|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
April 2, 2012
THE MODERATOR:¬† Joining us now from Baylor we have student‑athletes Odyssey Sims, Kimetria Hayden, Jordan Madden, Destiny Williams and Brittney Griner and head coach Kim Mulkey.
We will take questions for anyone on the dais.
Q.¬† Coach, I wondered what stands out in your mind most about the game with Notre Dame early in the season, and then how different is your team now than it was then.
COACH MULKEY:¬† I can't remember a whole lot other than what Sims brings back to my memory.¬† I remember an outstanding basketball team.¬† I remember senior basketball team.¬† I remember a talented basketball team.
Specifics of the game?¬† We had too many games between then and now, and as we watched film, we just to break down again the scouting report that we had on them then and how they've changed.¬† I would just say they're a different team, we're a different team, but the system is not different.
I remember they pressed as they did last night against Connecticut some.¬† I remember that their depth is about like our depth.¬† They play about the same number of people.¬† And great back court.
Q.¬† Odyssey, you've played with Skylar Diggins on the U.S.A. team.¬† Played against her.¬† What makes her such a tough player, and do you welcome that kind of challenge of going up against a player like that?
ODYSSEY SIMS:¬† She's great all around, she has great vision she can take it off the dribble and pull up 2, and that's what makes her so great.¬† And she makes everyone around her better.
And we play U.S.A. team ball together.¬† Played on one team.¬† She's a great teammate‑‑ was a great teammate, and I look for a challenge on Tuesday.
Q.¬† Kim, you've talked about Brittney a lot I know and I'm sure it's a joy and pleasure to discuss all the things she does.¬† I'm curious about if you can put in perspective with all that you know about women's basketball her place in this game?¬† I know it's been talked about as the first female‑‑ female Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell or Kareem‑‑ Lew Alcindor.¬† How would you place her in the history and the importance of the women's game?¬† Thanks.
COACH MULKEY:¬† I've challenged her as her coach to motivate her into‑‑ I'm going to answer your question to lead in with this response first.¬† I've challenged both Brittney and Odyssey to win a national championship.¬† At the same time I don't think they need it to validate being the greatest in the game.
With or without a game it starts what she does on the defensive end of the floor.¬† I've said it many times:¬† There have been players before her that dunk, there have been players before her that block shots, but there's never been a player before her that intimidates you on the defensive end of the floor.
She has a presence in the paint on the defensive end of the floor like none other.¬† I've played with 6'9".¬† I've watched 6'9" dunk the ball.¬† I've dunked the ball.¬† I've been on an Olympic team.¬† I've played in a National.¬† I've been against the Ulyana Semenovas.¬† Brittney Griner's presence on the defensive end of the floor separates her from any player that has ever played the game.
She doesn't need a national championship to validate her place in this sport.¬† Would it be nice?¬† Absolutely.¬† Does it motivate her?¬† Absolutely.
Q.¬† Kim, I noticed you're shielding your eyes a little bit.
COACH MULKEY:¬† Turn those lights off.
Q.¬† How are you feeling right now?¬† And is the complications from the Bell's palsy more than you expected, or what's your situation right now?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I don't know what I expected other than facial paralysis.¬† The eyes and the ears irritate and frustrate me, but I'm not in any pain.¬† It's just I see you over there, but it's the bright light that kind of irritates you.¬† The voice, when I raise my voice or you talk real loud, my ear feels like a blown speaker.
But pain, I'm not in any pain.¬† I don't care what I look like.¬† I'd love to wear this tomorrow night with no makeup on and then go win a championship.¬† But I feel frustrated because I want to say things as quickly as I normally say them without spitting and all that stuff.
But it's more frustration.¬† But as Odyssey told me, Coach, we hear you loud and clear.¬† And that's what I don't realize because I can only hear my ears ringing.¬† It feels like they can't hear my message.¬† And they told me:¬† We hear ya, we hear ya.
It's the frustration of my eyes.¬† They're red and irritable.¬† But I see the scoreboard.
Q.¬† Brittney, all year you've been trying to get to this point, and now you're here one day before, what are your thoughts tomorrow night the excitement, the last game to win a national championship and go undefeated all the stuff that comes along with it?
BRITTNEY GRINER:¬† Excited, definitely excited.¬† This is the game we've been waiting for all year.¬† And we're finally here and just got one more game.¬† Gotta lay it all on the line.¬† So afterwards we can celebrate.
Q.¬† Jordan, you had some open shots early in that game yesterday.¬† Was there any sense of frustration on your part?¬† And, if so, how did you overcome that as the game progressed?
