Lady Vols have tall order against Baylor's 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
Baylor's Brittney Griner blocks a shot by Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, right, during the first half of the NCAA women's regional final on March 26 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo by Charlie Neibergall, AP2012

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press Baylor's Brittney Griner blocks a shot by Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison, right, during the first half of the NCAA women's regional final on March 26 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Cierra Burdick talks about Tennessee's 2nd half struggles with Texas

Lady Vols get road win over Texas, ...

WACO, Texas — Meighan Simmons didn't pack lightly for a trip to Texas.

Tennessee's junior guard detailed a lengthy checklist last week of such essentials as poise, resolve and mental toughness.

Simmons was loading up specifically for a women's basketball game against No. 3 Baylor (8-1) Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center (TV: ESPN, 8 p.m.). She knows better than most Lady Vols that it takes a lot to make a shot against the Lady Bears.

"Play as hard as I can," she said. "Do everything I can for the betterment of the team. Making sure I stay focused all the time."

And maybe, just maybe, she will make a few baskets. They'd do wonders for the Lady Vols' chances against the defending national champions. Their four-game losing streak in the series is heavily freighted with shooting woes. In those four games, UT is hitting 29.4 percent from the floor (90-for-306).

Simmons, Tennessee's leading scorer at 17.9 points per game this season, has played in three of those losses and fared even worse, shooting 20 percent (9-for-44).

Small wonder that UT coach Holly Warlick likely will turn to senior Taber Spani as a starter if sophomore center Isabelle Harrison is unable to play tonight.

Harrison did not practice Monday and her status remains uncertain after she suffered a sprained right ankle in Sunday's 94-75 victory over Texas.

"It looks better (Monday) than I had thought it would earlier," Warlick said.

At 6-foot-1, Spani is no center. But she did score 15 points against Texas and hit three 3-pointers.

"With Baylor, you have to hit shots," Warlick said, "and you have to hit outside shots."

The latter part of Warlick's directive was made with respect to Brittney Griner, Baylor's 6-8 All-American center. She has 622 career blocks, 41 shy of the NCAA Division I record.

She's been prowling the foul lane for the past three seasons against Tennessee, adding to her impressive total at the Lady Vols' expense. On UT's last visit to Waco, Griner ran the length of the floor, catching former Lady Vol Vicki Baugh from behind and swatting away her shot.

"You get a lot more brave when you have somebody like that," UT assistant Dean Lockwood said.

Baylor has experienced, athletic players defending in concert with Griner. Although the Lady Bears already have faced three top-10 teams this season, they still are holding the opposition to a collective shooting percentage of 34.1 percent.

Simmons has become very familiar with Baylor junior point guard Odyssey Sims. She described the challenge of facing her as "an amazing experience."

"When you do face someone who's as intense as Odyssey, you want to be patient," said Simmons, who at times was impatient in shooting 6-for-20 against Texas. "You don't want to rush anything. You want to be smart with the ball."

Sunday's victory boosted Tennessee (7-1) to No. 10 in the Associated Press' weekly Top 25 poll, marking its return to the top 10 for the first time since the end of last season.

The victory also was useful preparation for tonight. UT offset season lows for points in the paint (28) and fast-break points (six) by matching a season high for double-figure scorers (six) and setting one for 3-pointers (eight).

UT's scoring act played well in Austin. But Waco is a different stage.

"No disrespect to Texas, no disrespect at all," Lockwood said, "but we're going from a single-A pitcher to a Hall of Famer."

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Comments » 57

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

Good luck at Baylor ladies. Might not win this one but this is already the most fun LV team to watch since the Parker days. The ball movement on offense in the first half against Texas was awesome.....so completely different from all the standing around the past few years. Great work Holly and the staff.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

So is Izzy going to play?

jt45 writes:

Games like this tend to be hard on the blood pressure for some of us. Good luck ladies, go after em like you did NC and put another win in the books. Slowing down their guard Odyssey Sims would help alot, she seems to be the key to their offense. Griner cant beat the Lady Vols by herself.

KCHS63 writes:

I'm sorry, Dean. "No disrespect to Texas?" Seriously?!?!?!?!?!?!? "A Single A pitcher?"

Hilarious. Hopefully that won't make it onto to the Longhorns' lockerroom wall.

:-)

TheStupidPolice writes:

I can't wait to see what the trolls have in store for this thread.

