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With five of her top players in the closing stretch of their college careers, Mulkey takes advantage of lopsided games with playing time for a talented group of four freshmen who will have to step up next season.

“I hope that we can continue to have that, because what that does is allows the freshmen to get on the floor and those kids that are role players to get valuable minutes,” Mulkey said. “It just makes them better in a game setting.”

Mulkey is also getting help from Griner and the veteran players in growing up the young players.

“This team, sometimes I just feel like I need to sit down,” Mulkey said before referencing a recent pregame shootaround. “They’ve been through it so many times, they just led themselves. I just stood on the sideline. They knew what to do;, hey knew what I was going to say next. They knew to keep teaching the freshmen, they knew to run this at the end of the controlled break.”

With a round-robin schedule of home-and-home games, Big 12 teams play 18 conference games during the regular season. Fennelly suggests that everybody else is playing 16 games outside two likely losses to Baylor.

The Cyclones next week host Baylor, which will finish that regular-season series even before the Lady Bears face three Big 12 teams. And that may not be fast enough for the Iowa State coach.

“I’ve been this league so long … I asked them, I’d play (Baylor) twice the first two games,” Fennelly said. “Let’s get it over with.”