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Griner revolutionizing women's basketball in multiple ways

Jan. 20, 2010

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Sarah Groman | Lariat staff
Brittney Griner blocks Cory Montgomery during Sunday's 65-56 defeat at the Ferrell Center. Griner already owns the Baylor single-season record with 105 blocks and is on pace to break the career mark by next year.

Griner Stats

105 blocks
6 feet 8 inches tall
88-inch wingspan
18.9 points per game
9.1 rebounds per game
459 blcoks as high school senior
52 dunks as high school senior

Career Blocks

1. 249 Danielle Wilson - 2006-09
2. 159 Steffanie Blackmon - 2001-05
3. 141 Kacy Moffitt - 1995-99
4. 131 Sophia Young - 2002-06
5. 119 Maggie D. Stinnett - 1986-89, 1990-91
6. 116 Monica Arnold- 1997-01
7. 114* Carol R. Brandenburg - 1977-81
8. 105 Brittney Griner-2009-10
9. 104^ Jackie Reiter - 1980-84
10. 94 Jessica Morrow - 2005-09

* AIAW competition
^ Combination of AIAW and NCAA competition

Single Season Blocks

1. 105 Brittney Griner - 2009-10
2. 86 Danielle Wilson - 2006-07
3. 83 Danielle Wison - 2008-09
4. 80 Danielle Wilson - 2007-08
5. 76 Carol R. Brandenburg - 1979-80
6. 58 Steffanie Blackmon - 2002-03
7. 53 Maggie Stinnett - 1987-88
8. 51 Bernice Mosby - 2006-07
9. 48 Melanie Hamerly - 2002-03
9. 48 Maggie D. Stinnett - 1990-91

By Chris Derrett
Sports writer

It is only 30 seconds into the Lady Bears' home conference opener against the University of Oklahoma, and she has done it again. It comes as no surprise to anybody in the Ferrell Center, yet the crowd roars like they did the first time, and the second time, and the 89th time.

Because when Brittney Griner sends a shot hopelessly flying away from the rim, they cannot help but cheer on the 6-foot-8, freshman phenom.

Griner has 105 blocks on the season, including 11 in the 57-47 win over the Sooners. Her defensive impact has proven invaluable for the Lady Bears this year, as teams must adjust to a force that even coach Kim Mulkey has never before experienced in her basketball career.

"You're seeing a lot of blocked shots from a girl that I've never seen in my life, and she's exciting," Mulkey said. "It's something that energizes us, energizes the crowd."

After finishing her senior year at Nimitz High School with 299 blocks on the season, Griner clearly proved her raw talent to onlookers. Mulkey took the task of honing those skills and incorporating an 88-inch wingspan into her defense.

The maturation process was evident in Baylor's first game, a road loss to the University of Tennessee, in which Griner recorded four blocks but committed three fouls in the first two minutes of the second half.

"Just like Brittney and every freshman, those kids are in a new environment," Mulkey said after the game. Griner's game would be broken down, Mulkey added, to determine areas of needed improvement.

In the 13 non-conference games after Tennessee, Griner averaged only 2.1 fouls per game, including a five-block, one-foul performance against then No. 11-ranked California. She also swatted eight shots in the Lady Bears' 70-66 win over No. 14 Arizona State University and did not commit her second foul until 10 seconds remained in the game.

After a 100-46 drubbing of University of Texas-Pan American in Baylor's 13th game, the single-season block record was amazingly already within reach for Griner. She added eight blocks in the game, leaving her one shy of Danielle Wilson's 2006-07 best of 86, but the numbers did not and still do not matter to the 6-foot-8 freshman.

"It's really not too important. I like to get the blocked shots so the other team can't score," Griner said. "I really am just playing my game. I don't come out each game and say that I need to achieve this."

Yet the record books cannot help but show Griner's shot-blocking ability. Wilson's record fell in Baylor's next game, and later Griner set the Baylor and Big 12 single game record in her shot-blocking clinic against the Sooners.

Even when Griner is not sending shots back toward their source, her competition often feels her defensive pressure. Every time an opponent thinks twice about trying to shoot over her and Griner forces the ball elsewhere, she has altered a shot. The shots she alters, says Mulkey, are crucial to the team's success.

"Brittney's presence in the paint is as important as any dunk she'll ever have in her career. I bet none of you can tell me how many shots she altered tonight," she said in the Oklahoma postgame press conference, "Those are things that the NCAA doesn't keep."

The NCAA record books also cannot measure Griner's impact on teammates and momentum. Ashley Field, a 6-foot-2 post who leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage, says the team benefits greatly matching up against Griner in practice.