Baylor's best basketball coach answers to the name Kim, not Scott


Monday night was far from the first time Baylor looked like a collection of talented basketball players thrown together at the last minute and sent to the lions to play against a highly organized, disciplined, talented Kansas team.

It was, however, the first time while I was watching a true team play against an All-Star squad that a thought pitched a tent in my cloudy head: Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, a driven, smart (high school valedictorian), intense leader who commands so much respect from peers and players, could get the Bears to play better basketball and win more games than Scott Drew wins.

No Division I school ever has hired a woman as head coach of its men’s basketball team. Tennessee did once discuss the men’s job with its women’s coach, the legendary Pat Summitt, who retired after last season and is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. During an interview on ESPN Radio in New York City a decade or so ago, I asked Summitt why she did not want to make the jump to the men's game. She said she seriously considered it, but thought she could do a better job of promoting women’s basketball by staying put. We’ll never know if Summitt’s opinion on that matter was on target.

But if Drew decides to take his considerable recruiting talents elsewhere, Baylor would be wise to try what Tennessee tried with Summitt, as classy a coach as there is in basketball.

The women’s game has grown since Summitt decided to stay in it, but its popularity still lags. Something needs to happen to jolt it. UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s recent suggestion to lower the hoops to bring dunking into the game didn’t gain much traction. (He’s not the first one to make such a suggestion, just the smartest). Should Mulkey coach a talented group of men into a national powerhouse, that would gain respect for the women’s game.

It’s no insult to Drew to suggest that Mulkey could do a better job with his players than he does. Mulkey has a great basketball mind, knows how to communicate what she knows in understandable fashion and holds her players accountable without coaching the joy out of the game. Her players show steady improvement.

In fairness, Drew’s recruiting has elevated the program. He has reached the Elite Eight twice, which suggests his laid-back style might result in his teams playing less tight than others during the NCAA Tournament. But his players are not dragged out of their comfort zones often enough to stay on a rapid improvement curve. Still, Drew’s recruiting touch makes him a hot coaching prospect. If he bolts for a fatter wallet, Baylor doesn’t need to leave the building to find his replacement.

As a player, Mulkey won four Louisiana state high school titles, two national titles for Louisiana Tech and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984. As a coach, she has won two national titles (2005, 2012) and has a team that has a good shot to win a third.

It would take a woman unburdened by insecurity to crash the men’s gate and Mulkey certainly qualifies. She doesn’t shy from the big stage.

A year ago at Big 12 Media Day, the fiery, stylish Mulkey grew her considerable fan base when asked if she would continue to schedule Texas A&M after it left the Big 12 for the SEC, a move A&M’s president compared to a divorce. (Mulkey is divorced).

“My feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him and then asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is, ‘No,’ “ Mulkey said.

Talk about a memorable moment.

Mulkey loves her current job so much she might never want to change it. But if she ever decides to blaze a trail, stand back and watch her shoot to the top.


Phil Leister 9 years, 8 months ago

A woman D-1 coach would have a very, very difficult time recruiting. It would never work. Not only that, men's and women's college basketball are very different games. While Mulkey may be a great X's and O's coach for her team, that doesn't mean it would translate to the men's game. The speed of the game, the types of plays drawn up, and the physicality of the game are completely different from the men's side to the women's side. Geno Auriemma would have a difficult time transitioning to the men's game as well.

Phil Leister 9 years, 8 months ago

This isn't to say that Drew is even close to a competent coach. He's not.

Tom Keegan 9 years, 8 months ago

Different games, yes, but a great basketball mind such as Mulkey, flanked by assistants with extensive experience in the men's game, would get up to speed in no time. Recruiting is the aspect that would make it a gamble. But as the only woman among 300-plus Division I schools, that would give her a niche. Maybe some parents would feel more comfortable with her coaching their son? Plus, she's super smart, which helps in any field of sales.

Vernon Riggs 9 years, 8 months ago

Then Drew would be best served if he would ask Kim to sit next to him at every game and whisper in his ear what to do. He is clueless now.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

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702Hawk 9 years, 8 months ago

She and any top coach could switch sports and have success. It's like how a great athlete could switch sports and be successful. I think the biggest adjustment a women's coach would have to make is losing their great young players so soon. It amazes me that she gets another year with Brittany.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

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nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

I know - and you would NOT believe why!! Someone at LJW is a little sensitive today, I believe. Not that I'm a celebrity or anything, but I hardly think I'm known as being rude, abusive or obscene. Wow.

