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March 30, 2013

Brittney Griner

Kim Mulkey

Brooklyn Pope

Odyssey Sims


THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by Coach Mulkey from Baylor.  We'll go straight to questions for Coach Mulkey.

Q.  Can you talk about the emotions of the last game, how it is coming into this?  Can that carry over?
COACH MULKEY:  At the time the emotions of those seniors playing in the Ferrell Center for the last time was, as you would expect, a lot of tears, but not too much.  They were tears I guess of nostalgia and also tears of joy.
But we've moved on and forgotten about it.  We're here on a business trip.  The next game against Louisville is really all we're focused on at this time.

Q.  Kim, one thing I've noticed with a few players, a care‑free attitude, fun‑loving group.  Does that help defray some of the expectation?
COACH MULKEY:  That's their personality.  I just stay away from 'em because the way I get prepared for a game when I was a player and now as a coach is a lot different than young people do.  For a lot of basketball games, that's how they prepare.
Jordan is just the fun‑loving, happy‑go‑lucky player.  Brooklyn is the sarcastic, quick‑witted.  BG is the free spirit.  But they know when to focus.  It's not that they're not focused, it's just away from the court they're college kids.  Sometimes we forget that.
So I learned about their sophomore year to not walk in that locker room before a game because the way I think you should prepare for a game may not be the way they prepare for a game.
Whatever they've been doing, it's been successful, and you don't want to change 'em.

Q.  Can you expand on that a little bit?  When you were playing, were you an ultraserious type?
COACH MULKEY:  Back in the day, I hate to say it, it sounds like years ago, but I guess it is years ago, you don't have all the social media, the cell phones.  You don't have even the TVs in the locker room, the computer stuff in the locker rooms.
I'm not even sure we had a stereo system in our locker room.  You went in, got dressed, got taped, sat around, then you played.  It's not that I was serious, it's just that we didn't have distractions I guess I would have called it at the time.
I think a lot of the things these kids have access to could be distractions.  But we didn't have all that.  I think back in the day all we had, the invention of the bag phone.  I know y'all don't know what that is.  But I did take a bag phone one time, or had a bag phone one time.

Q.  Does it challenge you as a coach to deal with personalities, free spirits, stuff like that?
COACH MULKEY:  Well, I think when they're young and freshmen and sophomores, you have to deal with it.  If it is a personality that is not good for team chemistry, it's a personality that is not focused, a personality that affects what we do on that floor, yes, we deal with it.  I did.
I dealt with Jordan.  I sat her for being silly on the floor.  When you leave that floor, if they've given me everything they have, I have to let them be college kids after I let them out of that locker room.  It's the floor that you are mainly concerned about, how they represent you on that floor.
Now with the thing that happened with Whitney the other day, I now had to address that.  But you address it, you teach 'em, you move on.

Q.  Can you speak to what you've seen out of Louisville from game tape, maybe some areas where you plan to attack.
COACH MULKEY:  I'm not sure I know what defense they run today after watching them because they disguise it.  You think they may be into a zone, then 10 seconds into the shot clock, they're in a man.  You start off running a man offense, you see something...
They just do a lot of things in a possession defensively.
That's why they're very good.  If you look at stats, they create a lot of steals.  When you look at them, they have great length everywhere, but you wouldn't think they would have that many steals.  I attribute that to what Jeff has them doing defensively.  When Jeff got in the game, he was with Paul Sanderford at Western Kentucky, and his sister played there, Jaime.  He learned from some good coaches.  Jeff is just an outstanding coach.
We understand we're going to have to take care of the basketball.  We understand we're going to have to get back in transition defense.  We understand they score a lot of points.

Q.  Have you noticed your team being different as opposed to when you were trying to win your first one, how they approach games?
COACH MULKEY:  I would use the word 'mature.'  When you have that many seniors, they're a lot more mature.  I think they're a lot more relaxed because of the experience that they now have having won and having lost.  They lost an opportunity their sophomore year to go to a Final Four again, then they did what they did last year.
They've pretty much experienced it all.  Certainly more success than failure.  But they've experienced it all.

Q.  I know your focus is on Louisville.  You have another Big 12 here.  Kansas made it.  I think a lot of people kind of focused on you alone in the Big 12.  Having four teams make it say a lot about the conference, specifically Oklahoma as a No.6?
COACH MULKEY:  Every time a Big 12 team plays, I'm rooting for them.  I do agree with you, people tend to judge our league, and it's not fair, because I know what I have.  Everybody thinks we ran through the conference these last couple years, there's such a big gap between Baylor and everybody else.
There may be that gap, but that doesn't mean everybody else is not very good.  This is a competitive league.  It's a tough league.  It's a well‑coached league.  Just look at Bonnie at Kansas.  Our seventh‑place team, who everybody was holding their breath could we get seven in the tournament, she's in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year, beating a team that was seeded higher and finished higher in the SEC.  I can't remember who she beat in the first round.

