Final Four Notebook: Griner, Mulkey add top national awards

Baylor's Brittney Griner was named Associated Press player of the year Saturday, and Kim Mulkey earned coach of the year.

DENVER — Baylor’s facilities workers better clear some room in the trophy case.

Brittney Griner and Kim Mulkey each picked up a shiny new trophy Saturday, as Griner won the award as the Associated Press women’s college basketball player of the year, while Mulkey earned the prize as the coach of the year.

The duo was feted in a press conference at the Pepsi Center that included the entire Baylor team among the audience.

Griner, who is averaging 23.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and a national-best 5.2 blocks per game, is the first Baylor player ever to win the honor. She received 36 of 40 votes from a panel of writers across the nation.

Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne picked up two votes, and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins and Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike received one each.

“Griner is one of the hardest workers to have the talent she has,” Mulkey said. “She brings her pail to work every day. That’s what I’ll remember most when I’m done coaching her.”

Mulkey, meanwhile, has directed the Lady Bears to within two wins of a perfect 40-0 season. No team in NCAA history has reached the 40-win mark.

“I’m only as good as those guys right there,” Mulkey said, “because if they don’t buy into what we try to do and don’t swallow their pride and they’re not coachable, we wouldn’t be here to play for a national championship.”

Not going pro

Stop asking, already.

No, Griner is not about to skip her senior season in 2012-13 to enter the WNBA.

She made that point clear — again — on Saturday.

“I’m staying,” Griner said. “I made a commitment. I said I was coming here, and I’m going to stay here until my time’s up.”

“Could you say that a little louder?” Mulkey interjected. “Because some of these (reporters) want to keep talking about it. Some want to keep writing about it. Would you just repeat that slowly?”

So Griner did.

Lady Bears past, future

Baylor hasn’t played yet at the Final Four, but a couple of former Lady Bears and a future one have already gotten their competitive juices flowing.

Sophia Young, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 Final Four, served as an honorary captain for the WBCA high school All-American game that unfolded at the Pepsi Center Saturday, while Suzanne Oelschlegel — a Baylor letter-winner in 1976-77 — coached one of the squads.

Oelschlegel is the head coach at Irving MacArthur, where she coached BU sophomore guard Odyssey Sims.

Also, 6-foot-2 forward and Baylor signee Alexis Prince played in the WBCA game, just three days after she was named MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago.

Feeling Bell’s palsy

After being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy earlier this week, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said her eyes are still bothering her.

But she won’t let it stop her from coaching against Stanford tonight in the national semifinals.

“The light bothers me,” Mulkey said. “The tears and the dryness and itchiness they say is all a part of it. I feel like one ear is blown out, and I can’t tell if the other one is hearing or if it’s just off-balance.”

RG3, but no Luck

When told that former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin was planning to attend the Final Four, Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer was asked if she planned to convince Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to attend.

“I haven’t made the effort,” Vanderveer said. “Maybe John Elway. He might be in town. I’d take him.”

Elway is a Stanford alum who is an executive vice president with the Denver Broncos.

 

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