By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
Coaching matters. We have exhibit A at our fingertips.
Exhibit A is the third-best coach in the history of women’s basketball. She took over a team in Waco, Texas which had gone 7-20 in 1999-00 and went 21-9 the next season. And that was her worst record during her 21-year tenure there.
Since then, she won 12 Big 12 regular season championships and 3 National Championships.
Her name is Kim Mulkey. She was recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Baylor AD Mack Rhoades did not think enough of that record and tenure to make her a counteroffer after LSU had offered her the coaching position last April.
Shame on him. Sometimes the ego of an AD should not trump the skills of the head coach. It did there.
So onto LSU.
They finished a pedestrian 9-13 last season under 10th-year head coach Nikki Fargas, who then stepped down.LSU hired Mulkey in April. The Lady Tigers are now ranked no. 13 nationally and sit at 14-1 and 2-0 in the rigorous SEC, with consecutive wins over ranked Georgia on the road and Texas A&M at home.
Mulkey has brought in some new players, but her team is largely dependent on three players from the Fargas era: Faustine Aifuwa, Khayla Pointer, and Ryann Payne. Mulkey has simply both coached them up and motivated them to another level.
Meanwhile back in Waco, Rhoades hired Nicki Collen, a former WNBA coach with a losing record on the cheap. Collen inherited a top 5 team from Mulkey. On the very day that LSU defeated Texas A&M, the Collen-led Lady Bears fell to unranked Kansas State.
It was the first time which Baylor had lost to Kansas State in 18 years. Consider that. And Baylor is now ranked behind LSU. Mulkey will win a National Championship in Baton Rouge in the next 3 years.
Mark it down.