JORDAN MADDEN:¬† Yeah, it was a lot of frustration because I see a lot and I just gotta go in and practice and knock down shots.¬† And like I shot a little bit and I missed.¬† And I stopped shooting and I just started driving (indiscernible) and find somebody open and throw it to them.
Q.¬† Brittney and Odyssey, can you talk about if it's an advantage to‑‑ it probably is an advantage to have already played Notre Dame.¬† What do you guys remember about that first game, and, of course, they've already played you.¬† Does one team have an advantage here?¬† You're coming off a game where you hadn't played your opponent last night before, and I don't know how different is it when you've already had a good look at them in just a couple of months ago.
BRITTNEY GRINER:¬† I wouldn't say it's an advantage.¬† We played them and they know us and we know them.¬† Just gotta go back, look at the game, look at where we messed up and just correct it.
ODYSSEY SIMS:¬† Like she said, it's really no advantage.¬† They play four guards and they have one post inside.¬† So we're going to have to do a better job of defending and have good help side.
As far as us, we're just going to play better basketball and try to come out with a win tomorrow.
Q. ¬†Destiny, they don't have the size that Stanford did.¬† What do you see from their inside game, particularly Devereaux Peters?
DESTINY WILLIAMS:¬† We have a size advantage like Stanford had on us, and we can try and kill them on the boards.¬† That's one thing.¬† Allow our post players to get touches early to get our game rolling.¬† But they have a small guard.¬† So they'll be able to push the ball in transition and try and get some layups or some quick shots in transition.
So there's just two different styles right there that's going to separate the game.
Q.¬† How often do you guys think about the last time you lost the game against Texas A&M and have any of you watched that game this year?
BRITTNEY GRINER:¬† I don't remember it.¬† I remember that ride back to Waco.¬† I remember how I felt after that loss.¬† I feel we all remember it.¬† That was our motivation this year, that loss, to get us back here and to get us through.
Q.¬† Kim, how does Odyssey match up against Skylar offensively and defensively?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I think very well.¬† They played together with U.S.A. Basketball this summer.¬† Odyssey was the youngest on the team.¬† She had an opportunity to make the younger team and they didn't want her on that team.¬† They moved her up to play with Skylar Diggins and that age group.
So that probably tells you what they think of Odyssey Sims.¬† I think you'll see two of the finest point guards in the country.¬† And I anticipate that it won't be any different than when Odyssey guarded her and played against her at our place.
I thought Odyssey was outstanding in that game.¬† I thought she held her own, and I'm sure glad she's on my team.
Q.¬† Destiny, can you take that question as well?¬† Because you played with Skylar on a U.S.A. team and you played with Odyssey.¬† Can you describe how they're alike and how they're different as point guards?
DESTINY WILLIAMS:¬† Playing with Skylar, she had more experience over Odyssey.¬† I know she played U.S.A. ball longer than Odyssey did.¬† Skylar had people to help her become a better player and playing with Odyssey she's growing and maturing into a fine basketball player.¬† I think Odyssey's defense is amazing, and when she picks it up I think the whole team picks it up.
Their IQs are about the same.¬† Just two point guards that are great players going at it.¬† I enjoy playing with both of them.¬† But I'd rather have Odyssey, too.
Q.¬† Brittney, growing up so tall, I'm curious if you could tell us a story or two of how tough that was or when you realized that sports would be a home for you, that you might not get teased or whatever in sports the way maybe some kids might when you were a kid.¬† And if I could ask also along with that:¬† Size 17 shoes, how hard is it to find shoes?
BRITTNEY GRINER:¬† Well, growing up, I was always active.¬† Sports really didn't come in until later on.¬† But I love being tall.¬† There really wasn't any teasing.¬† I guess they were smart enough not to tease the big kid (laughter).¬† But I loved it.¬† I like being different.¬† I like being tall.¬† The only thing that sucks:¬† Can't get that little sports car (laughter).
And the size 17 shoe, just go online, really.¬† Can't really go in the store:¬† Hey, I need a 17.¬† But I can go online.¬† More options, more colors, different styles.¬† It's not bad.
Q.¬† Odyssey, is it easier for a left‑handed guard to go against another left‑hander, as far as Skylar, or is it a little more challenging because you don't go against that many left‑handers?
ODYSSEY SIMS:¬† I wouldn't say it's easier.¬† I guess it's the same because I pressure the ball the same whether you're right‑handed or left‑handed.¬† So there's really no difference.
I just go out there and try to do what I can and try to create turnovers, and that's pretty much it.
Q.¬† Odyssey, how would you say your personality is similar to Coach Mulkey and how would you say it's different?
