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Archive for Sunday, March 28, 2004

Baylor coach to face mentor in Summitt

March 28, 2004

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— Kim Mulkey-Robertson remembers when she was a player and Pat Summitt stood by her and comforted her when she was about to become a mother.

That's why Mulkey-Robertson has nothing but admiration for the legendary Tennessee coach she'll face today in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals.

"I just love Pat Summitt," said Mulkey-Robertson, coach of fourth-seeded Baylor. "She's my kind of coach. A lot of what I do was learned from Pat Summitt. She's hard-nosed, she's a mother, she's married. She takes her career and passion for the game seriously, and at the same time she loves her family.

"She's everything I aspire to be as a coach."

Mulkey-Robertson played on the 1984 Olympic team Summitt coached. Summitt endeared herself to the young player six weeks before the Olympics started, when Mulkey-Robertson fractured her foot.

"I woke up one morning and couldn't walk," Mulkey-Robertson said. "The doctors said stay off of it for three to four weeks."

Summitt refused to pick an alternate.

"I'll never forget when I had my meeting with her. She said, 'Absolutely not, you made this team and you will be ready,'" Mulkey-Robertson said. "It took me three weeks, and I was back to full speed. I won't ever forget that."

Summitt said making a roster change never was a serious consideration.

"Her leadership, her mental toughness, her attitude -- she's a great competitor," Summitt said. "I felt like she would bring something to our Olympic team that obviously was contagious."

The team went on to win the gold medal.

Years later when Mulkey-Robertson was pregnant with her first child, Makenzie, and concerned about how her career would be affected, Summitt was there again.

As they cross paths again, Mulkey-Robertson's Bears (26-8) will be looking for the biggest win in school history. Baylor is making its first appearance in the round of 16. Tennessee (28-3) is there for the 23rd consecutive time.

"Our fans are excited, they are excited just to be in the Sweet 16," Mulkey-Robertson said. "Her fans would probably be disappointed if they didn't make it to the Sweet 16."

In the other regional semifinal, second-seeded Vanderbilt will be making its 11th appearance in the round of 16 and No. 6 seed Stanford its 13th.

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