DENVER — All season long, Baylor has been the best team led by the best player in the country.
And that just makes the stakes in tonight’s NCAA championship a little higher.
Anything short of a women’s national title would be deemed a failure for Brittney Griner and her Lady Bears.
That might explain why Baylor hasn’t focused on an undefeated season, nor on becoming the first team to win 40 games. Baylor just wants the title.
Standing in the way is Notre Dame, a team on a mission ever since losing in last year’s championship to Texas A&M and sparked by maybe the nation’s second-most dynamic player, All-American Skylar Diggins.
The tournament’s top seed against No. 2. Just the way the selection committee drew it up.
“40-0 was never really the goal,” said Griner at a news conference Monday. “We don’t have that ring yet. That’s the main goal. Until we get that, we’re going to feel like we haven’t really done anything.”
The Irish (35-3) know the feeling, having fallen just short last season to Texas A&M. Soon after Diggins and her Notre Dame teammates arrived back in South Bend after the championship last year, the junior guard went to the locker room. She put up on the chalkboard in the locker room, “Unfinished Business: 76-70, 15:52,” the time referring to the game’s turning point.
“We’ve had one goal all season long,” Diggins said. “We’ve wanted to get back here and play in this game.”
• Baylor (39-0) vs. Notre Dame (35-3), 8:30 (ESPN)
SOCIAL MEDIA CRITICISM OF STAR ANGERS MULKEY
DENVER — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey says she’s disgusted by taunting and insults directed at star player Brittney Griner on social media.
The 6-foot-8 AP Player of the Year is the subject of constant criticism on Twitter and other sites and Mulkey said during her press conference on Monday that she’s had enough of it.
“I made a commitment my fourth year at Baylor that I’ll never read a message board, I don’t want to see any of that garbage. I don’t want to hear about it, because it’s just not right. It’s not healthy,” Mulkey said. “This is someone’s child. This is a human being. She didn’t wake up and say make me look like this, make me 6-foot-8 and have the ability to dunk. This child is as precious as they come. ... The stuff she’s had to read about, the stuff she’s had to hear, the stuff people say about her, the stuff people write about her, it’s got to stop. That stuff’s got to stop.”
While the barrage of negative comments annoys Mulkey, Griner seems to brush them aside.
“I’ll go and search my name on Twitter, to see some of the things they say. They (school officials) tell me I shouldn’t read the blogs: They’re mean. But it doesn’t bother me,” Griner said.
Griner enjoys living in anonymity. She says she has about 200 followers.
“I do tweet. I don’t have that many followers,” she said.
– Associated Press