NEW ORLEANS - Brittney Griner knows her future is in the WNBA.
But if Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is serious about his intention of drafting her, as he suggested earlier this week, Griner figures she has nothing to lose by giving it a shot.
“When are tryouts?” Griner said, laughing, when asked Saturday for a reaction to Cuban’s statement.
“If I get a shot, why not?’’ she added. “Even if you don’t make it, at least you tried. Somebody pushed the envelope.’’
The 6-foot, 8-inch Griner expected to be here still playing for a second straight NCAA title. But her Baylor team was upset in the regional final by Louisville, so Griner is in New Orleans to collect individual awards and make the best of a bittersweet set of circumstances as the NCAA Final Four begins Sunday.
After the first ceremony, for the All-America team, Griner was relaxed and witty as she leaned against a table while talking with few reporters about a number of things, including an NBA tryout.
Having Griner at a tryout, the way Ann Meyers was with the Pacers in 1979, obviously is a publicity stunt that some say would hurt women's basketball by forcing its best player to prove herself against the best men. The idea clearly offended Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma – “I think it would be a sham,” he said – but she sounded completely on-board, as long as there were no issues with her future WNBA team.
“I can hold my own,” Griner said. “I’m not going to back down from a challenge.”
Griner’s college career ended when Louisville stymied her with aggressive, physical defense. Of course, it took three defenders to do that. Of course, she also would be no match for the strength and aggression of a single big NBA player.
“I would have to man up and just take it,” Griner said. “If I get an elbow to the chest from one of those big guys, at least I can say I was there.”
To the idea of going against a Dwight Howard, she said, “I would finally see what everyone else (felt) like going against me. I would finally get a taste of my own medicine.
“I’m not going to change my shot, though. If he blocks it, whatever.”
Griner, named later Saturday as player of the year for the second straight season, said she would be ready to try a different position, like shooting guard or small forward, to avoid being pounded in the low post by men.
“I’ll go out there and stroke it,” she said. “You don’t see it a lot because I’m always in the paint.”
Griner, to be taken by Phoenix as the top pick in the WNBA draft April 15, is looking forward to WNBA rules that limit to three seconds the time both defenders and offensive players can spend in the paint.
“No more two or three people or the whole team sitting around Brittney any more,” she said, laughing again.
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