March 26, 2010
Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey
Since Brittney (Griner) has returned, have teams tried to test her in a different way?
"No, I think it's the same, very physical basketball. She has been a little timid, and I think she has been a
little softer than she was before the incident. That was to be expected; she has a conscious. She knows
she did wrong, and it is going to take her a little while to get out of that."
Talk about the team as a whole and how they have grown since the season opener against Tennessee.
"Well, the first time we played Tennessee we had everybody. Unfortunately, two days prior to the Big 12
opening up we lost Melissa Jones for basically the whole Big 12 season. Melissa played in one and a half
games in the Big 12 this season. We had to make adjustments on the fly. We didn't have time to regroup
this year. A lot of freshmen that were probably not going to get significant minutes had to jump in there
and learn during basketball games as opposed to practice. I suppose the silver lining to Melissa Jones
injury is that the freshmen had to grow up a lot quicker than we really wanted them to. When we did
get Melissa's clearance for the Big 12 tournament, we had a week off between the tournament and the
playoff, and that allowed us to get back on the floor and have everybody on the floor."
Talk about the changes in the lineup Tennessee puts up and the difference since you played them
"Glory Johnson has been in and out of the lineup. All of their players are good enough to be in the lineup.
You can't play but five at a time, but that's a good problem to have for Pat (Summitt). She can choose
any five at any given time to play. I use Pat's program and her teams to build our program. A year ago
they were sitting at home after the first rounds of games. Having played for Pat, I knew she was not
going to accept that, and look where they are today. You try to emulate her program after people who
have had success, and she is a legend in the game. She is somebody everybody respects, and we want to
go out there and make it as completive as a game as it was in Knoxville."
Did the play of the freshmen during the Big 12 season help prepare them for this tournament?
"On the floor, it certainly helped them. I don't think you can prepare them for the excitement of the
NCAA Tournament. The media attention, the open locker rooms and all of that stuff is new to freshmen.
The play on the floor prepares you for it."
Brittney (Griner) has always been a target. Did you talk to her about that prior to the season?
"I didn't have that conversation with her. She is a young lady that plays above the rim. I have played with
all the great ones. I have coached against many of the great ones. I have played Olympic and
International teams and played against a six-foot-eight and a seven-foot-two Russian. Brittney is an
athlete who plays above the rim. She understands what God has blessed her with, but you can't prepare
her for what she is going to see at this level. You have to let her grow and go play. I don't think that
conversation was necessary. She just needs to go play and get stronger to learn how to play better. You
continue to coach her every day you are on the practice floor. If I see her doing something passive on
the floor, I will stop her right there and ask her "Why did you do that?" Her personality, if you have
watched her play, is very pleasant person to watch run up and down the floor. She will get excited when
she blocks a shot, and she will get excited when she dunks, but she is pleasant. I think being pleasant
hurts her play. I think she needs to be more aggressive going to the basket rather than shooting a fade
Do you expect to see a zone defense from Tennessee?
"We have seen zones a lot, and I do expect them to play a zone. That is me giving an opinion. I don't
know why she would change it because it has been very successful for her throughout the years."
Talk about the matchup with Kelley Cain and Brittney Griner.
"You can't play for Pat Summitt and not get better. She is tremendously better. Part of that has to do
with her injuries because it is frustrating as an athlete. Part of getting better is getting accustomed to
the system as well."
Talk about the role change with Assistant Coach Leon Barmore.
"We spent 19 years of our life together. Other than his wife and daughter, I am probably the next female
in line that can keep in him line. It is very comfortable. The only adjustment is probably on his part in
making suggestions. He has always asked if he can interject something. I have told him many times, you
don't have to ask me if you can say something. The good part is that I never worry about Coach Barmore
or Coach Bill Brock saying things because they are going to say things the same way I say it. I learned
from Coach Barmore and Coach Brock learned from me. We use the same words and same terminology.
You don't have staff meeting to sit down and discuss what you want them to teach. That eliminates a lot
of extra work in the office."
Baylor Junior Guard Melissa Jones
Can you talk about your teammates how your teammates changed during the Big 12 season while you
were dealing with your injuries?