ODYSSEY SIMS:¬† Similar on the court.¬† Different off the court.¬† Because she played point guard position, so she kind of knows when I get frustrated, she knows me very well.¬† I feed off of what she does and she kind of feeds off what I do on the court.
I try to call the plays as much as possible, try to be the floor general on the court and lead my team so she doesn't have to talk as much.
Off the court, I'm a lot different.¬† I talk a lot.¬† I'm goofy.¬† I just love being with my teammates.
Q.¬† Coach, in the first game, 175 points scored, your most offensive game of the year, the most points you gave up all year.¬† Was there a reason for that and do you expect a similar game tomorrow night?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I'd say neither team played very good defense, did we?¬† I don't know that I anticipate it to be a high‑scoring game.¬† I think you'll see two teams that will buckle down and guard each other.¬† If it is high scoring, I just hope we're the one that has the most points.
But that was a lot of points being scored.¬† Early in the year, I'm not sure we were committed defensively to some things in that game as we are today.¬† And that's understandable.
I mean, when you're in November and December, we're still in football season in Texas.¬† We're probably thinking about where the next football game is on Friday and Saturday night.
But we're better, they're better.¬† And if there are that many points scored, it will be entertaining, I guess you'd say, for the fans.¬† I don't know about the coaches.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Thank you.¬† Questions for Coach.
Q.¬† Kim, is it my understanding that Trace Adkins will be here tomorrow night?¬† And, also, any other special guests that will be here?
COACH MULKEY:¬† It's my understanding that Trace will be here.¬† It's my understanding Art Briles, our Football Coach of the Year, will be here.¬† Scott Drew, our men's basketball coach will be here.¬† And Judge Starr is here with his wife, Alice.¬† And I don't know who else.¬† Probably 19,000 more, I hope.
My family, which is most important.¬† My son Kramer, missing his baseball game tomorrow, will be here.¬† He was here last night.¬† And my mother.¬† Not that any of you care, but those are more important to me than anybody else.¬† So my immediate family is here and lots of people from Louisiana Tech, where I came from, those people near and dear to me.¬† There's probably 25 of them here.
Q.¬† Kim, I just wanted to clarify something.¬† When you felt something strange on your tongue prior to the diagnosis, what was that feeling?¬† And what was that?
COACH MULKEY:¬† We were in Des Moines, and I forgot my toothpaste.¬† So in my night bag I had a little box of Colgate.¬† Props to Colgate.¬† Probably been in my bag five years.¬† I open the box, brush my teeth.¬† And I go down to breakfast.¬† I thought it was a change in toothpaste.¬† My tongue felt weird.¬† I don't know what weird meant.¬† Just weird.
I asked the trainer can you be allergic to toothpaste, can it become outdated.¬† He looked at me like:¬† She's stressed again.
And I guess we won, got back home, Tuesday.¬† I was doing the NCAA teleconference at my desk eating a sandwich.¬† As I was eating, it felt like it does when you leave the dentist office and you're numb.¬† But I couldn't see myself.¬† So after the teleconference I brushed my teeth, headed out to practice.¬† When I was walking out the door of my bathroom, I looked in the mirror and I thought, Gol, and I looked again and my smile was crooked and my eyebrows were weird.
So I wouldn't normally think anything of it.¬† But you pretty much can diagnose yourself if you know your body well.¬† I diagnosed the kidney stones when those happened three years ago.
I went to our trainer and I thought, you know, look at this.¬† And I said:¬† What do you think?¬† He said:¬† I think you need to leave now.¬† You need to go rule out a stroke, tumor, and we think it's probably something like Bell's palsy.
And that's what I did.¬† And fortunate to live in a community that physicians got me in and out quickly.
I went in and told the team first when I wasn't going to be at practice.¬† Because our practices are open, and I didn't want people coming in there wondering where I was.
So I told the team, and then told them what I thought it was, and came back and the next day.¬† And that's the extent of it.
Q.¬† You mentioned LA Tech.¬† So the question is this:¬† Your'82 LA Tech national champions versus your 2012 Baylor Bears, you lose by 5, 30?
COACH MULKEY:¬† We kick their butt.¬† I'm on that team.¬† I'll take Odyssey Sims on any day.
No.¬† Listen, I don't compare teams.¬† I don't compare generations.¬† I know this:¬† Back in the early'80s we were the dominant women's basketball team.¬† And our First and Second team could have been ranked in the top five.¬† And you don't compare teams.¬† You don't compare generations.¬† Because things change.¬† I know this:¬† That there was‑‑ the Cheryl Miller was the face of women's basketball during the'80s, just as Brittney Griner is.
