The Baylor Bears women’s basketball team has not been defeated this season. Most games haven’t even been close.
The next team to try to change that is the University of California, Santa Barbara Gauchos. UCSB will face Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
UCSB coach Carlene Mitchell joined Bill Littlefield to talk about Saturday’s match-up.
The Gauchos have the unenviable task of trying to defend Baylor’s star center, Britney Griner. Mitchell was recently quoted as saying that she doesn’t know of any three players that can stop Griner, let alone one, so Bill asked Mitchell about her game plan.“You just let her get 50 or 60 [points] and hopefully you can make them make long [3-pointers],” Mitchell said. “She might have 60, 75, but if the rest of the team has four [points], maybe we have a shot.”
The Gauchos starting center, Kirsten Tilleman, is seven inches shorter than the 6-foot-8-inch Griner. To get her acclimated with the size difference, coach Mitchell employed an interesting strategy.
“We had one of our men’s players, who is 7’2″, stand beside her for a reality check. She has a big heart, so she thinks she’s ready for the challenge,” she said.
To upset Baylor, the Guachos will need top performances from every player, but Mitchell singled out two in particular.
“Mel Zornig has done a great job for us in postseason play,” Mitchell said. “She can shoot the three, put it on the floor, so I think she’ll be instrumental, because we’re going to have to find ways to score baskets. The second one will be Nicole Nesbit. She has the ability to get in the gaps and create for others, and it’s going to be extremely important for us to knock down open jumpers.”
Win or lose, Mitchell says simply making the NCAA tournament is a step in the right direction.
“I took the job nine months ago, and my goal was to get them to the NCAA tournament,” she said. “At the end of the day, there’s no better way to build the foundation of a program than having your underclassmen experience this, the big dance, and that’s ultimately what it’s all about.”