Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Quotes from Kim Mulkey and Key Baylor Lady Bears ahead of Sweet 16 game against Florida State

Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey along with three players in senior point guard Niya Johnson, junior guard Alexis Jones, and junior post Nina Davis spoke with the media Friday afternoon ahead of their Saturday afternoon Sweet-16 game against Florida State.

Key Quotes from Lady Bears Media Availability

Q. Alexis, this team has so much size and a lot of teams try to take away the size by crashing the paint and that's opened up the perimeter for shooters like you and Kristy and Alexis Prince. Talk about how the 3-point shooting has evolved since you've joined them.

ALEXIS JONES: I think we started shooting the 3-point shot the first game of the tournament and I think us shooting the three helps the inside game and also helps us as a team because if we couldn't shoot that three I think it would be easier to guard us. But us being able to shoot that three and also taking girls off the dribble and penetrating and kicking and finding other players it helps a lot on the post area, too, because they're going to double our post no matter what.

Q. Nina, then Niya, when you look at Florida State there are a lot of similarities, size inside but everybody can score so talk about that match-up and that challenge when there are so many similarities to what the teams can do?

NINA DAVIS: It should be a good match-up. We have so many similarities and I think it's going to come down to who take care of the ball more, who plays the better defense because we're two teams that score in the 70s. So we're identical on offense, but the winner will be whoever plays the most defense tomorrow.

NIYA JOHNSON: What Nina said and not only that but knowing your personnel, knowing who drives, who shoots and who crashes the offensive and defensive boards and knowing who running in transition, just watchin' and looking at the scouting report.

Q. Nina and Niya, y'all played in this building before. What does it mean to have played in this building. I don't think any of the other teams have played in this building before.

THE MODERATOR: Niya?

NIYA JOHNSON: I think there is no difference. Closer to home, the fans get to come see us play one more time. Hopefully it won't be the last. But being here it's going to be a great feeling and a great atmosphere. 

NINA DAVIS: I don't think it makes a difference. It is a benefit for our fans since here only a half hour away and they can get here and don't have to fly or anything like that. But as far as playing before, a gym is a gym, a rim is a rim and so you have to go out on the court and be ready to play.

Q. Niya, Coach talked about when you didn't play against Oklahoma State and you guys lost how much that hit you and that sort of thing. What was it about that? You're a veteran, you've been through losses before. But what was it about that one game that struck you and do you think that loss had an affect on this team going forward from that point?

NIYA JOHNSON: Leadership and just not being out there and helping my team out, weathering the storm. I was heart broken but after that loss we came back and we responded, not only me because I couldn't play, but Alexis Jones and Nina Davis stepping up and being leaders as well, just leading the team as well and saying, hey we have things to work on inside, post presence and especially as guarding people as well and I think we responded very well as you can see. Now we are in the Sweet 16. 

Q. Nina, then Alexis, you just heard Niya's answer about the Oklahoma State game. I'm sure you remember it too. How did it push you guys going forward?

NINA DAVIS: We definitely took it upon ourselves. Me and Alexis, we felt bad we weren't able to carry our team to a victory, especially starting the conference off with a loss. But it was definitely a wake-up call that I think we needed. I'm not sure we would be the team we are today if we would be the not have taken that loss. It allowed us to know we have things to work on we're not as good as we are and it just kind of put us in check and helped us to realize that we have to be leaders and carry this team.

ALEXIS JONES: What Nina said, I think it was a wakeup call for us and it motivated us and I think it made Niya and Nina to become better captains and to want it even more and to push this team to be the best they could be at all times.

Q. Nina, then Niya, when you look at Florida State there are a lot of similarities, size inside but everybody can score so talk about that match-up and that challenge when there are so many similarities to what the teams can do?

NINA DAVIS: It should be a good match-up. We have so many similarities and I think it's going to come down to who take care of the ball more, who plays the better defense because we're two teams that score in the 70s. So we're identical on offense, but the winner will be whoever plays the most defense tomorrow.

NIYA JOHNSON: What Nina said and not only that but knowing your personnel, knowing who drives, who shoots and who crashes the offensive and defensive boards and knowing who running in transition, just watchin' and looking at the scouting report.

Q. Alexis, playing close to home, do you almost have to keep your emotions in check when you get out there for that first game? Are you concerned about that at all? Have you played in this building? 

ALEXIS JONES: I haven't played in this building before. I don't think I have to keep my emotions in check. I feel like I'm back in high school all over again, and I'm really just excited that my mom and dad are going to have the opportunity to finally get to see me play in the first Sweet 16 of my college career. So, I mean, it's just exciting to know that I'm going to have a lot of family and friends. That's just going to be real excited to watch me play out there.

