Why Kim Mulkey could alter LSU women's basketball's lineup vs. Michigan in March Madness
BATON ROUGE – The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups. And how teams can adapt on the fly and how versatile it they can be.
Kim Mulkey acknowledged following No. 3 seed LSU women's basketball's first-round March Madness win over No. 14 Hawaii on Friday night inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center that her team's second-round opponent, No. 6 seed Michigan, could cause some activation in the Tigers' versatility Sunday (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
"May start a different lineup tomorrow because Michigan is big at all positions," Mulkey said.
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In the post, both teams' size matches up 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 perimeter with their three guards of 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 offset some physical differential, 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 freshman Sa'Myah Smith could be on the floor together. In this potential rotation, Reese's versatility is key as she has enough skill to play outside.
"They don't lack a lot," Reese said of Michigan. "I think our athleticism will bother them, so being able to take advantage of that.
"Y'all haven't seen me at the three. I be getting at the three sometimes. But, yeah, we have a lot of different lineups and matchups that could definitely help us. But it's going to be important for everyone to rebound from all five positions. I think we have just as many horses as they do."
It's also likely that Mulkey rotates in reserve guards Last-Tear Poa (5-11) and Kateri Poole (5-8) in the game more often to spell Johnson and Carson to give the Wolverines different looks.
"They'll definitely play tough, they are bigger, but we have speed," Carson said. "And speed always kills. I think it'll be a good matchup and a good test for us."
In the loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals, the Lady Vols' length caused LSU some problems with 6-2 Rickea Jackson, 6-2 Jordan Horston and the zone defense.
Mulkey knows this time of year, to keep advancing, the ability to adapt will one of the biggest keys.
"We worked in two weeks on things that I haven't worked on all year, not changing who we are and what our identity is, but I have to work on a big lineup. I have to work on a small lineup. I have to work on presses," Mulkey said. "I have to -- so there was a lot of teaching going on 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 Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.