April 14, 2011
WACO, Texas - A record-crowd of over 1,100 was on hand at the annual Lady Bear Appreciation Banquet, sponsored by the Tip Off Club, at the Ferrell Center on Thursday night. Fans participated in Baylor's celebration as they shared dinner, enjoyed the awards ceremony and watched a video of the season at the conclusion of the banquet. In addition, Baylor's two seniors, Melissa Jones and Whitney Zachariason, were honored.
Mulkey, her staff and the squad put the finishing touches on another highly successful season, a year in which the team was ranked No. 1 for seven straight weeks and finished the season with a school-record 34-3 mark. In addition, Baylor won both the Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships and won a program-best 15 league games and set numerous attendance marks.
Judge Ken Starr, Baylor President, Athletics Director Ian McCaw and assistant coach Leon Barmore all addressed the audience prior to head coach Kim Mulkey's remarks. Mulkey reviewed the season and talked about the program's seniors, Melissa Jones (MJ) and Whitney Zachariason. According to Mulkey, "Zachariason has a knack for being around the basketball, can shoot the ball and is mature beyond her years." "MJ is one of the toughest, if not the toughest player I've ever coached at Baylor," said Mulkey. "If I could clone a player, I'd clone MJ, she's not the most talented, but she's everything you want in a player." Mulkey also added that Jones will probably go down in history as the most popular player at Baylor and not just for her play on the court. "The impact that she has on this University goes way beyond basketball," she said.
Mulkey announced the retiring of Jones' jersey stating, "There will never be another Lady Bear player to wear #5." Jones' No. 5 jersey joins three other retired jerseys; Sophia Young's No. 33, Sheila Lambert's No. 31 and Susie Snider Eppers' No. 23. Jones will officially be honored at a game next season. In addition, Mulkey announced the addition of a new annual award, the Melissa Jones Hustle and Courage Award, of which Jones was the first recipient.
Additional Lady Bear awards include:
Academic Award - Lindsay Palmer and Whitney Zachariason
Most Improved Player - Odyssey Sims
Coaches Award - Melissa Jones
Defense Award - Brittney Griner
Lady Bear Award - Kimetria Hayden and Brooklyn Pope
Rebounding Award - Destiny Williams
Most Valuable Player - Brittney Griner
Melissa Jones Hustle and Courage Award - Melissa Jones