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March 10, 2014

Nina Davis

Niya Johnson

Kim Mulkey

Odyssey Sims


Baylor – 74
West Virginia – 71

KIM MULKEY:  I want to first compliment West Virginia.  We just beat a team that is very good.  Why they have my respect is not just because they're very talented, they play defense, and they play man‑to‑man, hard‑nosed aggressive defense, and I think the job Mike Carey does with that team is impressive.  They have five or six seniors on that team, two of them fifth‑year seniors.  We just battled.  It had to be an excellent game for television, for the Big 12 Conference, and I want to tell Odyssey, breaking a record in one year with this young bunch speaks volumes for what she's done for our basketball team this year and our program, and I couldn't be happier for her.

Q.  Niya, as Julie said, her high is 10.  What got into you tonight?
NIYA JOHNSON:  Being in attack mode and just come out there focused from the start until the end, just trying to contribute with the team and just getting involved on the offensive end.

Q.  Niya, can you just kind of take us through that final play?
NIYA JOHNSON:  I tried to make a turn in the backcourt to waste time, and then I tried not to foul when she shot the three, and I just had to play smart.
KIM MULKEY:  We discussed in a time‑out, do you foul there, because a lot of people do.  Or do you take your chances that they've got to make a spectacular shot, and that's when you look at your seniors, Makenzie, and you look at Odyssey and you say what do y'all want to do?  That's showing ownership of your team, and they didn't want to foul there and put hem at the foul line and Odyssey's remark was, Coach, we're going to play defense right here because if they intentionally miss the second shot and then they hit a three, they beat us.  The worst it can do is go to overtime.  So that decision quite honestly was left up to seniors.

Q.  Odyssey, can you just talk about how big these underclassmen were in the first half when you had to sit down on the bench?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  I think my team did a very good job of keeping their intensity up and made a quick run, and they stayed after it.  We never gave up when they made some runs.  They're big.  The freshman class is a very big group, their young but at the same time they grew up quick.  They did a very good in this situation.  They didn't foul.  They didn't give up easy buckets.  What more can you ask for?  They played their role and did very good.

Q.  Odyssey, the shot you made to put them ahead, put your team ahead there, can you kind of walk us through that, and you had that shot last Sunday in Waco, it was a little bit different but you had a chance in that game, too.
ODYSSEY SIMS:  I was just very focused coming off.  I knew we had to get ‑‑ not a quick shot, but just a good looking shot, not a poor shot, not a bad shot.  Ball was in my hands, I came off the screen, knew they weren't going to let me penetrate, I didn't want to run over anybody.  I jumped up and shot and I made it.

Q.  Most girls might not even win one championship in their career.  You've won four conference championships, four tournament championships.  Put that into words, describe that?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  It means a lot.  I think the group that just left, give credit to them.  They're a very good group.  We dominated the first three years with them, and being the underdog going into the season, I think our team handled it very well.  We kept playing, I didn't expect us to win as many games as we did, but we kept fighting.  Just because we're young doesn't mean we can't win any games.
Give credit to our bench players.  I think they come in, they gave us the spark that we needed when our starters weren't doing anything.

Q.  Odyssey, eight days ago that loss to West Virginia, really a heartbreaker for you especially.  What are you feeling right now emotionally right now?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  Just feels great.  It feels good to win another championship.  I'm happy for my team.  Just happy.

Q.  Nina, coming into the year as Coach said before, you were not the most heralded of the freshman group.  Coming into the year did you ever expect that you would be the Big 12 Tournament MVP, and how does that feel?
NINA DAVIS:  Coming into the year it definitely wasn't my focus so I didn't expect I would be where I am now and getting MVP, but it's just a feeling that I can't describe.  First of all, I owe it all to God, my teammates and my coaches, and without them it wouldn't be possible, and I'm just blessed.

Q.  Odyssey, you talked about it, you give credit to that group of seniors that won so many.  Does this one almost mean more to you because all those guys are gone and you won it with a very young group?
ODYSSEY SIMS:  Not necessarily.  I think just winning is very important.  I guess you can say just winning it four times, we've got a good group.  I like this team.  They're exciting to be around, and no matter what we're going to keep battling.  We've got a team full of warriors, and I like it.

