Video, Transcript: LSU Women Discuss Hawkeyes
Tigers Take on Iowa for National Title
LSU advanced to Sunday’s national championship game in Dallas with a victory against Virginia Tech. Saturday, the Tigers talked about their next opponent, Iowa.
See what they had to say in this HF TV video and transcript:
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. At this time, we’ll open it up for questions for Coach.
Q. First, I want to know how many matching outfits Sage brought for the championship? I was curious if there is a comparison to Caitlin from film that you’ve watched. Obviously you’ve been a great defensive coach for a long time. Is there anyone that she reminds you of?
KIM MULKEY: First question is a designer made that outfit for my granddaughter when she gave me the outfit she wanted me to wear. So I don’t think there’s another one.
Number two, I’ve never seen a player — I don’t like to use the word “never,” but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player that can do what Caitlin does.
She’s going to get her points. That girl is phenomenal shooting the ball. But the most impressive thing to me, now that you’re talking to an old point guard, is she makes everybody around her better. You have great players that can get numbers, but she makes others on her team better.
Q. Does it make your job easier facing a player like Caitlin when it comes to putting together defensive game plan?
KIM MULKEY: No. No. The familiarity that we would have had with South Carolina would have been easier just because they’re in our league. But just the things she’s capable of doing — one minute you think you’re going to guard her a certain way, then you watch the film and change your mind and go, oh, that’s not going to work.
Hopefully by the end of the day, we’ll come to some conclusion as a staff that we’re going to try this first, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll try this.
That’s my first time to see her play in person, and I didn’t get to watch the game because I had to deal with y’all. When I did get out there, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Gosh, she’s special. She’s special.
Q. I noticed an edge to your team this week, a sense of confidence, belief that they belong here. I’m sure that was only emboldened with the victory last night. Have you noticed it at all?
KIM MULKEY: I’ve noticed it all year. That’s the personality of the crew I get to coach. Big personalities, strong women, opinionated women, and when they get on the floor, they challenge each other.
And I say this in a complimentary way, they remind me of guys. You know how the guys roll the ball out and let’s get after it? That’s what I get to coach every day. They get on each other. They’ll challenge each other. They don’t take it personal. They know they’re on the same team, but I guess it’s maybe hold each other accountable in a different kind of way. Not so much a nice way as it is just, you’ve got more in your tank. Let’s go. Or get that rebound. It just reminds me growing up playing with the guys and how the guys talked to each other like that.
Q. Coach, congratulations.
KIM MULKEY: Thank you.
Q. My question for you, Coach, is first congratulations on getting here. You have won three National Championships, and you’ve been able to figure this out. What does your team bring? And can you just talk about the perseverance that you guys had there in the fourth quarter with Reese stepping up big. What do you guys have to do to win the championship?
KIM MULKEY: Do what we’ve done all year. We can’t change who we are. We got back in that game last night because of defense and rebounding. I just think we took it up a notch in the fourth quarter. Keep doing that.
Hit a few more shots. Just defend as hard as you can, rebound. I thought that being down 11 rebounds at half was so not normal for us, and then I finally saw in the fourth quarter Angel and those guys just go flying in there for offensive boards.
Just do what we’ve done.
Q. I’m curious when you got to LSU, reflecting on how you built that program at Baylor, was there anything you had done in the first one or two years that you said, like, I have to do when I get to LSU?
KIM MULKEY: Win one more game than they won the previous year. They won nine. So I thought schedule’s already done, so I can’t control that schedule. But when we got to ten wins, we celebrated. And then when we got to the number of wins that would allow us to have a winning season — this is last year — we celebrated.
When we finished second in the league to the national champions, we celebrated. When we were ranked for the first time — we celebrated all those things, but no. I didn’t know my team. You can’t put those kind of expectations, but yet you do have to give a team goals on what to shoot for.
I think we changed our goals as we grew and as we continued to play.
Q. Coach, throughout the season there have been ups and downs with the defensive intensity. For five straight games now, holding teams to 41 percent or less shooting, just what has it taken for you all to make this run defensively?
KIM MULKEY: I think it’s something we emphasize every day in practice. There will be days we don’t pick up a ball. Just guard people. Just bow your neck, guard people, get through screens, don’t hit screens, talk to each other.
And it’s been good this year. For nine new pieces, nine new players, and to be sitting here playing for a National Championship, I would have to just say we continue to grind and get better.
We’ve had great shooting nights, but we’ve had some sorry shooting nights. I think the one thing they really have bought into is, okay, this is what that woman is trying to tell us. Just keep guarding people, and you’ll stay in ball games.
Q. Having been on these runs before, do you look for your team starting to get stressed as the stakes get higher? How has this team reacted to the journey of going through the tournament and the games get bigger and bigger?
KIM MULKEY: I don’t sense stress. I just don’t. I think it’s their personality. They listen. They watch film. They want to play. They want to get on the court.
I don’t stress — last night I didn’t sense any stress or nerves. I hope they have butterflies. I hope the butterflies I have continue until I retire. Butterflies are good, but stress — I got some characters in that locker room. I don’t know that they stress about much.
Q. The team you have has never been here before as a school. You’ve been here three times and been successful each one. I’m curious what that experience can help you for the game tomorrow. And the second half of the question is this seems like there’s a new way to build teams. Transfer portal is here to stay, and in the old days with Baylor, you didn’t have to go to a transfer portal. You developed from freshman through. Is that the game you see going that you can bring players in more experienced to get you somewhere faster rather than building from freshmen, sophomores, juniors?