Q.  Colorado.
COACH MULKEY:  Colorado.  That's two different conferences right there.
But the Big 12 night in and night out is tough.  It's just tough.

Q.  Kim, you talked the other day about how difficult it is to win back‑to‑back titles, but harder to win all those other games.  How has this team for two years been able to win 74 of 75 games?
COACH MULKEY:  Talent.  I'm a coach that believes in acknowledging what you have.  Recruiting is so difficult now to assemble that much talent on one team.  You have too many egos, too many parents' egos.  You have too much selfishness.
How many times as a coach can you go recruit that much talent on a team and they all agree to come play for you?  It's a rarity.  They wanted to do it.  They wanted to do it because they wanted a degree from Baylor, I hope, and number two, they wanted to win a championship.
For the most part looks like they're all going to do that, some later than others on graduating.  But it's just talent.
And I do know this:  the most talented teams don't always win.  Y'all know that.  You've seen it too many times.  Once you assemble that talent, you've got to fix egos, fix roles, let people know what is expected of them.  That doesn't happen overnight.  Just to watch each of them evolve into what their role is, accept it, be content and happy for each other, for our program as a whole, makes you proud as a coach to have 'em.

Q.  You obviously lost to Louisville four years ago at this stage.  Is that a topic?
COACH MULKEY:  Look, they had Angel on that team.  They were supposed to win.  That team that beat us went on to the Final Four that year, I think.
You have to evaluate your team and place expectations that you as their coach think is fair.  I thought that we gave them a very good game.  I thought we played extremely hard.  They were the better team.  They went on, as I said, to make it to a Final Four that year.

Q.  The one thing coaches can't control is injuries.  I know you lost Shenay, but for the most part you've been able to stay relatively healthy.  How important has that been?
COACH MULKEY:  This time of the year it's very important.  I'm going to go back to our second year when Melissa Jones, senior class come off a Final Four their freshman year, her injury, when it happened in the Oklahoma game, was devastating to our team.
Injuries can completely take you out of sync and change the complexion of your season at whatever point it happens.  Sometimes you can't recover from it.
We have been fortunate that our trainer, Alex Olson, he's been with me the entire time he's been at Baylor.  He understands when to tell me what I need to do.  I will never compromise a player's health to win a basketball game.
We've had the little nagging injuries throughout the year, but we've been smart in that we just rest 'em.  There was a period of time when Griner's shins were bothering her, and I wouldn't give her 20 minutes of a game.  If she falls short of the scoring record, blame me.  I should have given her more minutes.
You gauge it and do the best you can.  You can't control injuries.  That's a part of the game.

Q.  It was a long time ago, but nine years ago this city, 0.2 seconds, how much did that game impact you in terms of what you've even done since then?
COACH MULKEY:  First of all, it wasn't this city, it was Norman, Oklahoma.  I won't ever forget it as long as I live.  I do feel like it cost us our first opportunity to have a chance to go to the Final Four.  It motivated that next year's team that won the national championship.
But this bunch, they don't have a clue.  They would go, Huh?  They don't know that.  They don't remember it.  For me, I'll never forget it.  Coaches have memories like elephants, they remember things.  But it doesn't affect anybody in our locker room today.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much and good luck tomorrow.
COACH MULKEY:  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by our student‑athletes from Baylor University.  We'll take questions.

Q.  Brooklyn, if you could, talk a little bit about the personality of this team.  Coach Mulkey was talking a little bit about how now she leaves you alone in the locker room, do your own thing.  Was that a struggle at first, getting everybody with the personalities on the same page?
BROOKLYN POPE:  Maybe last year, but this year, I think everyone knows the goal ahead and everyone's on the same page to let our egos go to the side.  The personality of this team is mainly pride and focus.  If we focus and play with pride, we'll be fine.
That's how I think this team has decided to approach the game of basketball this year.

Q.  Brooklyn, along that same line, did it take you a while or maybe Kim a while to let you be you?
BROOKLYN POPE:  Like me personally or the team?
Yeah, I think me and Coach Mulkey didn't really know how to bring out the best in me.  I just think this year, it kind of came together that I'm not the type of kid to howl or text after a game, after a practice.  It's just, let me go with it and it will be better if I find my way versus you trying to guide me.  Let me do my thing, everything will go smooth.  She don't bother me at all.