Q.  Kim, kind of what Jerry just said to Odyssey:  Because of everything you lost but everything this team has done, you've talked about how much you love this team.  Tonight was a grind, you've talked about the grind.  Was this more special than some of the other ones?
KIM MULKEY:  I'll never tell you that any team is more special than the other or any championship means more.  They're all special in their own way.
What makes this particular team special is I'm not sure what the expectations were for this basketball team this year.  I couldn't tell you at the beginning of the season what I thought they should be.  I knew we had Odyssey Sims, I knew what she was capable of doing, but I didn't know about anybody else around her.  I knew that we had a bunch of hungry players that wanted their opportunity to play and they patiently waited their turn, and then as the season progressed and we scheduled the right games and the right teams in non‑conference to let them grow, I had an opportunity to see a team that's good, and I think that everybody now sees that as good as Odyssey is, we're pretty good when she's not on that floor, too.
We won another conference title, and then we won another tourney title, and let's hope in the NCAAs we get a good seed and see if we can't go pretty deep in the tournament.
But they're all special.  I don't ever take them for granted.  In this business, it's a cold business.  Coaches get fired this time of year.  I'm as good as those kids in that locker room, as good as those coaches that recruit for me, and you keep it in perspective.  You're excited, and as I said, one day you'll look back and go, wow, we made a pretty good run there, six out of the last 10 tourney championships; that's hard to do.

Q.  Could you have ever imagined that you would have gotten 19 points from Niya tonight?
KIM MULKEY:  I know you guys don't believe this, but she scored 50 points in a high school ballgame.  Niya can score, she just has a point guard's mentality:  Pass first, score second.  But as you're seeing, Niya has to score for us, and when she does we're a better basketball team, and it's because of the way we're guarded.  We are guarded so different than just say a man‑to‑man or a zone.  There's always little freak defenses that we see.
Now, West Virginia, just a period of time there he might have gone to a triangle‑and‑two, but he plays you about as much man as anybody in the league.  But we have to adjust and we have to make changes, and sometimes we do become stagnant out there offensively.  But Niya can score.  She just has to do it more, and as you see, she did it tonight.
Her clutch free throws, her clutch free throws down the stretch, I've been on Niya all year to shoot the shot and to be a better free‑throw shooter, and it's just good to see that when you tell a player something they go work on it and they get to perform in a game and they get to see why you tell them those things.

Q.  When did Niya, when was she ready for this kind of a game?
KIM MULKEY:  I think she got some minutes in that group last year.  She and Prince got minutes in some big games.  We went to UConn, and I saw Niya in the UConn game there last year really deliver the ball to players at the right time, and I thought, this kid is going to be good.
As you think about the future of your program and the changes that you're going to have to make offensively, I knew then I had to have both Niya and Odyssey on the floor together.  She just directs traffic for you.  She has a knack for pushing the ball up the floor, a knack for getting it to the right people, and giving them passes that they can do something with.
But yeah, she can score.  You don't score 50 in high school if you can't score.

Q.  The game in Waco was described as a street fight.  First of all, did you think it was kind of similar today, and is this kind of maybe a rivalry getting started with West Virginia, and was it satisfying to beat a team that you guys had to share with them, maybe prove you guys don't like sharing?
KIM MULKEY:  Well, yeah, it's like I said when we played them in Waco, they shot 50 percent on us, and the only other team in the last I don't know how many games that's ever done that, we lost that game, as well, and it was Stanford.  The difference was in the Stanford game we didn't have a shot at the end and the ball in our hands to win it and a one‑point lead, and basically in Waco, I mean, guys, we're supposed to win it, we have the ball in our hands with 35 seconds to go, and isn't it ironic that the same scenario happened today with maybe 31 seconds, 32, I don't remember exactly, but I just laughed, and Odyssey gave the ball up to Niya and stayed in the middle of the floor.  And that's what I told her, just stay in the middle of the floor.
I don't know that it's a rivalry with West Virginia any more than any other of the other Texas schools that are in our conference or really any of the other schools that are in our conference.  I think what makes it exciting is it was a good game.  It was a good game, and people want to see good basketball, and I thought today you saw good defense.  I thought you saw great players on the floor, and I thought you saw role players basically probably were the difference in their team.
Bussie was a concern of ours.  I challenged our team to hold her under 10 shot attempts, and she gets 4.  But yet then you see a Bria Holmes hit 19 at the half and we had to hold her to five in the second half.  You see a Niya Johnson, when Odyssey and Nina got in foul trouble, KK, Khadijiah Cave, was big.  She needs to be written about.  She got some big offensive rebounds in there and got to the foul line.  Didn't make them all, but she was big for us when Nina was in foul trouble.

