The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Sports

March 2, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Is Baylor’s Griner the best ever?

MORGANTOWN — Over the years there have been a number of great players to find their way into the Coliseum.

Even as a relative latecomer to Morgantown, arriving in December of 1995, I have been able to see a string of great players come through one of the really great on-campus facilities in the land, considering that it already has served 43 years.

The first game I attended brought Georgetown and Allen Iverson to town for the West Virginia University’s first Big East game, which wound up being an overtime classic that the Hoyas won, 86-83, with Iverson scoring 22 points and dishing out 10 assists, yet being outplayed by Seldon Jefferson of WVU, who scored 26, and Gordon Malone, who added 23 with 12 rebounds.

And yes, Tim Higgins was one of the officials working the game … and don’t you miss him nowadays.

There have been some classic performances by classic players over the seasons, Austin Carr setting the Coliseum scoring record with 47 points on Feb. 20, 1971, the same season he scored 55 against WVU at Notre Dame, while the Irish’s Adrian Dantley came in and rang up 41 points on the Mountaineers on Feb. 23, 1974.

Then it was hardly a happy Valentine’s Day in 1980 when Darrell Griffith and Louisville’s “Doctors of Dunk” arrived and beat WVU, 90-78, with Griffith scoring 35.

We mention this because tonight yet another great player comes to the Coliseum, one who is even a greater player than the greatest to play there this year, who clearly was the Red Panda Acrobat.

Like the Red Panda, a flat-footed Brittney Griner is of the female persuasion and stands almost as tall as the Red Panda does when astride her unicycle. Griner measures 6-feet, 8-inches in altitude, which in today’s women’s game makes her something like it was when Wilt Chamberlain made his 7-foot, 1-inch debut into the land of Lilliputians who played college basketball at the time.

This Baylor Bear, who is the No. 1 player on the nation’s No. 1 team and the defending national champion, has virtually all that Chamberlin had. Not only does she carry the physical advantage that height gives you, but she, too, is athletic, which allows her to play the game on the floor as well as at the rim.

That she is one of the greatest women basketball players of all time is not debated.

What is debated is whether Brittney Griner is the greatest player of all time.

Recently she surpassed 3,000 career points to move into fifth place among college basketball’s all-time scorers. Perhaps the way she did so is most impressive, for during this game she outscored the entire Texas team in the first half.

When this game was over she was looking down at USC’s Cheryl Miller and Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw in scoring, and they certainly are in the debate for the greatest players ever. You probably include

Connecticut’s Rebecca Lobo and Diana Taurasi, Tennessee’s Candace Parker and Duke’s Alana Beard in this group.

“You have to play offensively differently against Baylor when Griner is in the game than you do against any other team in the country. That is why she is the Player of the Year. That is why she is the best player in women’s college basketball right now,” Lobo, now an ESPN analyst, has said of her.

All of these players, of course, were dominant, as is Griner, who not only has 3,000 points but 700 blocks, the only woman to reach that figure.

And whereas Georgeann Wells of West Virginia became the first woman to dunk a basketball in a game in Elkins against the University of Charleston on Dec. 21, 1984, before about 100 fans, Griner dunks regularly before sold-out crowds.

“Griner has changed the game,” Notre Dame’s coach Muffet McGraw has said. “I’m just glad she didn’t dunk on us. She really defensively changes the whole game. Every time you drive in there, no matter who is guarding you, she’s going to be at the rim to block a shot. We didn’t get as many shots around the basket as we had hoped to. Certainly she changed our game.”

She changed it to the point that last year the Bears won the national title as the first team to ever go 40-0 and are favored again this year as they stand 27-1 coming into the Coliseum tonight.

WVU goes in with little to lose and a lot to gain.

“We have an opportunity,” coach Mike Carey said. “Any time you get an opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country, you have to look forward to it.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes

    Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
    It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.

    April 16, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos