard Kia Nurse spent her summer vacation playing with the Canadian National team and will be relied upon immediately. Notre Dame’s freshman forward Brianna Turner is another athletic puzzle piece for Muffet McGraw to insert at Notre Dame, Cal’s Gabby Green, and Texas A&M’s 6-5 Khaalia Hillsman are just a few freshmen that can impact the season.
Along with Coates, Maryland’s Lexie Brown, Baylor’s Nina Davis, Lindsay Allen at Notre Dame, and Allisha Gray at North Carolina these players are just a few of the super sophomores to watch this season. On the West Coast look out for Washington’s Kelsey Plum, while Stanford turns to Lili Thompson to ease the transition to a guard-centric offense.
South Carolina’s Mitchell, Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd, UConn’s Stewart and Jefferson, Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker, Rachel Theriot of Nebraska, and Bria Holmes of West Virginia are just a few of the top juniors.
If you’re looking for WNBA draft prospects, watch seniors Mosqueda-Lewis (UConn), Elizabeth Williams (Duke), Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee), Rachel Banham (Minnesota), Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray (both from Cal) and Nneka Enemkpali (Texas).
Across the country, there are players to see, and conference battles to watch. While at the very top it may be UConn from the American Athletic conference, a look at ESPN’s preseason Top 25 rankings has each major conference well represented: the SEC has six team, ACC five, Big Ten four, Big 12 four, and Pac-12 three teams, respectively. The Big East and Atlantic 10 each have one representative. The race will be on to see which conference gets the most teams in the tournament and can make the claim of “best conference in the country.”
Don’t sleep on those mid-majors either! Remember what Brigham Young did in the tournament last year? There always seems to be a couple of teams that crash the party from those conferences, and this year should be no exception. Dayton is already ranked. Perennially strong teams like Marist, Gonzaga, and Green Bay are always tough, while George Washington and Western Kentucky can surprise people. Look out for players like Central Michigan’s Crystal Bradford and Dayton’s Andrea Hoover, plus high scoring guards Kelsey Minato from Army and Damika Martinez of Iona.
This week the roundtable discusses all of your favorite topics, including the top teams in the country and conferences, which conferences are stronger than others, stars and upstart players to watch, the injury bug biting so many teams this year (notably Ohio State) so early, some of the new coaches and how coaches are impacting programs all over the country, the rise of South Carolina, and of course, what makes UConn the early favorite to repeat.
A fun discussion, and the roundtable is as lively as ever! Enjoy the podcast.
*Click here to subscribe to the podcast with your feed reader or podcast app
Tonight’s the night! At Mohegan Sun Arena, the Class of 2014 will hear their names called, and they will enter the WNBA. Their lives will change forever; no longer will they be “student-athletes,” they will be “professional basketball players.”
Here at Hoopfeed, we prefer not to do “mock drafts.” There are too many variables, too many unknowns, and, invariably reality hardly looks like the mock drafts “experts” put out there. Instead, we prefer to provide you with information to help you speculate yourself on who each team will take.
First, as a reminder, here is the draft order for the first round of the 2014 WNBA draft:
On last week’s Dishin & Swishin podcast former WNBA assistant coach Jeff House shared his thoughts on draft potential and possible maneuverings.
Over the last few months, we have given you Q & A sessions with some of the top prospects, so you could read the players’ thoughts, and get a sense for what they are like as individuals, something frequently missing in the college game. Included were top of the draft favorites Chiney Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Alyssa Thomas, and Kayla McBride, among others. Inside each of these was a section asking “what does the WNBA think of” and an answer was provided by a highly respected person in a WNBA organization that has requested anonymity so as to not give away what the team is thinking. We also requested thoughts on several other players expected to be drafted.
Here is what the Hoopfeed WNBA insider had to say about the potential draft choices. Armed with this information, you are ready to prepare your own mock drafts, speculate who will get drafted in what spot, and which person you hope your favorite team will draft. Good luck to everyone!
Ogwumike is easily one of the most athletic players to come into our league. She has size and great hands; and her ability to play both the 4 and the 5 is key. The development of a face up game needs to continue, but the rebound and defensive potential are fantastic. She is tough and competitive, which you would expect from someone whose sister is Nneka.
Sims is a great defender, but she will face quicker guards in the WNBA. On offense she has all three levels; to the rim, mid-range, and three-point shooting. Her leadership has gotten better. She will step in and contribute right away. Sims and Ogwumike are the only players in the draft you can definitively say that about.
Thomas is a bit of a tweener, is she big enough to play the four? Does she have a good enough handle, shot and can she defensively play the three? Good skill set, ability to rebound and bring it down court is a big plus. She also has shown durability despite a lot of contact. She appears to be a hard worker who will get better as her career progresses.
McBride can create her own shot and has a great mid-range game. She has improved her shooting from the three-point line as well. McBride has a great ‘pro body,’ which she uses to defend well. She’s smart and poised, and coming from Notre Dame knows how to compete and win in big games.
Dolson has great skills, great passing ability. She can knock down shots from the high post and inside she finishes with both hands well. She has a great basketball IQ and great size. Questions are her ability to defend in the two-man game as she hasn’t had to yet, and while she is improved, Dolson needs to prove she can rebound with pro centers, where even Griner struggled last year.
Natasha Howard, forward/center, Florida State University:
Howard has great athleticism; length and quickness a plus. Tremendous upside! She can create her own shot with that athleticism, and she’s good off the dribble from the high post. She has decent range, but will need to work on her handle and consistency from 17 feet and beyond. In addition, Howard is versatile defensively and rebounds well.
Hartley has good upside; she has great length and athleticism. She is versatile, and has the ability to play off the dribble in mid-range and shoot the three as well, which is a big time combination. This year we are seeing more of her ability to defend too, and she has been an asset on both ends. Being from a winning program and being coached at a high level always gives an advantage too. Plus, you know the work ethic is there.
Hooper has great size, and is a strong scorer and rebounder. She has a quick release, excellent range for her size and is really good at catch-and-shoot play. She needs to improve her ball handling to be able to play off the dribble; can’t be one dimensional in the pros. Defense against other fours will be a question too.
I love the scoring mentality that Schimmel brings to every possession. She has very good shooting ability, as well as the ability to put the ball on the floor; all positives. Her shot selection and ability to defend are question marks, as appears to be her fitness level at times (which lends to self-discipline questions).
Natalie Achonwa, forward/center, Notre Dame University:
Achonwa is a natural leader, and a strong rebounder. She has decent range, but needs to improve that and show it consistently. She has good passing ability and is a good defender. Does she have the strength down low to play center in the WNBA? Achonwa is a lot like Dolson skill-wise, but without the true center body.