Q.  Brittney, what has been different about going through this tournament and trying for a championship knowing that it's going to be your last?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  Well, just knowing that it's your last run, a little bit different.  You appreciate everything, take in everything.  A little bit more emotional, I guess you could say, after every game, knowing it's your last time at that spot, your last time on the home court.
That's about the only different thing compared to last year.  I knew I had one more year to do it.  This time it's my last one.

Q.  Brittney, Kim called you a free spirit when she was up here.  Does that help you deal with some of the national attention and the expectations that you've dealt with?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  Definitely.  Like a little butterfly in a cocoon coming out.
I don't know, it definitely helps.  My personality helps me out a lot just dealing with everything.  The hateful comments and everything I get, it doesn't bother me at all.  When you're out there, Hey, that's what you think, okay, cool.  I just kind of go with the flow really.

Q.  Brittney, you win 74 of 75.  What drives you as a team?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  It's really not hard to motivate us.  Coach does a great job at it.  Everybody on this team hates to lose.  We love to win.  That's motivation enough right there.
Even if the score is lopsided, we're still playing hard.  Coach challenges us every media timeout, win each media timeout, don't look at the score.  If we don't win it, she definitely lets us know.  I think that's what makes us go harder every time.
We don't pay attention to the score, we just try to go as hard as we can.

Q.  Odyssey, what would you say are maybe the way or a couple ways that you have most improved as a point guard in your time at Baylor?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  I'd just say just learning the game of basketball.  I think coming from high school to college was a big step.  I didn't completely understand the game like I thought I did.  Coach Mulkey, she did a good job of helping me my freshman year, considering I had to learn everything on my own and I had to learn quick.
Sophomore year I kind of grew up.  I just had to grow up, I guess, fast.  Winning the national championship made everything better.
Now that I know my role, know what I got to do for my team, I understand that it's not all about points, it's not all about stats.  As long as my team wins and I do my job as far as taking care of the ball, managing the game, then I'm fine, and my teammates, too.

Q.  Odyssey, Kim talked about that she just stays away from the personalities, the way you guys prepare for a game.  With all the personalities on this team, you as a point guard, how do you deal with that?  Is it different on the court?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  This team, we do have a lot of different personalities.  I think before the game, everyone has their own kind of way of getting ready for the game.  We understand each other.  When someone has their headphones on, we don't talk to each other.
We just kind of go with the flow.  We talk to each other sometimes.  Everyone gets into their zone a different way.
We understand that I think on the court it's more together.  We play good together.  Our personalities are set aside and we know we're on the court for one thing, and that's to win.  We take it one game at a time.
We have a couple of differences, but on the court at the end of the day, we bring it together and we know what we got to do.

Q.  Brooklyn, the Florida State game was emotional I'm sure for all the seniors.  Obviously the way the game went with Brittney dunking three times, do you use that emotion?
BROOKLYN POPE:  With BG dunking, just how everyone feels, it was great for the crowd.  It was great for everyone who support us, Baylor, Waco.  I felt like all that adrenaline pumping inside the gym, all the positive energy on behalf of Baylor, just really helped out team know that this is the last time we're going to play at this gym in front of this crowd.
I'm happy we went out the way that we did.  The crowd got to see BG dunk.  She rarely ever dunked in Waco, she always dunked away, which is weird.  But she gave 'em three.  It was three of her best dunks ever ‑ so far...

Q.  Odyssey, how much have you studied Louisville?  One of the things they like is to create a lot of stuff forcing turnovers, their steals.  How much does that put on you?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  We actually watched film two days in a row.  The first day, we just went over player profiles, who was going to guard who.  Second day, we watched their defenses.  I think they're a great defensive team.  They change their defenses a lot in the middle of the shot clock, off rebounds.  So that's our main focus, trying to figure out what we're going to run as far as when they change their defenses.
We're probably going to watch some more film tonight.  You can never watch too much film.  This is a new team.  We don't know too much about 'em, so we have to continue to watch a lot of film.
Coach does a great job of that.  So I think after we watch film tonight, we'll be ready.  We understand we're going up against a great team.

Q.  Brittney is a unique talent.  Nobody dunks like her.  Just her ability to catch almost any pass thrown.  Can you even take more chances with a player that's as talented and as big as she is in terms of passes you wouldn't throw to somebody else?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  First off, you're not going to come across too many 6'8" girls that can dominate the paint, can be as athletic as her.  I do take risks that I never took since I've been playing basketball as far as some passes.  Me and BG have an understanding of how I pass the ball to her.  We kind of bumped heads last year about how I was passing to her.
But I think I throw my passes really, really high.  I probably won't ever have to throw high passes ever when she leaves.  So it does change it a little bit.
I just think she changes the game completely:  passes, dunks, shots.  Everything she does is just phenomenal.  It's something like I've never seen before.
THE MODERATOR:  Ladies, thank you.  Good luck tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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