Volborn writes:

izzy....LOL. Hitter in the Adam's apple!

chaos001 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

in response to chaos001:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I played my my 8 year old niece a clip of an interview of ms. griner on YouTube. She asked me, who is that guy? Out of the mouthes of babes............

BigOrangeSports writes:

Griner can't run all night. So Holly's up and down the court team will limit Brittney to play either Defense or Offense, but she won't be able to do both all night. I like the Lady Vol's chances.

SteelerNation writes:

in response to DEMS_KEEP_ME_IN_CHAINS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, Gender testing.

SummittsCourt writes:

This game will come down to two basic obvious fundamentals of the game. Don't turn the ball over and hit better than 50% of the shots taken and these Lady Vols should come away with the win.

Go Lady Vols!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SteelerNation:

Yes, Gender testing.

Eventually, the truth will rear it's ugly head.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Don't let O.Sims beat us and shoot better than 45% and we get the win.

VOLinATL writes:

You know, I kind of hope the Mayans are right. Judging by some of the stupid comments on this thread about Brittany Griner, we contine to set new lows in intellgence. Time to wipe the board clean and start over!

underthehill writes:

in response to rogatl2002#222395:

Good luck at Baylor ladies. Might not win this one but this is already the most fun LV team to watch since the Parker days. The ball movement on offense in the first half against Texas was awesome.....so completely different from all the standing around the past few years. Great work Holly and the staff.

I see it the same..every player seems to be talented and gives total effort..I love the tempo Simmons creates..and her defense is better..run the floor and see if you can wear em down...

underthehill writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

You know, I kind of hope the Mayans are right. Judging by some of the stupid comments on this thread about Brittany Griner, we contine to set new lows in intellgence. Time to wipe the board clean and start over!

I get the feeling that if Griner was a Lady Vol these "fans" making the stupid comments would see things a bit different..and KNS needs to repond to the Suggest Removal..

dunc writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

You know, I kind of hope the Mayans are right. Judging by some of the stupid comments on this thread about Brittany Griner, we contine to set new lows in intellgence. Time to wipe the board clean and start over!

Thanks, VIA, usually the posts on this board are much more classy and on point.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to TheStupidPolice:

I can't wait to see what the trolls have in store for this thread.

that would include you

CaliVOL2 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I get the feeling that if Griner was a Lady Vol these "fans" making the stupid comments would see things a bit different..and KNS needs to repond to the Suggest Removal..

Best post on this thread!

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to SteelerNation:

Yes, Gender testing.

Really!

hikerdude writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

You know, I kind of hope the Mayans are right. Judging by some of the stupid comments on this thread about Brittany Griner, we contine to set new lows in intellgence. Time to wipe the board clean and start over!

Agreed. VolBorn and Dems need to keep their bigotry to themselves.

madrigal writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

You know, I kind of hope the Mayans are right. Judging by some of the stupid comments on this thread about Brittany Griner, we contine to set new lows in intellgence. Time to wipe the board clean and start over!

I certainly agree! And not just the comments about Griner, either. I'm sick and tired of some people's constant Simmons-bashing also.

Griner can't win the game by herself. I don't know how Stanford beat Baylor, but last year one of the Texas teams (Tech? A&M?) also came very close by getting her in foul trouble and taking her out of a big part of the game. Our outside shooters will have to be sharp, certainly. And, who knows, maybe it's a blessing to be ranked lower than usual because Baylor might not be expecting what the Lady Vols actually have.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to BigOrangeSports:

Griner can't run all night. So Holly's up and down the court team will limit Brittney to play either Defense or Offense, but she won't be able to do both all night. I like the Lady Vol's chances.

Agreed. Run. Run Griner 'til her tongue hangs out...then run her some more.

Simms, too. She's such a punk. I hope Simmons wipes the floor with her.

ModelMaker writes:

Win or lose I really like these kids. I really get a kick out of watching them play. Their teamwork is the best I have seen in some time. I wish them nothing but the best.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Don't much follow this any more, my kid plays ball somewhere else.

There IS a way to neutralize Griner.
-Let her shoot, but box her off the glass with intensity...too many people worry about denying her, and give up easy looks to other Baylor players. So, yes, deny as best you can, bot more important to keep her off the offensive glass. It's so odd, teams lose track of her so often.
-backpick for your posts. Make Baylor switch so Griner can't stay on your post full-time.
-here's the big one: always have a body between your shooter and Griuer. Doesn't matter if it's your player or theirs.