Chelsea Gray, guard, Duke University:
Gray is a work in process because of all the time she has missed. She has great size and has shown outstanding instincts and passing ability. History is an issue with two knee injuries, major knee injuries, and that is concerning.
Meighan Simmons, guard, University of Tennessee:
Simmons has excellent speed and quickness on both ends. She can score in bunches, but goes through periods where it is tough to keep her on the court. She is the definition of high risk, high reward, and someone will take a chance on that.
Liston is a strong, consistent three-ball shooter, in a draft where there are not a lot of great shooters. She has improved off the dribble tremendously, and isn’t afraid to absorb contact. Her improvement shows self-discipline, and she looks to find ways to improve her game. Speed and defense are a concern; it hurts her a bit playing so much zone at Duke.
If Odyssey Sims had not played one minute this season, there still would be no denying that she had one of the greatest careers for a guard in NCAA women’s basketball history. She earned national championship honors, All-American selections and was a finalist for Wade, Naismith and Wooden awards as both a sophomore and a junior.
However, this season, Sims faced an unfamiliar situation. Not only did two-time Player of the Year Brittney Griner graduate, but also four other seniors. Combined, they accounted for 68 percent of the team’s offense. Then, returning sophomore Alexis Prince, counted on as an experienced starter, went down as well with an injury and was out for the season.
Sims’ season and the statistics she accumulated, are the things legends are made of. She scored over 1,000 points, only the second person in history to achieve that number. For perspective, the next closest competitor was over 80 points behind her.
Baylor surprised everyone, going 32-5 on the season, and Sims was the unquestioned leader of the Lady Bears. Over time, she gained confidence in a group of young players that coach Kim Mulkey inserted alongside her. Nina Davis, the freshman center, became a candidate for freshman of the year off Sims’ bullet passes, along with the space created by Sims’ ability to make three-point shots at will. She showed her maturity during the NCAA tournament, helping keep her team keep an even keel against some controversial foul calls versus Notre Dame.
What makes Sims truly special, however, may be her defensive prowess. She is widely considered the best on-ball defender to enter the WNBA since perhaps Alana Beard in 2004. She has an innate ability to know when to go for the steal, and her hands are so fast that she’s on her way for another layup before her opponent realizes it.
What Does the WNBA think of Sims? An insider says:
Sims is a great defender, but she will face quicker guards in the WNBA. On offense she has all three levels; to the rim, mid-range, and three-point shooting. Her leadership has gotten better. She will step in and contribute right away. Sims and Ogwumike are the only players in the draft you can definitively say that about.
DNS: All-American everywhere, and now, Wade Trophy winner. What the WBCA calls “the Heisman” of basketball. What does that mean to you, winning the award?
OS: Receiving the award means a lot. I am just blessed and honored to have received it.
DNS: Only the second person in history to score 1,000 points in a single season. That number is just remarkable. How does that feel?
OS: It feels great. I never knew I would score that many points in one season. I made history. I think it’s pretty cool.
DNS: Players talk about “being in the zone” when they are on a scoring roll. You were on a roll all season. Is there ever a time that you feel you can’t beat your defender?
OS: I think when I’m real tired in the course of a game, when I need a timeout but the game is too critical so you just have to play through it.
DNS: Still, when I think of Odyssey Sims, I think of the best on-ball defender I’ve seen in a long time. What do you consider the key to your success on the defensive end?
OS: I think it’s a God-given talent. That’s nothing that I had to work on. It just developed on its own.
DNS: Which do you enjoy more, draining the big shot, or making the big stop?
OS: Making the big stop!
DNS: People know BG left after last season, but you lost all four starters beside you. How difficult an adjustment was it to play with all new starters?
OS: It was very different. I had to embrace a role I didn’t think I could handle at the beginning of the season. But, as I grew, my teammates grew too, so that helped me a lot.
DNS: Over the course of the season, you clearly developed more and more trust in your teammates, especially Nina Davis. How does a teammate earn that kind of trust from you, so you will not feel the need to make every play for your team?
OS: That goes without saying, Nina grew quickly. We have a special bond from the rest of the team. But trusting my teammates made everything easier for me.
DNS: Each of the last two years the team’s season ended under shall we say “questionable circumstances” regarding the officiating. Does that make it more difficult to accept the final outcome?
OS: Not at all, it’s kind of expected somewhat. It does bother me but I just take it as is and keep moving forward.
DNS: You’ve certainly handled several different roles during your four years. What accomplishments and development in your game are you the most proud of?
OS: I would say my senior year. Taking upon a different role that nobody thought I would be able to handle. I had a different role and different team and I really enjoyed playing with this group. They helped me in so many ways to get better.
DNS: You had a great summer playing USA Basketball, outstanding player in the World University Games. How much did that impact your senior year, and are you looking forward to continuing to play USA Basketball?
OS: I learned a lot from that experience. It made me want to be a better leader to my teammates going into my senior year.
DNS: WNBA draft comes next. What do you think it’s going to be like hearing your name called? Are you ready for the next step in your career, and what would you tell a GM deciding between you, Chiney Ogwumike or Alyssa Thomas for the top spot?
OS: I will be so happy and shocked, because I will now be living my dream when they call my name. I am ready for the next step, slowly but surely, I’m just more excited than anything.
Baylor senior guard Odyssey Sims is the winner of the 2014 Dawn Staley Award. The accolade goes to “the most outstanding collegiate guard in the country; a player who exemplifies the skills that Dawn possessed during her career (ball handling, scoring, her ability to distribute the basketball and her will to win)” according to Michael G. Horsey, founder of the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia. The award ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at the Union League of Philadelphia.
The 5-8 guard averaged 28.5 ppg, which ranks No. 2 nationally, as well as 4.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals. She shot .446 from the floor, .398 from 3-point range and .808 from the free throw line.
Sims, with 1,054 points in 2013-14, became just the second NCAA?Division I women’s player to score over 1,000 points in a season. Jackie Stiles (Missouri State) set the record in the 2000-01 season with 1,062 points.
— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) March 29, 2014
Baylor (32-4, 16-2 Big 12) exacted revenge on Kentucky (26-9, 10-6 SEC) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament beating the Wildcats 90-72 in South Bend, Ind. Unlike December’s record-breaking quadruple overtime regular season 133-130 matchup against Kentucky that ended in a Lady Bear loss, Baylor completed their mission within regulation. Baylor has reached the Elite Eight for the fourth time in five years.
Senior Odyssey Sims, the nation’s second-leading scorer, led her team with 25 points and seven assists. Freshman Nina Davis added 20 points plus eight rebounds while fellow first-year Khadijiah Cave had a career-high 18 points plus nine rebounds. Sophomore Niya Johnson tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Sims reached 1,000 points on the season during the game, putting her 41 points behind Jackie Stiles’ season record of 1,062 set in 2001.
