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Kim Mulkey: Top-ranked LSU welcomes ‘target on our back’

(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Kim Mulkey welcomes the target on the backs of her LSU Tigers.

For the first time in program history, LSU basketball is ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. With the Tigers entering the season as the defending national champions, that was somewhat expected. But the pressure doesn’t bother them.

“We understand that with a championship and with the preseason ranking that we really have a target on our back,” Mulkey told Baton Rouge’s WBRZ. “We get that, we welcome it to an extent in that we keep it in perspective.”

The 61-year-old head coach called it “great recognition” for LSU and for the program. The No. 1 ranking is something to be celebrated, but the team isn’t putting to much stock into it.

For Mulkey’s part, she doesn’t talk much to her teams about being ranked, saying it’s the next game that matters most. Rankings make headlines, but championships make the history books.

So even though the Tigers enter the season with a loaded roster, including Angel Reese and star transfers Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow, they still need to put in the work to live up to their sky-high expectations, Mulkey said.

“I’ve got some talent and that talent is not going to win championships unless we all get on the same page and we all pull for each other and so far it’s been great,” she said. “The deeper you dig the prettier the fruit and we know that people are going to know that that’s the defending national champions and we’re going to get their best shot.”