By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
No. 2 Baylor women’s basketball has the opportunity to extend the nation’s longest active win streak to 30 games, and 40 consecutive home game wins, Tuesday when they take on New Hampshire in their season opener at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor comes off two exhibition matches against Langston and Lubbock Christian where the Lady Bears outscored their opponents 247-95. But what head coach Kim Mulkey looks forward to the most is using the exhibition as a spring board moving forward into the regular season.
“Sometimes when the lights come on, they’re a different player — sometimes good, sometimes bad,” Mulkey said. “But that’s the first thing. Then, you know, we haven’t had our full roster on the floor these first two games, so it’s not fair sometimes to evaluate when you don’t have your full squad.”
That “full squad” Mulkey described, led the nation last season in assists (850), blocked shots (274), rebounds (1,790) and win-loss percentage with 97.4%. On that note, New Hampshire finished 6-24 on their 2018-19 season, struggling with the loss of two post players.
That isn’t something Mulkey overlooks though, saying last week against Lubbock Christian she felt the Lady Bears are pushed in every game.
Now looking forward to opening the new season after their NCAA chmpionship run, the head coach’s mentality is focused on nothing except Baylor basketball.
“It’s more about what we do early in the season,” Mulkey said. “And while we’ll do a brief scouting report on them — we know they’ll play a two or three zone; they’ll present a two to one back two to three. We’ll have everything available to the team to know what to expect but details of each individual player. I would suspect most of that’s going to be about us.”
According to freshman guard Jordyn Oliver, who joins the team as the only true first-year this season, the most important part of tomorrow’s season opener is chemistry and being part of a bigger picture.
“I think we’re getting along great as a team, and we’re coming together,” Oliver said. “Tomorrow I just hope to contribute to whatever needs to be done — being the spark off the bench, getting defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds — whatever coach needs me to do is what I plan on doing. Even if that’s only scoring four points, I just want to be any part or, be any role that I can be.”
Part of that role on the team also comes in the pregame celebration tomorrow afternoon. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Baylor will present its national championship rings and reveal the program’s third NCAA Championship banner, something Mulkey said her players deserved.
“I think it’s fun. I don’t know that we’ve ever done a ring ceremony in the past,” Mulkey said. “I think we’ve gone into the locker room and chucked their rings at them and said ‘Here. Lock them up.’ Whoever came up with this ring ceremony must have caught me at a weak moment — no — they deserve to have it.”
The celebration isn’t just important to Baylor’s big veteran team, but also for motivating the new additions too.
“I think tomorrow, it’s just going to be good to watch and know that I’m going to want to do that next year,” Oliver said. “Just repeat it. Have it. Have it all over again.”
The Lady Bears tip off at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.