DeNesha Stallworth led Kentucky with 19 points and eight rebounds. Linnea Harper came off the bench for 14 points and Bria Goss added 13.
Baylor will face the winner of the Oklahoma State – Notre Dame matchup Monday night. The game will be televised on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET.
March Madness is nearing its close and the NCAA tournament is down to the Sweet Sixteen. By this time next week, there will be only the Final Four remaining, and in a couple of weeks it will be time to turn all our attention to the WNBA!
How did we get to this point? How did the Sweet Sixteen teams make it this far?
To help you understand and figure out these teams, we have assembled in one place some of the podcasts and Q&A sessions from the 2013-14 college basketball season for you to read and listen to. Enjoy!
With apologies to Christmas and when kids return to school, thisis the most wonderful time of the year! March Madness! Let the games begin as 64 teams gather in sites around the country to fight for the right to call themselves national champions. For some, just making the tournament defined their season as a success. For others, if they do not make it to Nashville for the Final Four, it will be a disappointment. Will there be a Cinderella or has the clock struck midnight already for all but undefeated Connecticut and Notre Dame? We will find out beginning Saturday, but we are ready to help you understand the stories, look at the teams, and fill out your brackets.
On today’s Dishin & Swishin podcast, we bring together some of the very best of the best experts on women’s basketball. Today’s roundtable, moderated by Dishin & Swishin host David Siegel includes:
Topics discussed by the roundtable include:
Since you are getting ready to fill out your brackets, here are a few tidbits that will help you narrow your selections:
Will this be the year two undefeated teams play for the title? To many it seems a forgone conclusion we will see UConn and Notre Dame in the finals. Maybe we will.
Of curse a lot of those people thought Baylor would beat Louisville last year, didn’t they?
Enjoy the podcast, and embrace the Madness!
ESPN’s Charlie Creme is the preeminent “bracketologist” for women’s basketball. Creme reviews and analyzes teams, conferences, trends, schedules, precedents, historical placements, injuries and a myriad of other factors. He projects who will be the 64 teams selected for the women’s NCAA tournament including seedings and selection committee placement.
There is so much that goes into both the actual selection process by the committee and Creme’s process of projection. On today’s Dishin & Swishin, Creme returns to the podcast to look at the intricacies involved with these year’s bracket, including who could be the four top seeds, and why they will be placed in the specific regions he projects.
Other topics include conference tournaments and their effects on bubble ins and outs, mid-majors versus BCS conference selections, RPI and success against highly ranked teams impact on seeding and more.
It is great to be able to give Creme more than two minutes at halftime of a game or 140 characters on twitter to explain his process!
Enjoy the podcast!
The Roundtable is back!
It is a pleasure to bring back the Dishin & Swishin roundtable for your listening pleasure this week, with a look at the first half of the NCAA women’s basketball season.
The participants on this roundtable, hosted by David Siegel are:
On the heels of the No. 1 Connecticut’s victory over No. 7 Baylor, the roundtable had a lot to talk about!
Topics covered this week include:
All of this and more, on this week’s Dishin & Swishin, the roundtable looks at the NCAA season.
Enjoy the podcast!
No. 1 Connecticut (18-0) came to Waco and snapped No. 7 Baylor’s 69-game home win streak with a 66-55 victory in front of a season record crowd of 9,145. It was the first loss in the Ferrell Center for senior guards Odyssey Sims and Makenzie Robertson.
Sims carried the offensive load for Baylor (14-2) and did not get much help from the rest of her team until late in the first half. Makenzie Robertson and Nina Davis helped to keep the Lady Bears within 10 but UConn’ size and rebounding was too much for Baylor. Nevertheless, the Lady Bears kept it close and ended the half trailing the Huskies 36-27. While Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley helped UConn maintain a lead during the first stanza, they ended the period with three fouls each.
Breanna Stewart led UConn with 12 points and seven rebounds after the first half. Texas native Moriah Jefferson added 10 and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had eight. For Baylor, Sims paced the Lady Bears with 15 points and Robertson had seven.
Baylor started the second half on a 15-9 run to get within three, 45-42 at 14:28. They outscored UConn for much of that period, nipping at the heels of the Huskies, staying within striking distance, narrowing the lead to one, 50-49 at 10:54 after a three point shot by Odyssey Sims. Baylor’s young players Nina Davis, Kristina Higgins, Niya Johnson and Imani Wright helped Sims with some offensive production as well. Baylor was within three at 3:51, 56-53.
Stewart finished with a team-high 18 points plus 11 rebounds. Hartley followed with 17. Jefferson had a nice stat line with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Dolson was the fourth Husky in double figures with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Sims, finished below her season average of 31.1 points per game, with 20 points and four assists. Freshman Davis had 11 points plus 17 rebounds. Robertson contributed 10 points and five rebounds.
UConn returns to the East Coast to face Rutgers on the road Sunday, January 19. They return to Texas on February 4 to face American Athletic Conference member Southern Methodist.
Baylor heads to Kansas to play the Jayhawks on the same day the Huskies face the Scarlet Knights.
UConn vs Baylor
1/13/14 6 p.m. at Ferrell Center – Waco, Texas
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||Total|
|UConn||36||30||66||Record: (18-0 #1/1)|
|Baylor||27||28||55||Record: (14-2 #7/7)|
|Officials: Dee Kantner, Jesse Dickerson, Maj Forsberg
Technical fouls: UConn-None. Baylor-None.
On the social media service Twitter ESPN commentator Rebecca Lobo and Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn discussed and debated the perpetual success of teams like UConn and Tennessee, and whether that is good for women’s college basketball. UConn coach Geno Auriemma has for years said that it is incumbent on the “other teams” to bring their programs up to the level of the Huskies and the Lady Vols, not legislate their programs down.
In Lexington, Kentucky, the Wildcats are striving to do just what Auriemma suggested. A historic men’s program at Kentucky helped to establish a surging women’s program under seven-year head coach Matthew Mitchell. After two years of mediocrity and a 33-32 start, Mitchell’s teams have embraced his “forty minutes of dread” up-tempo system on both ends of the court. The results have been spectacular. Kentucky has won at least 25 games each of the last four seasons, earned tournament berths each year. They made it to the Elite Eight in three of the last four seasons. Yet prior to junior Jennifer O’Neill’s arrival on campus, the team did not have a McDonald’s All-American in its history.
Coach Mitchell returns to the Dishin & Swishin podcast this week, on the heels of their second consecutive upset victory in the Battle of the Bluegrass, coming from behind to defeat in state rival Louisville, 69-64, then ranked No. 3/4 in the polls, this past Sunday. However, this was not the first difficult out-of-conference game on the Kentucky schedule this season, nor is it the last.
