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March 27, 2011

Brittney Griner

Kim Mulkey

Odyssey Sims


Baylor – 86
Green Bay - 76

THE MODERATOR: Joined by Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, student-athletes Odyssey Sims and Brittney Griner. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Odyssey, they cut the lead to three with about 13 minutes left. You came up with a bunch of great defensive plays. Can you just kind of tell us what you were doing there on defense and kind of how you sparked the team there?
ODYSSEY SIMS: Just keeping our intensity. Not beating ourselves up. Knowing that we were giving up 3s, layups, and we didn't have good help side, on the time-out we kind of gathered ourselves. And it starts with me on defense. So I did the best I could, just defend, keep my man in front, and just get some easy steals for my team.

Q. Brittney, kind of following up on that question, to kind of take control of the game, you guys went on a 17-3 run. What did you guys do during that run? And actually you and Odyssey had all the points. Did you want to take some of that on your shoulders during that stretch?
BRITTNEY GRINER: I feel like we both kind of took it on our shoulders. We were just feeding off of each other. So she got me the ball, and, like Coach said, you coast around, go up there, find an open player. And we did a good job and we fed off of each other.

Q. Brittney, how hard was it to play a team like Green Bay where any of the five players at any given time can shoot the 3? Seems like you guys haven't played a team with quite that much balance all year.
BRITTNEY GRINER: It was hard. Green Bay is a great team. Just had to try my best and work with my teammates on switching when they came to set screens on me and just try to keep me as close to the basket as we could. When I got out, just keep my arms up. Long reach and I really didn't have to come too, too far out so I could kind of stay back. And when they drove, my teammates on the help side, they helped me out a lot.

Q. Brittney, it was said by more than one person after the game, a quiet 40 points. Did you realize you had that many points, or had you even looked at the stat sheet?
BRITTNEY GRINER: No, I didn't. I didn't know I had 40. Really wasn't keeping up with that. I was just out there trying to help my team get a victory.

Q. Brittney, you picked up an early second foul in the first half and they were able to kind of come from the dominance to neutralize the game a little bit. Did you feel that they were deliberately trying to get you into early foul trouble? And what adjustments did you make in the second half to make sure that that wasn't going to happen?
BRITTNEY GRINER: Just like everything, you know, it would be my game plan to take it to her, take it at her and try to get her out, and I picked up my second foul. I couldn't help my teammates out on the bench. So I just had to play smarter. And the second half that's what I did, I tried to play smarter instead of jumping on every -- they are a little bit shorter, I just stayed on the floor and put my hands up. And it worked for me.

Q. Odyssey, Brittney, Texas A&M fourth time, what does it mean this time?
BRITTNEY GRINER: You know, it's good for our conference, two Big 12 teams. Just go out there and play really, just works out.
ODYSSEY SIMS: What she said. It's always nice to play another team when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. But it looks good for the Big 12 to get us out there, just gotta play, and we can't underestimate them. They're a great team, and they'll come out and they're going to play with energy. We just gotta match it.

Q. Brittney, as you said, you didn't realize you had 40 points. Coming off a 30-point game the other night, talk about the zone you're in. Obviously you've been playing well all year, but seems like these last few games you've stepped it up and you're playing at your top now.
BRITTNEY GRINER: March Madness. Like I said, I don't think about it too much how much I scored. When I'm feeling it in a game, it's just something that comes over you. If I'm feeling it, I'm just going to keep going until I can't, until somebody else starts in, and then I'm going to get the ball to them. So just feeling it, you know.

Q. Can you talk about how difficult that team was to defend with all their shooters and a bunch of good passers too?
ODYSSEY SIMS: Green Bay is a very good team. Scouting report, what we're dealing with, we're dealing with shooters. And it's very hard to defend, to keep our man in front and on help side, because when we help out, then they're going to dump it and it's a 3. So we try to do a good job of limiting their 3-point shots and just playing good defense.