Q. Kalani Brown, how do you feel about this game being in Dallas?

KALANI BROWN: Fans play a big role. Being in Dallas, it'll be like playing back at home since we're only an hour from Waco. I think having our fan base support us like they have all season will help us. It means a lot to coach and the team to have fans so dedicated. I think that whenever the game comes, this place will be rocking."

Q. Krist Wallace, thoughts on the loss in NCAA Tournament last year?

KRISTY WALLACE: It definitely made us refocus and gave us a sense of urgency. I think going into that game we weren’t focused, we didn’t have that energy. I think going through that experience and working on what we needed to has helped us get to where we are now.

Q. Kim, your team has had some good moments and bad moments in this building. Is there anything left to experience having been in this building for your program? I don't think any of the other teams have been.

KIM MULKEY: I don't think so. I think the only thing you will notice is the fans, the proximity to Waco will allow us to have more fans than anybody, but last time I checked the average age of our fans, I don't think they will be able to pass it, shoot it or dribble it for us, so it's not really going to matter. It's what takes place on that court and all four teams that are here are good or they wouldn't be here. I think that Florida State and Baylor's offensive philosophies are very similar. Then you've dot DePaul and Oregon State who are a lot different than Baylor and Florida State. So I think you're going to see great basketball. I'm glad it's in Dallas and glad for what the Final Four is going to be hosted here and we are certainly glad to be here.

Q. Kim, some teams might have slugged off that first loss in conference play. Looked like your players and you took it personally and to heart. Talk about did that galvanize this team going forward? What kind of affect did it have?

KIM MULKEY: I definitely think it had an affect. We didn't play Niya Johnson in that game. She could have played but she tweaked her ankle right before Christmas and it wasn't like a sprained ankle; it was a bone bruise. And I told the trainer if she limps down the floor she is not playing. And after the game, after we lost, Niya took it harder than anybody, she was crying, was extremely upset, felt she let her team down. But one of the things I remember is the freshman was in shock at her tears. She was like, it's just one game.

So I think when a freshman says that, they learned real quick it's not just one game, that one loss could have cost you the conference championship. So I think it did allow the freshmen to understand, oh boy, and focus on the next game and focus on the next game. We couldn't look at the big picture from that first game when we were defeated. We had to look at the next game and I think it got, especially the freshmen, I think it got their attention.

Q. Kim, as we've talked about the size of your team, what about what they bring inside, they have a 6-4 center, the senior in there and a 6-5 girl in there, talk about the challenges they present with what they've got?

KIM MULKEY: I don't know about 6-5 unless you're talking about James. I know Adut. We recruited her. She shoots as many threes as she does posting up inside and that's a difficult match-up. Obviously with her athleticism she is a tremendous rebounder. We're very familiar with Leticia Romero. She is the kid that transferred from Kansas State to them and Adut was a transfer from Trinity Valley, but they're kinda small inside. If you look at Thomas who leaps out of the gym, dunks it, takes most of her shots in the paint area, so it kinda reminds you of an undersized post player like we have with Nina. Florida can play inside for them, look at their perimeter, they're shooting the three-ball, they will score at all positions, look at their stats they score like we do in many positions.

I think it will be a very entertaining game offensively, and I hope that our defense is just a tad better than them. I looked at field goal percentage defense, both teams, and I think we were third in field goal percentage defense on the NCAA stats and you need to look I think they were 111th, but I'm not positive about them, but we pride ourselves on our defense.

Q. You've been a part of two National Championships, had great success. We heard about how the players react when they've lost in the postseason or earlier this year. How do you take those losses and react and feed you?

KIM MULKEY: Well, I remember when I first got the job at Baylor. I actually, before we played Texas Tech, Marcia Sharp came to see me before the game and we sat and talked and I asked her, I said, Marsha, how do you do this for this long of a period of time? These losses eat on me and I said I can't stay in it forever, I want to live. And she laughed and she said, Kim, the older you get, the learn how to manage that better. And she is exactly right. You learn how to manage it better.

You never lose your fire. You never -- losses you're always thinking about what could I have done differently as a coach. But you learn to manage it a little better. You can't dwell on it, because you've got to move to the next game and she was absolutely right. I remember my first loss at Baylor and I thought, oh this business isn't for me! But you do, you get motivated by it, you keep that fire in your belly and you just keep coaching.


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