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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trip to New York not soon to be forgotten by Baylor

When Baylor agreed to take part in the Maggie Dixon Classic, little did the school known what a special weekend it would be for the athletic department.

The headlining event was Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III becoming the school's first Heisman Trophy winner. Adding to the festive occasion was that the Baylor women's basketball team was in New York at the time and was taking in the Spider Man play when they received text messages informing them of the good news.

I'll let Baylor junior center Brittney Griner take it from here.

"We got the text that he won and it was perfect timing because the people were cheering for Spiderman and they were yelling so I yelled out 'RGIII,'" Griner said after Sunday's 73-59 win over St. John's.

Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey had plenty to say about Griffin's magical moment and used the forum to serve as the defender of the Baylor athletic department's run of success.

"He is everywhwere on campus," Mulkey said. "Don't be surprised if he comes back. That is the kind of kid that he is. It would not surprise me if he said 'I don't care how much money you throw at me, I don't care when I go in the draft, I am living the time of my life.' He would have been here today if he didn't have obligations. He would have been sitting here right behind the bench like he does at home. He's been bugging me to have a dunking contest with Griner for three years. I might have to relent on that in the offseason. He is everything you see. He is articulate, his parents raised him well. I am so happy for Baylor University.

"I am going to say this and take it the right way guys, the so-called experts are talking about 'it can't be done at Baylor.' I listened for a month about the so-called experts saying Robert Griffin can't win the Heisman. He won it. We've got the Heisman Trophy winner at Baylor, we have the player of the year in women's basketball at Baylor, we have two top draft picks on the men's team at Baylor, we have the best pitcher in the  country in softball at Baylor. Every NCAA tournament across the board at Baylor. This is not the Baylor of old, this is a commitment by the administration to go hire the best coaches to bring a team or teams to that university to compete and compete at the highest level. I really wish that the little digs, the little things that were said stop. Stop it. It is unnecessary. We have a good thing going at Baylor and that's the truth."

Mulkey wasn't called out on her premature crowning of Griner as the national player of the year but was asked if she really felt that Baylor was being disrespected.

"You didn't hear them?" Mulkey said. "I don't have to call out names. 'He can't win it at Baylor, know your place at Baylor.' I am getting tired of it. What else do we have to do? We have to do it on a consistent basis and that is our job as coaches to do that now. Baylor is a little more than an insignificant part of the Big 12 and the national scene."

On a day when Tennessee coach Pat Summitt received the Maggie Dixon Courage Award, Mulkey was rather emotional when talking about the Lady Vols' Hall of Fame coach.

"We got out of our huddle quickly (during the TV timeout when Summitt received the award) and gave her a standing ovation because Pat Summitt is our John Wooden," Mulkey said. "I am going to go out there and watch her team play because you never know how many games she has left. Just her presence on the floor and what she means to all of us, I don't know if any will ever have that presence. I've said this before, there may be coaches who win more championships than her but they won't be Pat Summitt."

Mulkey was asked to recall the day when she heard the news that Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia.
"My cell phone was one and you kept getting the ding, ding, ding, ding and the first thought is that it's your children," Mulkey said. "After about the fourth ding, which is a text message, I look at it and it said what it said. I picked it up and dismissed my staff and kind of gathered my composure. I thought to myself  'I am in here stressing over a basketball game and a staff meeting and practice?' I just called her assistants Mickie (DeMoss) and I talked to Holly (Warlick) because you knew people were going to call and ask questions.  I didn't want to give an uneducated opinion or statement because that is a personal thing. I wanted to talk to them first and get a little more information. When I read the article and how Tyler was with her, I don't mind telling you and I am not too proud to say it got kind of emotional because my son is still at home with me and no son should have to stand there at his age and take care of his mom and listen to that diagnosis. My thoughts just went to Tyler. I called her about two weeks later after everything kind of died down and we just talked. I didn't go into great detail on anything, I didn't think those things were necessary.

"I guess the special that Robin Roberts did hit me really, really hard because there was a doctor that kind of gave a description of what we are dealing with and I didn't want to hear that.  I started hugging her then. There is not an opportunity that goes by. If I see her, I am going to hug her and that is what I did and told her I loved her."


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