Lisa Bludder, Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes are one game away from the programs first national championship! Their opponent, the Tigers of LSU are also seeking their first title. We reached out to Zach of LSU site “And The Valley Shook” to get a peak into this LSU squad before the big game.
1. On a scale of 0 to -10,0001 how would you grade Kim Mulkey’s wardrobe?
Whoever her stylist is, it’s working because she’s taken LSU to heights they’ve never been in only her second year on the job. Personally I was a big fan of the Ric Flair look she had in the Sweet 16 game against Utah. There’s been a lot of “wHaT DoEs KiM mUlKeY lOoK LiKe” posts throughout this tournament run and I get it. She’s not a likable figure and yeah if she wasn’t my coach I’d probably be getting my jokes off too. But you know what Kim looks like to me? A three-time national champion head coach who is 40 minutes away from a fourth.
Excuse me while I go take a shower for totally non “I just defended Kim Mulkey’s honor” reasons.
2. Maryland transfer Angel Reese is incredible and may have the best nickname in sports with the “Bayou Barbie” persona. Is there a strategy the Hawkeyes can use to slow down both her game and infectious personality?
It’s funny I asked you something similar in our preview about how do you slow down Caitlin Clark and you basically said “I’m not trying to be funny but you can’t.” Well...I’m not trying to be funny either but I’m not sure there’s something Iowa can do to slow down her play and I’m CONFIDENT nothing’s going to stop her personality. I’ve got the over/under on the number of “too small” taunts Reese flexes at 55.5.
Even if Reese’s shot isn’t falling she’s maybe the best rebounder in the country and to be perfectly honest I’m expecting her and LSU to out-rebound Iowa by a pretty wide margin. Reese is also a pretty good ball handler (though she’s no Caitlin Clark!) especially for a post player. There will be several possessions in transition where Reese will be bringing the ball up the court. But even if her shot isn’t falling and Iowa manages to keep her off the glass, Reese is still an elite defender and LSU has shown all tournament, heck all season long, that they can use defense to fuel themselves to victory.
3. At a University that has reached the top of the mountain in football, how would you gauge the fan excitement about this opportunity for a championship?
Excuse me sir, but we’ve also reached the top of the mountain six times in baseball and contrary to what we showed against you guys in Texas this baseball team we’ve got right now seems poised to bring home our seventh title.
I bring up baseball for a reason because sadly I think they’ve been overshadowing this women’s basketball team. At least early on in the tournament, and I kind of get it. This is a really good baseball team with maybe the first two picks in this year’s draft on the roster and March Madness usually starts around the same time as conference play, so I kind of get LSU fans saying to themselves “good for the ladies but it’s not like they’re not gonna win the title.” But I think people in and around Baton Rouge kind of perked up when they saw just how deep the Tigers were advancing. “Wait, they’re in the Elite 8? Hold on, they’re in the Final Four?” “Wait a second they’re in the natty???” There’s a great clip of Alex Box Stadium breaking out an LSU chant at Friday’s baseball game after LSU advanced past Virginia Tech. What’s that Leo line from Django Unchained “first you had my curiosity now you have my attention?” I think LSU fans have reached that point now, and all it took was *checks notes* reaching the national championship game.
4. LSU has found ways to win the last three games in totally different styles. What allows this team to find a way to keep winning these close and competitive tournament games?
Defense mainly. Defense travels with you no matter if it’s game one of the regular season, or if you’re holding Virginia Tech to 20% shooting in the fourth quarter of the national semifinal game.
As for this tournament specifically you nailed it all five of these wins have looked very different: against Michigan in the Round of 32 Angel Reese had a 20/20 game and the Tiger defense shoved Michigan’s offense into a locker; against Utah in the Sweet 16 LaDazhia Williams had the game of her life with 24 points and 6 boards while Reese was bogged down with foul trouble. And against Virginia Tech Friday night Alexis Morris, a senior and Texas native, refused to be denied and scored 27 points. That’s what makes LSU such a good team, they’re adaptable and can play a number of different ways.
5. How have Angel Reese and the other transfers on this team been able to mold together so seamlessly in their first year together?
It’s pretty impressive, right? LSU brought in nine new players and they clicked instantly and I mean that literally as they scored a school record 125 points in the season opener. It’s cliche to say “well you know it all comes down to coaching” but in this case what else could it be? Kim Mulkey inherited a 9-win team and with that same exact roster won 26 games in her first year here. Now with an almost entirely new roster she’s won 33 games and is competing for a national championship. In this NIL/transfer portal era we’re in you don’t think elite talent isn’t noticing that? You don’t have to like Kim Mulkey the person but there’s no denying that Mulkey the coach is building something special in Baton Rouge.
6. Honestly, as a fan of an opposing school, what is your opinion on all of the attention Caitlin Clark is receiving? A certain coach in Columbia, SC isn’t too fond of her.
Me? I think it’s great for her, Iowa, and the women’s game as a whole. Caitlin Clark’s got an edge to her, so does Angel Reese. Good! I think women’s hoops need personalities like these two. They’re not villains per se, but they’re definitely the type that if they’re on your team you love them and if they’re not you hate ‘em. Clark’s a killer. She’s the baddest woman on the planet right now, and I think she’ll be the key figure as the women’s game’s popularity increases.
7. Dude… what’s up with the Kim Mulkey billboard in Waco?
That’s absolutely on purpose and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The only thing LSU fans love more than jambalaya at the tailgate is being petty and this particular LSU women’s basketball team knows people don’t like them and they love it. Be it throwing up a billboard in Kim’s former employer’s city or dunking on Daniel Connolly on Twitter. Connolly, a UConn beat writer, tweeted in January his displeasure at LSU being in that week’s AP Top-5 saying “LSU-yeah that LSU leapfrogged (UConn)” and that’s been LSU’s rallying cry all season long (that tweet is still up by the way). If LSU-yeah that LSU-wins they’re going to let the whole world know about it.
8. Finish these sentences:
LSU wins the national championship if…Alexis Morris saves her best for last, Angel Reese has or flirts with another 20/20 game (she’s had about six or seven of them this year) and one of Jasmine Carson or Kateri Poole can provide some shooting from outside the paint. Cailtin Clark going cold would go a long way too though I’m not counting on that. I’m wondering if LSU’s plan on defense is to let Clark get hers, but don’t let the supporting cast beat you.
LSU loses the national championship if…Clark continues to be the Steph Curry/Pete Maravich/T-1000 supernova death machine she’s turned into. LSU can’t let this game turn into a three-point contest because they’ll lose that. If the Tiger defense can muck up Sunday’s game I like their chances; if they can’t and Iowa turns this into a track meet then congrats on your first ever title, Hawks.