But Cheryl Miller did not have the defensive presence that Brittney Griner does.¬† Cheryl Miller was great and one of the great ones of all time.¬† Cheryl Miller has a ring, too, and Brittney doesn't.¬† So you can compare and say all those things, but, look, I wouldn't want to bring the ball up against Odyssey Sims.¬† She just is a gnat out there.¬† She worries you to death.
Q.¬† And the game?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I'm extremely proud in a lot of sense.¬† I think the exposure and television coverage is great.¬† With that comes things I don't like.¬† I don't like to be interviewed during the game.¬† But we're required to do that.¬† I don't like having the cameras in the locker room.¬† That's a sacred place.¬† And I struggle with that.
But I understand to grow the game and make the game better that's what we do.¬† That's the generation we live in.¬† But, truthfully, I'm from the old school.¬† What is said in the locker room should stay in the locker room and don't put coaches in a position during the game in the heat of the moment for them to say something bad.
Because I coach with passion.¬† I don't like to pretend and set up a‑‑ you don't see me in the locker room giving my pregame speech.¬† To me that's sacred.¬† That's for show.
But yet I understand the TV coverage is so much greater today than it was then, and that is good.¬† And I just wish we could balance it a little bit more.
Q.¬† I know you're obviously a historian of the game.¬† You guys are one win away from achieving the seventh perfect season and such.¬† Just 24 hours before what your sense is and where you think you guys are right now as far as a place in history, and if you do win tomorrow night, where things go as far as this team and the run you've had this season.
COACH MULKEY:¬† Win or lose tomorrow, we're going to head back to Waco and we're going to have a disappointing feeling.¬† Unfortunately, we're 39‑0 and you don't want to lose that last game.¬† But if we were 30 and 10 we wouldn't want to lose the last game.
We know this:¬† That whoever beats us‑‑ and we've said this all year long, whoever beats us just make sure that you didn't beat yourself.¬† You make sure that team was better than you that night.¬† And if you do that, you can't fault your effort.¬† And Notre Dame was here last year.¬† They played for the national championship and lost.¬† They have as bitter a taste in their mouth as we do losing to A&M when we played them the fourth time in the Regional Finals.
It's going to be players making plays.¬† It's not going to be anything that Muffet does or I do.¬† It's going to be those guys on the floor making plays, and whoever makes the most plays will win the basketball game.
Q.¬† From what areas would you like to see Brittney improve next year?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I always want Brittney to be a little bit more aggressive with her being vocal.¬† She's such just a tender little giant out there.¬† She demands the ball with just her presence.¬† But sometimes it's okay to get on a teammate in a constructive way.¬† I don't know that I'll ever get her to do that, because she just‑‑ that's not Brittney.
But I would love to see her lead more vocally than she does.¬† I think offensive rebounding because she gets blocked out, so many people are in front of her, man, if she could get in there and really crash the offensive boards more than she does, I think that's an area of her game that really could be scary.
Every other area of her game that she's been challenged by me or anybody that's helping coach her, she's improved from free‑throw shooting her freshman year to being more physical, to getting in the weight room, challenged her to shoot 62percent from the field.¬† She's done that through the course of the year.
I still think there's a lot of growth left to her game and not just one more year in college.¬† I think beyond college you'll continue to see her grow.
Q.¬† What about her becoming more sort of comfortable as a public speaker?¬† Maybe that's not your role, but is there anything you could do?¬† Because obviously you're comfortable doing that, too.
COACH MULKEY:¬† She's comfortable doing it, but what the problem is is every one of you want her.¬† She's worn out.¬† They want her to be here at 3:00, 3:30, there at 4:00, 4:30.¬† She understands she's the face of women's basketball.¬† And she understands that's required of her.¬† But at some point she has to step back and go:¬† That's not why I'm here; I'm here to win a national championship.¬† That stuff can happen afterwards.
She is very comfortable publicly speaking.¬† She doesn't elaborate.¬† She doesn't try to say too much to make you think she's a summa cum laude.¬† She answers the question and moves on to the next question.¬† She's very comfortable in who she is and in her own skin at being a tall kid.¬† She runs around campus on her long board and her body painted at football games, doing back flips on the sideline before football games.
She can do all that.¬† Brittney, she stays until the last kid gets an autograph at camp.
I think what happens to us, and I have to protect her a little bit, you want her everywhere and you want her to please everybody, because she's a people‑pleaser, but at some point she's got to reluctantly say no.¬† Because she can't do it all.¬† And she's tired.¬† But it's part of it.
She's comfortable.¬† She's fine interviewing.
