Baylor University

FINAL FOUR NOTEBOOK: So, Lady Bears, What Do You Do For an Encore?

April 4, 2012


By Jerry Hill, Baylor Bear Insider

Baylor barely had time to cut down the nets and celebrate the perfect 40-0 national championship when the question was asked: What do you do for an encore?

"Right now, we're just going to celebrate this," said 6-foot-8 All-American junior Brittney Griner, voted the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. "And when the season comes next year, we'll start thinking about that. Right now, it's just celebrating."

With all five starters returning, plus the addition of an outstanding recruiting class that includes McDonald's All-American Game MVP Alexis Prince from Florida, Baylor will undoubtedly be picked to win it all again next year.

"Well, see, you're already starting," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "You're making me embrace it now instead of letting me enjoy this. Yes, we have everybody back that plays a majority of the minutes, except for (senior guard) Terran Condrey. We think we have one of the best recruiting classes in the country. We're going to embrace it. I don't think you guys are going to let me hide it. If we lose two, three, four, five and we go 30-10, I don't care. I want to be in New Orleans (for next year's Final Four). That's my home state. I won't have enough tickets for family. But I'll do something to get them in the arena.

"But that's what we want: another national championship. I saw (Kentucky coach John) Calipari wants to go undefeated. Good luck."

IS REALITY BETTER THAN THE DREAM?: All basketball players dream of winning a national championship and cutting down the nets at the Final Four.

So was the reality better than the dream?

"What? Are you serious? You're really going to ask me that?" said Baylor junior forward Destiny Williams, looking directly at the reporter that asked the question (me). "Oh, of course it is (better). The trophy is kind of heavy. It's heavier than (it was in) my dream. But I like it."

2005 LADY BEARS VS. 2012 LADY BEARS: Before I could even finish asking the question, two-time All-American Sophia Young from the 2005 national championship team blurted out, "(2005), of course. Totally."

When I asked Young who would guard 6-8 All-American Brittney Griner, the seventh-year WNBA player with the San Antonio Silver Stars confidently answered, "Me."

"Who guards me? Who guards Chameka (Scott)? Who guards Chelsea (Whitaker)? Who guards Jordan Davis?" Young asked.

"I was on the bench," piped in Davis.

But Young, a three-time WNBA all-star who played with Griner on a touring USA Basketball team in the fall, is definitely impressed with Baylor's newest super star.

"Brittney is definitely very teachable, so that's a quality that you don't find so much in a lot of the great players. They become too self-involved," Young said. "But Brittney is very teachable, very humble when it comes to the court. That's something that I loved about her. (On the European tour), I got to know her personally. It just opens up your eyes and brings it into perspective that, 'Oh, yeah, she's not just a great basketball player, she's also a wonderful person.'''

KILLING A DEAD HORSE: Fed up with repeated questions about Griner possibly leaving after her junior year at Baylor , Mulkey finally put it to rest with her closing response in Tuesday's postgame press conference.

"She's not going anywhere," Mulkey said. "I don't know what part of that y'all don't understand. She's not going anywhere. She wants to graduate in four years. She wants to get her degree. And Brittney Griner is not going anywhere. She's said, I've said. I don't know what else we can say. She's not going anywhere.

"The kid is . . . she's a jewel. She enjoys Baylor. Come see her, watch her long board across campus, paint her body at a football game. Watch her do cartwheels and roll down the halls. She's a kid. She enjoys her college life. She knows she's going to make money some day. She's not in a hurry to go into that crude, rude, crazy real world. She likes her little comfort there in Waco, Texas."

TRACE ADKINS SENDS A LITTLE LOVE TO LADY BEARS: Coming to his third Lady Bear game in the last five weeks, country singer Trace Adkins tweeted about watching a "fairy tale that had a perfect storybook ending."

"I saw sports history made tonight," tweeted Adkins, who was in school at Louisiana Tech at the same time as Mulkey. "I was honored to be there. It seemed like a fairy tale that had a perfect ending. (It's) been wonderful getting to know all those young ladies. (I'm) very proud of my old flame, Kim Mulkey! Congrats, Lady Bears!"

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