Women’s Final Four | Mulkey Back in TX With LSU

LSU women's head basketball coach Kim Mulkey | Image by Kim Mulkey/Twitter

Former Baylor women’s head basketball coach Kim Mulkey returned to Texas this week as she leads LSU in the Women’s Final Four in Dallas.

Mulkey spent 21 years at Baylor with a multitude of successes, including 23 conference titles, 11 Sweet 16 appearances, six Elite Eights, four Final Fours, and three national championships.

The Lady Bears also won an NIT Championship under Mulkey and made the NCAA Tournament 19 times.

Her first NCAA championship in 2005 was the school’s first-ever national championship won by a women’s team, and her success in Waco led her to induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

Mulkey left Baylor in April of 2021 to return to her home state as the head coach of LSU, tasked with rebuilding a program that was once a national power and went to five consecutive Final Fours.

Now, in just her second season in Baton Rouge, Mulkey has her new team in a position to play for the national championship in a state where she made a name for herself.

“It’s ironic kind of that in two years at LSU my LSU team is in a Final Four in a state that was very good to me, not far from an institution that was very good to me,” Mulkey said in a press conference on Thursday. “I would imagine there are going to be lots of Baylor people sitting in our section.”

“I just had breakfast with Odyssey Sims, one of the greatest to play here,” she continued. “I’ve been on the phone with lots of former players. Before we walked down these stairs, I said, oh, nothing’s changed. We’re going to go down these deep stairs that are real narrow. A lot of wonderful memories.”

Turning around the LSU program this quickly has caught national attention, and Mulkey’s players are proud of their accomplishments.

“When I came to LSU, I told Coach Mulkey, I wanted to bring this program back to where it was,” forward Angel Reese told the media on Thursday. “Just being able to do it for the fans, they waited a long time to see this program get back to where they want it to be. So just being able to do it for them and making history again … I’m excited.”

Point guard Alexis Morris, a Beaumont native, recalled her time as a member of the Texas A&M team with LSU assistant Bob Starkey on the staff, “When I played at Texas A&M, I was with Coach Starkey,” Morris recalled. “He would talk about his days at LSU. He just loved LSU. I’m like, Coach, I think you should go back home. You love LSU. And I’m actually here now, and I can experience it, and I feel what he was talking about when I was at Texas A&M.”

“The fans, the history — it’s like a marathon. It’s just so exciting to be a part of it and to be part of the rebuild. I came — I rejoined Coach Mulkey to rebuild the program. So it’s just an amazing feeling.”

Despite her experience and matching up against a Virginia Tech team in its first-ever Final Four, Coach Mulkey knows her team has one significant flaw: a lack of experience.

“I’m the only one in our locker room that has done this, but I’m not going to shoot, dribble, pass, guard any of them,” she said. “So it’s not a matter of what I have done.”

“I look at it this way. It may be their first time to be in this situation, but they’re all seniors,” Coach Mulkey said of the Hokies. “They’re all seniors. It’s the first time for my group to be in this situation as well, and we’re not all seniors. So I think they have the edge on experience.”

“All I’m going to do is tweak a thing here or there throughout the course of the game, but it has nothing at all to do with coaching and how long a coach has been somewhere or how many times a coach has been somewhere.”

Because of that, Coach Mulkey is counting on the big stage to level the playing field come Friday night.

“They’re experienced,” she later added. “They’re on a roll. They’re confident. They’ve been together a while now …They’ll be nervous, but my team will be nervous too because they’ll all be doing it — both teams will be doing it for the first time.”

LSU (33-2) takes on Virginia Tech (31-4) in the first game of the 2023 Women’s Final Four at 6 p.m. CT Friday for a chance to play Iowa or South Carolina in the National Championship.

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