While most top programs play a few out-of-conference games against other top programs, there are few that are willing to take on the top mid-major programs, and even fewer are willing to go on the road to face them. Those schools do not generate the same interest as “the big names,” can be tough games, especially when you consider that it is “an event” on the smaller school’s campus. Yet already this season Kentucky has gone to Poughkeepsie, New York and taken on Marist, and Mufreesboro, Tennessee to play Middle Tennessee State. On top of those games, Central Michigan played in Lexington, and Kentucky will travel to play the Chippewas on CMU’s home court next year.
Still on Kentucky’s schedule in calendar year 2013 are second-ranked Duke, DePaul in Chicago, and this Friday they have a big road “event” game, when they will join the men’s team in a double-header against ninth-ranked Baylor, at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. This has the potential to be a great game in a great setting, with two tough, aggressive, talented programs facing off. Kentucky looks to continue an 18-game regular season winning streak against non-conference opponents, while Baylor wants to eliminate questions about their post-Griner team in the wake of an easy non-conference schedule. The game will be televised on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET.
Mitchell discusses his 2013-14 Wildcats, led by the talented senior front line of DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker plus the outstanding shooting of Kastine Evans. Other topics include:
Always entertaining and outspoken, Mitchell is one of the favorite guests of Dishin & Swishin.
Enjoy the podcast!
Happy Halloween everyone! This is my first Halloween without having a child in the house, so to capture that magic feeling of Halloween I have a special treat for you today!
Rebecca Lobo and Stephanie White each have an NCAA championship on their resume and have used their knowledge and experience to become two of the very best commentators and analysts of women’s basketball.
Lobo is first on today’s podcast. She joins Kara Lawson this season as an in-studio analyst for ESPN’s women’s basketball coverage. From Halloween costumes to preseason top five picks, the interview is wide-ranging and includes teams to watch this season and their keys to success. Rule changes, conference alignment, and the 2013-14 UConn Huskies in a historical context are also covered.
White is on next, and the Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Indiana and ESPN analyst gives her thoughts on many of the top players in the country; the biggest adjustments teams and players need to make to adhere to the new rules and breaks down the Big Ten conference as well.
No tricks here, just treats! Have a safe and happy Halloween, and enjoy the podcast!
The Big 12 Conference has announced its Preseason All-Big 12 Team as well as honors for preseason player, newcomer and freshman of the year for the 2013-14 women’s basketball season. The awards are chosen by head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.
Baylor’s Odyssey Sims was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year after earning unanimous All-America honors last season. She is a two-time All-Big 12 selection and was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2011. The senior point guard averaged 12.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the Lady Bears’ run to the Sweet 16 in 2012-13. She finished second in the nation with a 2.67 assist-turnover ratio.
Oklahoma State junior transfer Marisha Wallace was selected Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The NOC-Enid product averaged 17.6 points and 7.1 rebounds during her sophomore season. She was a second team all-conference pick and helped her squad to its second-straight Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference title.
Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year honors were awarded to Baylor’s Ieshia Small. This marks the second-consecutive season and third in the last four in which the Lady Bears have captured preseason recognition for both player and freshman of the year. The guard from Miami, Fla., was a 2013 McDonald’s All-American and Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year. She was ranked by recruiting services as No. 3 nationally in her position and No. 19 overall. Small averaged 25.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 5.0 steals as a high school senior.
Joining Sims on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team were Hallie Christofferson (Iowa State), Aaryn Ellenberg (Oklahoma), Imani McGee-Stafford (Texas) and Asya Bussie (West Virginia). Christofferson and Ellenberg were All-Big 12 selections a year ago while McGee-Stafford was an Honorable Mention pick. Bussie missed the season due to a knee injury.
The Big 12 Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll will be announced on October 9.
(coaches not allowed to vote for own players)
Preseason Player of the Year
Odyssey Sims, Baylor, G, 5-8, Sr., Irving, Texas/MacArthur
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Marisha Wallace, Oklahoma State, C, 6-2, Jr., Midwest City, Okla./Midwest City/Northern Oklahoma College – Enid
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Ieshia Small, Baylor, G, 6-0, Fr., Miami, Fla./Florida High School
PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
|Odyssey Sims||Baylor||G||5-8||Sr-3L||12.9||2.6||Irving, Texas
|Hallie Christofferson||Iowa State||F||6-3||Sr-3L||15.6||6.7||Hamlin, Iowa
|Aaryn Ellenberg||Oklahoma||G||5-7||Sr-3L||18.7||3.3||Las Vegas, Nev.
|Imani McGee-Stafford||Texas||C||6-7||So-1L||11.1||9.4||Los Angeles, Calif.
|Asya Bussie||West Virginia||C||6-4||Sr-3L||12.1||6.6||Randallstown, Md.
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically by school)
Alexis Prince (Baylor), Tiffany Bias (Oklahoma State), Liz Donohoe (Oklahoma State), Zahna Medley (TCU), Nneka Enemkpali (Texas), Christal Caldwell (West Virginia)
August 30, 2013 — “Sophia has the right to express her point of view, however, I do not share her view. The WNBA supports diversity and we are committed to the equal and fair treatment of all people.”
What happens when a WNBA player posts a tweet about a hot button topic while attending a protest on another controversial issue? San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young found out yesterday. The fan favorite since her college days helping lead Baylor to its first national championship in 2005 took on two topics in one tweet. She followed up her first tweet with photo evidence of her stances. Young is not playing this season due to a torn ACL she suffered while playing overseas in China. However, she attends home games, interacts with fans and is active in the San Antonio community with charity work and her AAU girl’s basketball team, Sophia Young Elite.
While one can argue that adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to San Antonio city’s nondiscrimination code is related to state matrimony laws and gay marriage, legally the distinct issues have absolutely nothing to do with each other. However, Young tweeted that she was against gay marriage while attending a protest at the city council opposing adding LGBT protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.
The sign she held, which has the words “vote no” printed on it, is actually the topic of the council debate held last night on modifying the ordinance, not about gay marriage. As in every other state in the union, marriage is a state matter, not a municipal one.
The reactions from fans came fast and furious on a day the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, an event organized by an African American gay man, Bayard Rustin, a close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr.
First, the facts about Texas:
The issue before the city council is in the headlines for many reasons. Just last week, San Antonio City Councilwoman Elisa Chan, went on an anti-gay tirade unaware that her words were being recorded. Her statements created a storm of controversy that effectively derailed her ambitions to run for mayor.
