By Krista Pirtle
Even after an unforeseen loss to unranked Texas Tech last Saturday, the Lady Bears still have their hands outstretched for the Big 12 title. The men, however, still need to find that extra something to secure a bid for the big dance.
Women return home
After Saturday’s loss reminded the Lady Bears that nobody is perfect, their sights on the championship haven’t been shaken.
When previously asked about the chance of sweeping conference play, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey responded that their No. 1 goal before the NCAA tournament is to win the conference.
Before hitting the hardwood at 7 p.m. in the Ferrell Center today against Kansas State, the Lady Bears look to shake off whatever it was that hindered their high average shooting percentage of 48.8 percent and resulted in a 25.9 percent effort in Lubbock.
“We just kept thinking, ‘We’re going to shoot better, we’re going to shoot better,’ and we just didn’t move,” Mulkey said. “We were just stuck in mud; we didn’t move.”
The Wildcats, 8-4 in Big 12 play, are led offensively by sophomore guard Brittney Chambers, averaging 16 points a game, with 68 treys on the season.
With presence outside the arc, Kansas State finds junior forward Jalana Childs, averaging 13.5 points per game, as their go-to-player in the paint..
If offense goes according to plan, Baylor should be able to work the ball around the perimeter and feed it to sophomore Brittney Griner at the block or to the high post area with sophomore Destiny Williams or junior Brooklyn Pope. The end result is conquering the paint with physicality and height.
Before heading to the Big 12 championship, the Lady Bears face third-place Oklahoma and two sub-.500 conference teams in Missouri and Colorado.
Men approach crucial road game
On the men’s side, Baylor will face possibly its toughest stretch yet in its final conference games against Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Wednesday’s game at No. 20/21 Missouri will be a test of speed and ball handling for Baylor, as Missouri runs the ball pressures on defense, forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them. The Tigers also score on runs that make recovery difficult.
“We will definitely have to pick our moments when we attack,” sophomore A.J. Walton said. “Sometimes you have to slow it down and play our game.”
Throughout the 2010-2011 season, Baylor has fought with turnovers. Consequently, now, during their last chances to earn consideration for March Madness, the Bears are still working on their patience and discipline with the basketball.
“Obviously we have tried different drills,” coach Scott Drew said about the turnover issue. “But that’s what’s great about basketball and any sport. There’s always multiple parts of the game. If we defend and rebound, then there is not as much pressure on our offense.”