12:05 a.m., SATURDAY, Feb. 4, 2012
Delaware's Elena Delle Donne leads the planet in scoring, and Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike is averaging a double-double.
But when it comes to the national Player of the Year, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has her own litmus test.
"I firmly believe if you had a 100 coaches lined up and they had one pick, Brittney Griner is the first player they'd take," Mulkey said of her 6-foot-8 All-American post, who's averaging 22.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and a national-best 5.4 blocks per game.
On pace to break nearly every NCAA record in the books, Griner is nine points shy of becoming the first women's player in the history of Division I basketball to score at least 2,000 points and block 500 shots. She should get that with room to spare when the top-ranked Lady Bears (22-0, 9-0) face Kansas State (15-6, 6-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
"Points are cool, but I've been thinking about the blocked shot record more than anything," said Griner, who had 510 career blocks and needs 154 more to break the record set by Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary's. "It's definitely an accomplishment (2,000 points, 500 blocks), and I'll be happy."
It's just another ho-hum moment for Griner on her walk of greatness.
"When her career is over and she's done play, I would imagine she's going to hold a lot of records that may never be broken," Mulkey said. "And I'm always of the belief that records are made to be broken. Some she will hold, I don't know if I'll ever see them broken again."
Beyond the numbers, though, is how Griner affects the game. Pretty much every team the Lady Bears play completely changes their attack because of Griner's presence in the paint, including a five-out attack that Texas Tech used to spread the floor and try to bring the 6-8 center away from the basket.
"Those other players that are being mentioned, while they are outstanding players, they don't change the approach a team takes to the floor offensively," Mulkey said. "Brittney Griner changes everything you try to do in your offense. Those other players may have the same numbers she has. But they don't change how a team approaches a game offensively. Brittney Griner does that. It's hands-down who the best player in the country is."
Griner posted one of her 15 double-doubles this year in the first meeting with Kansas State, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 76-41 dismantling of a Wildcat team that was in second place in the league and ranked 22nd nationally at the time.
"For me, I look at (Griner), and I am in awe," said 5-8 junior guard Brittany Chambers, who leads K-State with 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. "It's definitely not someone I would want to play against every night, that's for sure."