WACO, Texas — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey struggles at times because her top-ranked Lady Bears are showing they can be better even without being perfect again.
“I’ve got to make sure that they don’t get complacent. I’ve got to make sure that they keep working,” said Mulkey, who has to balance between overdoing it and not doing enough. “I marvel sometimes at what they’re doing out there that looks effortless.”
Led by two-time All-American Brittney Griner and four other seniors, the defending national champion Lady Bears (14-1, 4-0 Big 12) are winning their games by an average margin of nearly 31 points, even after facing ranked teams their last three conference games. They are the nation’s top shooting team making half of their shots along with the best assist-to-turnover ratio.
And this comes after going undefeated last year in the NCAA’s first 40-win season.
“I sit in my bed at night trying to think of things to motivate them and to keep them humble,” Mulkey said. “I think the main thing is the personality of our team is, ‘Coach, we’re going back to work. We know we’re good. We know we’re the defending champs. We’re not defending anything, we’re just trying to win another one.”’
Baylor has won 12 in a row since a 71-69 loss to Stanford in Hawaii a week into this season. Odyssey Sims, their preseason All-American point guard played only 4 minutes in that NCAA semifinal rematch before she strained a hamstring. The junior missed four more games after that.
Before Big 12 play, Baylor scored the first 17 points against Tennessee and led 46-19 at halftime against Kentucky, another top 10 team. The Lady Bears also are responsible for second-ranked Notre Dame’s only loss, winning at South Bend in a rematch of last year’s national title game.