Head coach Kim Mulkey’s Baylor women’s basketball team begins the 2013-14 season tonight in a familiar place, but in unfamiliar territory.
The familiar place? At home in the Ferrell Center, where the Lady Bears have won 57 straight games dating back to 2010 — the nation’s longest active home win streak. Baylor opens up 2013 with a pair of exhibition games — tonight at 7 p.m. vs. Palm Beach Atlantic, and Nov. 5 vs. Oklahoma City — before starting the season in earnest with a seven-game homestand. In fact, the Lady Bears will play only one game away from Waco before beginning conference play on Jan. 2 — and that is at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington vs. Kentucky on Dec. 6.
The unfamiliar territory? The Lady Bears don’t begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, as they have each of the last two years; Baylor is 10th in the preseason coaches poll. The Lady Bears don’t even begin as the conference favorite, as they have each of the last four years; Baylor was picked second, perhaps largely based on reputation. The Lady Bears are also without a quintet of seniors who powered the team through its best four years ever, including the 2012 national title. Kimetria Hayden (BSED ’13), Jordan Madden (BSED ’13), Brooklyn Pope (BSED ’12), Destiny Williams (BSED ’13), and two-time national player of the year Brittney Griner all either graduated or moved on to the pros.
So what will fans see on the Ferrell Center floor this year? One very familar face — senior Odyssey Sims, who has a very good chance of keeping the national player of the year award in Waco — surrounded by a very young team. What the lineup lacks in experience, it will make up for in talent; seven of the 13 players were high school all-Americans. It just may take some time to sort out who plays what role.
It will certainly be an interesting season for Lady Bear fans. Have you got your tickets? Season and single-game tickets are on sale now.
Sic ’em, Lady Bears!