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Kim Mulkey Named AP National Coach of the Year

Mulkey’s first year in Baton Rouge is one for the books

LSU Tigers vs Ohio State Buckeyes Photo by Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

LSU’s run in the NCAA tournament may have been cut short by Ohio State but the work first-year head coach Kim Mulkey did this season did not go unnoticed.

Mulkey was named the AP Coach of the Year for the third time in her career after leading LSU to the single biggest turnaround in SEC history.

Mulkey took over at team that was 9-13 in the 2020-2021 season and led them to a 26-6 record, a second place finish in the SEC, and No. 9 in the final AP poll of the regular season.

“One of my most enjoyable years ever in my career,” Mulkey said after LSU’s second round loss to Ohio State. “I personally judge good coaches based on the talent they have on that floor and are they overachieving. Did we beat some people this year we should not have beaten? You bet we did. We beat a lot of ’em. We beat ranked teams. We didn’t start this baby ranked. We came from nowhere and just built it.”

In just one season under Mulkey, the women’s basketball program achieved a kind of regular season success not seen since LSU made five straight Final Fours between 2004-2008. The 25 wins were the most regular season games won since that last Final Four run in 2008; the program also picked up its first NCAA Tournament win since 2014 when the Tigers rallied back to beat Jackson State.

That kind of success also saw a tremendous jump in attendance. Nearly 130,000 fans attended games this season and LSU was third in the SEC in attendance with just over 7,000 a game.

The next challenge for Mulkey is building off the success of the 2021-2022 team as she’ll lose four senior starters.

“This bunch jump-started this program again,” Mulkey said. “It gave everybody an interest, and I’m forever grateful to them. Forever.”