EDITOR'S NOTE: With senior Heather Golden (De Pere, Wis.) in Green Bay, and in Waco, Texas, watch the two discuss the strengths of Baylor and find out whether Golden thinks junior Julie Wojta (Michicot, Wis.) and senior Kayla Tetschlag (Sheboygan, Wis.) would rather face a real life bear or a Baylor Bear.
WACO, Texas (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - In its first trip to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, the No. 13/11 Green Bay women's basketball team will certainly be facing a formidable opponent. The Phoenix, now 34-1 and the fifth seed in the Dallas Region, squares off with No. 3/3 Baylor (33-2) in Sunday's regional semifinal at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. With the most historic game in Phoenix women's basketball history just a few days away, GreenBayPhoenix.com takes a look at the top-seeded Bears.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
A scouting report of Baylor, the Big 12 regular season and tournament champions, can only begin in one place, with 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. With the ability to dunk with ease, the team's center is one of the most recognizable players in the history of women's basketball.
"The big kid is the biggest presence in women's basketball and maybe the biggest presence ever in women's basketball," Green Bay head coach Matt Bollant said of Griner. "Our system probably matches up as well as it could, but I saw people [on film] play behind and she shoots it over the top, I saw people front her and she just gets lobs. Our kids are courageous though and they will fight their butts off."
This season, the sophomore is averaging 22.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (281-517) and 78.2 percent from the free-throw line (229-293). The most staggering thing, however, about the Big 12 Player of the Year, are her 4.6 blocks per contest.
Giving up over a half a foot to Griner, expect both Wojta and Tetschlag to battle with the Baylor star. For Tetschlag, the Co-Horizon League Player of the Year, it will be the third-straight time she matches up with the player of the year from another conference.
BAYLOR PROBABLE STARTERS
G: #00 Odyssey Sims, Fr., 5-9 (13.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg; 13 points, 4 assists vs. West Virginia)
G: #3 Jordan Madden, So., 6-0 (4.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg; 3 points, 4 rebounds vs. West Virginia)
C: #42 Brittney Griner, So., 6-8 (22.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.6 bpg; 30 points, 8 blocks vs. West Virginia)
F: #5 Melissa Jones, Sr., 5-11 (8.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg; 13 points, 6 rebounds vs. West Virginia)
F: #10 Destiny Williams, So., 6-1 (8.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg; 10 points, 9 rebounds vs. West Virginia)
Green Bay and Baylor have played just two similar opponents this season, including Michigan State, the team the Phoenix dispatched 65-56 last Tuesday in the second round. Baylor defeated Michigan State 78-52 in Waco in its fifth game of the season back on Nov. 19. The two teams have also each played Minnesota, with Green Bay defeating the Golden Gophers 79-75 on the road on Nov. 14 and the Bears posting a 103-56 home victory on Dec. 5.
While the inside game will be the most talked about portion of the game because of Griner and Tetschlag, another key matchup will be at the point guard position, where an accomplished senior and a talented freshman will square off. Green Bay senior Celeste Hoewisch (Hortonville, Wis.) and Baylor freshman Odyssey Sims are finalists for the 2011 State Farm Coaches' All-American Basketball Team, announced Thursday by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
Sims is a 5-foot-9 freshman who was a McDonald's All-American as a high school senior. The point guard has started 25 games this season and is averaging 13.3 points and three assists per game for the Bears. Hoewisch, the Co-Horizon League Player of the Year, is a 5-foot-7 guard averaging 13.4 points and 3.1 assists per game. She will look to take advantage of her extra experience in the matchup, having played 131 career games to just 34 for Sims.
As has been the case in each of Green Bay's NCAA Tournament games this season, the contest will pit two of the best defensive teams in the country. In scoring defense, the Phoenix allows 52.2 points per game and Baylor allows 53.4 points per game to rank seventh and 13th in the country, respectively. Baylor's opponents shoot just 26.2 percent from the three-point line compared to 26.6 percent by Green Bay's foes, with the teams ranking seventh and ninth, respectively.