No. 1 Lady Bears bring Mulkey 300th career win

No. 32 junior forward Brooklyn Pope and No. 22 freshman post Sune Agbuke block Chattanooga's shot late in the second half on Nov. 13, 2011, at the Ferrell Center. The Bears celebrated a 91-31 win over Chattanooga.
Matthew McCarroll | Lariat Photographer

By Krista Pirtle
Sports Writer

The Lady Bears basketball team had quite a weekend.

Head coach Kim Mulkey earned her 300th career win, and three new banners were hung in the Ferrell Center.

The No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears 2011-2012 basketball season is officially underway.

Last season, the team won the Big 12 conference, the Big 12 conference tournament, made an appearance in the Elite Eight and went 34-3, the best record in school history.

But the 58-46 loss to defending national champions Texas A&M seems to be the fuel for this season.

Last weekend, Baylor began its play in the Preseason Womens National Invitational Tournament in Waco.

After two games, the Lady Bears totaled a score of 173 to 59.

The first game of the tournament, Baylor demolished Howard 82-28, the fewest number of points allowed since 18 were allowed to Texas State on Jan. 2, 2010.

Despite the significant win, Mulkey said her team still needs work.

“We aren’t polished yet,” Mulkey said. “It all starts coming together around the middle of conference.”

The Lady Bears favor the transition game to the set offense, allowing their quick hands to translate to quick feet and quick buckets in the long run.

The second game featured more intensity from Baylor, when the team defeated Chattanooga 91-31.

“We played better today than we did against Howard, for whatever reason,” Mulkey said. “I thought our kids let me piece some things together out there with some combinations and we didn’t miss a beat. I thought that Odyssey [Sims] set the tone. I thought Brittney [Griner] set the tone. I thought all those guys who went out there at the beginning of the game had a different mindset than against Howard. It was just a lot more intense and more energy, and it just spread to the whole team. It was fun to coach them today.”

One thing Baylor is focusing on this season is rebounding. The team improved from 52 to 59.

“We have a goal board in our locker room,” Mulkey said. “If you have 10 rebounds a game, you get your name on the board. Rebounding is a big big part of what we’re trying to emphasize to our team.”

Fundamentals are a big part of winning, but so is the chemistry within the team.

With only one additional player to the Lady Bears, the chemistry is strong early in the season.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” sophomore point guard Odyssey Sims said. “We’re bonding extremely well. We’re getting to know each other. There are a lot of different personalities. Everybody knowing how to talk to people and how to communicate, that’s something we need. As long as we have chemistry, we’ll be fine.”

As the Lady Bears run up and down the court, rarely do you see expressions change on their faces.

No matter how bad things get, motivation is the only thing seen in their eyes.

“When you miss, you don’t change your facial expression,” Mulkey said. “You just keep playing.”

With big wins thus far this season, there really hasn’t been much opportunity for disappointment.

This is key, however, to building upon the tough loss to end the 2010-2011 season.

Instead of pouting and demanding for pity, Baylor is going to work.