WACO, TEXAS (AP) - Kim Mulkey will stomp her feet or scowl if a referee makes a questionable call. If one of her Baylor players makes a mistake, she will often get an animated expression from the coach.
Pacing and pointing, Mulkey shouts out instructions from the sideline and sometimes frantically waves her arms to direct her team _ or get a ref’s attention. And it doesn’t matter if the Lady Bears are trailing or have a big lead, which is more often the case.
“She’s so fiery,” senior guard Melissa Jones said. “She does everything in her power to get us a win without actually being on the court doing it.”
Mulkey is demanding and her expressions match her intensity. She has been that way winning national titles as a head coach, assistant coach and pigtailed point guard _ the only person ever to accomplish that trifecta.
“Kim Mulkey’s competitive nature and her competitive spirit and her drive to win have made her an outstanding basketball coach,” said Leon Barmore, who recruited Mulkey to play at Louisiana Tech, hired her as a coach there and is now one of her assistants.
“Some people say, well I want to win, and some people say I’m driven,” he said. “Some people may show it in different ways, but Kim shows it and wears it on her sleeve and her team feeds off of her.”
Baylor (33-2), the top-seeded team in the Dallas Regional, plays Wisconsin-Green Bay (34-1) on Sunday. The Lady Bears are in the NCAA round of 16 for the third straight season, and sixth time in eight years.
When Mulkey arrived in 2000, Baylor was coming off a 7-20 season, was the last-place team in the Big 12 and had never been to the NCAA tournament. The Bears have been 10 times since, winning the 2005 national title and going to the Final Four last season.
At times, Mulkey seems so distraught that it looks like she might burst into tears. That can change just as quickly to her slapping her hands together and encouraging her players.
Mulkey gets so involved in games that sometimes she’s not even aware of her expressions or what she does. She is sure to find out from her mother or her children, including daughter Makenzie Robertson, a freshman guard at Baylor.
“You’re just in that moment with those kids. It’s like you’re on that floor with them, and you’re playing the game. That’s just a passion you have and an intensity you have,” Mulkey said. “The sideline is my work, it’s my zone, where I’ve got to focus. And I’m not even aware of my surroundings except for those people on that bench with me.”
The former point guard who led Louisiana Tech to a 130-6 record and two national titles is as close as she can get to the action without having the ball in her hands.
What might surprise people who only see the ranting coach is what Mulkey is like off the court.
“If you only saw the basketball side, you would think she’s this intense, probably mean lady that’s just always yelling,” Robertson said. “But for the people close to her, they just see her as Kim. She’s a comedian and she loves to laugh and joke around. She’s just real laid-back.”
Mulkey, a self-proclaimed cutup, is often the target of pranks by her players.