Final Four coaches talk about the tournament, Brittney Griner
Four teams. One tournament. The head coaches of Stanford, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Baylor spent Wednesday afternoon meeting the media and talking about their teams and the NCAA womenâ€™s basketball Final Four. What did they have to say about Brittney Griner?
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey:
She will tell you she came to Baylor not to become the greatest basketball player ever, she came to help win a championship. Because thereâ€™s no greater feeling. While she understands with her size and her ability come much recognition, welcomed recognition, much attention, but Brittney is the same kid today that she was before she started the season, that she was in high school. Sheâ€™s like a sponge. She wants to win. She wants to get better. She doesnâ€™t want to disappoint people. And sheâ€™s just got that hunger and that presence about her that Iâ€™m not sure sometimes if she really realizes how much attention sheâ€™s garnering right now. I think sheâ€™s just always been a kid thatâ€™s tall and can do some other things that other kids canâ€™t do, and she just comes to play.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma:
I was watching a couple of their games today, and from what Iâ€™ve seen briefly and from what Iâ€™ve been able to put together, obviously thereâ€™s no one like her in the game today. I think sheâ€™s on the tip of everyoneâ€™s tongue when it comes to conversations about what is one of the most exciting things thatâ€™s happening in the game of womenâ€™s basketball.
And I think sheâ€™s improved tremendously from when I saw her in high school, in just a short period of time. And I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s been anyone that young thatâ€™s been able to impact games as much as sheâ€™s had the ability to do, especially in the NCAA tournament and the Big 12 tournament as well. And I would like to think that her future is like maybe Yogi Berra would say, her future is still ahead of her. Sheâ€™s only going to get better. Sheâ€™s only going to get better. If sheâ€™s this good now, itâ€™s scary how good sheâ€™ll be when she gets a little more experience and a little more mature.
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale:
As impactful as she is on the offensive end, itâ€™s the defensive end where I think she makes the biggest difference.
I think we can all put together some schemes to keep the ball away from really, really talented post players.Â I shouldnâ€™t say keep the ball away, but to minimize the touches of really talented post players, whether you sag or you double or you go on a catch or you go on the bounce or you zone.Â Thereâ€™s a million different things you can do.
That doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re going to keep her from scoring baskets.Â You can minimize and maybe neutralize a little bit.Â On the defensive end itâ€™s a conundrum, because she can stand in the middle of a lane and block your shock outside the elbow.Â And Iâ€™m not exaggerating, thereâ€™s no hyperbole there.Â Itâ€™s really, really hard to get to the basket.
So at the end of the day to beat Baylor, youâ€™re going to have to make some outside shots.Â And youâ€™re going to have to not turn the ball over and youâ€™re going to have to not be impacted emotionally and mentally once you block shots, because until youâ€™ve been on the floor with it, itâ€™s a really, really hard thing to handle.Â And the first time we played against them, it took us by surprise.
And, you know, you prepare for it.Â You watch film.Â You test out if youâ€™re tall and you try to replicate it as best you can.Â And you just canâ€™t.Â And the more we were on the floor with it, the better I think we got at dealing with her defensive presence.Â But itâ€™s a different deal.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer:
I think Kim is a great coach. She has an exceptional player and something different to prepare with Brittney Griner. No one else in the country has that type of post presence defensively, and so I think that there might be some adjustments that Connecticut will have to make to go up against her.