Q.¬† Either you or Coach McGraw are going to win her second national championship as a coach, and that is‑‑ especially in this era, the last 10, 15 years of UConn winning so many.¬† Your program and Notre Dame's program, they've become more consistent competitors, at the very top level.¬† Can you talk about that and maybe the different ways you guys have done that?
COACH MULKEY:¬† Well, I can't speak for Muffet.¬† I can speak just for my program.¬† This is my 12th year at Baylor.¬† We were bottom of the Big 12 when I was hired.
We've gradually just grown the program.¬† And the hardest part is not growing the program but the hardest part is maintaining it.
We'll continue to try to recruit good players that will keep Baylor up there in the spotlight.¬† I guess if you want to call us an elite program I reluctantly for years have fought that.¬† We just want to win a national championship because it means so much to these players and to our fans and our school and our community.
And Tennessee and Connecticut have pretty much dominated like Louisiana Tech did in the early'80s.¬† I've been a part of those dominant teams and programs, and if Baylor can maintain it and keep it rolling, we'll be just as proud as any other school in the country.
Q.¬† Last night at halftime your game Pat Summitt made an appearance on the court and everybody went crazy.¬† Have you had her on your mind the whole year, and what did that appearance last night mean to everybody here and the game?
COACH MULKEY:¬† Well, I heard about it after the game.¬† And she's our John Wooden.¬† She's the John Wooden of basketball.
I've said it many times, I don't care who wins more championships than her, there will never be another Pat Summitt.
Now, on a personal note, I have spoken to her.¬† She called me when I was diagnosed with Bell's palsy.¬† The same ovation she received last night she received it when she came to our gym and walked on the Ferrell Center floor and everybody gave her a standing ovation prior to our game.
So people get it.¬† They understand Pat Summitt has done so much for our game, and she did it graciously.
I'll never forgot in the early'80s we played them all the time at Louisiana Tech, and she told Leon Barmore after a game, she said:¬† I'm going to keep playing you until I beat ya.
And, boy, did she keep playing us.¬† And then she developed, and look at the product she's put together at Tennessee.¬† And now everybody wants to emulate her program.
Q.¬† You touched on this a little bit earlier, the two programs here have kind of shared a mantra this season of unfinished business because of last year's disappointment.¬† Could you talk about that?¬† It's one thing to have that, but then to actually be able to work and get to this stage to try and finish that business?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I think it's a testament to the players.¬† Coaches can come up with mottos and we can come up with motivational tactics, but it boils down to those players, those players have to have a hunger about them and a sense about that feeling I had last year.¬† I don't want to have it again.¬† And put yourself in a position to have a shot at it.¬† And I think both programs and both teams have done that.¬† And you're absolutely right.¬† They have more seniors than we do.
They did make it to the national championship game last year.¬† Our team has not done that.¬† Not even the freshman team with Griner her freshman year.¬† We didn't make it to the championship.¬† So I guess you'd say they have a little bit more experience getting to the championship game and playing in it than we do.
But, on the other hand, we played them this year.¬† So there's a lot of things that I'm sure Muffet will use and we'll use in our film sessions to motivate our players, but it's going to come down to those kids on the floor.
Q.¬† If you wouldn't mind, could you talk about what it's like to see the recruiting process as a parent now regarding your son's baseball recruiting, and could you have an anecdote you could share about him going to one of your rivals, LSU or somebody?
COACH MULKEY:¬† It was very interesting to me as a parent.¬† Kramer is a junior, and he wanted to get his decision out of the way, which I encourage all parents to do.¬† But we took trips, unofficial visits at the end of the season last year, and he chose the four, five schools he wanted to visit, and he chose LSU.
Now, I don't look at LSU as a rival.¬† That's our home.¬† If you remember, that's where he was born.¬† That's where my mother still lives.¬† Our family is Louisiana.¬† And I've always told people many times, I don't care where my career takes me; I'm still just a country girl from Louisiana.
And so when he went to visit there, eight hours from Waco‑‑ and we have an outstanding baseball program at Baylor.¬† What mother wouldn't want their kid to stay at Baylor just as Mackenzie has stayed there and allowed me to be a part of her life in playing in our program?
But I've also taught my kids that you go where you're comfortable and where you think you can win a championship.¬† And he told me:¬† Mom, to me LSU baseball is the equivalent of the New York Yankees.¬† I said:¬† Why do you say that, Kramer?¬† He said:¬† They expect to be in the World Series.¬† They've been in the World Series more than any program.¬† They've won those national championships.¬† I want that pressure.¬† And he goes:¬† I want to do what you and Mackenzie are doing.¬† And I said:¬† What are we doing, buddy?¬† He said:¬† You're playing at the highest level.¬† And he said:¬† I want to play at the highest level.