Q.  You talked about KK, and she came up big during that stretch, but you guys got down five.  Talk about the way you were able to answer because West Virginia was kind of on a roll.
KIM MULKEY:  Well, there was a time‑out, and I'm pretty transparent.  What you see is what you get, and I was on them hard in the time‑out.  I thought we were being manhandled, I thought we were being pushed around, I thought that we were being punched, and we didn't punch back.  It was less Xs and Os being said in that time‑out.  There was more motivating and just trying to get up in them and tell them, you need to woman up here, you need to get up there and you need to bow your neck and make some defensive stops.
And, you know, that's easy to say to a senior group.  It's hard to say to a young group because in their mind they are giving you all they have, but sometimes they're just physically out‑manned.  So you're trying to really, really dig deep right there, and I think that it was more of that in the time‑out than there was anything to draw up.

Q.  Coming back to that last play, to foul or not to foul, is that a decision that you typically make‑‑
KIM MULKEY:  No‑‑ yeah, I typically make the decision.

Q.  And what would you have done in that situation?
KIM MULKEY:  Odyssey answered it beautifully.  You know, there's times in your coaching where you want those seniors to have some ownership, and I knew that what I was going to tell them to do, but I wanted to see what they said, and in fact, the coaches and I had talked about it before I went in there.  I went in there and I asked them, here's a scenario, you're up three.  A lot of coaches believe in fouling and putting them at the line, you're going to get the ball back, and they just looked at me and then for a split second, Odyssey said, no, Coach, no, you've always said what if they miss the second one and they hit a three and we lose.  The worst we can do is go overtime, and you like to hear them take ownership.
Had she said foul, I probably would have overruled for sure, but I think that you make them feel like this is our victory.  This is our senior year.  We won't ever play another Big 12 game.  It was just good for our conference.  That was a good game.

Q.  When Odyssey went to the bench, we got a glimpse into the future.  A lot of coaches don't like to play freshmen because of some of the dumb mistakes they make, but why do you have so much confidence in this young group that seems to play big, and somebody comes up big game after game after game?
KIM MULKEY:  Because they're good.  They're good.  I don't think you realize how good they are because Makenzie and Odyssey are having good senior years and Sune is having a good junior year.  But I'm just telling you those kids on that bench that aren't getting the minutes that those upperclassmen are, you saw what they did when Odyssey was sitting over there.  They share the basketball, they trust each other.
And also, too, you can run things believe it or not, when your All‑American is not in there, you can run things a little bit smoother because they're jump defensing you or we're trying to let Odyssey do too much.  It just runs a little bit smoother sometimes.
I think you saw that tonight.

Q.  I know you said earlier that once you got into the schedule you knew that this was a good team, but I think there are a lot of people that still see this team in Brittney Griner's shadow.  Do you think that winning this Big 12 championship is maybe validation to the outside world that this is the new Baylor team that we have to worry about?
KIM MULKEY:  You know, I don't.  Anybody that knows basketball knows the history of this program now.  You know, there's no one that's in Brittney Griner's shadow.  There's no one that's in Sophia Young's shadow.  We've had lots of Big 12 Player of the Years, we've had national championships.  This is Baylor women's basketball.
We don't look at it that way.  I don't know that the true women's basketball fan looks at it that way.  I think maybe when the season started they were curious to see if we'd be any good, so maybe that question was answered.  But I have to believe that people know how much we love women's basketball and they know that we're going to recruit hard and we're going to play hard and we're going to be somebody to be reckoned with year in and year out.

Q.  I know you say that no championship means more to you, but this being Makenzie's last hurrah, as a coach and as a mom what does this mean to you?
KIM MULKEY:  Well, she got a little emotional on me today, and actually when you know your child, you know she's hurting, you try to change the subject.  You know, when you raise children and they get cranky and emotional or something, you change the subject real quick and you try to direct their attention elsewhere, and there was a time there when she got hit pretty hard two or three times and hit her head, and I know when her head is hit, I see that look on her face, and I thought, oh, boy, is this concussion time, because I've seen it before, and I could tell her nose squinches up and she's about to cry.
So I kind of diverted attention and just got on her, just made her mad at me, just don't let her go into that my head is killing me, I can't finish this game.  And I saw that tonight and she goes right back out there and takes another charge and doesn't get the call and then she takes another charge.  So it was trying to make her understand we can take care of you later.
You know, and then after the game she was real emotional.  When you're a senior and you take that uniform off for the last time, there's no feeling like that.  And she knows her days are numbered, and she knows that she has given us everything she can both as a teammate, patiently waiting her turn, and then taking an opportunity and running with it, and she was real emotional after the game, and I just hugged her and kissed her, like I would any of them that are emotional because you're just happy.  Those are tears of joy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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