When it comes to the WNBA, Young has lesbian teammates. They are not completely out or vocal but it is not secret information. Tully Bevilaqua, a former Silver Stars player, posted on her Facebook fan page that she “just lost all respect for a former teammate” in reference to Young’s tweets. She also wrote that she stands up “for my family and equality and fair treatment for all human beings.” Bevilaqua married her partner earlier this year.
According to game attendees, the leaders of Young’s fan section at the AT&T center include a lesbian couple. Just this year, former Baylor star Brittney Griner came out and went on a highly publicized media junket revealing her wishes to help LGBT youngsters who are the victims of bullying.
There are few other openly gay WNBA players who are in same-sex relationships and married or planning to get married. Some of them may be facing issues of their own with civil liberties and human rights soon when they suit up to play in Russia in the upcoming EuroLeague season. In June Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law that outlaws “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” As a result, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics is now facing scrutiny from multiple corners of the world. Plus, the anti-gay law is contrary to provisions against discrimination in the Olympic Charter.
The NBA added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy as part of its collective bargaining agreement in late 2011. The WNBA Players Association is set to begin renegotiating its CBA at the end of the season.
But back to San Antonio. While Young took to Twitter to voice her views, San Antonio Silver Stars fan Anel Flores, who was interviewed earlier this year by Katie Couric about LGBT equal rights, took the floor during the city council debate yesterday evening and delivered this speech:
Thank you Mr. Mayor and thank you Councilperson Bernal and all council members who support the Non-Discrimination Ordinance
When I was in college dog sh-t was smeared on my car and the word “dyke” was written on my windows. My dorm was broken into and the words, “you are going to hell,” was written on my mirror.
My second year teaching, I was told I couldn’t take my students to competition because I was a lesbian and I needed a male teacher escort.
In my fifth year teaching, I was working late after school and I heard the football coach yell to his team, “come on faggots! Run!” The following year, the coaches thought it was okay to talk about the female teachers with me like they were sexual objects, and I was just one of the boys. I am not.
In my eighth year teaching a transgender girl, who was my student, was forced behind closed doors to shave her head by a male administrator, “if she really thought she was a man!” I never saw her again after being expelled.
My tenth year teaching one of my gay students, who I reported many times for being bullied at the bus stop and in front of the school library committed suicide.
Three years ago my daughter was not allowed to do a speech in school about her lesbian mother’s fight for the legalization of gay marriage.
Today when I walked up holding my fiancé’s hand I was told I was going to hell, again.
And, as I sit here today many of our council members have discriminated against me, my family and my community with hateful, ignorant, arrogant words.
My name is Anel Flores. I am a business owner, a published author, a tax payer, a consumer, an artist, an activist, a neighborhood association member, a chamber member and I am also a lesbian mother together with mi prometida, Erika Casasola.
Our 14-year-old daughter attends a San Antonio public school, dances professionally, sold the most Girl Scout cookies last year in all of her school, and plans to be a large animal veterinarian when she grows up.
Our oldest daughter, graduated earlier this year at the top of her class with more that 1000 service hours, interned with Women’s Global Connection at UIW, just started at Southwestern University, joined the Latina sorority and is pre-med.
I am here to correct all of you who said that my family is immoral and “disgusting.” Ms. Chan, I am also here to remind you that all religion is rooted in love.
And I am here to remind you that voting yes can save lives of silenced, bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender children and children of LGBT families.
Vote yes on the Non-Discrimination Ordinance and protect your neighbor.
Baylor women’s basketball will play two exhibition contests and 11 of 12 non-conference games in the Ferrell Center this upcoming season.
“With nine underclassmen on our 13-player roster, I believe we have compiled a good schedule, one that will challenge our team but also allow them to mold into a cohesive unit before we begin Big 12 play,” said head coach Kim Mulkey.
The Lady Bears will play exhibition contests against Palm Beach Atlantic (Oct. 30) and Oklahoma City University (Nov. 5) before opening regular-season play.
Baylor will open its non-conference slate with seven straight home games. BU’s season opener is Sat., Nov. 9 vs. Grambling followed by a Thu., Nov. 14 game vs. Nicholls State and a Mon., Nov. 18 contest vs. Rice. On Nov. 21, 22 & 23, the Lady Bears will host a Basketball Travelers four-team event which will include Northwestern State, Savannah State and UTSA. BU hosts San Jose State on Tue., Dec. 3 to end its seven-game homestand.
The Lady Bears will make their lone non-conference road trip when they face Kentucky in Arlington, Texas, on Fri., Dec. 6. The contest will be a doubleheader with Kentucky and Baylor’s men’s teams at Cowboys Stadium.
The final four games on Baylor’s non-conference schedule include: Houston Baptist (Sun., Dec. 15), Mississippi (Wed., Dec. 18), McNeese State (Sat., Dec. 28) and defending national champion Connecticut on Mon., Jan. 13.
From the NCAA:
A public reprimand and penalties, including a one-game tournament suspension, have been issued for Baylor University women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey for a violation of tournament policy during the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
Specifically, Mulkey made disparaging comments about the officials during the postgame press conference following Baylor’s regional semifinal loss to Louisville on March 31 at the Oklahoma City Regional. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee noted this is the second misconduct act by Mulkey during the past three championships and believes a more stringent penalty is appropriate to prevent these actions from continuing. She also received a public reprimand for comments to the media following the 2011 championship.
Mulkey’s misconduct led the committee to issue her a one-game NCAA postseason championship suspension as well as the withholding of Baylor’s team championship per diem during the regional round of play. The suspension shall apply to the next NCAA postseason opportunity that Mulkey will have as a coach, regardless of what institution she represents.
“The committee unanimously felt that the behavior of Coach Mulkey was unacceptable and has no place in the women’s basketball championship,” said Carolayne Henry, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate commissioner and senior woman administrator at the Mountain West Conference.
Baylor women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey announces the addition of two new assistant coaches to her staff, Toyelle Wilson and Sytia Messer.
“I am excited to welcome Toyelle and Sytia to our staff and thrilled to be able to hire two individuals with head coaching experience. They will be valuable and welcome additions to the Lady Bear program,” said Mulkey. “I have admired Toyelle’s leadership and coaching while she’s been at Prairie View A&M and I have always kept up with Sytia, I recruited her out or high school.”
Wilson comes to Baylor after leading the Prairie View A&M Panthers to three straight SWAC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearances. Wilson compiled a 55-43 record In her three seasons as the program’s head coach. Prior to accepting the head coach position, Wilson was the Panthers’ top assistant for four years, she also spend three seasons as an assistant coach at Robert Morris University.
Wilson was recently one of 30 coaches across the nation that participated in the Center for Coaching Excellence (CCE) by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The CCE is an elite program for select basketball coaches and is designed to provide college women’s basketball coaches with the professional skills and personal ethics training necessary to be exceptional leaders.
