WACO, TX — Nearly one year after their season was cut short by COVID-19, Baylor Women's Basketball Head Coach Kim Mulkey still remembers the text she got on the runway before the Lady Bears left for the Big 12 Tournament.
"He said I don't know if there's any way you can stop that plane, but they're fixing to play this men's game tonight and then they're gonna shut down the tournament," she recalled.
Now, one year later, both of Baylor's basketball teams are gearing up to make that return trip, feeling confident they won't see a repeat of last year's problems.
"I'm just gonna follow whoever's leading and do what they ask me to do," said Coach Mulkey.
The Baylor Men will tip things off Thursday.
For a group still working to fight back to full strength after a three week COVID-layoff, Head Coach Scott Drew hopes this week will iron out some final issues.
"Fresh legs have maybe helped with the shooting, but defensively, I think that's the area where we're trying to get back where we were at," he said.
On the women's side, Coach Mulkey will be the first to tell you the Big 12 Tournament can do a lot more harm than good.
The Lady Bears enter the week with little to gain and much to lose, especially with the risk for injury. But, that won't change the approach.
"Oh baby. We're playing to win. We're not getting on that plane negative. We're not getting on that plane for any other reason other than we're gonna lace 'em up and play," said Coach Mulkey.
As both sides prepare for a bigger tournament later in March, they hope this week will serve as one final tune-up.
"It's so similar because you have high-level talent. You get one day scouts. You have to play back to back sometimes, and I love it. It shows who's mentally tougher," Baylor Men's guard, Jared Butler said.
The Baylor Men start things off on Thursday at 1:30 p.m., while the Lady Bears will tip off Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.