After Leading Baylor’s Lady Bears To An Unprecedented 40-0 Season Where Will Brittney Griner Rank Among The All-Time College Greats?
Last night the Baylor Lady Bears held of the Lady Irish of Notre Dame 80-61 to capture their second women’s basketball national championship. The Lady Bears were led by Naismith and Wade Award winner Brittney Griner who stat line was nothing less than stellar as the three-time All-American scored 26 points grabbed 13 rebounds and turned away 5 shots on her way to being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
With Griner returning for her senior season where will she potentially rank among the greats in collegiate hoops?
When we look back on the career of Baylor’s Brittney Griner after next season after another first team All American selection, Naismith Award and run at the National Championship what will be said about her career and her impact not just in women’s college basketball but the collegiate game as a whole.
For the first time that I can remember both male and female Naismith Award winners who won in the same season are more known for their defensive prowess than offensive skills. Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis patrolled the paint of Rupp Arena with an abandon not seen since the days of Sam Bowie and Mel Turpin blocking 29 shots in the NCAA tournament. Griner blocked 31 shots – currently at 599 career blocks, more than any male collegian and one block shy of joining Louella Tomlinson formerly of St. Mary’s as the only players to record 600 blocked shots.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to all of the success that Brittney Griner has enjoyed. There has been a gay stigma attached to women’s basketball for decades – be it the head coaches or players themselves but when it came to Griner things got really out of hand for the woman who stands 6’8″ and can dunk a basketball with little effort. The comments on Twitter and Facebook took it beyond your typical tomboy jokes. There were those that suggested that Griner be tested for testosterone and actually have a physical examination to prove that she is indeed a woman – reminiscent of the criticism Wilma Rudolph endured when she dominated track and field.
Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor, Elvin Hayes, Bill Walton, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes - these are just some of the names that you will hear when people mention the collegiate dominance of Griner.
Griner will become the instant face of a WNBA that is already full of great players -the popularity of women’s hoops is at an all-time high and looking to expand. Griner is coming along at just the right time – her ability to dominate a game at both ends of the floor will make her an instant star at the next level.
I’m banking on a Brittney Griner/Candace Parker dunk- off.