Baylor Women’s Basketball Slumping Under New Leadership

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This year Baylor hired Nikki Collen from the Atlanta Dream to lead their team after Kim Mulkey left for LSU. Unfortunately, Baylor Women’s basketball is slumping. Last night, Baylor lost a challenging game 83-77 to Oklahoma. Despite leading most of the game, the Bears could not win. This is Baylor’s second loss in a row. This piece will focus on the impact their recent performances will have on their tournament seeding if they can turn it around, the outlook of the Big 12 as a whole, and a prediction about when their season will end.

Baylor Women’s Basketball Is Slumping Under New Leadership

Recent Play: Impact on Tournament Seeding

Even though NaLyssa Smith¬†had thirty points, Baylor still lost last night. They were coming off a five-day COVID pause, but they did not look rusty. They had a lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, but turnovers and lack of defense did them in. Skylar Vann¬†had 22 points for Oklahoma in the comeback victory. Since this is Baylor’s second straight loss, their record is now 10-4. The win over Missouri earlier this year helps their resume a bit, but that will not be enough if they continue to lose. Their next game is at Kansas, a team that unexpectedly upset Texas. This game will be challenging because the Jayhawks look like a tournament team, and they can prove it more with a win Sunday. Right now, I would seed Baylor at around a seven seed. This seed sounds low because they were one seed just a few years ago.

Baylor plays superstar Ashley Joens and Iowa State next Sunday at home; this is their opportunity to right the ship. A win here would drastically improve their questionable resume. However, the way they played in Oklahoma will not be enough. They must get more help for Smith to win these big games. I expected more from Jordan Lewis this season; she was a star at Alabama, scoring 1,464 points and averaging 17 points a game last season. This year, she is only averaging 12.1 points per game; her free throw percentage and rebounding have also decreased significantly. For Baylor to return to form this season, they must have more from Lewis.

The Improvement of the Big 12 Conference

Baylor has been at the top of this league for several seasons under Kim Mulkey. However, Iowa State looks like the best team this season. The Cyclones are 15-1 overall and have wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa, and UMASS. Ashley Joens is their star, and she takes over games when they need it. They also have a lot of support for her this year, making them even more challenging to face. Oklahoma and Kansas State have improved significantly since last season. The hire of Jennie Baranczyk was a fantastic decision; she has led the Sooners to a 14-2 record and a spot in the top 25. For Kansas State, center Ayoka Lee is a dominating force that no one has figured out so far. Lee had 38 points in their last game, a loss to Iowa State. She makes this team dangerous, but they will need more help to go deep in the tournament.

Despite their recent struggles, I still think that Texas is a good team; they beat the defending national champions after all. On Saturday, the Longhorns need to beat West Virginia to right the ship before their titanic matchup with the Cyclones on the 19th. Kansas is 11-2 overall, with wins over Texas, Vanderbilt, and Wichita State. The Jayhawks present another challenge because teams can no longer sleep on them in the Big 12 and expect an easy win. This year, all six of these teams should be in the tournament, making the Big 12 a tough league to predict.

Prediction of Baylor’s Finish to the Season

Losing to Oklahoma and Kansas State forces me to question this team’s chances; however, with Nalyssa Smith, a national player of the year candidate on the roster, they will still make the tournament. Queen Egbo did her part against Oklahoma with 16 points; she needs to be a consistent second option for the Bears to succeed. Without Egbo and Lewis playing big, this team will struggle throughout the Big 12 play. Baylor will be lucky to finish in the top four of the league. At the moment, I think that a mid-major team who scores a lot of points like Ohio, Buffalo, FGCU has a great chance to upset Baylor in one of the early rounds. They, however, can avoid this result if they come together and finish strong.

Right Now, Baylor women’s basketball is slumping; however, there is much time left to turn it around. Following Sunday’s Iowa State game is the first opportunity to change the committee’s minds.

 

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