I hugged his neck and told him I'd be there as much as I can, and I will be.¬† We talked about the benefits and the stresses of being my child and knowing people will be disappointed that he didn't stay and play at Baylor, and I thought that Steve Smith, our baseball coach at Baylor, as well as myself handled that as graciously with Kramer as I thought we could.
I thought Steve was a gentleman.¬† I thought he was a fine, fine coach in understanding Kramer wants to get away from his mom and his sister and, as Kramer said, go develop his own legacy.¬† And I laughed, and I said:¬† Boy, you don't know what a legacy is.¬† But that's kind of his approach.¬† And he wants to go and do his thing at the highest level.
But there's not a rivalry there.¬† That's our home.¬† It will be a good fit for Kramer, and he's excited.¬† And what's really interesting about Kramer is every time somebody calls Mom about leaving Baylor for a new job, Kramer is the first one in my bed at night going:¬† Momma, you can't leave Baylor.¬† These people love you and these people are good to you.¬† They're good to our family.¬† Don't you ever leave Baylor.
So that tells you about his sense of logic and doing what he thinks is necessary for his career and his mom as well.¬† And he loves Baylor.¬† He loves it.¬† His sister is playing for a national championship.¬† But he realized that he needed to do what he felt was right.
Q.¬† You've been in the women's game for so long.¬† I know you've seen it grow and you talked about that growth a little earlier.¬† Along with that growth has come a lot of new fans, and I think fans are a lot different than they used to be in terms of the way they treat players and even attack them, and I know Brittney got a lot of it in high school and a lot of it earlier.¬† How has that changed and how has she dealt with the ugliness that she still gets?
COACH MULKEY:¬† I appreciate you asking that.¬† Social media is the worst thing that's happened to you guys as well, because everybody thinks you're part of social media, and that takes the respect away from your job and what you do as journalists.
And I don't‑‑ I made a commitment about my fourth year at Baylor.¬† I'll never read a message board.¬† I don't want to see any of that garbage.¬† I don't want to hear about it, because it's just not right.¬† It's not healthy.
And this is someone's child.¬† This is a human being, people.¬† She didn't wake up and say:¬† God, make me look like this; make me be 6'8"; make me have the ability to dunk.¬† This child is as precious as they come when it comes to being a good person, a sweet kid, a coachable‑‑ one of the greatest players I've ever coached, probably the greatest, and the easiest to coach.¬† I love going to work and seeing Brittney Griner's face.¬† She just makes me happy.
But yet the stuff she's had to read about, the stuff she's had to hear, the stuff people say about her, the stuff people write about her, it's gotta stop.¬† That stuff's gotta stop.
And 20 years ago, to go back to your question, you didn't have the access to all that mess that's out there now.¬† Sure, people probably said it, but it went as far as the next conversation or the next beauty gossip thing.¬† And it's constant, and for her to handle it as well as she does, I just love the kid.¬† I love the kid.
I sit and I think:¬† Why?¬† Why do people do that this day and time?¬† My son, he gets two perspectives here.¬† He's got the male ego, so I live in a household with a female and male, and I get the male ego from that end that kid says it best.¬† He said:¬† Mom, they do it to Brittney because they're jealous.¬† They do it in a harmful way because they really want to be what she is.
And he's just her biggest fan.¬† And that's coming from an egotistical boy who is probably going to play in the Major Leagues some day.¬† He gets it.
And I just‑‑ I can't tell you‑‑ I'm going to say this because I appreciate you asking the question.¬† There are players you coach that bring drama and are high maintenance to your program.¬† When they graduate, you go:¬† God, thank God they're gone.¬† They brought so much attention for whatever, negative good.
This kid has had so much thrown at her that I wonder sometimes if she goes:¬† Is it really worth it to keep putting up with all this?¬† But she never does.¬† She never does.¬† Because what she has, she has a home that is lovable.
And I want you to write this.¬† We had this conversation today.¬† She said:¬† Coach, they keep pointing to my daddy in the stands during the game. ¬†I want everybody to know that my mom's back at home and they need to talk about my mother who couldn't be here.¬† I said:¬† I'll make that point clear.
You get her mom's name and you write about her mother.¬† Because, see, that's the sensitivity of this child.¬† While she loves her dad and he's done much for her, her mom's done just as much, and she needs to be talked about.
Now, how many kids in this big stage would think about their mother at that moment?¬† That's what's changed, is the social media junk.¬† It's ridiculous.¬† I tell my kid don't read about that stuff.¬† Half the stuff you read about is about your mom and it's not that good.¬† Of course, they have a sense of humor and they're tough and they laugh about it.
