On Tuesday against Florida, the Baylor Bears’ six-foot-eight star center Brittney Griner became just the second woman in the NCAA tournament to dunk in a game:
As Jere Longman of the New York Times reported today, teams prepare for Griner in unique ways, with coaches holding brooms or kayak paddles to simulate her 88-inch wingspin. Longman said this was reminiscent of the way teams used to try and deal with the former Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in the mid-sixties.
Sports Illustrated did a similar story last week, in which Texas A&M coach Gary Blair revealed his method: “I have a 6’10” practice player named David Benac,” Blair said. “He’s not as good as Brittney and I tell him that, and I only use him for Baylor.”
The New York Times later caught up with Benac, who is the Aggie’s head yell leader, no less:
Benac said he met Griner this month at the Big 12 Conference tournament, while performing his yell leader duties, and told her: “I’m on the women’s practice team. I’m you.” To which she laughed and replied, “Tall people gotta represent.”
Georgia Tech’s center Sasha Goodlett, who is a mere 6’5″, told the Associated Press that friends have been deluging her with text messages about facing Griner since the bracket was announced last week, even though both teams needed two wins at that point to assure the match-up.
Texans, of course, can only hope the Bears and Aggies meet again–except this time in the finals. The Bears face Georgia Tech Saturday, while the Aggies take on Maryland Sunday.