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Meet the Press: WBB NCAA First Round

March 17, 2012

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  Head Coach Kim Mulkey

On being in Bowling Green, Ohio for first and secound round:
"Well first of all, Brittney Griner is the most excited cause she thinks the university is named after her. She sees BG everywhere you go, so that fired her up. You're always surprised. I learned last year...none of us are happy. None of us are happy when the selections are announced and...I don't mind being here, I just feel for our fans. I wish that our fans could follow us and it's just too expensive and too far for our fans to travel but with the team, they're so focused right now it doesn't matter where we play. But for our fans, I would have liked to see it a little bit closer."

On if seeing upsets in men's bracket helps keep team focused:
"Well, whether you're on the men's side or the women's side, if you're a basketball fan, athlete, coach, you're watching. So I don't know how much I have to tell them. They will ask me "coach did you see this team is beat? Did you know the score of this game?" You keep up with that. And at this stage if I have to use that as motivation, we're not gonna do very well. But you just, you watch games. That's what we do. But you go into a room and just harp on it, it really just doesn't have an impact other than these kids know what they have to do."

On first time she saw Brittney Griner:
"Yes, I saw her...I'm not sure if she was eighth grade or just finished the eighth grade and going into ninth grade. She had the big braid down the back of her hair and she probably at that time may have been 6-4. It was during the summer and it was not even during the school year. And I just thought, "wow this kid grows into her body." She had great wingspan at that time. And that's what I thought. Tall but the long arms, the wingspan, she was blocking shots at that age, wasn't very fluid around the rim and finishing and knowing where she was on the floor. As tall as she was, I didn't think she had a great presence on the floor at that time but you couldn't help but notice her because we're all looking for big girls. But I just remember at that age, she could block shots back then."

On whether there's still an upside for Brittney Griner:
"Upside? Without question. I don't think you've seen the best of Brittney Griner yet. I just think to see the progress she's made from high school to her first year in college, from her first year in college to her third year at Baylor. I was looking at film over the other day, and just the way her body looks, her body is so much stronger looking, her shoulders are just broader and just she carries herself just better than she did as a freshman. And I think she's just gonna continue to get better. And the reason she will, it's not my great coaching. It's Brittney. Brittney has a personality that she makes great eye contact, she's a people pleaser, she hates to disappoint you and when she messes up in practice, it bothers her. It bothers her. And she wants to do better. As long as Brittney has that type of personality, I just think every year she plays the game she will get better and better."

On Odyssey Sims:
"Mulkey: Honestly, talent wise, in my opinion, there is no point guard more talented than Odyssey. She's played against the Skyler Diggins. She's played summer basketball throughout high school against the best we have out there. What Odyssey had to learn when she came to Baylor was, you are the coach on the floor. In high school and summer ball, Odyssey could kind of scoot to that off guard some when she got fatigued, or when she wanted to shoot, or it when she got tired of bringing it up the floor. Well, she can't do that here. We need Odyssey to want the ball. We need Odyssey to come to practice every day in good spirits. And those are things that for 18 years of her life, prior to coming to Baylor she could go have a bad day at practice and it would still be a better than everyone else. And I just think those kinds of things take time. And I think Odyssey gets it now. I think she understands "I can't have a bad day. Coach Kim can't have a bad day." For two hours, we've gotta go out there and we got a job to do. And everybody feeds off of you. I think that Odyssey has grown so much in that area more so than the talent. The talent has always been there. She's just a fantastic basketball player. But it was all the little things that are expected of you when you play that position. She has to know everybody's responsibility on that floor. She has to engage her teammates to want to play with her. Talent...defense, I've never coached a guard that plays defense on ball like Odyssey Sims does. She is relentless with ball pressure. And that's not something a coach taught her. That comes from within. She really, really takes great pride, just as Brittney Griner does in shot blocking. I've said this numerous times. I don't know what I would dread more, to bring the ball up against Odyssey Sims or have to guard Griner. And when you have both of them on your team, you smile and say I don't have to worry about either one of those problems. And that's how much I think of both of those kids.

On the moment when Griner committed to Baylor:
"I called my athletic director. I could tell you where I was sitting. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot in my office. I called the athletic director and I told him you are going to see something and deal with things you have never dealt with before, she is a phenom. I know he heard me but I'm not really sure he listened and now he sees from media to NCAA issues to you guys, not many girls in the history of the game through the history of the game have had to deal with Brittney Griner in everything that has come with it and for her to handle everything, she has handled it even when she has had bad moments. I think that throughout the length of her career, her good will far outweigh the bad she has ever done because she is a very special talent."

On UC Santa Barbara:
"You are going to get a very exciting basketball team. They won nine of their last eleven. They finished sixth in the league but they won the tournament. You are going to see balanced scoring and they don't have any players in double figures and its just spread out. You will see a team that will keep try to keep a game as low scoring as possible. They are seventh in the country in fewest points allowed. That tells you a couple of things. One, they are either guarding people very very well or are in an offense that don't have a lot of wasted possessions and use up the shot clock."