KIM MULKEY: The first part of your question, it is so exciting — I don’t even know how old LSU is. I don’t even know when they started playing men’s or women’s basketball, but it has to be a long time ago. And to think all those great players that have played in the NBA and the WNBA, and they never played for a National Championship. That’s mind boggling to me.
Me being in the games, it’s not going to have anything whatsoever to do with the outcome of the game. Those kids aren’t in my body. I could share with them X’s and O’s, and we can go out there and prepare, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to go play.
The second part, the transfer portal, the NIL, all that’s here to stay. You can fight it all you want. It’s here to stay. Obviously the transfer portal was good to us at LSU, but you know what, in another week kids can depart, kids that you wouldn’t expect would depart. You’re seeing it every day.
They’re departing for probably opportunities with NIL. At other schools it may seem better. Maybe playing time, maybe boyfriend, girlfriend, I don’t know. They just leave. That’s the bad part of the transfer portal. So you’re going to have to take the good with the bad.
Q. With as many new pieces as this team has this year, I’m curious if there was anything specific you did early in the season to get them playing as a unit or any turning point where you saw that cohesiveness start to develop?
KIM MULKEY: Just practice every day. Just practice every day. Get in the film room every day. There’s no magical thing that I can tell you just happened, and boy, all of a sudden we became this Final Four team.
I think it was coaches who work hard, recruit hard, demand a lot, and we don’t settle. When we have bad games or a kid plays bad, you get them in that film room. You hold them accountable. But that’s hard to do.
I mean, nine new pieces. Alexis Morris is the only one we had that really had playing experience. This is quite a run. This is quite a year.
Q. Just jumping off of that, you guys finished strong, the way you talked about, in this fourth quarter. I wonder what are some specific ways that you and your staff build the team to finish strong? Is this a team that takes certain practices into account to allow it to happen?
KIM MULKEY: Early in the preseason when we’re starting practice, maybe the third practice, somewhere in that range, I said I don’t know if these kids can play against each other. They’re going to hurt each other. I’m thinking I need to really, really get a good dream team, which is our guys, our college male practice team, because that’s how competitive they are. That’s how they talk to each other. It’s like going in the backyard and big sister is fixing to whip little sister and little sister grows up and thinks, I’m fixing to give it right back at you. That’s how they compete. Not in a dirty way, but like, oh, I don’t know about this.
We did a lot of stuff using our dream team. Those guys are good. Those guys are all in this building and take great pride that they’re a part of us sitting here on this stage.
You just think about Alexis Morris and Angel Reese going at it in practice, what a sight. I don’t know which one trash talks the other one more. It is competitors.
Q. Coach, you’ve talked about how Bob Starkey has been a vital piece on your coaching staff. He’s been part of all LSU’s Final Four runs. To get over the hump and getting to the National Championship, how special is that for you? I know getting there is not what your goal is, but just to do it with him.
KIM MULKEY: I’m going to answer that. Leading up, start with this, there are head coaches who work their whole life to become head coaches. And then when they get there, they have a very poor staff around them. I’ve seen it so many times.
You cannot as a head coach become stagnant. So throughout my career as a head coach, I have surrounded myself with head coaches who have left their respective head coaching jobs to come work for me, either for more money or bigger conferences or whatever. I want that input. I cannot do it by myself. I’m too old. I need to take a deep breath every now and then.
Leon Barmore was retired. That was my mentor, Hall of Fame, Naismith coach. He comes to Baylor for three years. “I need you, Coach. You don’t even have to go recruit.” He hated recruiting. “Just help me right here.”
I’ve had three or four more that were head coaches and came. Bob Starkey never wanted to be a head coach, but yet he’s the only one to my knowledge that has taken a team as an interim coach at LSU to a Final Four.
To have him on my staff and for me to be able to watch him speak the same language I speak tells you how good he is. He doesn’t use different terminology. He observed, and he watched the first couple months, like how I want things done. I think in turn he’s so glad to be back home. Baton Rouge is his home. He’s coached on the men’s side. He got to coach Shaquille O’Neal. On the women’s side, he got to coach Seimone, Sylvia, all those great players. He’s never played in a National Championship Game.
He’s made a promise to these kids, that if we win a National Championship, he’ll dance. This promise was made long ago, he doesn’t like to dance. We like to dance in Louisiana. He doesn’t. He’s an old West Virginia boy. But he’s promised them, should we win, that he’ll dance. Now, he didn’t say what kind of dance, but we’re going to hold him to that.
But just his knowledge. His knowledge, he says things like a head coach. He motivates them. He gets on them. And he’s comfortable. I think he’s comfortable because I get out of the way and let him be him.
I don’t know, it was one of you guys from Baton Rouge that wanted an interview with him. He’s really good friends with our administrative assistant, our secretary. She said, yeah, call him. Interview him. He was in shock. He’s like, she lets her coaches do that? She’s goes, Bob, you just need to get to know Kim. All these people think she’s a certain way. She’s not anything like that. Heck, yeah, she wants you to interview.
It’s an honor to have him on our staff.
Q. I wanted to ask, you talked about Caitlin, but did anything stand out to you about Lisa’s job coaching last night or throughout this tournament?
KIM MULKEY: I didn’t watch the coach. I’m watching that floor, and that’s the way it should be. I know you all look at what I wear, but after you see what I wear, you need to be watching the floor on what the coaches are doing.
