Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
At halftime of last Saturday's game with Oklahoma State, Baylor celebrated Family Night. Players and managers were introduced along with their family members. Junior forward Morghan Medlock walked on the court accompanied by 10 relatives.
She had the largest escort. And the heaviest heart.
"It took every ounce of strength in my body to not break down, cry and be hysterical," Medlock said after the Lady Bears' 75-57 victory over Oklahoma State in the Ferrell Center. "I had planned to have both my parents here. My mom was really excited about it."
Just over a month ago, Medlock's mother, Shannan Barron, was murdered by her boyfriend in Little Rock, Ark. The boyfriend committed suicide. Medlock learned of the tragedy on Dec. 19 while the Lady Bears were on a West Coast road trip for games at Oregon and California.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey suddenly had to deal with something far beyond game plans and substitution patterns. What do you do, what do you say to a player who has lost a parent to a violent death?
"There is nothing to prepare you," Mulkey said. "I told Morghan that if she wanted she and I would get on a plane and take care of what needed to be done. She said she wanted to stay with the team.
"We practiced that night and it was the best practice we've had. I didn't have to say a word. I attribute that to how Morghan reacted."
Just days before Christmas, over 2,000 miles from Waco, the Lady Bears had little but each other. On Dec. 20, Baylor rallied to win at Oregon, 81-71 as Medlock had seven points and six rebounds.
"I've coached a lot of great kids here, some of the toughest kids you can coach," Mulkey said. "I'm not sure I've ever coached a kid as mentally tough as Morghan Medlock. To go through what she's gone through, deal with it on a daily basis ... the words she spoke at her mother's memorial were ... eloquent, heartfelt, it was beautiful to hear a daughter speak of her mother like that."
As if Medlock's sorrow wasn't enough of a burden, a winter storm trashed Baylor's travel plans. The Dec. 22 game at California was cancelled but the team still had to make its way from Portland, Ore., to San Francisco to catch its scheduled flight home. A 15-hour bus ride was like Krazy Glue.
"The team was in a state of shock but we bonded," Mulkey said. "You make a 15-hour bus ride ... those kids watched movies, they laughed, they cried, they hugged."
Medlock, who is from Pasadena, Calif., transferred to Baylor after playing two seasons at Southern California. While it seems trivial to note that she has had three of her most productive scoring efforts since her mother's death, basketball has been a solace and an escape. Mulkey says that Medlock is too young to deal with an adult world right now.
"I don't know if I could have made it through this without basketball, if I was just a regular student here," Medlock said. "I've got the best teammates in the world and I've never said that. I'm not the most friendly person, I stay to myself. These guys have been there for me since Dec. 19. Every day, somebody is checking on me.
"I thank them a lot."
Jack Bauer needs 24 hours to save the world on Fox.
Fox Sports has four "Bauers" who will televise three Big 12 women's games in a 25-hour span this weekend.
Play-by-play voice Brent Stover, analyst Brenda VanLengen plus producers Eric Josephson and Carla Janeway will be driving the Midwest when they're not court side.
Starting at 11 a.m. CST Saturday, they'll work the Kansas State-Kansas game in Lawrence, Kan., before driving to Lincoln, Neb., for the Iowa State-Nebraska game at 8 p.m. Then they'll drive overnight to Norman, Okla., to be in place to work the Texas-Oklahoma game that tips off at noon.
The group will drive approximately 650 miles which includes the 455 between Lincoln and Norman.
Fox Sports producer Keith Fletcher is along to chronicle the three-game, two-day adventure for a segment that will air on Big 12 Showcase.
Maintaining the streak
Even with a comfortable lead in the final minutes against a top 10 Texas A&M team, there was tension in Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center Sunday afternoon.
Most of the 9,531 fans on hand worried they were going to witness history of a negative nature. Senior Courtney Paris needed one more point to reach double figures and extend her unfathomable streak of double-doubles (points and rebounds) to 108 games.
With 58 seconds remaining, after taking an outlet pass from Danielle Robinson, Paris raced down the court and converted a layup to give her 11 points to keep the streak alive. Wednesday night, Paris pushed the streak to 109 games with 19 points and 14 rebounds at Colorado.
"Some of our biggest cheers have been eruptions when she finally gets it," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "It's crazy how much the fans keep up with it. It's become almost ridiculous in terms of how she has gone that many games in the streak.
"I don't think we will appreciate it until 10-15 years down the road. It's one of those things that when you are in the middle of it, you can't see the magnitude of it. You sometimes have to watch other great, great players not do it, to understand what a difficult thing it is to do."
Firsts that are worst
Colorado, until this season, had never started conference play facing four ranked teams. The Buffaloes also had never started league play with an 0-4 record. That's were Colorado finds itself after losses to Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma.
"We knew coming in what a tough stretch this was going to be," coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said. "But we maintained our composure. A lot of teams at this point could have fallen apart, lost their confidence. ... There's nobody on this team that is headed in that direction."
Notes and numbers
* With its loss to third-ranked Oklahoma, Colorado is 1-11 against teams ranked in the nation's top three. The only victory was a 61-60 decision over No. 2 Louisiana Tech on Jan. 3, 1989.
* In four Big 12 games, Colorado's bench players have scored four points.
* Wednesday night's game between No. 5 Baylor and No. 9 Texas A&M, won by the Lady Bears 64-61, was as close as the final score indicated. Neither team led by more than four points and the lead changed hands 19 times.
* Kansas State guard Shalee Lehning, who has two triple doubles this season, came within an assist of No. 3. In the Wildcats' 60-48 victory at Texas Tech Wednesday night, Lehning had 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
* Kansas shot 51.1 percent in its 67-58 loss at Nebraska. It's the first time under fifth-year coach Bonnie Henrickson that they Jayhawks lost shooting 50 percent or better.
* In Iowa State's 65-42 defeat of Missouri, the 42 points were the fewest the Tigers have ever scored against the Cyclones.
"We have to work for everything in the Big 12. You can't take a deep breath. You can't even smile when you wake up in the morning, because you're in the film room looking at the next opponent."
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on the grind of conference play
"I said, 'We've got to do a great job against McCray and Boogaard,' and they get 48 of 58 (points). Shows you what I know."
Nebraska coach Connie Yori, who before the game told her team they had to concentrate defensively on Kansas' Danielle McCray (who scored 30) and Krysten Boogaard (18)
"I call it 'WIN' - What's Important Now. They're starting to understand what's important now and what we need now. And we're starting to improve."
Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry has an appropriate acronym to help her team focus
12 in 12
Updates/assessments of the women's teams in a dozen words or less:
|Baylor||On 10-game win streak, Lady Bears a serious contender.|
|Colorado||Buffaloes struggling to keep up in ultra-competitive Big 12.|
|Iowa State||Cyclones living and dying with their 3-point shooting.|
|Kansas||Jayhawks have lost consecutive games for first time this season.|
|Kansas State||Wildcats winning with stingy defense and patient offense.|
|Missouri||Tigers need victory over Colorado to stay out of Big 12 basement.|
|Nebraska||Huskers try to maintain momentum after gaining first Big 12 victory.|
|Oklahoma||Sooners put perfect league record on the line against Texas Sunday.|
|Oklahoma State||1-2 Cowgirls face crucial (must win?) home game against Texas A&M Saturday.|
|Texas||Can Longhorns' variety of defenses slow Courtney Paris, Oklahoma?|
|Texas A&M||2-2 Aggies face crucial (must win?) game at Texas A&M Saturday.|
|Texas Tech||Lady Raiders will try to end Baylor's winning streak Saturday.|