Baylor's Brittney Griner has changed the women's game

Brittney Griner, who has been called the Wilt Chamberlain of women's basketball, will lead No. 3 Baylor into Lloyd Noble Center Sunday to face Oklahoma.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: February 26, 2011
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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.



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

Webcast: ESPN3.com

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.

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