Kim Mulkey: LSU women's basketball 'not supposed to make Final Four' in year two
Excitement swirling around LSU women's basketball and what coach Kim Mulkey has accomplished with it in a short time bolsters the program.
In just her second season, Mulkey has guided the Tigers (28-2) to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, both as No. 3 seeds. They'll host No. 14 seed Hawaii (18-14) in the first round of March Madness inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Friday.
While the fever for LSU women's basketball is hitting a pitch the team hasn't experienced in some time, the three-time national championship winning coach says what fans are expecting out of this year's team isn't realistic.
"We're 28-2. The fans get excited, but sometimes they lose perspective," Mulkey said. "They think we're supposed to go go a Final Four. Give me a break. Like, give me a break.
"Can we? Yeah. That's why you play the game. But we're not supposed to make the Final Four in year two here. We're just hoping to win one more in the playoffs and then let the chips fall where they may."
The Tigers struggled in the first round against Jackson State last season, winning 83-77 before being bounced in the second round by Ohio State.
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In order to get to a Final Four this season, LSU would likely have to make its way through No. 6 Michigan (19-12) in round two before possible matchups with 2-seed Utah (25-4) and regional top seed Indiana (27-3) to advance to Dallas.
Mulkey said the team's goals are "real," and how expeditiously she's gotten LSU women's basketball back to high NCAA Tournament seeds has skewed expectation.
"I'm going to protect this program and these kids. What is our goal here? To win one more (in March Madness) than we won last year," Mulkey said "Then when you get to the Sweet Sixteen, you look around and go, 'Hey, let's see what we can do here.' We think we're as good as anybody else, but you can't set those goals until you achieve what you didn't do last year.
"We are on a fast track. And sometimes I think the fast track blinds the media and it blinds the fans on what we really should be achieving. I know what it takes to build a program. We are way ahead of schedule."
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.