NORMAN -- The Wilt Chamberlain of women's basketball.
That's how Texas A&M coach Gary Blair describes Baylor 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner.
Similar to Chamberlain routinely swatting away shots decades ago, forcing teams to shoot from the perimeter, Griner has changed the way teams prepare for the No. 3 Bears, who play Oklahoma Sunday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
"When OU had Courtney Paris, even though she was on the All-Defensive team three times, you still ran your same stuff," Blair said. "Griner changes the way you can score. She can intimidate you. You're going to short-arm a lot of shots. She's effective even if she doesn't block any shots."
Griner blocks a ton of shots.
As a freshman, Griner set the NCAA single-season record for blocks (223). She blocked 40 shots in five NCAA Tournament games, another record, including an astounding 14 blocks in a second-round win over Georgetown.
Even with opponents adjusting game plans this season to account for Baylor's in-the-paint enforcer, Griner still ranks second nationally in blocks (4.7).
"There's never been anybody like her in the history of women's collegiate basketball," said OU coach Sherri Coale. "She's a different deal than anything we've seen because of her sheer size and athleticism. We've never seen a player physically capable of doing the things she does."
Before she played at Baylor, Griner was famous, the YouTube girl "who could dunk." She slammed home 52 dunks in 32 games her senior year at Houston Nimitz High School. She's only the seventh female to dunk in a college game.
But it's Griner's intimidating defensive presence that sets her apart. Coaches have devised different methods to prepare for the long, athletic center with a 7-foot-5 wing span.
Before the Cowgirls' first meeting with Baylor, Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke brought a 6-foot-10 male player to practice.
"He blocked every shot in the gym," Budke said. "I don't know if that was a good idea or not. But at least we got used to it. She's the most dominant player in the world. She's changing basketball ... and she's not maxed out, which is scary for all of us."
Texas coach Gail Goestenkors was at Duke when Alison Bales set the NCAA Tournament record for blocks, the record Griner obliterated last year leading the Bears to the Final Four.
"Having a player like that myself I understood how a tremendous defensive player can change games," Goestenkors said. "The difference with her is not only is she a great defensive player, she's a scorer as well."
Seventh in the nation in scoring (22.3), Griner impacts games on both ends. So how do you guard the Wilt Chamberlain of women's basketball?
"I don't even think Vegas (Aaryn Ellenberg) could stand on D-Rob's shoulders and do anything," Coale said. "You sure can't let her get offensive rebounds. But as much as we all worry about how we're going to guard her, the biggest problem is on the other end.
"That's why you better be able to shoot well beyond the arc and shoot well the night you play them. She's a wall around the basket. She can stand in the paint and can contest your shot at the elbow. I'm not exaggerating.�
Other coaches have "did-you-see-that" Griner stories.
"I've seen her block 3-point shots," Goestenkors said. "But it goes beyond blocking shots. She probably alters just as many shots. How many times does she keep people from taking a shot? You don't have a stat for shots she changes or minds she changes."
OU guard Whitney Hand said the challenge is to not let Griner get inside your head.
"She alters everything," Hand said. "She makes you think twice. And when you think twice you're not playing your game. She's an incredible player. She's an anomaly. But you still have to play your game."
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has been quoted frequently about her star's unique skills.
"I've seen lots of the great ones in the women's game, the superstars, the All-Americans," Mulkey said. "And while you continue to see kids who can dunk it, Brittney's the only one I've seen who plays above the rim."
How unique is Griner?
"Players in the WNBA probably are already working on their runners, knowing that's what they're going to need to score in a couple of years," Blair said. "That's why I've always said the best comparison is when Wilt Chamberlain came to Kansas. She's changed the game."
NO. 3 BAYLOR AT NO. 16 OKLAHOMA
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28)
Radio: KOKC 1520 AM
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* The first 5,000 fans receive posters of former OU football star Gerald McCoy, with 100 winners at random invited to a VIP post-game photo/autograph session with McCoy.
* In the first meeting earlier this month, Baylor led by 40 points and won 92-70 in Waco.
* All fans in reserved and general admission will receive "Cheer Like a Champion" t-shirts to white-out the arena.