In summary, you have to defend Baylor's other players hard and not let Griner intimidate your shooters or own the offensive glass.

Stanford tried last year in the NCAA championship, but played it poorly by setting screens way too early and getting called for holds. Griner is a great player, just control her teammates as best you can.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

The only way LV's can win this game is playing like they did in Austin... pull up mid-range shots and three pointers. Massingale, Williams, Burdick, Graves and Spani better have the touch.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Not sure if the run Griner ragged is going to work as they are a well conditioned team , however quick crisp passing down court will take the reaction time away from her. Shots! We have got to make shots tonight. Don't worry about them getting blocked. Griner (can't forget Pope) can't block them all.

jt45 writes:

Baylor beat Kentuckys lady Cats 85 to 51. Regardless of the score it will be interesting to see how the Lady Vols will compare against an SEC rival under the same circumstances.

signalcorps writes:

baylor can be beaten if the vols block out keep a body between baylor's big and the basket,,,,(taking her out of her game easy to do just stay between her and the basket at all times),,,,don't come into the paint she's to tall,,,if they do just these two durable things we will see our young ladys go to work on baylor......GO LADY VOLS

signalcorps writes:

in response to pomp_and_circumstance:

The only way LV's can win this game is playing like they did in Austin... pull up mid-range shots and three pointers. Massingale, Williams, Burdick, Graves and Spani better have the touch.

for some reason coachs think they must play baylor's big with out blocking out,,, Im 6ft2 I tryed guarding a 6ft8 player onces he owned the boards,,, and was winning the game until I got between him and the basket,(blocked out),I didn't hit any points ,,and he didn't get any rebounds and easy points we came back with ease and won the game,,,Im all for mid range shots and some 3s if falling,,,,

volboy81 writes:

so glad Griner is a Sr so we dont have to hear about her any more after this year. Thats all I ever hear, even if Baylor isnt even playing! Get her in foul trouble tonight (if thats possible due to officiating) and Baylor is very beatable. Put Simmons on Sims and let her dog her to death. Dont see Baylor having much past those 2. UT will have to play a GREAT game to beat them, but the last 2 vs. UNC & TX WERE great!
Go get it done, girls!!!

KennyGVolsFan writes:

in response to DEMS_KEEP_ME_IN_CHAINS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes.... She didn't want the issues that Caster Semenya had to deal with!!!

I also heard that she wasn't offered the final spot by Geno!!

Griner is a great player. There aren't any other players that can stack up against her. Margo Dydek may have been able to but she isn't around any more!!

Hopefully speed can beat size!!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

I can't wait for this one. Win or lose this will be the biggest test to see how far we can go in the NCAA's . A win tonight and tues puts us in the mix if we stay healthy. Our ladies should just not worry about Griner and play their game. She is not a intimidating opponent. Now Sims is the real bully on the court. She feeds off of your mistakes . Not tonight ladies! Make those shots!

brokendownoldvol writes:

Steroids?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 45ReVOLver:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BG: YO! You Volz ain't gotta chance..
Baylor Alumnus..

johnlg00 writes:

I think some of us may be underestimating the other Baylor players besides Griner and Simms. I can't give you any names since I don't follow them that closely, but they must have a decent team overall, and it often happens that the lesser-known players play better at home. Kim Mulkey is a Hall-of-Fame caliber coach and Texas is full of great athletes, male and female. I think more of this LV team overall than any of the last three or four, but they will have a really tough time inside, both on offense and defense, especially without Izzy at 100%, if she plays at all. There is a major depth issue without her, and a serious lack of road-game experience against elite teams. It will take an almost superhuman level of poise, effort, and execution for them to win this game. However it comes out, I'll love 'em anyway! GLVs!!! TCB!!!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Well, they didn't listen to me.

Hah, whoda thunk.

VolsToGo writes:

Miss Trailer Park Queen's (Mulkey)antics on the side make me want to puke. She's either drunk on Griner or believes viewers tune in to watch her act like an idiot.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I had honestly no ideas Tennessee was this bad.

They quite honestly look like a Mid-Major.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I had honestly no ideas Tennessee was this bad.

They quite honestly look like a Mid-Major.

Looking through the roster, I see why.

