By Jeffrey Swindoll
It has been a week of ups and downs for the Lady Bears— from a devastating home loss to West Virginia on Sunday to winning the Big 12 title on Tuesday against Iowa State. On top of that, multiple Lady Bears won conference awards. The active week continues for the Lady Bears as they head out to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Tournament today.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said their performance in Oklahoma City may not necessarily affect their seeding for the NCAA Tournament, but she has every intention of winning out this weekend.
“We’re going to have an attitude of ‘we want to win it’,” Mulkey said. “We like rings around Baylor. We’re going up there to win. Tie those shoes. Let’s go.”
For lower seeded teams, the tournament starts today. Baylor will watch the Kansas State Wildcats (11-18, 5-13) take on the Kansas Jayhawks (12-18, 5-13) game at 6:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play the Lady Bears on Saturday.
The convenience of knowing who the opponent will be well in advance of the game, like in the regular season, is not an option for the Lady Bears this weekend. Mulkey and her staff must prepare the Lady Bears for both the Kansas State Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Lady Bears beat both possible opponents comfortably at home in the regular season. The Jayhawks upset the visiting Lady Bears in Lawrence, Kan., dealing Baylor its first conference loss of the season. Junior post Sune Agbuke fouled out early in the second half and Sims struggled. The Wildcats lost to Baylor in both meetings this season, 92-53 in Manhattan and 71-48 in Waco.
After meeting every conference team twice in the regular season, Mulkey said there will not be anything unknown or something the Lady Bears have not season already this season. The Lady Bears understand each of the teams and matchups in the Big 12.
“How many other big-time conferences play each other twice? That’s 18 grueling basketball games and we know each other very well,” Mulkey said.
Co-Big 12 conference champion West Virginia awaits the winner between TCU and Texas Tech.
Aside from an uncharacteristic performance against the Jayhawks and a loss against West Virginia on Sunday, the Lady Bears know what the Big 12 is all about and got the job done at home and on the road this season.
Whichever team Baylor ends up facing, Mulkey and her Lady Bears will be the favored team and will be ready to execute for the win.
The Lady Bears were showered with regular season awards from the Big 12 on Wednesday.
Senior guard Odyssey Sims won defensive player of the year and overall player of the year in the Big 12 Conference. Sims admits she was not surprised by the news. She gave credit to her team above all else when asked about the awards.
“I feel very accomplished,” Sims said. “I did as best as I could to lead [the team] in the Big 12 play, and they helped me get to where I am right now.”
Sims was a unanimous vote to the all-Big 12 first team. It was her fourth consecutive time being named to the Big 12 first team.
Freshman forward Nina Davis hit the ground running in her first season. Davis was named the Big 12’s newcomer of the year on Wednesday. Davis not only dominated in the freshman class category, but was also named to the all-Big 12 first team after an exceptional season.
“Just to win the award is an honor,” Davis said. “I’m blessed and glad I was chosen.”
All the games from the tournament this weekend will be on the Fox Sports family of networks.