I’m watching that floor. I’m watching how they defend. I’m watching plays. I’m watching all the things that take place on that floor.
Q. Did you see the video last night, Alex Box Stadium 12,000, 13,000 people that were all roaring as you won the game. The umpire didn’t know what was going on. As you’re here, I was just curious on your thoughts, straight back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, all the people having viewing parties and rooting for you to finish the job on Sunday?
KIM MULKEY: I did. Now, people have to send it to me because I don’t have social media. So they’ll send it to me, and they’ll go, Coach, look at this. All of a sudden, during the middle of that kid batting for Tennessee, you just hear and you see everybody standing, 13,000 people, because they got the final score.
And even the guys on the LSU team came out of the dugout. Tell me things aren’t happening at LSU that are positive. How about our gymnastics? They’re in the regional finals.
But I’ve got to tell this quick story: So my son Kramer plays for the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s in Triple-A. They’re playing in Charlotte. He’s batting in the 2 hole, playing third last night. He’s like 0-for-3. I think he had two strikeouts.
Well, he obviously is distracted. I’ll just tell it, hope the Cardinals don’t bench him today for it. He’s trying to get a score. He’s got a trainer or somebody giving him scores. We’re down 12, and hell, he strikes out again. Then he goes — this is a great story. He’s in the on-deck circle. He has no clue, he thinks we’re pretty much done at that point. He’s in the on-deck circle, and somehow, someway he got word that we were up ten, and he hits a double.
So it’s a great story. He laughed. When I left y’all last night, he FaceTimed me, and he was doing some pretty good celebrating with a few adjectives in there, and I said, shh, you’re right in front of the media.
You’ve got a lot of people that are excited. We have lots of people coming in from Baton Rouge that couldn’t get here Friday. So if you’ve got extra tickets, sell them to people reasonably priced. Those LSU people will buy them.
You know we like a good party. I would imagine every bar is offering every kind of drink possible today, tomorrow. There will be watch parties everywhere.
Fun times. Fun times at LSU. Kudos to Scott Woodward, kudos to Dr. Bill Tate for being our leaders and getting some of the best coaches in the country to come coach at LSU.
Q. Two questions for you: It seems like Lil Wayne is officially on board. I see he’s FaceTimed you guys the last couple days. What have those conversations been like with him? Two, we talk about Bob a lot, but guys like Gary and your other assistant coaches who are going through this NCAA Tournament run for the first time, how rewarding is it for you to have those really young assistants get to experience almost — for lots of coaches, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
KIM MULKEY: Well, Lil Wayne is a Louisiana guy. Those of you who don’t know who he is, he’s a famous rapper. Yeah, he FaceTimed Angel, and I was talking to him after the game last night. He’s a treat, and the girls love him. And if the girls love him, I love him. Anything he can do to promote our program and LSU and Louisiana, I’m all for.
He even likes my country music. He wants to use that (singing) “all my exes…” he wants to use that as a sample, whatever that means. So I just nod my head and say sounds good to me.
Gary, Joe, Chante’ come to mind on my staff, they’ve never been here. The tears Chante’ cried thanking me. I said don’t thank me, thank those kids. Gary said he’s not taking his shirt off until it’s all over. He’s beside himself. Gary’s father was a great player, for those of you who don’t know it, Gary Redus. And ironically, I used to watch the Cincinnati Reds. That was my team in the ’70s. I can still tell you every position on that field, and his dad was on that team.
To have him come and see our kids and talk to them. Joe Schwartz, I raised that boy. He and my son grew up together, and he went to UT and played for Shaka Smart and played for Rick Barnes as a walk-on. To watch them, it’s exciting for them, but it touches my heart, and they are young and keep me young.
They do all the things, all the things these young people like, and I just shake my head and say don’t embarrass me. Make sure you know who I am. “We’ve got you, Coach.” So it’s all good. It’s all good.
Q. Congratulations on the win yesterday. You’ve been at LSU since 2021. Do you feel like you’re ahead of schedule with the talent you have? Or do you feel like you’re still in the process of getting LSU to become a powerhouse?
KIM MULKEY: I don’t want to use the word “powerhouse.” We’ve won games. We have not won championships.
Are we ahead of schedule? I think it’s obvious we’re ahead of schedule. We’re sitting here playing for the National Championship.
So the hard part now is, when it’s all over, win or lose, you go back to recruiting, you go back to trying to duplicate what you did this year and just continue on a trajectory that is positive to someday maybe winning an SEC Championship, maybe winning a National Championship, or being what you would say a contender every year.
But we’re ahead of schedule, if that’s your question.
Q. Yesterday Kenny Brooks, while talking about the physical play, he complimented the officiating, but he also said it might be time for the women’s game to grow up a little bit and go to some rules like what you have in the WNBA. So stars like Angel Reese and Elizabeth Kitley can get freed up a little bit and not be surrounded by people all the time and show how good they are. I was wondering what you think about that.
KIM MULKEY: I don’t keep up with the rules in the WNBA. I don’t keep up with the rules in the NBA. Hell, I do a good job of keeping up with the college rules, and that’s all that matters to me.
I do understand his frustrations. I think every post player that plays the game understands that. But I’ve been blessed to have some of the greatest post players, probably more than any coach that’s ever coached this game, and I’ve never complained but a couple of times.
They’re not going to change it. The college game is different than the pro game. I understand his frustration because I’ve had those before, but you just have to deal with it. You have to make adjustments.
