Brittney Griner's latest act was regrettable. It also may have been provoked by a season's worth of pounding. On March 3 in Lubbock, there were nine minutes left in Baylor's eventual 69--60 win over Texas Tech when the gifted 6'8" Lady Bears freshman, whose videotaped practice dunks went viral three years ago (SI, Dec. 21, 2009), was hooked and fouled by Red Raiders forward Jordan Barncastle. Griner punched the Red Raiders sophomore forward in the face, breaking her nose. Griner was ejected, then suspended from No. 14 Baylor's next two games.
While she has lived up to her advance billing, averaging 19.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.1 blocks (second in the nation), Griner has also had to contend with overmatched foes banging her around. Griner's loss of control against Texas Tech may have been uncharacteristic, as her coach Kim Mulkey said—it was certainly deplorable—but it may also be a warning signal that with dominant inside players subject to constant shoving and hacking, the women's game needs to be called more closely. Until she gets some protection, though, Griner has to learn to handle frustrating situations. As Texas A&M coach Gary Blair says, "She is a special player and special kid who we will remember forever. Hopefully it will be for her collegiate, pro and Olympic careers, and not for this."