By Krista Pirtle
Two to go.
The No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears are in the Final Four, but a business-like approach looks to land them the title come Tuesday evening.
“You know it’s going to be a different mindset,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “They will be excited, but it’s a different type of excitement. If you have noticed when we cut down the nets each time we’re happy and we enjoy it but we’re not overdoing it. That’s not something we talk about. That’s not something I say; you can tell. Been there. Done that. We want to fry a bigger fish.”
It will be a big fish indeed: going 40-0 with the No. 1 RPI in the nation and in the Final Four against all four top seeds.
“All four of them have pretty much dominated the games, particularly late, to put teams away,” Mulkey said.
Since the introduction video was seen on the screens in the Ferrell Center, the Lady Bears made it public that there was unfinished business to win it all this year.
Last season’s shocking loss in the Elite Eight to Texas A&M may have been a blessing in disguise.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” junior Destiny Williams said. “We come out and play basketball like we should. We never forgot what the feeling felt like last year and we come out every game and play hard and have each other’s backs.”
Unselfish play has elevated the Lady Bears to the elite level.
Their bench is full of McDonald’s All Americans that could start anywhere else in the country, but they chose to be a part of a successful Baylor program.
“The message is they want to win a national championship,” Mulkey said. “They want to be a part of a team that wins one. The true great ones want to be on a team full of them.”
This green and gold squad holds the program record for the most wins with 38.
Never was a goal set for perfection and the thought was dismissed.
Now it has to be the focus.
“We got over the hump,” junior Brittney Griner said. “We made it to the Final Four, but the work’s not over yet. Two games, and we’re anxious to get out there and get ready. Finish what we started.”
This mindset is not something that turns on when the Nikes hit the court and turns off when the final buzzer sounds.
For the Lady Bears, practice has the potential to make perfect.
“The focus is here,” sophomore Odyssey Sims said. “All we have to do is bust it in practice every day and continue our dominance. It’s the last two games of the season. Mentally and physically we have to be working in practice even though we may not want to. We have to listen to Coach [Mulkey] and do all the little things right. If you take a play off, it could hurt us in the game.”
Mulkey has said before that if her squad loses, it will be because the other team played lights out, not that Baylor gave it to them.
For most of the nation, including President Obama, it will be a huge upset if the Lady Bears fail to bring home the hardware.
With high expectations and pressure for perfection, Baylor looks to focus only on the ultimate prize.
“It’s an honor and a blessing to make it there, but we have to come out and continue to do what got us here in the first place,” Williams said. “And that’s just to play Baylor basketball.”