Two seniors lead the Missouri women’s basketball team.
Bri Kulas and Tania Jackson have been a huge reason why the Tigers (7-1) are off to a fast start. But their friendship started long before they teamed up in Columbia.
“We played in the same conference in high school, and that’s where I first met her when she was a freshman in high school,” Jackson explained. “So we’ve known each other for eight years, and I just got real close with her and her family.”
Jackson came to Missouri this season after spending her first three years at Kansas and credits Kulas with helping her adjust to life in the Show-Me State.
“She’s tried to help me around the town, the campus, and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “She’s been a real big help with the plays and the coaching style.”
Kulas, who was recently named Southeastern Conference player of the week is averaging 16.6 points per game for coach Robin Pingeton’s squad while also pulling down 5.4 rebounds a game on a team that is mainly composed of underclassman.
“She’s only been in our program for a year, and yet she plays like a veteran player,” Pingeton said. “She’s been really consistent for us, doing what she needs to do as a fourth year senior. We can count on her for double digits night in and night out.”
Kulas came to Missouri last season after transferring from Johnson County Community College and made an immediate impact, averaging 13.8 points per game on her way to second team all-SEC honors. While Kulas was left off the preseason all-SEC team, she shrugs it off and worries about the team.
“I don’t really think about stuff like that,” Kulas said. “It’s my last year so I’m just going out there and giving it everything I got each game.”
Awards are not a priority for Kulas right now. She is more concerned about making sure the Tigers young team is able to benefit from her experience.
“I think just focusing on being the voice in the locker room when Coach (Pingeton) isn’t around, encouraging the girls each day and sharing things to make them more knowledgeable,” Kulas said of the things she’s worked on with her leadership. “I have a year under my belt with Coach (Pingeton), and I think I have a good feel for what she wants.”
The season is just getting started, but Kulas likes where the team is heading, citing the team’s depth as an asset that could give the Tigers their first NCAA tournament berth since 2006.