By Krista Pirtle
When head coach Kim Mulkey told her team they were going to Hawaii, senior forward Destiny Williams asked her, “Do I have to snorkel?”
Mulkey’s daughter, junior guard Mackenzie Robertson replied, “You’re going to want to.”
Here in Texas, Ugg boots are making their appearance, but the defending national champions Baylor Lady Bears are soaking up the sun in Hawaii and getting ready to face tough competition in Hawaii. While the games are high profile, they will not be televised, something Mulkey is fine with.
“I’ll be coaching in shorts, and I don’t want national television to see that,” Mulkey said.
This tournament is no cake walk for Baylor, ending on Sunday with a game against Hawaii on its home court. Saturday’s opponent is Tennessee-Martin, who won its division last season.
Today holds the biggest matchup between Baylor and its Final Four foe, the Stanford Cardinal. Friday’s contest against top-ranked Baylor is a rematch of last year’s national semifinal at the Final Four in Denver, which the Lady Bears won 59-47. Stanford’s double-teaming of player of the year, senior post Brittney Griner slowed the Lady Bears down all game, as the Cardinal became one of just three teams to hold Baylor to under 60 points in 2011-12.
Stanford led 23-21 with three minutes to go in the first half, and the contest was deadlocked at 31-31 with 16 minutes left in regulation, but a 15-3 Baylor run over the next eight minutes helped the Bears take control of the contest. Stanford’s defense helped hold Griner to just 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting but it was 13 points and key shots from Terran Condrey that made the difference for the Bears.
“Chiney [Ogwumike] guarded Brittney last year in the Final Four and fouled out,” Mulkey said. “We knew a couple of the players, Amber Orrange, a Houston player, and she’s got shooters all around her.”
Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle is also a shooting threat. Over Stanford’s opening-weekend wins against Fresno State and Santa Clara, Tinkle led with her play, averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 67.9 percent (19-for-28) from the field.
Baylor tips off against Stanford today at 6:30 p.m., against Tennessee-Martin at 8:30 on Saturday and against Hawaii at 6:30 on Sunday. During the Lady Bears’ trip in Hawaii, time will be balanced between fun and basketball, with a little bit of education thrown in.
“It’s not like we’re going out there to play teams that can’t play, and at the same time you want to have fun,” Mulkey said. “And you also want to use it as an educational opportunity. We’re going to visit Pearl Harbor. We’re going to go meet a former player that’s in the military and see the wounded warriors. So there’s a lot of fun and snorkeling, but there’s also giving back to people who don’t get to do what we do.”
Griner is ready for everything Hawaii offers.
“It’s always good to just play. And on the other side, it’s Hawaii and I’m trying to surf – don’t tell coach. And I’m looking forward to Pearl Harbor. I’m just looking forward to all of it.”