10/21 15:23 CDT New coach, similar expectations for Baylor women's hoops
New coach, similar expectations for Baylor women's hoops
By AVERY OSEN
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) --- Baylor's sideline will look different this season,
but the Lady Bears expect similar results after they were picked as the
preseason No. 1 team in the Big 12.
Coach Kim Mulkey stepped down after last season to take the job at LSU. She led
the Lady Bears to three national championships, 12 Big 12 titles and 19 NCAA
Tournament appearances in her 21 years on the job. Baylor made the Elite Eight
Big shoes to fill for the Lady Bears' new coach, Nicki Collen.
"There's certainly a lot of pressure, but I didn't take the job for there not
to be pressure," said Collen, who coached the WNBA's Atlanta Dream the past
three seasons. "It's going to be a new brand of basketball and it won't look
the same, not going to feel the same, but we hope the results are the same."
There are plenty of reasons for optimism in Waco. The Lady Bears bring back
Queen Egbo and Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith. She averaged
18 points and nine rebounds last season.
Baylor also adds Jordan Lewis, a transfer from Alabama and the Big 12 Newcomer
of the Year. She scored 17 points per game for the Crimson Tide.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Ayoka Lee has been one of the best players in the Big 12 since her arrival two
years ago. The Kansas State junior hopes to take the next step and help her
team make an NCAA Tournament this season.
Lee was a first-team All-Big 12 player in her first two seasons. She averaged
15 points as a freshman and 19 last season.
"This offseason, I've just been working on getting more comfortable outside of
the paint," Lee said. "Adding that to my game in a way that feels more natural."
Both seasons have ended at the Big 12 Tournament, and Lee hopes to play well
"I've been looking forward to this year for a while and just erase last year,"
Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. "I think every team will be at a different
level this year because you've got more practice time and it has felt more
The Wildcats last made the NCAA Tournament in 2019, losing to Michigan in the
THE NEXT BEST
Texas and Iowa State tied for second in the preseason poll. The Longhorns
received two first-place votes and the Cyclones got one.
Both teams are coming off disappointing finishes in the conference. Iowa State
was fourth in the Big 12 last season and Texas was fifth.
The Longhorns are trying to replace WNBA No. 1 draft pick Charli Collier, who
led the team to the Elite Eight last season. They'll start from the ground up
with Preseason Freshman of the Year Aaliyah Moore, a forward with a versatile
"She works her tail off," Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. "She is very coachable
kid and we are really looking forward to our freshman class. Our job is to get
them ready for the season."
THE REST OF THE PACK
The other teams chasing Baylor this season, in order of their places in the
preseason poll, are West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State,
Texas Tech and Kansas.
More AP women's college basketball: