STILLWATER — Brittney Martin can easily pick out her “Welcome to college basketball” moment.
It came two weeks ago, when she walked onto the court in Waco to face defending national champion Baylor.
“Seeing Brittney Griner,” said Martin, referring to Baylor's 6-8 superstar in the paint. “You hear tons of things about her. She's so good. She's going to dunk on you ...”
That's one memory of what has already been an up-and-down freshman season for the highest-rated recruit to ever sign with Oklahoma State, one Martin admits has featured a decent chunk of nerves.
She was immediately plugged into the starting lineup for her first collegiate game. She got two teeth knocked out after face-planting into the Gallagher-Iba Arena floor in a game against Stephen F. Austin last month. She sat on the bench for large portions of the No. 17 Cowgirls' first conference games against Texas Tech and Baylor.
Over the past two contests, though, Martin is showing signs of getting comfortable with Big 12 basketball. She's the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this season heading OSU's top 25 showdown against No. 24 Iowa State Sunday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I don't think I've completely got it yet,” Martin said. “But you can never be satisfied. I always have a lot of things to work on.”
Martin averaged 15 points and eight rebounds in the Cowgirls' two consecutive victories against Kansas and Texas last week, including a career-high 16 points in Austin last Sunday. On the season, she averages 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and ranks second in the Big 12 in steals (2.87 per game).
Cowgirl coach Jim Littell believes a shift in mindset has helped Martin's recent surge.
When Martin first arrived in Stillwater over the summer, coaches stressed she needed to improve defensively. And occasionally during nonconference play, she was asked to guard the opposing team's best perimeter scorer.
“I think she started looking at herself as a defensive stopper and that was her role,” Littell said. “But we need her to score. She's one that can create off the dribble and do some things.
“We challenged her that she needed to find a way to go get 10 (points) and 8 (rebounds) every night … She needs to be a great defensive player, but she also needs to have the dimension to her game that ‘Hey, I'm a scorer.'”
Teammates also had to remind Martin to, simply, stop being nervous, a message she has focused on during the past two weeks.
“I feel a lot fresher,” Martin said. “I feel a lot more calm. It's a lot more fun when you're not playing so scared.”
Martin is sure to run into more bumps before her rookie season is over. She's still learning that players are quicker at this level and passing lanes are smaller. She's getting used to playing shooting guard, a position she never played in high school.
But Littell experienced a similar growing process last season with Liz Donohoe, who went on to win the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award. And he has similar confidence in Martin.
“She's got a lot of talent,” Littell said. “And we're going to put her out there and play through some mistakes.”
No. 17 Oklahoma State vs. No. 24 Iowa State
*When: Noon Sunday
*Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
*Radio: KGFY-FM 105.5
*TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, Dish 416, DirecTV 679, U-verse 753)/FCS (Cox 271, DirecTV 617, U-verse 647)
Three things to know
*OSU hasn't played since last Sunday, a 64-52 victory at Texas. Iowa State throttled Oklahoma 82-61 Wednesday night.
*This game matches the Big 12's top two assist leaders in Iowa State's Nikki Moody (8.0 per game) and OSU's Tiffany Bias (7.0 per game).
*Iowa State leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (50.7 points allowed per game) and free-throw percentage (78.2 percent).