I can’t help add to his comments because I don’t know all that stuff. I just know what I deal with in college, and it’s physical. And the deeper you make a run in the playoffs, it’s physical. Yeah, I can’t add to his comments.
I didn’t hear his comments, but again, I don’t know all the rules in the WNBA.
Q. So you talk about rebounding being a key to your team’s success this year? Last night South Carolina outrebounded Iowa 49-25, I believe, and still wasn’t enough to get it done. What’s it going to take to capitalize on the advantage you have inside against them?
KIM MULKEY: Well, you’ve got to score the ball. You’ve got to score the ball. It was very difficult, the little bit I did get to watch live. It was very difficult for South Carolina in the paint because they obviously were crowding the paint, and they allowed Caitlin to roam. She never really guarded anybody. She just roamed.
You’ve got to hit shots. No matter how many post players you have, you’ve got to be able to hit perimeter shots, and that goes for us too. If you don’t hit perimeter shots, it doesn’t matter how many rebounds you get.
Q. You talked about the personalities you have in your locker room, and I was curious about, when you first met Angel, did that come through right away? What was your first impression of her?
KIM MULKEY: I think Angel has told you guys this. She came to LSU for a new start. Get away from some things that she’s not proud of in her past. Not bad things, but things that a lot of people tend to dwell on. We talked about it. I talk about everything.
There’s nothing that’s off limits when it comes to these kids and me when it comes to developing them and in their basketball. I think Angel has grown up a lot. Angel can handle tough love. I think Angel, probably she and Alexis Morris get more tough love from me than any of the players. Maybe that’s because expectations are a little different, but it’s also because they need it, they want it, and they embrace it.
Q. Coach, Sue Bird and I were talking last night that we noticed there was about several Baylor players here and how that speaks to the culture of what you’re building at LSU. Can you just talk about how the impact of that shows how great a coach you are, as you already know, but just the culture that you’re building there at LSU also.
KIM MULKEY: Lisa (Leslie) — Jim, you should ask her, she’s one of the great post players of all time, about those rules.
There were Louisiana Tech players here that I got to coach. Hug their necks. Just loving on me last night. There were Baylor players here that have a National Championship ring, and many Big 12 championship rings. There were LSU former players here.
That tells you you’ve been coaching a long time, but what it tells you is I had more of those former players that love me that don’t. When these people want to write about all the ones that don’t like me, go write about all the ones that do.
That’s not just for me. That’s for every coach in America. And to hug them, to watch their excitement, the parents of Lauren Cox, who couldn’t be here, they’re screaming and loving. That’s why you coach because you realize when your coaching is over, somewhere you did something good. And if you did more good than bad for somebody’s kid, that’s what you feel good about.
So I had a combination — Louisiana Tech, Baylor, LSU — yeah, I’m getting old. I’m getting old. Had former teammates from the Olympics here. There sits Cheryl Miller right there. There’s a picture. I don’t want to get — but she sends me a picture that Cathy Boswell had of our team getting inducted into the Hall of Fame here. Cathy sent it to me. It’s Cheryl, when we were in L.A. for the ’84 Olympics. We were at her house and there’s her dad and her mom and all of us.
I looked at that picture. We don’t have Annie Donovan anymore. We don’t have Saul, her daddy, anymore. Bam, it just hit me. We don’t have Pat Summitt, who was our coach. We don’t have Kay Yow, who was our coach. We don’t have Nancy Darsch, who was our coach.
That’s just when she just said, Kim, you are a — Cheryl and I talk and I won’t tell you everything, but it’s moments like that, Lisa. It’s moments like that, when it kind of hits you like what in the world are we doing?
Q. Kim, when you go from a program at Baylor, where you were there for a really long time, and then you’re starting over, what is hard, or what is different when you take that jump?
KIM MULKEY: Well, you first think recruiting is going to be harder because at Baylor, after you started and you started winning, the program sold itself. So when I left, I thought, whew, get to work.
But what I didn’t realize is the brand. Those three letters, LSU, they don’t mean anything else but Louisiana State University, and it’s an international brand. What I didn’t realize is how the portal is going to help you quicker than before we had the portal.
But you do the same things with the understanding that portal, they’re going to come, they’re going to go. Get a good coaching staff that has energy and can help you recruit. But I had no clue. The timing of me going to LSU, I had no clue that the NIL was going to have, and it is going to have impact at the major power — and it is having impact at the major Power Five conferences.
We’re not talking about collectives that are internal at each institution. We’re talking about these kids that want to be in these major Power Five conferences, and they see what Flau’jae has, and they see what Angel has. I don’t even know their NIL deals until they put a list out. One of y’all put a list out, and I went oh.
And then they give me gifts. They’re giving gifts to the coaches from their NIL deals, guys. I’m shaking my head, going I wouldn’t go buy this. This is too expensive.
That’s the world we live in now, but I didn’t know the impact of that when I left. I thought, oh, boy, I’m fixing to start all over. But it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be because of NIL and because of the LSU brand.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: At this time, we will open up questions for Angel.
Q. Down the stretch of the game, and it’s a pattern you followed throughout your career, finish strong in the fourth quarter. Just wondering, what are some specific things you do to prepare for that moment? Is it mental? Is it physical? What allows you to be the type of player who finishes as you do?
ANGEL REESE: Actually, after the SEC Tournament, we lost, there’s pictures going — well, not going around. I had got into the gym because I felt like I left my team down. I had recently gotten bigger and stronger, and I feel like I’ve gotten in more shape. So I feel like I needed to develop a little bit more and be able to play in those situations when it does come down to it.
