Baylor enjoying life at the top

February, 14, 2011

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey spoke last week during a Big 12 teleconference about how well her team seems to be handling life at the top.

"I don't think that being ranked No. 1 has affected them in any way," Mulkey said of her players. "Their personalities -- sometimes I want them to be a little bit more rah-rah and enthusiastic, but they come to the floor and just work."

Mulkey said that her star, center Brittney Griner, is particularly level-headed about how both she and the team are doing in her sophomore season.

"I think Brittney has never played like she felt the weight of the world was on her shoulders," Mulkey said. "The attention she receives because of the dunks and the blocked shots -- she's been handling that for years. As far as her carrying this basketball team, we've never allowed her to feel [that]. She is surrounded by great players. She understands that she draws the attention, but [her teammates] make her better and she makes them better. You can't throw the basketball in to yourself. She understands there are lots of parts to winning a championship."

Indeed … but the way Griner has played this season -- she put on a clinic in demolishing Texas on Saturday -- she certainly looks as if she could carry the weight of the world for Baylor if needed.

Playing just 30 minutes against the Longhorns, Griner had 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots. It was against a Texas squad that actually came into the game with real momentum, having won five in a row. But Griner was like a giant roadblock for the Longhorns in a 96-68 shellacking.

And if you think the packed Ferrell Center was loud Saturday, just wait to hear it Monday night when Texas A&M visits Waco (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). The No. 5 Aggies are the Big 12 team that has come the closest to challenging Baylor, falling at home in College Station 63-60 on Jan. 30.

That was one of just two losses this season for Texas A&M -- the other was Dec. 6 by three points at Duke -- and the Aggies are coming off their own dominant victory Saturday. They pummeled Kansas 81-58 behind a school-record 40 points by senior Danielle Adams, who added six rebounds and three steals.

Overshadowed by Adams' points explosion was the fine game of senior guard Sydney Colson, who had 16 points and nine assists. Colson has been bothered by knee problems in the past. But coach Gary Blair said that this season, injuries haven't been much of a problem for Colson. Foul trouble, though, has been.

"We're so much better at running an offense, particularly against a zone, when I have Colson out there," Blair said during the Big 12 teleconference. "We just need her to play a little bit smarter, to realize a steal is not as important. Because when she goes for the 'Ole!' as I call it, and one of my post players picks up a foul because [Colson's player] gets to the hole, I've got to make her realize, 'Just stay in front of her.'

"Good defense is keeping your player from getting to the basket or from touching the ball. She's starting to get it, but it still has to be a little bit better."

Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women's college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women's basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.


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