COLUMBIA — High-flying dunks and blocked shots that go soaring into the stands are not supposed to happen in women’s basketball.
No. 10 Baylor (14-3, 1-2) vs. Missouri (10-7, 0-4)
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
Baylor freshman Brittney Griner has become the face of women’s college basketball this season after showing the country her ability to dunk, block shots and score. The 6-foot-8 center leads the No. 10 Bears (14-3, 1-2) against the struggling Missouri Tigers at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers (10-7, 0-4) said they are not going to be in awe of the most recognized player in women’s basketball. In fact, the Tiger players said they don’t watch the many youtube videos that show Griner’s highlight-reel dunks.
“We don’t concentrate on things like that," junior Shakara Jones said. "We concentrate on us."
Missouri sophomore Christine Flores, who will see plenty of Griner on Saturday, went a step further by questioning Griner’s strength.
“We’re players, not fans,” Flores said. “(Griner) will be stronger in the future, but she’s not as strong as I think some of our posts are, so I think we can work her out really well.”
While post players such as Flores and Jones have the task of containing Griner on the court, it is up to coach Cindy Stein to come up with a game plan. Stein will start by taking notes from a coaching legend.
“It’s funny because I’ve had so many people ask me what we’re going to do with Brittney Griner,” Stein said. “I haven’t watched a lot of Baylor games. I’ll look to see what (Tennessee coach) Pat Summitt did against her. That will probably be the first game (I watch).”
Griner is five inches taller than Flores, the tallest Tiger who will see significant playing time against the Bears. Not only does Griner average 18.9 points a game, but she also has a staggering 105 blocks on the season.
“I think we’re just going to focus on playing position defense, playing great help-side defense and team defense to stop Brittney Griner,” junior RaeShara Brown said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an individual effort with a player that is 6-foot-8.”
It was suggested to the Tiger players at a recent news conference that the way to stop Griner was to hack away at her and hope the referees let it go. The Tigers said that is not the way they want to stop her.
“We are a physical team anyway, but we don’t want to rely on the referees to make a call or not make a call,” Brown said.
For the Tigers, Saturday's game is another test in the less-than-forgiving Big 12. The Tigers are the only team in the Big 12 without a conference win. Missouri’s 62-61 loss against Oklahoma on Wednesday was the Tigers third close loss against ranked teams this season.
“We’ve got to have a little bit of luck, and we’ve got to have better execution,” Stein said.
After starting 0-4 in conference play, the Tigers' confidence might be wavering. Stein said it’s up to her to change that.
“They’re extremely disappointed,” Stein said after Wednesday’s loss. “As a coach, you've got to bring them back up because we’ve got to be very determined the next time. We’re going to have to take it to another level against Baylor.”