So conditioning and strength has been the most important thing coming to LSU. That was my biggest thing. I needed to make sure I was in 40-minute shape for one, and two, be ready to be banged up in the fourth quarter. So just being able to do that physically.
And mentally just staying tough. I’m in a leadership role where I had to grow up quickly, and I was never in a leadership role before. Being able to lead my teammates and guide them throughout this was just something that was needed last night.
Q. I’ve seen a lot of little girls here cheering for you, wearing your jersey, and things like that. I’m curious, do you see yourself as a role model? If so, what traits do you have that you feel like are worth emulating?
ANGEL REESE: Actually, I didn’t even realize the impact I made on so many little girls. Sometimes I’m like what am I doing that you guys love? What is it?
I’ll ask them, why do you love me? And they said, because you are who you are. You’re you. And that’s just a trait, the biggest trait I carry. Be who you are, and never, ever back down to anyone. Don’t ever get the answer no. I don’t take the answer no. I’m going to find a way to get things done.
That’s always how I’ve been. I also grew up, my mom is a single mom. She’s independent. She raised two kids. Being able to look at my mom and just go, wow, you’re somebody that I want to be like.
Q. Why is Kim a good coach? Can you explain it to us? Because she is 3-0 in title games. I believe she’s won the title three of the four times she’s gone to the Final Four. I might be wrong on that. And you guys looked like toast last night at one point, and then she made some adjustments. But why do you as a player — we know she’s a great motivator, but what else is it beyond that?
ANGEL REESE: I think she is — she keeps it real. When I came to LSU, I needed a coach to keep it real with me. Like, Angel, you’re not doing enough. You’re not helping the team. Like just being able to have tough conversations. She’s a coach that you could have those tough conversations with, and I don’t feel like everybody can be coached by Kim Mulkey, but you need a Kim Mulkey in your life.
You need somebody to humble you. You need somebody to keep you up. You need somebody to just be there for you, and I think she’s also a mom at the end of the day. She also has kids that play sports. She knows what it takes to get to the best and get to the top.
We always listen to her and just try to follow her because this is my first time. This is all my teammates’ first time in this situation. So just being able to trust my coach.
Q. Kind of that same vein, you guys go at each other, right? And early in the season, in the preseason, you guys really went at each other. How much does that sharpen you, I guess, and make sure that accountability is there? I heard you last night on the bench, “we’re built for this.” Like just that push, that internal push that the players have outside of the coaches.
ANGEL REESE: It started, like you said, in the summertime. We start playing pickup, and we were talking trash to each other, and just getting each other better. I think everybody in the locker room just wants to get better. We don’t argue.
Like everybody takes constructive criticism, and that’s something I’ve never been a part of. Like everybody just wants to get better. If I tell you, you need to get this rebound, they’re going to tell me, oh, you need to box out. Like just being able to have a teammate that just wants the best for you.
I think we all see bigger things in each other. So I think that’s just helped us a lot throughout the season.
Q. Two quick questions for you: I guess, according to Lil Wayne, you checked him, so he finally talked to you last night.
ANGEL REESE: Yeah.
Q. Just what you might could share, just from that conversation with him. Then two, you guys have gotten to the National Championship Game. When you get to this point, I know it’s your first time, but what has been the biggest catalyst for this team? And what will you guys continue to draw from in order to potentially hoist a trophy Sunday afternoon?
ANGEL REESE: I’m going to answer that question first, our defense. Our defense is what has gotten us — defense and rebounding is what has gotten us this far. I was just telling somebody, LSU, we’re like a roller coaster. We seem to always get going early on, and then we could never break the door open.
So just being able to break the door open early on tomorrow. I mean, Caitlin Clark is a great player. It’s going to be tough to stop her from getting her points, but being able to just contain her and not letting the supporting cast, her other teammates go off. So I think that’s just something that’s going to be important.
Then for Lil Wayne, he hit me up after the Miami game. I actually hit him up before the game, and I told him, that wasn’t cool what he did. Because he from NOLA, so I was like, that’s disrespect. He said he knew the twins from something else early on.
We have each other’s number. He calls me whenever. I was the one that got the sound byte for the video that came out for the LSU page. So we cool. Yeah, it’s cool.
Q. Yeah, you said it, y’all haven’t been here before. How has Kim’s message evolved to you guys as you keep winning in the tournament? And how has your message as a leader kind of changed?
ANGEL REESE: For her, she’s always had us believing we’re the underdogs, which we are. We do have a lot of hype around our team and our program and everything we bring to LSU and how we perform and show on and off the court, but I think she has just always kept us humble.
This is an exciting moment for our program, and this is an exciting moment for everybody in Baton Rouge. But just be being able to stay together at this right time and just believing in each other, that’s the biggest thing we’ve been doing.
For me, just trying to keep the team calm. I mean, yesterday we went down, and I’m sure teammates that have never been in a situation like this before were probably like — they were a little nervous. So just trying to keep the team calm.
Coach Bob Starkey, he’s been here before. So before the game, he told me and LaDazhia, as the leaders, just to keep the team calm and keep them confident. Even if we miss a shot, making sure the team stays confident.
Q. You’ve spoken about that Tennessee game a few times and how you personally improved after it. Do you feel like it was a crucial game for the team, and how has the team carried how that ended through this tournament?
