New coach, similar expectations for Baylor women’s hoops

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Baylor’s sideline will be different this season, but the Lady Bears expect similar results after…

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Baylor’s sideline will be different this season, but the Lady Bears expect similar results after being selected as the No.1 preseason team in the Big 12.

Coach Kim Mulkey resigned after last season to take the job at LSU. She led the Lady Bears to three National Championships, 12 Big 12 titles and 19 NCAA tournament appearances during her 21 years of service. Baylor made the Elite Eight last season.

Big shoes to fill for new Lady Bears coach Nicki Collen.

“There is definitely a lot of pressure, but I didn’t take the job so that there wasn’t the pressure,” said Collen, who has coached the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream for the past three. seasons. “It will be a new brand of basketball and it won’t look the same, won’t feel the same, but we hope the results will be the same.”

There are many reasons to be optimistic at Waco. The Lady Bears bring back Queen Egbo and NaLyssa Smith, Big 12 preseason Player of the Year. She averaged 18 points and nine rebounds last season.

Baylor also adds Jordan Lewis, a transfer from Alabama and the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She scored 17 points per game for the Crimson Tide.

CENTER OF INTEREST

Ayoka Lee has been one of the Big 12’s best players since joining two years ago. The Kansas State junior is hoping to take another step forward and help her team compete in an NCAA tournament this season.

Lee was an All-Big 12 first-team player in her first two seasons. She averaged 15 points in freshman and 19 last season.

“This offseason, I’ve just been working on getting more comfortable outside of painting,” Lee said. “Adding this to my game in a more natural way. “

Both seasons ended at the Big 12 tournament and Lee hopes to play until March.

“I’ve been looking forward to this year for a while and just cleared last year,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “I think each team will be at a different level this year because you have more training time and it feels more normal.”

The Wildcats last participated in the NCAA tournament in 2019, losing to Michigan in the first round.

THE NEXT BEST

Texas and Iowa State are tied for second in the preseason poll. The Longhorns received two first place votes and the Cyclones got one.

Both teams come out of disappointing finishes in the conference. Iowa was fourth in the Big 12 last season and Texas was fifth.

The Longhorns are looking to replace Charli Collier, the No.1 pick in the WNBA draft, who led the team to the Elite Eight last season. They’ll be starting from scratch with preseason freshman of the year Aaliyah Moore, a forward with versatile offensive play.

“She’s working her tail,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. “She is a very coachable kid and we are really looking forward to our first grade class. Our job is to prepare them for the season.

THE REST OF THE PACKAGE

Other teams chasing Baylor this season, in order of place in the preseason poll, are West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Kansas.

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More AP Women’s College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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