“It’s definitely motivating, but it’s nerve-racking too because teams are going to play against us like never before,” says guard Moon Ursin. “We just have to prepare better and increase our intensity.”
In terms of lifting, Ursin is the team’s strongest athlete, according to Thomas Lené, the assistant strength coach for Baylor Basketball. “It’s easy for her to lift heavy, but she doesn’t always move the most efficiently,” he says, recalling that in her first strength and conditioning test, she could deadlift more than 300 pounds with a trap bar. This season, Ursin has focused on agility and dribbling skills.
Furthermore caught up with Ursin ahead of March Madness to talk deadlifts, cone drills, and her pre-game snack ritual. Watch the tournament when it tips off on March 22.
“At this point in the season, we have a lot of games so we’re only in the weight room twice a week for thirty minutes at a time, once for heavy lifts and once for active recovery. Thomas picks four lifts per session based on different patterns: squat, hinge, push, or pull. We’ll do things like trap bar deadlifts and single-arm dumbbell bench presses. I especially like to squat because it improves my jumps.
Rather than lifting as heavy as I can, I do exercises that make me a more efficient mover, like A-skips. I also use a Vertimax strapped at the hips for fast, explosive work. On recovery days, we do monster walks and a lot of medicine ball exercises like overhead throws, side tosses, and chest passes. We’ll also use hurdles for mobility, walking over them while doing rainbow kicks or spinning mid-step. My favorite core move is the toe touch, when you lie on your back with your legs straight up and reach toward your feet. Those really burn.
On the court, I’ve been prioritizing my ball-handling skills—dribbling between my legs and behind my back, doing crossovers, that kind of thing. I’ll set up cones and do directional drills so I know when to cut or accelerate before I shoot. I had some problems last year with ball-handling because of nerves, so Coach [Kim] Mulkey told me to pick up a ball and dribble, dribble, dribble.
I also meditate pre-game to focus and stay calm. During games, I try to stay mentally prepared while I’m benched. Our coach always asks, 'What would you do if I just rolled the ball out and told you to play?' That hypothetical helps me stress less about the mechanics of the game.”
“Breakfast is typically eggs, waffles, and bacon. Baylor provides student-athletes with lunches catered by local spots to make sure we’re eating the right things, so I have Subway almost every day for lunch, usually the turkey sub. Dinner always varies. It could be steak, chicken, salad, pasta, shrimp, or salmon.
Pre-game, I always eat a Quaker Chewy granola bar. I like the sweetness, but it’s also become a ritual for me. I don’t do protein shakes as often as I should, but they’re always in the cooler after practice. I like the chocolate and vanilla Gatorade ones. We eat the Gatorade [a team sponsor] protein bars too, which are good for athletes post-game as they’re higher in sugar than most others are.”
“Post-game, we use the Normatec and take hot and cold tubs, and on recovery days we roll out our feet, glutes, quads, and backs with lacrosse balls.”
“Heading into the tournament, I just want us to maintain our number-one seed and continue to play our best.”