BATON ROUGE – The NCAA tournament is all about matchups. And how teams can adapt on the fly and how versatile they can be.
Kim Mulkey conceded that her team’s second-round opponent, the No. 6 seed, was after the No. 3 LSU women’s basketball team won the first round of March Madness against No. 14 Hawaii Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Michigan, some activation could cause the versatility of the Tigers Sunday (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
March 17, 2023; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine guard Daejah Phillips (15) loses control of the ball to LSU Lady Tigers guard Flau’jae Johnson (4) during the first half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
“We might start with a different lineup tomorrow because Michigan is big in all positions,” Mulkey said.
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In the post, the size of both teams fits well with Angel Reese at 6-foot-3 and LaDazhia Williams at 6-4 against Emily Kiser and Cameron Williams, both 6-3, for Michigan.
But the Wolverines (23-9) have size on the edge with their three guards Maddie Nolan (5-11), Laila Pheila (6-0) and senior Leigha Brown (6-1).
LSU’s backcourt offers a stark contrast. Senior point guard Alexis Morris is 5-6 while freshman wing Flau’jae Johnson and senior wing Jasmine Carson are both 5-10.
To make up for some physical differences, Mulkey hinted at a bigger lineup for the Tigers.
What could a bigger lineup for the Tigers look like? It’s possible that Reese, LaDazhia Williams and 6-2 rookie Sa’Myah Smith are on the floor together. In this potential rotation, Reese’s versatility is key as she has enough skills to play outside.
“They’re not missing much,” Reese said of Michigan. “I think our athletics will interfere with them, so we can take advantage of that.
“You all haven’t seen me with the three yet. Sometimes I get to the three. But yes, we have many different lineups and matchups that could definitely help us. But it will be important for everyone to recover from all five positions. I think we have as many horses as they do.”
The story goes on
It’s also likely Mulkey will rotate more frequently in the game in reserve guards Last-Tear Poa (5-11) and Kateri Poole (5-8) to spell out Johnson and Carson to give the Wolverines a different look.
“They’re definitely going to play hard, they’re bigger, but we have speed,” Carson said. “And speed always kills. I think it will be a good matchup and test for us.”
Losing to Tennessee in the semifinals of the SEC tournament, the length of LSU’s Lady Vols caused some problems with Rickea Jackson 6-2, Jordan Horston 6-2 and zone defense.
Mulkey knows that this time of year, the ability to adapt is one of the biggest keys to moving forward.
“We’ve worked on things in two weeks that I haven’t worked on all year without changing who we are and what our identity is, but I have a big lineup to work on. I have a small lineup to work on. “I have to – so there was a lot of classes in two weeks.”
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his coverage of Tigers and Cajuns on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Have questions about LSU/UL Athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on the Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Kim Mulkey gets to test the versatility of LSU women’s basketball versus Michigan