ANGEL REESE: I think that’s just something we honestly needed. It sucks to lose for sure, but I think, if you don’t take lessons, and if you don’t learn from losses, I think that’s just — it’s not good for you. I think coming back to practice that week, things have picked up a lot. Just seeing how much the team responded to that loss and being able to know the things we need to get better at, I think that’s something that’s sparked for us.
Even the Utah game, I remember when I got that last foul, it gave me deja vu from that game because I remember getting that last offensive foul call in that Tennessee game. Then when I got the foul and fouled out for that game. Just being in those moments has just built us for this season, and I’m just happy to be here right now.
Q. You kind of mentioned it a little bit with Caitlin. I don’t know, it’s a quick turnaround. What have you seen from Iowa as a whole after last night’s game?
ANGEL REESE: They’re a great team. Luckily, me and Kateri have played them before in the Big Ten, so I know what Caitlin brings to the table for sure. Just making sure that third and fourth player, making sure they don’t go off and get their 20 points, that’s going to be the difference.
Just looking at it statistically, we’ve looked at a lot of their stats, how they win games, how they lose games. We did some film last night and some this morning. Just getting into practice, we’re going to have to pay attention to a lot of detail.
Q. Two questions for you: Have you given any thought to what you’re going to say to your teammates before the game on Sunday? Then do you also have any insight on what Coach is going to wear?
ANGEL REESE: No, I don’t. I never know what she’s going to wear. You honestly never, never know what she’s going to wear.
To my teammates, this is what we came here for. I mean, we’re in this moment. To be in a National Championship Game with nine new pieces and Kim Mulkey’s second year, be happy for ourself, but the job isn’t finished, and we’re hungry.
I think that’s the difference between us and a lot of teams. We’re not going to stop fighting until the end, and I think we just have that dog mentality within the team. I think it just built on early on in the year.
So just keeping the team confident. They’re going to go on runs. We’re going to go on runs. And just staying resilient and being able to be calm throughout the storm.
Q. Kim talked a lot about your growth from when you got here till now, and what is the thing you feel like you’ve grown the most at? And then your eyelashes are always on point. Who do you think has the best eyelashes in the league?
ANGEL REESE: In the WNBA or college?
ANGEL REESE: College, ooh. All the girls be wearing them. I was just with DiDi, Kalani. All the Baylor girls, they come. Te’a. This is not Te’a’s hair, but Te’a provides me with some hair. Hollywood Luxury Hair, make sure you guys shop that. The girlies have been doing their thing with the hair stuff and the lashes and stuff. I do my own lashes. I’ve learned that.
The first question was?
ANGEL REESE: I feel like I’ve matured. I had to grow up quickly. Just being able to be there for my teammates. I didn’t realize they watch everything I do. Practice can go how I go. If I come in not with a positive attitude or just not with a lot of energy, practice could go down and not be as energetic as it should be.
So just knowing how much impact I bring to the team, I go as they go. So just being able to just do that.
Q. First of all, how do you not have an NIL eyelash deal?
ANGEL REESE: Oh, it’s coming, trust. The lady I work with, it’s coming. Trust.
Q. Julian is here.
ANGEL REESE: My brother, yes.
Q. He was on the concourse last night taking pictures with a lot of fans. What was his take of your game? What was his constructive criticism?
ANGEL REESE: My brother is my biggest critic, so obviously last night wasn’t enough from him. He told me I need to get more rebounds and play better defense, but he’s happy to be here. I’m excited for him to be here in this moment with me. I wish he was a Tiger, but it’s all right.
I’m proud of him, how much he’s grown as well. We critique each other in our game, so I love my brother.
Q. Two-part question: When you first decided to enter the transfer portal this year, was your thought, the dream of, oh, my God, we’re going to win a National Championship when I get to LSU?
ANGEL REESE: It wasn’t LSU. I had two other options that I was going to. LSU wasn’t even in the question. Kateri was the one that called me. I thank her daily. She called me and said, take a visit to LSU and see how this goes.
When I took the visit, I fell completely in love and cancelled all my other visits. I guess it was just God telling me the direction I needed, and I needed Kateri to tell me, this is where you need to be.
Q. And we talked the other day about how there’s a lot of eyeballs on this weekend for women’s basketball and the growth of everything. You’re one of the faces of this game. Could you imagine what last night was for you guys and obviously the other game and how much this could help the sport for now and the future?
ANGEL REESE: Yeah, I think me and Caitlin, me and her are in the same class. Me and her are the top two eyes everybody’s looking at. The both of us. We’re both great players. I think we bring a lot to the game. A lot of people respect us — NBA players, rappers, everybody respects us. And I think that just helps grow our game.
It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than LSU. It’s just bigger. I feel like it’s for women’s basketball, and we’ve helped grow it a lot this year just being able to be who we are.
Q. Thanks for the tip on where to find more hair.
From figuring out that LSU is where you’re going to be through the season, through the tournament, what do you start to feel? Is it confidence? Do you feel a sense of destiny? What are the feelings and emotions? Where are you guys now after being through everything you’ve been through and all the games and all the practices?
ANGEL REESE: I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel right now. I actually don’t. Am I supposed to be like overly excited? I don’t know. I think I’m blessed for sure because a year ago I wasn’t here. I was in a different situation.
I think April 5th is when I entered the transfer portal. So just being able to see how my life has come together, I mean, I’ve been through two surgeries my freshman year. Having high expectations, and then coming in sophomore year and being dominant. Hitting the transfer portal and not knowing what I’m going to do and going away from home, which is the scariest thing in my life.