Q. Odyssey, you hit a 35-foot bank shot to end the half. First of all, do you practice that shot? And, secondly, in that situation, do you have an eye on the clock or are you counting in your head?
ODYSSEY SIMS: No, it's not something I practice. I mean, I play around in practice, I guess everyone would consider that. But I knew that it was like five seconds left when I got the ball and I was just trying to go and get an open shot and I threw it up and it went in.

Q. Brittney, again, the idea that the score was a lot more lopsided but you were in for a dogfight for quite a while in this game, talk about that. Being in another one like this, doing what you guys have to do, it's going to look like a lot more than it was, but we know how close it was for a while and how much of a fight it was.
BRITTNEY GRINER: Again, I give credit to Green Bay not going away. Nobody wants their season to be over right now, so nobody is going to just give up, and so, you know, they just kept going at it and going at it. And we just had to keep going. Teams make runs and you've got to withstand it and make a run for yourself.

Q. Odyssey, as a point guard, at least in your head, are you kind of keeping track of what she's doing? And was there more of -- as far as points that Brittney's getting. And was there more of an emphasis even more tonight than usual to get it in to her and feed her?
ODYSSEY SIMS: It's just very important, just because her presence inside to get her the ball, and, like Coach said, we have to establish the inside game first, and that's something that we try to do as much as possible. Just even with two or three defenders, we still have to get our touches because our job is defense and creates open opportunities for other players on the team.
And there's just something that we work on in practice and something that Coach tells us all the time. And when B.G. gets going early, it's impossible to slow her down.

Q. Brittney, obviously last year you came with a shot block, came with rebounding. Could you talk about how your offensive game has evolved, though, maybe in the last year since you arrived on campus?
BRITTNEY GRINER: I mean, this year from last year I was kind of jamming, just worked on my shot and worked on my shooting and range.
So when we got back here this year, you know, I would be able to do more, bring more to the floor, further help out my team. So just putting shooting onto -- and range to my game.

Q. Brittney, where does this game rank in terms of intensity you guys have had coming out of the gates? Seemed like you guys were really, really intense to start this game.
BRITTNEY GRINER: I'd say, first, each game you've got to up the intensity, because you're that much closer to the championship. But, yet, you can go home at any time and you're done until next year.
So I say that the intensity for this game was higher than all the rest of the games. Important time right now. So next game we're just going to have to up it up more, and it feeds the intensity of the next team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, in the second half it looked like Green Bay was not only getting closer, looked like they were gaining the momentum. How important was it for Odyssey Sims to step up the way she did with the 3s and the steals?
COACH MULKEY: I think sometimes we fail to give credit to the opponent. Green Bay has two pretty good seniors on their team. One of them has the ball in her hands quite a bit. Odyssey Sims is a freshman and we ask a lot of her. While she's one of the more talented -- in fact, I think she's the best freshman in the country -- she's still a freshman. She doesn't feel good. She's got a little respiratory problem going on, and I just thought she gutted it out.
And when she made those steals, it gave us a little bit of a momentum there. The crowd got back into it. But it wasn't like Odyssey was playing bad. I know she has eight turnovers, but you gotta go back and credit Green Bay for some of that. Odyssey just hanging in there and figuring out and learning how to compete at this level. And we're asking her to do a lot of things. She doesn't come out of the game very much. She doesn't have a senior mentor out there every day in practice. So kind of proud of the kid.

Q. Kim, it seemed like Brittney played a very controlled game tonight, even with the two fouls in the first half. I know last year there were times where you said maybe she rushed a little too much. I mean, did you see that tonight where she was just in control doing her thing?
COACH MULKEY: I think the word is probably poised, and you become a more poised player from experience. And I harp on this, but truthfully, when you look out on that floor, guys, I have one senior. And for a bunch of sophomores and one freshman to get the majority of the minutes, that poise comes every time they get an opportunity to get on the floor and play.
And when you play a team like Green Bay, they can expose you a lot because we are big. They're not. So they take you away from the basket. They have post players coming out to guard the 3. They penetrate, kick and dish. They set screens. They do a lot of flops. They take charges. All those things that you wish you had on your team, those kids do whatever's necessary to compete.
And they've lost one basketball game. They're ranked 11th and 13th in the country. That is a good basketball team. And the thing that's so impressive to me as a coach is they didn't quit. They made it a 10-point game. So they have to feel good about themselves in the sense that it was really on the verge of being a 20-point game and they never quit playing, and I respect that very much.