But it's not right about what people say about her.¬† And the nerve, they say it to her face, to her face.
And that's the part that's just disgusting to me.
Q.¬† You joked around on Saturday with Brittney about how she's emphatically staying with Baylor next year and you made her say it loud and clear so everyone heard it and such.¬† On the men's side tonight, probably five of the players are going to go pro after the freshman or sophomore year.¬† But on the women's side, I don't know how long the conversation was with you and her to say that she's staying for this year, but it seems that in the women's game it's good for the game having players stay, you get to know them, it's another story versus being a one‑and‑done or two‑and‑done.¬† If you could talk about that and how the whole ‑‑ it's good for the women's game to have these players stick around and obviously for you to have Brittney be here for another season?
COACH MULKEY:¬† Brittney Griner wants to get her college degree.¬† We all know, once you leave college it's so hard to go back.¬† It's so hard to go back because you start making money.¬† Your priorities change.¬† If you stay the course and get that degree‑‑ I've never known anybody that got a college degree and said I regret it.¬† But I've known lots of athletes who say, gosh, I wish I would have stayed because now I don't know if I'll go back and get it.
Brittney and I have not had an in‑depth conversation about her staying.¬† You've all asked her, and she's answered it.¬† And so I take what she told me when she signed to come to Baylor, she said coach:¬† I'm there until I get my degree.¬† It's not something we have to sit down like the men's side does and go, okay, you're going to go in the first round and make X amount of dollars.¬† We don't have to go there with that.
But for the most part women just don't do that.¬† They don't leave early.¬† I can think of maybe one recently that has done that.¬† And sometimes you don't know the reasons why they do it.¬† Brittney doesn't have to do it for financial reasons.
Her family, her dad, they're well off.¬† She doesn't have to‑‑ she's not running to leave anything that's bad in her life.¬† She's enjoying her college life.¬† And that's what's so good about Robert Griffin.¬† That's what's so good about Brittney Griner.¬† That's what's so good about athletes that actually enjoy the college experience, because it's a rarity.¬† It's a rarity in today's time.
Q.¬† Opposite of what Jerome asked you, Brittney Griner, you talked about how she's changed the game, how she's changed the face of the game.¬† You also talked about how college basketball, women's basketball has changed over time.¬† How do you think Brittney Griner makes the game even more appealing to fans who aren't die‑hard women's basketball fans, just your outside fan who is like I want to see the dunk, I want to see this or that?
COACH MULKEY:¬† That's it.¬† That's what it is.¬† The average fan‑‑ and I'll even go so far as to say the male fans, all they want to see is the dunk.¬† And they can't believe a girl can do what she can do.¬† So they may turn the TV on and watch the highlights and go "wow," where before they never had any interest in the game because it was played below the rim.
Brittney has been able to pull in those stragglers that don't want to give the women credit that it's a pretty good game below the rim.¬† And when they see her dunk, then she gets those fans that normally wouldn't watch the game.¬† We're attracting those types of fans.¬† And it's the dunk.
The shot block‑‑ the shot blocking would be another one.¬† They'll watch just an unbelievable throw‑it‑in‑the‑stands blocking of the shot, and that will grab your attention if you don't watch the women's game.
Our game is just‑‑ it's an interesting game because, if you go to most universities, you have the families that bring their children.¬† You have the older people that are fans.¬† Where the women's game lacks the support that the men get is the students.¬† That's the same way at Connecticut.¬† The same way at Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Baylor.
Betcha if you took a poll, the students are the ones that fill the stands up in the men's games in college, and that's where we're still not pulling them in on the women's side.
Q.¬† Do you think it's good for the game or do you think it gives a false perception of what the game is?
COACH MULKEY:¬† No, dunking is good for the game.¬† It's a game of entertainment somewhat.¬† The dunk is good for the game.¬† The moves are good for the game, all that's entertainment.
I still say the women's game and the men's game is somewhat different other than playing below the rim, but we have made it different somewhat.¬† The 360 move is not a walk on the men's side; you make the 360 move, the same move, and they come over and play under our rules, it's a traveling violation.
I struggle with that.¬† I don't think you should have the difference in that.¬† But the game is the same.¬† My son asked me.¬† He goes:¬† Mom, would you ever coach a men's team?¬† I said:¬† I could.¬† Wouldn't bother me.
So that tells you the game is the same.¬† The difference is the guys can play above the rim.