I’m not really sure how to feel right now. I didn’t go to sleep until 5:00, 6:00 because I was just up thinking about how this is actually possible. I don’t even believe I’m sitting here right now. I don’t know honestly how to feel right now.
Q. Angel, this team seems like it has a lot of confidence in one another and just your game. How does that affect how you play? And then also does that will you to wins?
ANGEL REESE: Yeah, like I was saying a little earlier, I think we have a dog mentality. Everybody just wants to go get it. Like no one backs down to anything. I think this team is not scared of anything. We played a lot of great players, but I think we just always come together and believe in each other, and I think that’s what’s gotten us so far.
No matter what the media has said or anybody else, we know what we have and what we built together. Coming to LSU, which is one of the big goals is just to get back to the promised land. Just being able to have that confidence within each other, and I think it helps us on the court.
Q. Just kind of had a personal question: Just wanted to ask you about you, is there anything about you that you would like to share that you think people don’t know? I mean obviously we see you on the court. We see things from social media. But is there anything about you that you would like people to know?
ANGEL REESE: I don’t know. I feel like my life is an open book and everybody sees everything that goes on in my life. I don’t really have a personal life. It seems everything I do is highlighted.
Yeah, I mean, I think something that people — a misperception about me is that on the court I promise you we’re not friends, but like off the court I’m cool. Like we’re cool. I think just even going into this year, I think that’s what’s made me who I am and just being able to embrace who I am.
Because I have that mentality. I don’t care about — if you don’t want to be friends after the game, that’s cool. But when I get on the court between them lines, I’m in that mode. I think that’s what people kind of misperceive about me like cockiness and confident. I’m very confident. I’m not cocky, but I’m very confident.
Q. It’s very clear that you’re into fashion. With the current climate of WNBA players not getting sneaker deals as often as NBA players, what do you think your trajectory is to get possibly a sneaker shoe? And if you were to get a shoe, what would you want it to look like?
ANGEL REESE: I would love — actually, I’m looking into that right now. Definitely the off-season I’m going to be doing a lot of modeling and stuff. Hopefully I can sign into a shoe deal before I leave college. That’s my big goal right now. Especially with NIL, I can make as much money in college, probably more than the WNBA.
That’s going to be important going into the league emphasizing on my fashion. I love to dress up and love to put on clothes. So just being able to try to find what’s for me.
I mean, if I had a shoe, it would probably be some low tops. My first shoe would probably be pink, glitter, something. Something cute, I don’t know.
Q. Angel, you can’t tease us and tell us that you were considering two other schools and then not share those schools. Will you tell us?
ANGEL REESE: I can tell you all Tennessee and South Carolina, yeah.
Q. What was it about LSU that sold you right away?
ANGEL REESE: One, Kim Mulkey. I mean, hands down, seeing what she can do. And then I had goals written down, and she checked every box. One of the big goals was for me to get confidence in my game and being able to be the player I was coming out of high school. I was never a five player. So going to Maryland, it was a tough transition to have Shakira Austin leaving and me playing the five, that was tough for me. So going into a situation like that.
Being able to play under a coach where she’s gotten players in my position to the next level. She’s really great at developing post players or big guards or just people in my position.
So that, and then the way they support women’s basketball at LSU is crazy. You get your status at LSU. I can’t go out to eat without people all over me, just the way that they love LSU, it’s crazy. Like I love the fan base there.
LSU, if I was a regular student, I’m going to LSU. It’s turnt. Like it’s turnt.
Q. We talked to Coach earlier, and she said you guys kind of get after each other in a good way, especially you and Alexis. What has it been like to go on this run with her, and then to have her as your point guard?
ANGEL REESE: You see everything that she’s been through, I mean, it’s so inspiring. I think that’s why I go so hard for Alexis because I’m not going to ever let her give up. I know she has hit rock bottom before, but when she’s with me, she’s not hitting rock bottom again.
Just knowing to have a point guard where she’s going to go get it every single night, and I want the best for Alexis, and it’s going to be tough seeing her go after this year to make her dreams come true. I’m going to be really sad about that, but I love Alexis. She’s one of the best guards in the country, if not the best. That’s the best point guard I probably played with.
Just to see how confident she is. She’s always just — you never know what you’re going to get from Alexis. When she comes into practice, she’s hyped sometimes, and then she’ll be just a quiet assassin. Just seeing how Alexis has grown throughout my whole year with her, it’s been amazing.
Q. Last night Flau’jae gets the steal, fast break, power step, layup, boom, you’re in the lead. What does it do for the team in that moment, just the confidence? And then what has Flau’jae brought to the team this year as a freshman?
ANGEL REESE: Just like to go into both, her growth. I mean, that layup right there, usually you’ll see her get a charge or she might turn the ball over. So being able to see her do that, going — Coach always said that she never goes lateral, and just to be able to see her take the ball and make that clean move as a freshman.
I think her growth coming into the season, as a freshman when you’re an McDonald’s All-American, when you come in with all these accolades, you have high expectations. You want to score 20 points a game, but it’s not realistic a lot of times when you’re on a No. 3 team in the country and you come in starting like that.
So I think her maturity. She doesn’t pout. She doesn’t get upset. She works hard, and she grinds. You also have to realize that Flau’jae is a full-time student-athlete, a rapper, and a basketball player. She does it all.
I can’t do what she does. She wakes up at 5:00 in the morning and works out and goes to school and practice and then she rap and she’s in the studio. So just to see how much she has grown, matured, I’m just excited for her. We can’t do what we do without Flau’jae.
