Big 12 new opportunity for TCU women's basketball team

06/18/2012 11:12 PM

11/12/2014 2:36 PM

When Latricia Lovings heard TCU was moving to the Big 12, she was immediately nervous.

She watched the Baylor women's basketball team cap a perfect season with a national championship win against Notre Dame in April.

As a Big 12 player, Lovings will have to guard Baylor center Brittney Griner, a player TCU coach Jeff Mittie compares to Wilt Chamberlain. It's a tall order.

But Lovings' nervousness has turned into excitement.

"It grew on me," Lovings said. "There will be a lot of competition, but I think it will be a great fit. I've watched all of the Big 12 schools to see how their posts play. It's going to be difficult. I was an average-size post in the Mountain West, and I will be a small post in the Big 12.

"I just have to work hard and step my game up."

Mittie has coached TCU for 13 years and led the Frogs through their transition from Conference USA to the Mountain West. He also coached Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference.

"I've got a lot of experience in different leagues," Mittie said. "But in the Big 12, the physicality of the post is much different than we have ever faced in conference play. The biggest difference is we won't be playing Big 12 opponents in nonconference. This will be an 18-game grind."

But along with the physical toll of Big 12 ball comes opportunity.

"It takes us back to our past, and the Southwest Conference, and our alumni love that," Mittie said. "The recruits are excited about us being in the league. It's a great conference, and we are certainly excited about it."

Senior guard Whitney Williams is not a stranger to the Big 12. She began her career at Iowa State before a transfer to TCU.

"I'm excited to go back. I really loved playing in the Big 12," Williams said. "It is a different level than the Mountain West, with the speed and size. You are seeing good teams every night. We will have to be tough."

The Big 12 has produced the past two national champions. Texas A&M, headed to the SEC, won in 2011, and Baylor became the first 40-0 team in college basketball history last season.

TCU played two games against Big 12 opponents last season and lost both times, 68-53 at home against Texas A&M and 82-54 at Oklahoma.

Lovings said she believes the Frogs have the talent to compete in their new league. But they need to be better prepared.

"In those games, they were just quicker than us," she said. "But this summer, we are in the gym every day working hard, encouraging each other to keep it up. We're already getting quicker."

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @bshirley08

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