Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer isn't worried about the dunking abilities of Baylor's 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. "It'd be two points," said...
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer isn’t worried about the dunking abilities of Baylor’s 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner.
“It’d be two points,” said VanDerveer, whose Cardinal faces top-ranked Baylor in the Final Four on Sunday in Denver. “Can she dunk from three? We’re not going to have a breakdown about it — as long as it’s not the winning basket.”
While many are focused on Griner and point guard Odyssey Sims vs. the Cardinal’s Ogwumike sisters in the showdown of the country’s top two ranked teams, neither coach sees it the way fans do, looking for contributions elsewhere.
Baylor’s Kim Mulkey gladly talked about her supporting cast.
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Jordan Madden, Kimetria Hayden and Destiny Williams, the coach said, “understand their value to our basketball team. I’ve said … that if we’re to win a national championship, it won’t be because of Odyssey Sims and Brittney Griner, it will be because of ‘Nae-Nae’ Hayden and Jordan Madden.”
VanDerveer praised Toni Kokenis’ strong defensive play this season and at one point described her as the Pac-12’s defender of the year.
“She has quickness, speed, anticipation skills,” VanDerveer said. “I think some of that might be related to her playing soccer. And the hardest thing for me is to get her to use her hands because obviously you couldn’t do that in soccer.”
Very familiar foes
The Connecticut-Notre Dame semifinal matchup at the Final Four offers no secrets or surprises.
The Big East bullies are meeting for the fourth time this season and for the eighth time in the past 14 months.
“There’s no mystery left,” Notre Dame guard Brittany Mallory said. “It’s all about heart, who is going to play the hardest, who is going to execute and play well.”
The Huskies are motivated by revenge — they lost to the Fighting Irish 72-63 at the Final Four last year after sweeping the season series and beating Notre Dame in the conference tournament.
The Fighting Irish are driven by the mantra of unfinished business — after dumping UConn, they lost to Texas A&M in the title game a year ago.
“It (stinks) being the bridesmaid, you know what I mean? I want to get married. I want to be the main one, I don’t want to be the side chick,” said Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, the Big East’s player of the year.