Kim Mulkey

Kim Mulkey

Kim Mulkey during the LSU vs. Iowa Elite Eight game on April 1.

Kim Mulkey’s LSU Tigers team was college basketball’s center of attention for much of the 2023-24 season, for better and for worse. 

Mulkey addressed a stadium full of fans at LSU’s Maravich Center on April 11, during what was meant to be a celebration of LSU’s season.

During her speech, Mulkey revealed the various hurdles that kept LSU from repeating last season’s success. 

“The distractions that came from winning that national championship, I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Mulkey said, according to “The things that have been printed, the lies that have been told — for what reason?” 

Despite LSU making it to the Elite Eight and finishing their 2023-24 season with a 31-6 record, them losing to Caitlin Clark‘s Iowa team — who they beat in the National Championship game last season — made for a bitter end.  

Although Mulkey didn’t specify about the “lies” she alluded to in the speech, she did note the April 1 Los Angeles Times “hit piece” that was published about LSU. The article referred to the team as ‘dirty debutantes’, before that phrase was later edited out. 

And that article was not the only distraction that LSU dealt with. 

Angel Reese’s Midseason Absence Sparked Drama

One major distraction LSU faced in the 2023-24 season was Angel Reese‘s conspicuous four-game absence.

Reese never said why she decided to step away from her team in November. Although upon returning, she did say that prioritizing her mental health was a factor.

“Mental health is the most important thing before anything and I’m going to make sure I’m OK before anything because I don’t want to cause harm or any cancer in the locker room,” Reese said

While Reese was away, her mother Angel Webb Reese got into an online altercation with Kia Brooks, the mother of Reese’s teammate Flau’Jae Johnson.

Reese had criticized Brooks’ grammar in an Instagram post. This prompted Brooks to respond, “You definitely know about grammar errors when your daughter got a 2.0-or-less grade point average… Stop being petty, fake and hateful, and take responsibility for you and your daughter’s actions.”

These claims about Reese’s absence being school-related were never confirmed. But the point is that LSU made news during the season for matters that had nothing to do with basketball.

Where Does LSU Go From Here?

Less than two weeks after her team’s season ended, Mulkey is already facing fresh adversity. 

Guard Hailey Van Lith announced on April 4 that she’s entering the transfer portal. This came one day after Reese declared for the WNBA Draft. 

At first glance, Mulkey losing these two high-profile players does not bode well for her team’s future success. And that’s undeniable, when it comes to on-court performance.

But perhaps LSU losing household names will allow them to focus more on basketball, and less on outside distractions.

Mulkey’s Tigers also have the aforementioned Johnson returning, along with a highly-touted freshman point guard named Jada Richard joining the team next season. Even without Reese, LSU will have enough firepower to contend for an SEC Championship in 2025.

Although any team that’s coached by Mulkey will still remain in the spotlight.

Grant Young covers Major League Baseball and college basketball for His sports coverage has also been featured at FanBuzz and NY Fights. More about Grant Young

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