The road to LSU’s first national title in school history

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LSU national title; Angel Reese basketball court
LSU's Angel Reese celebrates a three pointer during the first half of the NCAA Women's Final Four championship basketball game against Iowa Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The banner has finally made its way to the bayou and the gold now belongs to the swamps. Last week, Angel Reese and LSU won their first national title after defeating Iowa.

However, to understand the magnitude of securing their first national title, one must go back a few years – back to the acquisition of hometown hero Kim Mulkey as coach.

In 2021, LSU signed Hall of Fame coach Mulkey to an eight-year deal worth approximately $3 million a year, and she appeared worth it. From 2000-2021, Mulkey coached many legendary Baylor University lineups, resulting in 15 Coach of the Year awards, three championships and a legendary 40-0 season in 2011-12.

Although Mulkey is regarded as one of the greatest coaches since the legendary Pat Summitt, her colorful media takes and outfits have made her one of the most divisive coaches of the last 20 years.

Many remember Mulkey for her complicated relationship with Phoenix Mercury star Britney Griner. Mulkey was vocal on Griner ‘downplaying’ her sexuality while playing for Baylor, a private Baptist university. Griner did not receive the advice well, ultimately damaging their relationship to this day.

Mulkey was also an outstanding guard during her playing days at Louisiana Tech, making quite a name for herself during her college tenure from 1980 until 1984.

She was a two-time academic all-American and helped secure a national title for Louisiana Tech in 1982. Mulkey finished her playing career with a phenomenal 130-6 record. She is also the first person in NCAA history, male or female, to secure a national title as an assistant coach, head coach, and player.

With such a prestigious background and unique approach to meshing – or not – with future Hall of Fame bigwigs such as Britney Griner, the next piece of the LSU title hopes lay with the Bayou Barbie: Angel Reese.

Originally, Angel Reese was quite the standout at Maryland. In her second year, Reese played 32 games, starting in 31, and averaged 18 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-3 forward was also a defensive terror, averaging nearly two steals and one block a game.

But she decided to leave Maryland in hopes of winning a national championship elsewhere.

Still listed as a sophomore, Reese joined Mulkey in 2022, averaging a career-high 23 points per game and 15 rebounds a contest. Reese’s efforts earned her a spot as the fifth-best scorer and second-best rebounder in the NCAA this season.

Reese would go on achieve 34 double-doubles, breaking Courtney Paris’ record that held firm for nearly 18 years.

Angel Reese and Mulkey are key cogs in LSU obtaining their first national title in LSU history. However, they are not the only primary factors.

Other key contributors included Jasmine Carson, Kateri Poole, Alexis Morris and, of course, ‘The Big Four’ Flau’jae Johnson.

Johnson, a freshman guard, coach Mulkey are a match made in media heaven. Between Mulkey’s trendy outfits and Johnson’s charisma, the two are always worth pressing the record to see what happens next.

With the pieces in place, it was the title for the final bout: No.3 seed LSU vs. No.2 seed Iowa.

The fanatics would not reveal themselves until the second quarter. The Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Hawkeyes in the second period by a 12-point margin. By the final quarter, LSU was firing on all cylinders. Jasmine Carson raining three-pointers in clutch seconds of the game was the dagger.

LSU would accrue the most points in a national title game history.

In legendary Coach Mulkey fashion, caught in her signature crouch on the sidelines, tears of joy began to flow. With only seconds away from securing a national title, Mulkey would be the first person Johnson embraced, twirling her coach around in an exuberating fashion.

“It’s emotional, and I am so happy. I don’t know how to explain it’s just deep gratitude and happiness,” said Coach Mulkey. “Nowhere did it say National Champions (in LSU’s program history), and that’s what I came home to do.

Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @NoralParham.