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Kim Mulkey on media response to Angel Reese absence: ‘Don’t attack me’

Kim Mulkey has provided little information on Angel Reese's absence from the LSU basketball team. (Matthew Hinton/USA TODAY Sports)

Head coach Kim Mulkey addressed the media on Wednesday over public responses to Angel Reese’s prolonged and mysterious absence from the LSU women’s basketball team.

Reese is set to return for No. 7 LSU’s matchup against No. 9 Virginia Tech on Thursday after a four-game absence.

The 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player last appeared on the court on Nov. 14. She played 14 minutes in LSU’s win over Kent State before being benched in the second half for what Mulkey called a “coach’s decision.” She then missed LSU’s next four games, and Mulkey provided few details on her absence outside of alluding to “locker room issues” on Nov. 20.

The lack of clarity surrounding Reese has led to widespread speculation about the LSU star’s whereabouts. Mulkey responded to the media’s handling of the situation during a press conference Wednesday.

“It is a wonderful, wonderful profession – ‘til I have to deal with y’all,” Mulkey, who is one win away from 700 in her career as a coach, joked to reporters.

“I don’t mind dealing with you,” she said, before addressing what she finds “aggravating” about the media. “All I ask as a coach is, if I don’t give you the answer you want, don’t attack me for that. Don’t attack and make it personal. Is that fair?

“Some of you take it to a personal level and I just don’t understand that. I would never attack any of you for writing a bad article about me if you didn’t think I made the right call. … That’s fair game. But to attack somebody on a personal level, am I wrong about that?”

Mulkey added that her reason for explaining Reese’s absence as she did was to “protect my players.” Junior guard Kateri Poole has also been absent from the team, and Mulkey has declined to say if or when she will return.

“For not answering the question the way you think I should answer it?” she said. “That’s not journalism in my book. Maybe I’m too old. Maybe I need to get out. But, you get realness with me … I can’t sugarcoat things. I feel like people want the truth, but I’m also going to do what? I’m going protect my players. I struggle with that.”

Reese led the Tigers to their first national championship last season, in Mulkey’s second year with the team. LSU (7-1) is looking to bounce back from a season-opening loss to Colorado and make a run at a second straight title.