Long, long way to go to get this program back to relevancy.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

So......
Warlick, rather than showing some coaching skills, just does what every other coach does.

Just focus on Griner....and, gee down by 25 in the first half.

How stupid is this??

Make Griner shoot every shot; if she can score 60, 70 by herself, more power to her.

coffy73 writes:

I can't believe some of the things I've heard from Tenn. "fans" regarding Griner. Just low and disgusting! Let's face it, Baylor is a better team with more talented players and this game would be like this even if the Lady Vols played like they did at Texas. Sometimes you gotta face reality and it will be a long time before Tenn. gets back to top tier, and they may never get back to the top. Insulting other team's star players won't make them great, it just seems very petty, cruel, and jealous.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to coffy73:

I can't believe some of the things I've heard from Tenn. "fans" regarding Griner. Just low and disgusting! Let's face it, Baylor is a better team with more talented players and this game would be like this even if the Lady Vols played like they did at Texas. Sometimes you gotta face reality and it will be a long time before Tenn. gets back to top tier, and they may never get back to the top. Insulting other team's star players won't make them great, it just seems very petty, cruel, and jealous.

Every team that plays Griner, some of the fans make the same comments.

When you watch the current LV's, though, it makes you really appreciate Candace Parker and Nicki Anosike.

coffy73 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

So......
Warlick, rather than showing some coaching skills, just does what every other coach does.

Just focus on Griner....and, gee down by 25 in the first half.

How stupid is this??

Make Griner shoot every shot; if she can score 60, 70 by herself, more power to her.

Most teams don't want to get dunked on or embarrassed by Griner, so that's all they're focused on. The LVs look lost out there and are running wild, disorganized plays because they're scared of Brittney. The beauty of Stanford and coach Tara is she actually coaches ways to play Griner intelligently; ND also does good against Baylor. You gotta refuse to play scared, run smart plays, and go into the body of Griner...try to draw fouls even if you get blocked in the process.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I hope someone "gets" to Holy Warlick with this:

Look, it's better to take a chance and go "against the grain" of other coaches when your facing a huge challenge.

Think back...to the UT-Stanford championship, when UT pressed Stanford all over the court to earn the win??

Imaginative, diffident...and effective.

Good night, y'all, good luck.
Lot of season to go.

coffy73 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Every team that plays Griner, some of the fans make the same comments.

When you watch the current LV's, though, it makes you really appreciate Candace Parker and Nicki Anosike.

Oh well that excuses it then (eye-roll)! Anyway, I still have some of those Parker Tenn. games on my computer and I just don't think the LVs will ever get up to that level again.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Painful to watch. If UT can't when it all I hope Baylor does. Any team but UConn. Enjoy it Baylor it will be a while for you all too with 5 seniors including Griner leaving. The playing field will level back to normal next year.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to coffy73:

Most teams don't want to get dunked on or embarrassed by Griner, so that's all they're focused on. The LVs look lost out there and are running wild, disorganized plays because they're scared of Brittney. The beauty of Stanford and coach Tara is she actually coaches ways to play Griner intelligently; ND also does good against Baylor. You gotta refuse to play scared, run smart plays, and go into the body of Griner...try to draw fouls even if you get blocked in the process.

just keep a body between Griner and your shooter.

The NBA has been teaching that for years (how to avoid shotblockers).

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Ease up friends. It is what it is.
The girls can't get near the basket so they are gunning up 35 foot shots.........and drawing blanks, plus the turnovers.

Baylor is playing the defense we used to be known to play. Plus throwing up 3 pointers like they were layups.

It's going to be a learning experience.
We might have had a better chance if they were without 2 of their players also.

Greiner? It's like your football team with 150 pound defensive linemen playing against a 250 pound line which also has a 225 pound tailback.

We just have to learn from it and give the Lady Bears their due.

coffy73 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I hope someone "gets" to Holy Warlick with this:

Look, it's better to take a chance and go "against the grain" of other coaches when your facing a huge challenge.

Think back...to the UT-Stanford championship, when UT pressed Stanford all over the court to earn the win??

Imaginative, diffident...and effective.

Good night, y'all, good luck.
Lot of season to go.

That's all good, but we don't have those same players, nor the same coach, do we? This is a different Tenn. team and unfortunately, we longtime LV fans are so used to our teams getting to the top that it's gonna take a while to get used to being ranked low and losing a lot. Just a new time, have to change expectations.

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