Q.¬† Obviously you're one of the last schools that still uses "Lady" in the nickname.¬† Pat does it.¬† Vivian Stringer, when she went to Rutgers, immediately got rid of Lady Knights, whatever.¬† Big Ten, none except I guess Penn State.¬† And pretty much there's 15 or 20.¬† You're also such a proponent of Title IX and an advocate, and I applaud you and thank you for what you've done for girls and women as a role model.¬† To some, to me, and I know the Women's Sports Foundation has said this, too, the term "Lady," as if it's‑‑ from another era, as if it's not the whole.¬† You know, you don't see the Gentlemen Bears, of course.¬† And I'm curious how and why you stick with Lady when it is seen as a‑‑ it can be‑‑ as Nancy Hogshead of the Women's Sports Foundation said last week, it's demeaning.¬† If you go to Baylor, you're a Bear, end of conversation.¬† Your response?¬† Thanks.
COACH MULKEY:¬† And I appreciate that viewpoint as well.¬† And I have read your articles and I wish you'd give Baylor a big pub because I love reading your articles.
I think without knowing‑‑ let me answer this.¬† We're from the South.¬† We still say yes, ma'am and no, ma'am.¬† And I have to honestly tell you I've been told by people don't do that to me; that offends me.
I played with kids from the West Coast when I was a player and kids from the East Coast.¬† And I would say yes, ma'am.¬† And they would go:¬† Stop that.¬† That's‑‑ where we come from, it's respect.
And Lady is not offensive to anybody who lives in our area of the country.¬† I'm not going to speak for Pat, but I think it's a tradition of respect, believe it or not, than it is disrespect viewed from people on the outside.
We don't make an issue of things that are really not disrespectful in our eyes.¬† We have shirts that say Bears.¬† In fact, I may have one on somewhere.¬† It's more of a thing that things started a long time ago, like yes, ma'am and no, ma'am.
And I still have a hard time with people who don't say yes, ma'am and no, ma'am, but I understand in some parts of the country that's viewed as demeaning.¬† And I don't view it that way.
I think too much is made of it.¬† But just look at the tradition of the program and the coaches that run those programs.¬† There's nobody that fights for Title IX more than Pat Summitt and more than me.¬† And I can tell you this:¬† I'm a product of Title IX more than I am a fighter of Title IX.¬† I reaped the benefits from those who came before me.
But in no way, shape, or form do I not understand the viewpoint from those that you mentioned.¬† But I want them to also understand our viewpoint.¬† And I don't think there's a right and a wrong.¬† I just think it's kind of tradition, maybe, in where we live.
Q.¬† You just mentioned your son asking could you coach the men; it would be no big deal to you.¬† Could the men handle you (laughter)?
COACH MULKEY:¬† Well, I think that Coach Grant Teaff, who's the president of the Football Coaches Association, former Baylor coach, he probably paid me one of the highest compliments.¬† And, again, I won't ever forget it.¬† He said:¬† You could coach our sport.
I take it as a compliment in that, one, he respected my knowledge of sports, he respected that I get the most out of athletes, and I think guys would respect you if you know what the hell you're talking about.
Q.¬† (Question of microphone).
COACH MULKEY:¬† Really, I'm not tough.¬† That's what's so funny.¬† You see me on the sideline, and that's what I do.¬† When you guys go to work at your computer, you don't have your kids running in your ears or you're not going to write a good story.
When I go on that floor, my focus is on that basketball team and my assistants giving me feedback and me getting on them.¬† And when we leave that floor, I'm not like that.¬† I'm not like that.¬† You couldn't get players to come play for you if you didn't have an all‑around personality to where you knew when to laugh, cry, hug, to be serious.
The advantage I do have, seriously, is that I'm a mother.¬† And I do think that's an advantage.¬† Now, does that mean you can't be a good coach if you don't have children?¬† No.¬† But I get a little bit of advantage because I have to deal with my own children and their problems and what motivates them, and they give me some insight and some feedback because they're the same age as the athletes I get to coach.¬† But, yeah, I could coach them.
In fact, I could make some of them a little bit tougher than they are.
Q.¬† Just the thought on what you said earlier, about people coming to pursue you for other coaching jobs.¬† That's been the last few years.¬† You have one of the most desirable jobs in the country at Baylor.¬† I think it would take a lot of‑‑ a lot of things for you to even consider leaving there.
COACH MULKEY:¬† Baylor takes good care of me.¬† It's flattering when people come.¬† The thing that you'll always know about me, I don't take my private issues into the public unless it's something I can't hide.¬† Couldn't hide the Bell's palsy.¬† Might as well tell it up front.
When schools come after me, I'm not a coach that uses you guys to get a pay raise.¬† If a school goes after me, I go straight to the administration, we talk, we make sure I feel comfortable, they feel comfortable.¬† Take care of me and I'll take care of you.
But, yes, I have a great job.¬† I have a great job.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports