Michigan-LSU clash means Kim vs. Kim III in March Madness
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana —
LSU coach Kim Mulkey’s admiration for the effort Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico extracts from his players was summed up in a short video clip that Mulkey thought the Tigers needed to see.
Michigan goaltender Leigha Brown’s diving attempt to recover a loose ball on the hardwood in the Wolverines’ first-round NCAA Women’s Tournament triumph over UNLV meant nothing on the stat sheet; Brown was unable to stop the ball from rolling out of bounds.
But it meant a lot to Mulkey and Barnes Arico as they prepared for a second-round tilt between No. 3 seed LSU (29-2) and sixth seed Michigan (23-9) on Sunday night – a match that could be billed as “Kim vs. Kim III.”
“I’m glad that, you know, they’ve seen, and the rest of the world has seen, that our team is willing to sell out and sacrifice and make these types of plays, because we believe those could be the difference,” Barnes Arico said after learning Mulkey highlighted Brown’s dive while LSU reviewed video of Michigan’s game action. “Teams coached by LSU and Kim, they will play the same way. And our children will know it. And they will be aware of it. »
LSU guard Alexis Morris got the message when Mulkey played Brown’s clip.
“We know we just have to have some toughness with ourselves on Sunday,” Morris said. “We have to get those 50-50 balls – you know, do the dirty work that people don’t like to do.”
Barnes Arico knows what it’s like to face Mulkey because she’s done it twice in the previous four NCAA tournaments – in 2018 and 2021, when Mulkey was at Baylor.
Baylor won the first of those encounters, 80-58, in the second round. Their 2021 third-round encounter ended in overtime before the Bears emerged with a 78-75 win.
Several top Michigan executives — Brown, Emily Kiser and Maddie Nolan — played in that 2021 meeting, and Brown recalled Mulkey complimenting the Wolverines on how hard they played.
“It really meant a lot to us and I know it really means a lot to Arico’s coach,” Brown said. “I know there is mutual respect.”
Mulkey summed up his appreciation for Barnes Arico this way: “She’s one of the good ones. Good trainer. Good person. A good mother. Good wife. I hate that we have to play against each other.
Much of LSU’s success this season has been down to the prolific play of 6-foot-3 All-America forward Angel Reese, whose combination of height, speed, and ball skill make her one of the most successful players in the game. most dynamic in the country.
His 34 points – which tied Marie Ferdinand’s 2001 record for scoring in an NCAA Tournament game – and 15 rebounds led LSU to a 73-50 first-round win over Hawaii.
But Reese pointed out that his chemistry with 6-4 center LaDazhia Williams — whose calm demeanor contrasts with Reese’s outspoken and expressive — is a key part of LSU’s usual dominance in the paint.
“People underestimate LaDazhia’s skills because the light enlightened me a lot,” Reese said. “But, I mean, she’s very successful and doing a lot of great things that people don’t see.”
Reese, a transfer from Maryland, and Williams, who transferred from Missouri, said they spent a lot of time last summer building their chemistry playing basketball.
“We know how to get the ball to each other,” Reese said. “We know how to get good shots.”
Barnes-Arico laughed when asked if she had planned an outfit for the match against Mulkey, who is known for wearing high heels and flashy outfits.
“Oh my God,” Barnes Arico began. “I can’t keep up this pace. I don’t know how she does it.
During Friday’s first-round matches, Mulkey wore a white top with multicolored sequin-laden trim. The front of the top read “Kiss me, I’m a queen”, which Mulkey clarified was not a reference to her, but to the name of the company (Queen of Sparkles) that made the outfit.
Barnes Arico wore a dark blue crew neck with Michigan’s “M” branding across the chest and corn pants, with comfortable shoes (Jordan Brand).
Barnes Arico wore heels and dressed more for the games.
“And then COVID hit and I was like, ‘Oh my God, my feet feel so good and my legs aren’t screaming at the end of the night. I no longer wake up with calf pain,” recalls Barnes Arico.
But she admitted she had “something special” planned for the second-round match.
“I won’t be Kim. No one is Kim. I’m the other Kim,” she continued. “But no one is Mulkey. So she has her own look and it works for her.
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