A native of Camden, N.J., Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Manhattan College in 2003 and was a four-year letter winner for the women’s basketball team. She was a team captain and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors while leading the squad to an NCAA Tournament berth and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.
After three years as a head coach at Tennessee Tech and serving two stints at Georgia Tech, Messer begins her career at Baylor. She was associate head coach at Georgia Tech last season and served as an assistant coach for the Yellow Jackets from 2004-09. In between stints on the Atlanta campus, she compiled a 54-41 record as the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles’ head coach. Messer was named the 2010-11 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year after the Golden Eagles won the 2011 OVC regular season. Messer also has coached at Memphis and Arkansas State.
The Waldo, Ark., native was a standout player for the Arkansas Razorbacks where she finished her career ranked in the top 10 in points scored (7th, 1,370) and rebounds (10th, 603). Messer was named the 1998 NCAA Tournament West Regional MVP when the Razorbacks made their run to the Women’s Final Four and led Arkansas to the 1999 WNIT championship.
Wilson and Messer will begin on July 1 and replace Damion McKinney and Rekha Patterson.
While former Baylor star center Brittney Griner’s “official” coming out made the rounds in the media last week, hailed as groundbreaking in some quarters and ho-hum in others, Emily Nkosi (née Niemann), a star on Baylor’s 2005 national championship team and a member of that year’s Final Four All-tournament squad, paid rapt attention from afar.
Griner, the No. 1 pick of the 2013 WNBA draft has become a household name in the sports world, augmented by a whirlwind media tour stretching from coast to coast. Her road to coming out may seem breezy. But Griner’s path was paved by the pain of countless lesbian, gay, transgender and questioning students at Baylor who lived and continue to live in silence or came out, like Nkosi, only to face hostility and shaming from familiar and unexpected places. Nkosi, who lives with her partner and son in Western Massachusetts, took some time out this weekend to complete a Q&A for Hoopfeed. She hopes to connect with Griner at some point especially since the new Phoenix Mercury star has indicated she hopes her coming out will help “the young generation” be more comfortable with being open about who they are if they are LGBTQ.
Q: What are you up to these days and what are you feelings towards Baylor now?
A: These days my partner Ashley and I are enjoying the gift of our sweet baby Galileo who is 19 months old. He is quite a character and we are loving parenthood. I am a web designer and content manager, which I also sincerely enjoy. I think about Baylor and my time there often, sometimes with pride because I had a lot be proud of in my two years there. Other times with sadness for the loss of that community I had invested so much in, once I decided to pursue a relationship with Ashley it crumbled and I still feel that loss. There is a lot to love about Baylor. The reasons behind why it all crumbled for me are complex. But, in short I look back on it and feel sad about how it all ended.
Q: What does it mean for you that Brittney feels comfortable enough to come out, even if it is at the end of her college career?
A: End of college career or not, coming out is a courageous act for any person anywhere. There are still many countries where gay people still face the death penalty. Here in the states gay teens are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Given those realities, what Brittney and anyone who comes out has done is amazingly brave. I am proud of her, happy for her and appreciate what she has done.
Q: What do you think of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” atmosphere that seems to be at Baylor with gay student-athletes?
A: I think first of all we should widen the scope and look at the whole student body. Student-athletes have unique challenges and are on a stage that makes this more personal to the masses but all Baylor students have to face inherent homophobia that exists in a place where being who you are is against school policy. Period. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset insinuates that your sexuality and relationships you have within that orientation need be hidden. We hide secrets, insecurities and dirt laundry because we are afraid what people would think if they saw those things. Clumping your sexuality into a “needs to be hidden” category made me feel like something was wrong with me and that I was inherently bad. That is not a healthy place for any person to be. Even though Brittney seems to be feeling great, I don’t think it is stretch to think that there are many students for whom this hiding is having a significant negative toll on. And I worry about them even though I do not know them.
Q: Do you have any thoughts about Ken Starr being the president of Baylor since he defended Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court while Brittney has a NOH8 logo on her Twitter profile pic?
A: The option of being neutral on LGBTQ equity is less and less common or even available. Ken Starr’s position is not unique, the majority of the country still doesn’t support equity for LGBTQ people. That impacts us all. It impacts that third grader who wears Brittney’s jersey today as she tries to build her own world view. It impacts the graduating senior heading to begin their college career knowing they are gay and scared to death about it. And it impacts the young person who just found the partner they want to spend life with, having to think about if they can get married or not, wondering if they’ll be able to legally adopt should they want to, and trying to decide where to live that people won’t hassle them or worse. All these things matter and have a ripple affect that one could ever measure.
Q: Do you see things at Baylor changing anytime in the near future for LGBTQ students?
A: I am hoping I can be a part of that actually. And I know it is possible.
From the Los Angeles Athletic Club:
The John R. Wooden Award winner for women, the preeminent collegiate basketball player of the year award, was announced today by The Los Angeles Athletic Club, and awarded to Baylor’s Brittney Griner for the second year in a row. Selected by hundreds of women’s college basketball media members from throughout the country, the winner and All American team are made up of the five student-athletes who received the most votes, with voters ranking the players from 1 to 5. The 37th Annual Wooden Award Gala presented by Wendy’s, honoring the men’s and women’s Wooden All American Teams, is taking place this evening at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Griner and all of the men’s and women’s All Americans have proven to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA, an important component of the Award insisted upon by Coach Wooden. In addition to the academic aspect, the Wooden Award is unique among college postseason awards because voters could consider performance during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Griner is a three-time Wooden All American who has been one of the dominant players in women’s basketball at both ends of the floor throughout her career. As a senior, she averaged 23.8 points, No. 3 in the nation, and 4.14 blocked shots (No. 2 nationally). She finished her career the No. 2 all-time scorer in NCAA Division I. She is the first player to amass 2,000 points and 500 blocked shots, and is the NCAA all-time leading shot blocker with 748 blocks. Griner declined to attend this year’s ceremony, with her agent citing an obligation to the WNBA in Hartford, Conn.
Griner is the fourth two-time Wooden Award winner, joining Seimone Augustus (LSU), Maya Moore (Connecticut), and Candace Parker (Tennessee). With 1,230 points, Griner finished ahead of Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins (1,144), Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (989), Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike (800), and Baylor teammate Odyssey Sims (380). Of the five All Americans, only Diggins advanced her team to the Final Four.
Yesterday during a media teleconference with Final Four coaches, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma addressed comments recently made by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about drafting Baylor’s star center Brittney Griner. Cuban said he would consider drafting the 6-8 phenom in the second round of the NBA draft. Auriemma’s take:
Well, obviously Mark Cuban’s a genius, because he’s been able to parlay some great ideas into billion-dollar industries, and he’s done a great job as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and he’s won an NBA championship. And he’s done a lot for basketball.