Q. Kim keeps trying to temper expectations all season. She’s like, we’re ahead of schedule. We’re not supposed to be here. But you guys are playing for the National Championship tomorrow. Did you guys look around the locker room at any point and say, Kim, we’re not ahead of schedule. Look at who’s here. This is the plan?
ANGEL REESE: We say it within each other. We can’t really say it out. We keep what we do in our locker room private, but I just feel like that’s who we are. We’re going to keep that chip on our shoulder. I think that’s why we go so hard because it’s like we have nothing to lose.
We’re not supposed to be here. We’re not supposed to be here, and I don’t care what anybody says, we’re not.
Just being humble, she keeps us humble. I think that’s what’s important and keeps us going honestly.
Q. Flau’jae and Kateri have each done a great job defensively, kind of holding star players in this rundown. Obviously you’re facing an exceptional player in the national title game. Do you feel like it’s going to be a team effort? Does it need to be a team effort?
ANGEL REESE: For sure. Like I said earlier, containing Caitlin Clark is what we’re going to have to do. She’s going to get her shots. It’s going to be tough on an off-night.
I think we looked at statistics today, when she loses, she still gets 30. When she wins, she’s averaging 27. So just seeing the other people, it’s going to be important to guard those other three to four players. Czinano is another great post player, Gabbie Marshall, those other shooters. And I’ve also seen them playing in the Big Ten before.
Just being able to, like you said, it’s going to be a team effort. We have to play defense together as a team. And defense and rebounding is going to be what’s important for us tomorrow night.
Q. Earlier you said that everything you do is just kind of highlights, and everybody sees everything you do. How does that affect you? Because obviously your journey hasn’t been smooth. You had surgeries. You transferred. And then second part of the question, what are some things you do when you’re not playing basketball? What are some hobbies that people might not know about?
ANGEL REESE: For the first question, it’s hard. I mean, I have to deal with a lot of stuff on social media, negative and positive, but I guess that’s just what comes with it. Mentally you’ve got to kind of stay tough.
But I have a really good support staff behind me. My coaches are amazing. My teammates are amazing. They have my back throughout everything. So I take a break from social media sometimes and just delete it or just put my phone down, just trying to just stay focused.
I mean, this is the most important time right now, but you have to realize NIL stuff is going on. So I have to post certain things at certain times. So you kind of have to balance both, but it also is really hard.
In my off time, it’s not much off time. I’m always doing something that has to do with business. I’m always doing — trying to see how I can grow myself off the court modeling and trying to get into that stuff. Plans, I have a lot of plans for the summer to do a lot of things. Just ways to just grow my brand and grow who I am honestly.
Q. Angel, you talked about wanting to come to an SEC school, visiting Tennessee, South Carolina, LSU. What about the SEC made you want to come here? Also, could you speak to the SEC’s run over this tournament and this season.
ANGEL REESE: I wanted to come to an SEC school because of the post play. I mean, the post play is really, really good in the SEC, and I think that would get me prepared for the next level. I think SEC is one of the best conferences, if not the best conference in the country. So being able to play with the best, that kind of would dictate where I am and where I need to get better at.
Of course the Big Ten was definitely great, but just being able to see what more I wanted for myself, and then just being able to see, like you said, the SEC, we were slept on this year. A lot of people didn’t think the SEC was good. That’s why a lot of people may not have ranked as high to where we were.
The SEC, we ran as deep as we could. We had two teams in the Final Four. You have to pat yourself on the back for that because it’s not easy in the SEC. Every night, anybody can win any given night, as you can see. I’m super proud of the SEC, and I think right now, as LSU, the only SEC team standing, we’re going to do it for the SEC.
Q. As a student-athlete myself, I really do appreciate how you’re always being yourself, you’re always having fun, lifting up your teammates. That’s something very admirable. Going into this Final Four as a sophomore, sophomore leader nonetheless, what are you telling your teammates? What are you telling yourself? How are you getting into the mindset of getting ready for tomorrow’s game?
ANGEL REESE: Just trying to stay focused. It’s a lot of outside noise doing media and social media and family here. It’s a lot going on for sure. At 20 years old, this is a lot to take on. I don’t think a lot of people understand that.
All of the critics who say stuff online, I promise you all, I don’t think any of you could sit in my shoes right now or any of my teammates’ shoes that have to deal with what we deal with.
So just being able to be smart right now and being able to stay focused within the team. Just focusing on the big picture, which is tomorrow.
Q. Congratulations on a phenomenal season. Just curious from having to defend Monika Czinano. I think she’s taken one dribble the entire tournament. How hard is that to practice? Does that make an adjustment for you defensively in how you try to contain her?
ANGEL REESE: I remember playing her last year at Iowa with Maryland. She’s very efficient around the basket. I mean, she doesn’t miss pretty often. Caitlin gets her the ball when she needs to get the ball. She’s really great. Her hands are great. She has great footwork.
But you’ve got to realize we have LaDazhia Williams. She takes on that post player usually every game, because me and Czinano, I may be the biggest player on the court, but I’m quick. I’m quick. I’m really a four player. Me and LaDazhia are going to both have to guard her.
I think LaDazhia did a great job playing Kitley last night and also playing Utah — Pili, Alissa Pili. LaDazhia does a great job. Without LaDazhia we can’t do the things we do. So it’s going to take a team effort of course to guard Caitlin, but also Czinano is a great player to guard.