Mulkey says he has had no contact with Griner since returning from Russia
By Schuyler Dixon
AP Sports Editor
DALLAS (AP) — LSU coach Kim Mulkey hasn’t spoken to Brittney Griner since the former Baylor star was released from a Russian prison and returned to the United States, but Mulkey had a message for his ex-player.
“I’m glad she’s back,” Mulkey said during his Final Four press conference on Thursday, a day before the Tigers meet Virginia Tech in the national semifinals. “I’m glad she’s safe, she’s healthy. I think everyone is.
Mulkey was criticized in September for offering no words of support or encouragement to Griner, the three-time American and WNBA star who was arrested in February in Russia on drug-related charges and later convicted and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.
“And you won’t,” Mulkey interrupted in the fall when asked for a reaction to Griner’s situation by a reporter who suggested the coach hadn’t weighed in.
Following Griner’s release in a dramatic prisoner exchange with Russia, Mulkey released a statement via ESPN expressing his relief at the news.
Baylor was the first 40-0 national champion when Griner was a junior in 2012. The Bears lost in the regional final a year later. Baylor also made the Final Four when Griner was a freshman.
After her career at Baylor, Griner exited. Days after being the WNBA’s No. 1 pick by Phoenix in 2013, Griner slammed Mulkey, saying her former coach forced her to keep her sexual orientation private because it could hurt recruiting.
Griner said she planned to resume her career with the Mercury; she missed last season while imprisoned in Russia.
DAD DAUGHTER DATE
Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks, a self-proclaimed Dallas Cowboys fan, once recalled sitting near star quarterback Dak Prescott six years ago when Prescott’s alma mater, Mississippi State, ended Connecticut’s 111-game winning streak in the national semifinals in Dallas. .
It turns out there’s another reason the Final Four was special for Brooks, who had just finished his first season with the Hokies while Prescott had just made his NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year debut.
Brooks took her second daughter, Chloe, on the trip and remembers she was in a tough spot mentally due to an injury.
“We had the best time,” Brooks said. “I wish I could tell you a story, a Disney story ending and saying, ‘Hey, baby, someday we’ll be here too,’ but we didn’t. But it was a memorable moment, and for come full circle to know that 2023, I’m going to bring my team. As Taylor (Soule) says, “We’re not in the Final Four. We’re in the Final Four.
South Carolina star Aliyah Boston remembers watching the Gamecocks win their first national championship six years ago in the same arena where they will attempt to clinch the program’s third title.
Coach Dawn Staley’s team beat Mississippi State 67-55 after the Bulldogs ended UConn’s run with a buzzer-beater in overtime in the semifinals.
“I vividly remember watching that game,” Boston said. “Winning a national title was pretty cool because I knew I wanted to do that too and play under Coach Staley.”
Ditto for guard Zia Cooke: “I think after watching that game I said to my dad, ‘I want to go. I want to go.’
Iowa star Caitlin Clark had two teammates on the podium for the press conference ahead of their game in South Carolina. They were asked their favorite Clark moment.
Gabbie Marshall was torn between whether the opponent was Iowa State or Ohio State. But she remembers it was at home.
“She had gone down and hit three logo shots in a row,” Marshall said. “I remember looking, like, ‘What’s going on? This girl is crazy. I don’t really know who we were playing against, but it was crazy. But I wasn’t surprised . »
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