His genius would take a huge hit if he drafted Brittney Griner. And if Brittney Griner tries to make an NBA team, I think it would be a public relations thing. I think it would be a sham.
The fact that a woman could actually play right now in the NBA and compete successfully against the level of play that they have is absolutely ludicrous.
With a barrage of three-point shots, Louisville (27-8) defeated Baylor (34-2), 82-81, taking down the defending national champions and overall top seed in the NCAA tournament. Even though she fouled out with about four minutes left in the game, Shoni Schimmel finished with 22 points. Shooting a blistering 7-of-9 from three-point land, Antonita Slaughter contributed 21 points plus six rebounds. Bria Smith had 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Overall, the Cardinals were 64 percent from the three-point line (16-of-25). They tied the NCAA record for treys in a tournament game.
“It’s just a remarkable night by a remarkable group of young women,” said Louisville head coach Jeff Walz. “We put a game plan together as a coaching staff, which we always do every night we go out and play. I’ve been telling them the entire year, if we can just get 40 minutes out of everybody, not playing great, just playing good, we could be special.”
Louisville shut down Baylor star center, senior Brittney Griner for much of the game. In the last contest of her collegiate career she finished with 14 points plus 10 rebounds. Junior point guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 29 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals.
Coach Walz talked about his strategy for the game.
“Antonita Slaughter defensively is where she stepped up tonight,” said Walz. “She played 40 minutes for us and just did a great job on Brittney Griner. I told our kids in the locker room before the game, We got to turn this thing into a street ballgame. You got to drive, kick for threes, try to make it fun. There was no pressure on us.”
Griner finished her Baylor time with several NCAA Division I records and numerous Big 12 records. Her NCAA DI accolades:
The Cardinals face Tennessee on Tuesday. The Lady Vols defeated Oklahoma 74-59 earlier in the day.
Q. Can you talk about their zone, that they were double? and triple?teaming Brittney.
Mulkey: You want to attack dribble?penetration, but you also have to hit some 10? and 12?foot jumpers early in the game. I thought other than them shooting lights out on the offensive end, I thought we were patient with what they were doing defensively. Guys, you just had an opportunity to beat a team that made 16 threes and Griner got 10 touches, and you go up 1 with nine seconds to go, that’s pretty remarkable. You’re supposed to get blown out if you get 16 threes, and we didn’t get blown out.
Q. How critical was it not to have a timeout there at the end? What specifically should have happened?
Mulkey: They’ve been taught what to do there. I think they were in such shock that it was a foul called, and I’ll be glad to answer any referee question you want to ask me, because I don’t mind getting fined, so ask me. Now is the time to ask me, okay?
But we didn’t do what they’ve been taught to do. We’re supposed to throw it. You’ve seen us do it many times, throw it to halfcourt for Griner, then let the two guards cross and look for a good shot.
I don’t know really other than maybe they were in a state of shock that a foul was called there. I don’t know.
Q. Can you comment on the officiating in this game.
Mulkey: I thought the game started out way too physical, way too physical. I thought that all three of them, if they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the game.
I thought the two critical calls at the end of the game were really bad. Jordan Madden drives in the paint. We already have the missed shot. She calls an offensive foul on Madden right there. Well, why so late? Odyssey Sims had the rebound in her hand.
Then I don’t know about that at the end. It was on the opposite end. I’d have to go see it. You saw it. What did y’all think? Was it a foul? Did anybody here think it was a foul? Honestly, tell me.
Q. I thought it was a foul.
Mulkey: Okay. All I can tell you is the one in front of me, the charge was critical, it was critical. I thought it got personal with both teams. When you allow it to be that physical, you have taunting. I thought Schimmel went and got in Griner’s face and all they did was warn her. When Odyssey and Schimmel got into it right there, it became a technical and a technical. What’s the difference?
It got out of hand and it got personal with players, and you don’t like to see that.
Q. It seemed to get out of hand, like you said. Both coaches were jumping around. Were you concerned that your players were going to keep their composure when coaches and everyone were sort of going crazy on the sidelines?
Mulkey: When you’re down 19, then up 1 with nine seconds to go, do you think they kept their composure? We were down 19 and we went up with nine seconds to go? Did they keep their composure?
Q. I was talking about the last possession when the foul was called, were you concerned people were going to make the right decision?
Mulkey: The girl drove by Griner, your All?American post player. I’m not ever concerned about Brittney making a bad decision. You said it was a foul. I’ll have to go back and see it. I don’t think the referee raised his hand that it was a foul. I thought he was raising his hand that it was going the other direction. I thought he was just going to say it was our ball. I don’t know.
I am proud of the fact that the kids fought hard because they could have quit on you really, and they didn’t. Compliment and credit Louisville. If Louisville can hit 16 threes a game, good Lord, they’ll win a national championship.
Q. Did you feel those threes they hit, were they open shots? Did they maybe surprise you with how deep they were shooting them?
Mulkey: Well, the post player that Griner is guarding, she hits a couple. That’s when you know it’s going to be a long day. I’m not sure she’s taken a whole lot of threes all year.
That was their game plan, to shoot a lot of threes, and they made a lot of them. We would cut the lead, they would hit another three late in the shot clock.
Of the 16, I’m not quite sure how many of them were open because of our poor defense, where they penetrated, kicked out, we helped off. But you got to make shots. They weren’t coming in the paint, were they? And they made ‘em.
Q. There early in the second half, you cut it to 5. Then they hit seven threes. They made the big lead. Did that make it the toughest to come back on?
Mulkey: Every three that they hit when we would cut the lead made it that much tougher. You keep thinking through the course of the game that they’re going to start missing some. But they never did. Then I just thought that our full court pressure allowed us to make plays and got us back in it.
Tough way to lose. It’s hard to lose when it’s your last game, but it’s even harder the way that game ended. Makes it a little tougher.
Q. Did you express your opinion to the officials as the game was going along? Were you very vocal about that?
Mulkey: Yes, yes.
Q. You’ve had other physical games since you’ve had Brittney. Did you think more was allowed in this game?
Mulkey: Yes, yes.
Q. You hate to see players, not just Brittney, go out after all they’ve accomplished fighting back tears. How do you as a coach help your team put this in perspective so they’re not remembering this one loss but all they have accomplished?
Mulkey: Well, you don’t do it tonight. There’s nothing I can say to them tonight that’s going to make them feel good. You just try to help them get their composure and you protect them like a mother hen.