"This team is very young. Especially with us playing in the Big 12 and the freshman getting minutes, they
are going to grow up fast. They have done a great job of handling the experience. (The young players)
have learned so much even from the first game of the season until now. Whether it is where they need
to be on the court or talking (to their teammates).
Melissa, obviously both teams have played each other, is there any benefit to that? Or was that game
so long ago?
"It might be easy for them to forget because they won, but I know that Rocky Top song is still stuck in my
head. We are excited to be on the same side of the bracket as them and to be able to play them now. It
was awhile back, but we still have memories of what happened in that game. Watching film too, we
realize how poorly we executed things and how much better we have gotten since the first game."
Can you talk about your injury and what you had to go through and how you are feeling now?
"I feel great now. I'm ready to go full speed now. This year has been really frustrating. Dealing with a
stress fracture isn't something I would like to go through again. It takes time to heal, and unfortunately,
that is not something we had during the season. It put me in a different position as far as looking at
things from the bench. It gave me a different perspective on what I see or what the coaches are seeing
so that I can try and help the players on the court."
Can you talk about how the team has rallied around Brittney since the incident?
"Well I think it all started with Brittney (Griner). She was the first one to apologize to us saying how sorry
she was because it was so out of character for her. If you really know who Brittney Griner is, you know
she is the furthest from what happened that night. When things get physical (like in the Georgetown
game). She was the first one to say "Hey guys, this is going to be a real physical game so let's level
ourselves." So she was really encouraging about stuff like that. So our team was able to feed off that.
We are all together no matter what happens. We are one team."
You mentioned how Rocky Top is still playing in your head. Having to come here, it is not Knoxville but
does it still feel like a home game for the Lady Vols?
"I think they will definitely have their advantage as far as having the fan base. I think we will get quite a
few fans from our part of town. It is not Knoxville. It is not their home court. It is going to be a neutral
court. We are looking forward to it."
Baylor Junior Guard Kelli Griffin
From what you have seen on film, how has Tennessee changed from the first time you played them
(on Nov. 15, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn.)?
"They are probably not as quick as they were when we first played them. They are running their offense
more fluently. They have different players on their team stepping up and making plays. They have
Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson rebounding for them. Kelley Cain is definitely a big offensive threat
for Tennessee. Their zone they played against us in the first meeting has gotten better. They are a lot
similar to what we have seen with teams in the Big 12. Both teams (Tennessee and Baylor) have
improved since the first time we have played."
What has having Brittney Griner on your team affected the way you play, does it give you more
confidence knowing that other teams will have to deal with her inside?
"I think as a team, as far as being on the perimeter, we feel more comfortable when our opponents drive
into the lane knowing that Brittney has our back. I think it gives us a level of confidence and security
knowing that we have a 6-8 player in the paint. We don't have to foul as much when someone is driving.
We don't have to give up that foul we might need toward the end of the game. She (Brittney) is going to
alter shots no matter what size you are. Having her presence is great for this team."
Baylor Freshman Post Brittney Griner
Teams have always targeted you since you have always been one of the best players on the floor, how
has it changed from the high school level to the college level?
"I feel like a lot of teams come out and their game plan is to crowd the paint and the defense is targeted
toward me. It has increased with the level of the play being better than high school. We work really hard
on the outside to hit shots and open up the inside for me.
Tennessee probably has as much size as any team in the country with players that go 6-3, 6-4 and 6-6."
What do you remember from that first game going against them?
"The first game against Tennessee, they were all big. I was just glad to be playing against a team with size
instead of a team that was short. They were really physical in the first game. We just have to go out and
play our game (on Saturday)."
When you are going against someone that is 6-6, does that allow you to get as comfortable as you
ever get in playing your type of game?
"It definitely allows me to play my own game. This game I will definitely get back to the way I was playing
before the incident happened and be able to go against someone in the post and not have someone on
my hip where I go to the post hard and the defender falls over. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
You think in time as you have more great games where you block 14 shots (like against Georgetown)
that the publicity about the incident will go away with the more great games you have as a basketball
"I feel like a couple more games like that, 14 block shots, that will definitely help erase that one-time