Q. You've already talked about Odyssey. But does she just anticipate well as far as getting those steals? It seems like she just really has a knack for getting in those lanes.
COACH MULKEY: She just has quick hands. She has quick hands. She's strong. She's listed as 5'5". But if you look at her body that's a strong 5'5". She's very quick.
She just has done that her whole life. I've watched her in high school. I've watched her in summer ball do that. And she takes great pride in her own on-the-ball pressure. Now she's getting better off the ball and getting over screens and things like that.
But if you just allow Odyssey Sims to guard you with the ball in your hands, she's pretty darned good.

Q. Kim, we've talked about it many times, Brittney -- we're running out of adjectives to describe what she does and how she plays, but how do you put a game like this in perspective? When it ends, I looked up; I didn't realize she had 40 points.
COACH MULKEY: Because you take her for granted. People don't need to take her for granted. I say it, I say it, and I say it: You're never going to see another Brittney Griner. I don't think I'll ever see another one in my lifetime. We'll see the great players. We'll see the elite players.
But I said this in the press conference the other day: I could tell Brittney at any time through the course of that game, You go up and goaltend. I don't know that any coach can tell a player that. They don't have those kind of players on their team unless it's on the men's side.

Q. Kim, can you talk -- it gets lost a little bit, but the play that Brooklyn gave you right there at the end of the half where I think she scored like six points to kind of keep that lead.
COACH MULKEY: I thought the difference in the game for us was our bench play. I thought Terran Condrey, I thought Brooklyn Pope, I thought Nae-Nae Hayden were very valuable tonight, scored -- I think Brooklyn it was either three for five or four for six. She was four for six. And those were big buckets.
She had the blocked shot in the open floor. Brooklyn, as I move her and Destiny in and out of the game, you just don't lose a whole lot. With Destiny you get more of a finisher; with Brooklyn you get more of a rebounder and more of a shot blocker. And they both are so valuable because they complement Griner so well.

Q. I noticed you came out a little bit to watch a little bit of the A&M game. What are your thoughts going into A&M?
COACH MULKEY: You got time? I don't like playing them again, because I think it takes away the opportunity for two Big 12 teams to have made it to the Final Four.
I enjoyed the fact that Oklahoma was there last year and we were there. And I don't want this to come out negative. So please understand what I'm saying. I wouldn't want to be on the committee. I wouldn't want to referee. But somebody has to do it.
And when that committee sits down, and I don't have the answer to help -- if I had the answers I would share them with you -- we have so many agendas in women's basketball that we have to discuss. And I don't know that those agendas will ever go away, and that is geography, putting rear ends in seats.
So you're going to probably have these types of setups in the future. You've had them in the past. Coaches want to have good coverage when a TV looks at an NCAA game.
But I'm not sure if you've worked so hard through the course of the year to gain a 1 and a 2 seed, I just don't think any of us, not A&M, and not Baylor, not the fans -- I guess it's a newness and a freshness that you're looking for in the NCAA playoffs, because we do have rules pertaining -- and correct me if I'm wrong, I know there's some people here that can correct me, but you do have some rules in your first rounds where geography -- you can't play somebody in your conference.
So there's so many agendas that they're trying to take care of. I don't know how they do it. The crowd and all that will be awesome. But, truly, it's going to be sad for either team. It's going to be sad for whoever loses, because we lose an opportunity, in my opinion, to have two teams that should be in the Final Four this year.

Q. There's a play in the second half where M.J. goes diving to the court and hits pretty hard. Did your heart skip a beat at all?
COACH MULKEY: No. I was just griping because I didn't think she fouled. It had nothing to do with her injury or anything like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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