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LSU welcomes Kim Mulkey as new head women's basketball coach

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BATON ROUGE - When Kim Mulkey strode onto the basketball court inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Monday afternoon, it might have seemed like tip-off in a top-ten matchup was imminent, with the fight song playing and pom-poms waving.

But there won't be any basketball games for many months. Every ounce of the pomp and circumstance was for Mulkey's return to Louisiana as LSU's women's basketball coach.

"I would not have left Baylor for any other school except LSU," Mulkey said from the podium.

As Mulkey held court on the hardwood she will soon patrol, she made clear, time and time again, the biggest reason to leave Waco for Baton Rouge.

"No matter where I go to coach, no matter where my career takes me, Louisiana is my home," Mulkey said.

Hundreds of fans, including a large entourage of family and friends from Tangipahoa Parish, welcomed the Tickfaw native home, including her mom, Dru.

"This has been a long time coming," Dru said. "When she was very young [she would say,] 'oh I want to go to LSU, I want to coach at LSU.' But the timing wasn't right then. Timing, timing is a lot."

Dru learned late last week that her daughter would be coming back home to take the LSU gig. She plans to be at every game, but beyond basketball, she's thrilled Kim will be much closer.

"I just kept saying, 'what? what?'" Dru said. "[It's] been hard to get through to her on the telephone. It's really been a whirlwind."

Mulkey is looking forward to a few things only Louisiana can offer.

"I can't wait to eat some Ponchatoula strawberries," Mulkey exclaimed. "I can't wait to have some crawfish. You think I'm being funny, but it's just the God's truth, I miss my food from Louisiana."

Much of Mulkey's introduction didn't focus on schemes or rosters, something the soon-to-be Hall of Famer will deal with in the coming days and weeks, but rather the Louisiana spirit that called her home.

"It's no secret I do coach with passion," Mulkey said. "I do coach with intensity, but I think I learned that from the great state of Louisiana. We're fighters here."

Demand for season tickets has surged since Sunday's announcement of Mulkey's hiring. Mulkey said 600 deposits had been made as of Monday afternoon. Hours later, an LSU athletics official said that number had nearly doubled to 1,100.

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