The Baylor women’s basketball team capped the most dominant season in college basketball history with an emphatic 80-61 victory over Notre Dame in Tuesday’s national championship in Denver.
And just as she’s done all season, 6-8 junior center Brittney Griner led the way with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks to earn most outstanding player honors.
Griner literally played head and shoulders above the Fighting Irish, who had no answer for her size, strength and defensive ability. At times, Griner’s physical stature doesn’t seem fair, and that was likely part of the impetus behind Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw’s postgame remarks.
“There really wasn’t anything we could do,” an emotional McGraw said. “We brought the double team and she made great shots. She’s a great player. She was unstoppable. I thought, for the size and the players that we had in. She’s just so big, she’s hard to stop.
“She’s one of a kind. She’s like a guy playing with women. It’s just there’s so many things that she can do that I’ve not seen a lot of women (do).”
With a deep voice and size and dunking ability many men’s basketball players envy, Griner has often been the subject of gender-based taunts, which makes McGraw’s choice of words questionable. The post-game press conference aired live on ESPN, leading to a social media firestorm.
For her part, Griner accepted them with grace, saying: “Definitely, I take it as a compliment.”
McGraw later issued a statement clarifying that her comments were indeed meant to be complimentary.
“I would hope that it was clear to those in attendance at Tuesday’s press conference that my comments were meant to be complimentary, and in reference to her style of play and her dominance in our game, nothing more,” the statement read.
“Nonetheless, the leaders of women’s basketball would be wise to avoid comments like McGraw’s. They serve no purpose other than to rev up nastier words and thoughts that detract from the stunning story of Baylor and Griner, who spent the 2011-12 season reminding themselves of the disappointing ending to the previous season, in which they did not reach the Final Four.”
The disappointment Notre Dame felt as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Tuesday’s rout should linger for the Irish and the rest of women’s college basketball if Baylor coach Kim Mulkey’s promise that her star is “not going pro” plays out.
With only three seniors on their roster and a star-studded recruiting class arriving in the fall, there’s no reason to expect a different result from the Lady Bears in 2012-13.
Did McGraw cross the line with her comments or do they sound complimentary? What’s your take on the ridicule Griner has received for her physical features and voice?