I hope this doesn't get removed too.

Scott Smetana 9 years, 8 months ago

Hang in there nuleaf... I got censored yesterday for calling a certain coach from a team we just beat a terrible coach.

SouthernMan 9 years, 8 months ago

Pure silliness. Wish I had that three minutes back. Make that four minutes (signing on to this comment board).

Boouk 9 years, 8 months ago

On the other hand, Baylor's most effective BB recruiter answers to the name Scott.

mikehawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Let's see, didn't Baylor beat us in the Big 12 tournament last year? I am with SouthernMan on this one. Silliness.

KGphoto 9 years, 8 months ago

I'm having a hard time understanding why this is such a stretch for some people. Men have been coaching women forever. I agree it's a slightly different game, but if men can coach women, certainly women can coach men. Otherwise you just think women are of inferior mind.

I do think they would have a tough time recruiting at first, but I also think this idea will eventually happen. Maybe not at a place like Baylor. Maybe at a place like Stanford. A place where people are a little more comfortable with forward thinking. By the way, the Stanford men haven't been to the tournament in 4 years under Johnny Dawkins, and won't go this year either. I'd bet my right arm Tara VanDerveer could take those same players and have that team in the tourney this year.

REHawk 9 years, 8 months ago

But for the phone call issue, Scott Drew appears to do a super job of recruiting...hopefully within other legal boundaries. His X and O preparation and gametime adjustment appeared to be very weak Monday night. Bill Self is probably quite happy to see Scott stick around at the helm of the Baylor program.

Shawn Otrimble 9 years, 8 months ago

I have a little beef with Keegan, I was watching the local Topeka sports talk show "The Drive" Sunday night and it had got to the part where they would pick who would win the games this week and by a line. Keegan picked Baylor and Texas to beat Ku. Me personally, I would want someone representing my alma matter with school pride like Max or Bob, talking about KU sports on area TV. Are they biased? Of course they are, they bleed crimson and blue. Keegan I've also listened to you 810 am "Between the Lines." And you most always come off as a UN-biased journalist that is just doing his job, when you and I know that is K-State territory. If you are representing Ku please try to remind yourself how sweet it is. Even if you believed Baylor would beat KU Monday night you have to rationally think that Ku is 100-1 at home in the last 101 games. Odds would say they would make the spread. When I'm listening to a representative of KU sports, I would like to hear more of a biased opinion, If I wanted unbiased I would just listen to ESPN or read USA today Sports.

JayhawkRock78 9 years, 8 months ago

Don't know that I'd go along with a woman coaching the men, but I will say woman's bBall has come a long way. My daughter plays AAU and school ball. The club teams have more depth than school teams in general. You see some real talent in these tourneys, not just the national tourneys either. Some of these girls can dribble and shoot just as well as the boys. The difference is elevation. Lowering the goal would make the game more exciting, but I don't think 9 feet would be enough. 8 feet would make more sense. Just think of baseball vs softball.

bjejayhawk69 9 years, 8 months ago

First off Scott Drew can recruit - don't know if he doing anything illegally but some how he is getting players. As far a coaching he is grossly sub par. They have made 2 Elite 8s but look at the the talent he has. Numerous other coaches would have that talent in Final 4s and challenging for national championships. Playing lazy undisciplined zone defense is simply pathetic and it carries over to poor offensive structure and lack of discipline as well.

As far as the girls game - I have girls that play and I coach AAU ball as well. Lowering the goal to 9 foot would be great. The girls game is played at floor level and relies on ball skill and shooting more because "getting to the rim" is not as much of a goal because there is no thrill of dunking. Lowering the rim would create more of that and make it more exciting but it would also create more injuries - especially ACL type injuries with landing akwardly.

JayhawkRock78 9 years, 8 months ago

hawk69, Glad to hear someone else thinks highly of the skills these girls have. I didn't think about the increased injuries. That's not good. I suppose a lot of hanging on the rim would help reduce those injuries. Then again, hanging on the rim takes upper body strength.

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