On the trials and tribultions of Shanay Washington:
"She is with us. Shanay Washington had a couple of ACL injuries in high school and actually played her senior year on a torn ACL and did not know it. She came to us with a torn ACL and we fixed that prior to her ever playing at Baylor. She started for us when she was a freshman so that tells you how talented of a player she was. She is a big perimeter play and had she not be injured might have been a starter for us today. She is one of the most enjoyable and pleasant kids to coach and to just be around. She is a "yes ma'm", "no ma'm", "yes sir", "no sir", she has the sweetest voice and while you don't like injuries to happen to anybody, it is especially hard to digest and understand how that happens to a kid that just works her rear end off to get back on the floor and you really can't help her. All you can do is hug her and say Shanay this is an injury but we aren't going to let this injury to break you as a person. You take your time and take a breath and you decide what it is you want to do to fix it and coming out here and trying to play again. My goal for Shanay Washington honestly is that if we are playing in the National Championship game and we are way ahead, to put her on the floor and let her enjoy it because she is a big part of our team."

On having Griner on te low block defensively:
"We can do a lot of things when you have Griner down in there. We don't have to have to help down and cover down as much. Brittney can pretty much guard anyone one on one and get away with sometimes being bad down there because she can alter shots. We can, I don't like to use the word gamble because our defense is fundamentally sound but we can really really get out in passing lanes. Sometimes you may not if you didn't have Brittney back there. Because you want to make sure you keep them in front of you. We keep teams to the sideline, When Odyssey talked about keeping them to the sideline a lot coaches will teach you and we do that but for the most part, if we establish a ball side of the floor, we don't want them to have ball reverse. If they do anything we want them to come in the paint to come in there were Griner is at and that was Odyssey. You would never open a line like that if you didn't have Brittney in there. Now what you have to do as a coach to adjust to that is to post players who can shoot the three. Well how many players teams are you going see that post players that can shoot the three? We saw a couple in our league but if you look throughout the country most post players are mid range jumpers or back to the basket type of players or face up and drive and aren't three point shooters."

  Junior Center Brittney Griner

On whether or not team feels the pressure of being undefeated:
"No, really don't feel any pressure. I guess the pressure would be at the beginning of the season when you're ranked high and you haven't played the game and you have to prove yourself. So right now, no. No pressure really."

On Odyssey Sims:
"Well I mean I want to say I'm not the team it takes all of us. And oh, I mean on the defensive end she brings pressure she is going to harass the ball handler and off the ball and she has become great off the ball defender too. Jordan and Nay Nay and Brooke and everybody Destiny rebounding and so much you can talk about, but no."

On the number of different defenses she's seen this season:
"Just about every night I have to count on double and triple teams coming down on me kind of used to it now kind of like my one on one now I'm used to seeing two people on me I mean when I see it I get happy cause I can find one of my teammates who is going to be open."

On blocking shots:
"Number one its defense is my favorite part of the game blocking shots; it's my favorite thing to do even over dunking. I mean, if I can stop the other team from scoring I feel like that's helping out my team. Just being a presence in the paint the other team even if they don't drive they know I'm in there. But blocking shots is the only one I care about. Yeah, everyone talks to me about the dunks but that's the last thing on my list."

  Sophomore Guard Odyssey Sims

On how Brittney Griner helps Sims' game:
"The difference you say from last year to this year I feel more comfortable having a year under my belt. I know what I got to do, coaches help me a lot and on the court like when I get the ball inside what shots are good and what shots are not. And just experience having BG inside and our offense is run through her. And we are just getting better.

On how much experience of playing at PAN AM games help:
"I played, I was the youngest one of the youngest I played with older girls. I took what I could from them just they were more experienced than I was I had to pay attention to detail just more on the offensive end not so much on defense learning how to manage the game it's something I work on everyday it's something I work on now just something that I took watching Skyler Diggins you know she is a great point guard and just try to get as much as I could from her."

On UC Santa Barbara:
"Everybody gives us their best shot just considering we are number one in the country. So we haven't lost any games just coming to this tournament we are not taking anybody for granted not going to take any body lightly we are going to manage a lot of upsets so we are going to go play our game we have been going hard at practices all week we are going to continue that and we are going to make each other better. We are going to come tomorrow and we are going to be ready. Just come play."

On if seeing upsets in men's bracket helps keep team focused:
"Yeah this is the most exciting part of college basketball March Madness anybody can get upset, anybody can go home at any given time. Just being the underdog nobody wants to go home. And everybody is going to play hard and if you don't play your best you get sent home and we are going to do our best to win every game and go as far as we need to and hopefully get to our main goal."



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