Here are the Tribune-Herald’s 2013 women’s basketball all-Big 12 teams and awards:
PLAYER OF YEAR, TOP DEFENDER: BU’s Brittney Griner
There have been easy decisions for Big 12 Player of the Year in the past. But never one easier than this.
It seemed almost impossible before the year, but Baylor’s Brittney Griner has lived up to the monstrous expectations placed on her before the season. She’s dunked seven times this year to up her career total to 14. She’s averaging nearly 23 points and nine rebounds. She broke another raft of program and national records. And the season isn’t even over yet.
The high point of her season came on senior night on Monday, when she broke the Big 12 scoring record with 50 points on an incredible 21-for-29 shooting. Before and after that game, Griner continued dominating opponents in myriad ways, some of them new to even her. Less than a week after she poured in 50 points, she nearly recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in an 80-47 win over Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. It set her career high for assists and would’ve been her first triple-double to include assists instead of blocks.
In addition, her defensive prowess is unmatched in the Big 12. She set the NCAA record for blocks this season, and her imposing presence in the middle has altered scores more shots. Those won’t go in the stat sheet, but they’ve shown up in the results. Only once in Griner’s tenure at Baylor has an opponent shot 50 percent or better.
Griner did plenty to add to her legend her senior year. She’s not just leaving Waco as the best Baylor women’s basketball player to ever lace up. She might be the best in NCAA history.
COACH OF THE YEAR: BAYLOR’S KIM MULKEY
Motivating a team to overachieve is one of the toughest gigs in coaching. But getting a group of historically talented seniors to consistently buy into a battle plan might be even tougher.
Most coaches would’ve probably envied Kim Mulkey’s position this season — few senior classes in Division I history have been this talented and deep — but her task was deceptively difficult. How do you keep a group fresh off a 40-0 season motivated enough to do it again?
The answer has unfurled as the season’s progressed. Despite an early-season stumble against Stanford, Baylor has ripped through its schedule with a ruthlessness that reflects Mulkey’s dogged approach to defense. Teams are averaging just north of 50 points per game on the Lady Bears. And all along, Mulkey has helped motivate the team by keeping them humble.
Mulkey’s said numerous times she feels like this senior group can wind itself up and let itself go at times. But that’s a disservice to the mental acrobatics Mulkey had to employ to keep challenging a group that’s rarely challenged on the court.
FRESHMAN: TEXAS’ IMANI McGEE-STAFFORD
Imani McGee-Stafford’s bloodlines almost made her arrival as a force at Texas an eventuality.
Her mom Pamela and aunt Paula were a fearsome duo at Southern Cal in the 80’s. Her cousin Anette was a member of Texas’ 1986 women’s basketball national championship team. And her older brother JaVale is currently a center with the Denver Nuggets.
It took some time for McGee-Stafford to settle in, but she rapidly became a mainstay at the top of the scoresheet for the Longhorns. She finished her freshman season averaging 11.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, and her 75 blocks set a Texas freshman record.
Baylor got a glimpse of her effectiveness when the Lady Bears road tripped to Austin earlier this year. Matched up against Brittney Griner, McGee-Stafford had a career-high 18 rebounds to go with 13 points. After the game, Griner offered McGee-Stafford high praise: “Over the course of her career, I see her becoming a great player.”
SIXTH WOMAN: BAYLOR’S DESTINY WILLIAMS
Last year at this time, Destiny Williams was firmly entrenched in Baylor’s starting five, helping the Lady Bears win a national title.
By midseason this year, she was watching games begin from the bench. Not that it had any impact on her game. In splitting time with Brooklyn Pope at forward, Williams is averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game. Those numbers could easily be inflated if she played more, but in making room for Pope’s ascension, she actually helped Baylor get better as a whole.
As a player who would start on just about any team in the country, Williams has done gritty, effective work off the bench. She underscored her value Saturday when she poured in a season-high 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting off the bench.
It’s that kind of versatility that’s enabled Williams, and by extension Baylor, to be even better this season. And she didn’t have to be on the floor at the start of the game to do it.
NEWCOMER: TEXAS TECH’S JACKIE PATTERSON
As a transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, Jackie Patterson was yoked with the task of buttressing Tech’s youthful lineup with a dose of juco seasoning off the bench. Consider the job done.
While Patterson’s impact for Tech wasn’t enormous, she was an important cog off the bench for the Lady Raiders, who are likely headed for the NCAA tournament later this month. Patterson played her part.
Patterson has played in 29 of Tech’s 30 games so far this season, averaging 4.5 points and three rebounds in those contests. But perhaps her greatest accomplishment was helping to shepherd a varied Tech group through rigors of the Big 12. As one of just three players taller than 6-foot on the roster who received significant minutes, Patterson helped stabilize a unit that won 21 regular-season games.
2013 ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
Pos Name School Class Height Points Rebounds Notable
G Odyssey Sims Baylor Junior 5-8 12.2 pts 2.4 rebs 5.2 apg
G Aaryn Ellenberg Oklahoma Junior 5-7 19.0 pts 3.5 rebs 42% 3’s
G Brittany Chambers Kansas State Senior 5-8 20.3 pts 7.5 rebs 3.1 apg
F Toni Young Oklahoma State Senior 6-2 15.7 pts 10.1 pts 51% FG
C Brittney Griner Baylor Senior 6-8 23.1 pts 9.0 rebs 7 dunks
Player, top defender: Brittney Griner, Baylor Sixth woman: Destiny Williams, Baylor
Newcomer: Jackie Patterson, Texas Tech Freshman: Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas
Coach: Kim Mulkey, Baylor
Pos Name School Class Height Points Rebounds Notable
G Jordan Madden Baylor Senior 6-0 7.8 pts 4.0 rebs 44 stls
G Kimetria Hayden Baylor Senior 6-1 7.6 pts 3.8 rebs 4.1 apg
F Nneka Enemkpali Texas Soph. 6-1 13.0 pts 9.4 rebs 46% FG
F Destiny Williams Baylor Senior 6-1 8.5 pts 6.8 rebs 53% FG
F Brooklyn Pope Baylor Senior 6-1 10.4 pts 5.6 rebs 28 stls
Pos. Name School Height Points Rebounds Notable
G Zahna Medley TCU 5-6 12.9 pts 2.8 rebs 4.1 apg
G Brittney Martin OSU 6-0 10.2 pts 6.4 rebs 74% FT
G Alexis Prince Baylor 6-1 5.6 pts 2.6 rebs 1.1 apg
G Bria Holmes West Virginia 6-1 6.0 pts 1.6 rebs 12.9 mins
C Imani McGee-Stafford Texas 6-7 11.1 pts 9.4 rebs 75 blks
— Selections, stories by staff writer Will Parchman