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Girls basketball: Griner's dunking secondary to defense
Dunking secondary to defense
T. Jackson Elite center Brittney Griner is more complete player and less girl dunker.
By Jason Jordan
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HAMPTON ó Brittney Griner can understand why youíre mystified.
If what she says is true ó that she doesnít want to be known as the girl who can dunk ó why would she open warmups with a monster jam before her game at the Boo Williams Sportsplex Saturday?
Because she can.
"Thatís something that I have the ability to do," Griner said, matter-of-factly. "Boys do it all of the time before games. Starting off like that keeps me aggressive. And thatís how I play. But, yeah, I know that people want to see it."
Saturday morning before Grinerís opening round game at the Battle of the Best tournament hundreds of players, college coaches and parents crowded the bleachers and stood courtside while Griner warmed up, seething with anticipation.
Once she threw it down, another swarm of a hundred or so people stood on their tip-toes to see.
"She dunks so easy and effortless," one onlooker said. "Sheís the best girl dunker ever."
But to only remember Griner as a dunker is a dismissive knock since itís one of the smallest parts of her exceptional game.
At, a legit, 6-foot-7 1/2, Griner is very lean and athletic, which allows her to defend and play multiple positions on the court. Blocking and changing shots is one of her strongest assets. No doubt her 86-inch wingspan helps in that area.
Also, Griner has a soft touch on her short fadeaway jump shot, her go-to move.
"Defense is a lot more important than dunking," Griner said. "I like blocking shots more than dunking."
In Saturday morningís opening round game, she swatted 13 shots, scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help T. Jackson Elite 16-and-under AAU team roll past the Philadelphia Comets 81-53.
She had one dunk in transition. "Donít count that," said Griner, who is already committed to Baylor. "It was weak. Donít count that."
Her stat line Saturday was similar to what she did this past season at Nimitz High School in Houston. Griner, rated the No. 5 prospect in the class of 2009, averaged 23.2 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks per game.
In Nimitzís first round playoff win over Westside High, Griner was one assist away from a quadruple-double ó 29 points, 13 rebounds, 11 blocks and nine assists.
"I didnít know I was that close," Griner said. "But I just play and let things happen."
Not so much on her first in-game dunk last season.
Up big late in the game, Grinerís coach, Debbie Jackson, made sure Griner was by herself when she threw it down.
"Everybody went crazy," Griner said. "It was fun."
Griner only began playing organized ball as a 6-foot freshman. Her enormous growth spurt since then is anyoneís guess.
Griner and her father Raymond both said that theyíve all but climbed the family tree to see where the height comes from.
Raymond is 6-1 and Grinerís mother, Sandra, is 5-9.
"My third (female) cousin is about 6-4," Griner said. "Other than that, we donít really know."
Raymond does, however, remember the last thing the doctor told him after Grinerís last checkup.
"He said that sheís got a lot more growing to do," Raymond said.
That includes her skills. Griner agreed that sheís only begun to scratch the surface of her potential.
"Thatís exciting," Griner said.
Just donít give her that nonsense about pioneering the transcendence of womenís basketball. Itís a spiel that Tennessee womenís head basketball coach Pat Summitt gave Raymond during her recruitment of Griner.
"I donít feel Iím changing the game," Griner said. "Candace (Parker) is dunking, and Iím just using my ability like she is. I look up to her."
Despite her admiration for Parker, the former Tennessee star who was recently picked No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, Griner opted for Baylor, mainly because of its close proximity to Houston.
"Itís about a three-hour drive," Griner said. "I canít be going all the way to Tennessee. Baylor is far, but I can still come home to daddy if it gets to be too much."
But donít get Griner wrong, she understands that itís her dunking ability that gets her more attention than the average player. And itís not the "barely get it over the rim" dunk. Griner gets well over the rim on her dunks, even on a two handed drop-step dunk, and pulls down on the rim with authority.
Sheís been featured on SportsCenterís Top 10 plays, Pardon the Interruption and two of her more than 15 youtube.com videos have received well over one million views.
Whether shopping at the mall or walking to class, Griner almost always gets autograph requests or has to pose for a pictures.
"I like the attention," Griner said. "Everyone knows me and itís fun. I just want to be known as a complete player. Not the girl dunker. But I canít control that. All I can do is play my game and keep improving. I donít worry about anything."
Well... Almost anything.
"Ceiling fans and door frames," Raymond said. "Sheís terrified of those things."
Last edited by jeffpatterson : 04-19-2008 at 10:06 PM.