In the relatively young 24-year history of NCAA women's college basketball, only 12 universities have a national championship banner hanging in their home arena -- and now Baylor is one of them. On Nov. 18, the Baylor Lady Bears joined that elite group as they unfurled a permanent reminder of the magical run to the 2004-05 NCAA title.
"No one will ever take that away from us," said Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson. "We'll hold that trophy for ever and ever."
Although the "defending" national champions, the 2005-06 Baylor Lady Bears began the season as a completely different team, with only 10 active players on the roster. When your team is led by Kodak All-American Sophia Young, however, you can sleep a little easier at night.
Before the first tip off, the 6-1 senior forward from St. Vincent in The Grenadines was rewriting the Baylor history books. In a vote of league coaches, Young became the first Lady Bear to be named the Big 12 women's basketball Preseason Player of the Year. Days later, she was one of only five women's basketball players in the country named a Preseason Associated Press All-American, another first for Baylor and pretty heady stuff for a young woman who never played the game until her sophomore year in high school.
"When Sophia came, she really didn't understand the game of basketball, didn't even know a post move," Mulkey-Robertson said. "To watch her develop, to see her mature and to see what she's doing now is pretty phenomenal."
Despite the challenges of replacing a talented senior class and some unexpected personnel losses, the Lady Bears were tabbed by the Big 12 coaches and the media to repeat as Big 12 champions.
"What I'm looking forward to most this season is watching the team develop its own identity, watching confidence grow in each player, from those returning from a Final Four and national championship to those players who have never played at this level," Mulkey-Robertson said.
In addition to Young, Baylor returns starters Abiola Wabara, a 6-1 junior forward from Parma, Italy, who was named honorable mention All-Big 12 in the preseason, and Chameka Scott, a 6-foot senior guard from Friendswood, Texas. Mulkey-Robertson is looking to 5-5 sophomore Angela Tisdale from Austin, Texas, and 5-9 senior Jordan Davis from Celina, Texas, to handle the point guard duties. Junior guard Latoya Wyatt from Fort Worth also will see plenty of action at the shooting guard position.