As I told them in the locker room, I’ll take every hit you want to write, about we choked, Baylor or bust, epic disappointment. Put it right here on these shoulders. Don’t you point one finger on those kids, you put it right on me.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz
Q. Coach Mulkey said the officials allowed more stuff to go on, more physical play, than any game since she’s had Brittney Griner. Did you feel it was an unusually physical game? If so, did you think it benefited your team as opposed to Baylor?
Walz: I mean, understand, our goal was to stand in front of her, have one behind her. It’s just really hard to comment on that. I really didn’t think it was really all that exciting to watch as an official. I’m not sure what sometimes they were watching.
The fifth foul on Shoni, I’m still trying to figure out what took place there.
You know, we turned and boxed her out. We stood in front of her. We did a really nice job. I told Antonita, Go under her elbows, go under her elbows. We tried to stay as vertical as we could without putting bodies on her.
I mean, you know, it’s a game where if you let Brittney catch you wherever she wants to, she’s going to score. She’s the best player I’ve coached against and tried to game plan against.
When shots went up, we turned and boxed her out. When she got the ball, I told them straight up, do not ever bat down on the ball because I didn’t want her to get to the free?throw line.
At one point in time, I mean, we’re up 20, and it’s 8?0 on fouls. We were driving at times and kicking, we still couldn’t get one called. I promise you, we were trying to box out every time.
There’s no question, there were a lot of fouls called against us. I was just thankful on that last drive when Monique Reid went in for the layup, it was a late whistle, but I was glad he caught it because she got clobbered.
Q. There was a team technical called.
Walz: That was on me. I was outside the coaching box. I’ve learned, I’m better off if I wear a sport coat because I can step out and rip that off and go halfway on the floor and you won’t get a technical. If you sit on the scorer’s table three feet outside the box, you’re going to get one.
Even though my kid fouled out. My whole thing was, Damn, she fouled out. I sat on the score table thinking, Who are they going to put in? They run across the floor and give me a T. I haven’t worn a sport coat all season, so I think I might wear three of them on Tuesday night. It’s like that commercial, when you travel, I can run out, take one off, run back out, take a second one off, it’s okay (laughter).
I don’t know. I mean, our kids still found a way to persevere. Despite me getting a T, they found a way to grind it out at the end.
Q. Without giving away too many secrets, what exactly was it? Was it a box?and?one?
Walz: We came out in what we call (indiscernible) one. It’s like a 1?3 zone. I didn’t want to get too set up in the box where we gave the wings anything they wanted. We had Antonita stay in the front if the ball was on the one side of the floor. The whole goal was to jab out, come back, jab out, come back.
I just didn’t believe, deep down I kept telling my players every timeout, if they make 10 to 15 threes, they’re going to beat us. I don’t think they can make enough threes to beat us, but I know Brittney can make three? and four?footers all night long.
Odyssey does a good job she went 3?9 and hit some big ones. Jordan Madden goes 2?3. At the end of the night they’re 6?17. And then we only allowed Brittney 10 shots, she goes 4?10.
Defensively we did everything we wanted to do. It got to a point when Sara is hitting a step?back three in the corner, I don’t know what to do. I mean, from my side, it’s not like I drew that up, all right? We start to make some shots. I told our kids, The pressure is on them. I didn’t want to try to slow the ball up. You can drive and kick. If you’re open, shoot it. If there’s any question, bring the ball back out.
So defensively that’s what we did. We switched a few possessions of going man to zone for a few passes, then jumped into man, trying to get them a little bit confused.
Overall I have to give all the credit to our players. I tell everybody all year long, I’ve not made a shot or gotten a rebound all year. So we can put the game plan together, but it’s all about the kids.
Q. So much about the defense on Brittney Griner. What about the offense? You took her out of the lane. Even on the last play she was out so far, was not able to get back. Talk about your offense.
Walz: Well, that’s kind of what we talked about, to be honest with you. This is what we have to do to guard ‘em. I told our kids, If we don’t score 70 points, we don’t have a chance to win. Our whole goal was to try to get to 70.
I don’t think anybody had scored over 70 on ‘em this entire year. I’m 90 percent sure nobody has scored 80 on ‘em. I told our kids, We got to keep scoring. If they score, fine, we’re going to come down and score.
I mean, I was all excited because we started the game. I’m sure y’all saw. I put Bria Smith on the offensive end. With the first possession of the game, it was five on four them. If we don’t foul, they’re going to score. We’re taking the ball and throwing it the length of the floor for a layup.
Bria was wide open, standing back on the three?point line. It took me two days of practice to get her to stand. She wanted to come down and guard. Unfortunately, we got called for a foul so we weren’t able to execute it.
Our goal was to score, score and score. I told our kids, If we have to take 40 to 50 threes, we will. I don’t know if we could go out there right now 5?0 and go 16 of 25. But we did it in the biggest game of the year for us. Now we’re going to hopefully keep our momentum going and see what we can do on Tuesday.
Q. Did you keep your composure in this game?
Walz: I was mild compared to what I usually am. Oh, yeah, my kids know how I am. I’m fighting for them. So if I think some calls aren’t going our way, I’m not just going to sit there and take it.
I stood up for our players. I mean, I’ll have to watch Bria Smith’s charge there for her fifth foul. With all the contact going on on both hands, how do you make that call? Shoni Schimmel’s fifth foul on the drive, I’m dumbfounded. Kids are getting knocked down and bringing it across with body contact, it’s not called. That’s fine, but I’m not just going to sit there and take it.
They warned me a few times. Because I was three feet out of my box, sitting on the scorer’s table, they gave me a technical foul.
That’s how I coach, my kids know it.
Q. Outside of this arena, what your men’s team did today was the biggest story in sports. Did you guys know about everything that happened there?
Walz: You know what, we were all sitting in our locker room cheering on our men, and we saw it. It’s probably the most devastating injury in sports that I’ve seen. I was watching I’m not sure what it is when Joe Theismann got his leg broken. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.
I told our kids before the game, I said, You know what, it’s a basketball game. Even for us tonight, I mean, I’m not sure where this stands on victories in women’s college basketball, but I’ll have to say it’s kind of high up there.
At the end of the day, it’s a basketball game. Both teams come out here and compete and give it everything you have. We’re watching our men play, and Kevin has an injury that obviously he’s out for the year. Who knows how bad it is. I just told them, I said, Go out there and give it everything you’ve got. But at the end of the day it’s a basketball game.
We all said a prayer for him before we went out. I just have to give a lot of credit to Coach Pitino, the players, because to be there and see something like that happen, ’cause I saw the expression of the players on the floor and the players on the bench, where it was right in front of them, to be able to bounce back from that and get your mind refocused and win an elite game to go to the Final Four against Duke, not like they’re playing a bad team, I think it says a lot about what Coach Pitino has done with his team, the type of players they have.
I know we were really, really excited to hear that they had won and moved on.