By Jeffrey Swindoll
Waco has flourished into one of the nation’s epicenters of women’s basketball. For the second year in-a-row, the Lady Bears will host the Basketball Travelers Inc. (BTI) Classic – a three-day, weekend-long round-robin tournament between Baylor, Utah State, Stetson University and Texas Pan-American.
After a rough night in Lexington, Ky. that ended in a 74-64 loss to the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats, the Lady Bears can enjoy a weekend of basketball on their home floor to review and recuperate their team. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey still isn’t set on one lineup or formation for her team. She is still moving players around, experimenting them in different roles and responsibilities. Next week’s BTI Classic will serve as an opportunity for Mulkey and her players to fine-tune their identity.
Baylor vs. Utah State at 7 p.m. Nov. 28
Utah State, a member of the Mountain West conference, ended last season with a 15-16 overall record and an 8-10 finish in conference competition. The Aggies bring back Makenlee Williams, last season’s second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 15.9 points per game. Forward Franny Vaaulu the third-leading scorer for Utah State last season also returns for the 2014-15 season. Elise Nelson led the Aggies in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and was first in steals (2.4 spg) last season.
Baylor vs. Stetson at 12 p.m. Nov. 29
The Hatters have become a dominant team in the Atlantic Sun Conference in the past few years. Since 2010, Stetson has won two conference titles, appeared in the NCAA tournament twice and twice in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). The Hatters have a winning culture. The Lady Bears will be challenges by the feisty Hatters in their second day of the tournament. With most of last year’s squad returning this season, Stetson is led by a veteran corps of four seniors.
Baylor vs. Marist at 2 p.m. Nov. 30
Marist mean business. They have won the conference crown of the Metro American Athletic Conference a whopping 10 times. Dating back to the 2004 season, the only year the Red Foxes didn’t win the conference championship was 2005. Like Stetson, Marist has a culture that cultivates championship-winning teams. The Red Foxes finished the 2013-14 season with a 27-7 overall and 18-2 in conference.