Six years of block parties for Brittney Griner, shattering record after record
PHOENIX – In 2009 when Brittney Griner arrived as a fresh-faced first year in Waco for her inaugural season at Baylor, she quickly established herself as not just “that girl who dunks” but also a formidable shot blocker. She altered the offense of teams in the Big 12 for four years, frustrating opposing coaches in the league who routinely joked that they would have a private party when she graduated.
When she entered the WNBA two years ago as the number one overall pick in the 2013 draft, she was the NCAA’s top shot blocker of all-time (748) for women and men. While she had a rocky time during her first season as a pro, recovering from lingering injuries and getting used to the style of play in the WNBA, she quickly re-established her shot-blocking dominance and offensive prowess during her sophomore campaign.
Since she began playing volleyball before basketball, it is no surprise that her signature, powerful swats are her most beloved part of the game.
“This one’s a little special to me because that’s my favorite thing, blocking shots,” said Griner after breaking Baylor’s blocking record on November 23, 2010.
Fast forward to 2014: When asked about her favorite shot-blocking records yesterday, she paused for a few seconds before answering.
“The block shot record here in the league, the most in a single game, probably my favorite one,” she replied. On June 29 in Tulsa, Griner blocked a WNBA-record 11 shots. She also revealed that her favorite swat during the playoffs was against Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen during a game in Phoenix.
In the Finals, she faces another defensive juggernaut in Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who routinely pulls down rebounds in the double-digits.
“I don’t get tied up too much with me versus Syl,” said Griner about the matchup during team practice Monday. “At the same time I have to play team defense. But I love going up against her, you don’t see many people my size, so I like the matchup.”
Griner got the best of Fowles in game one Sunday night, as the Mercury routed the Sky, 83-62. She finished with a playoff record eight blocked shots, five in the first quarter and a record six in the first half.
Game two is set for Tuesday in Phoenix at 9 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.