Mulkey: Incident won’t define Brittney

By The Associated Press
Updated: March 7, 2010

WACO, Texas — Brittney Griner’s coach says the standout Baylor freshman simply “snapped” and shouldn’t be defined for throwing a punch and breaking another player’s nose.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who added a game to Griner’s automatic NCAA one-game suspension for the punch during a game this week, described Griner as remorseful for her actions.

“She snapped, she’s not proud of it. She’s a kid who is a gentle giant.

She’s well-spoken, she’s soft,” Mulkey said before the No. 14 Lady Bears practiced on Friday. “One incident is not going to identify or define Brittney Griner.”

The 6-foot-8 Griner, a 19-year-old freshman well known for her ability to dunk, punched Texas Tech’s Jordan Barncastle after the two tangled during Baylor’s victory Wednesday night in Lubbock.

In a written statement from Baylor released late Thursday, Griner apologized to Barncastle and the Texas Tech team, her teammates and coaches and “the fans and the game of women’s basketball.”

“I let my emotions get the best of me and I am deeply sorry for my actions.

I am committed to doing a better job of maintaining my composure in the future,” she said. “I will grow from this and I am dedicated to setting an example to others of how to learn from personal mistakes.”

Griner wasn’t made available to reporters on Friday.

Griner, who leads the Lady Bears with 19 points, 8.7 rebounds and six blocks per game, will miss the regular season finale at home Sunday and Baylor’s opening game in the Big 12 tournament next week.

Asked if Griner would be practicing with the team in the interim, Mulkey said “there are things that Brittney will be required to do other than the suspension.” The coach didn’t elaborate and she defended the two-game suspension as enough.

“Until you’ve sat in (the head coach) seat and seen your players every day, there’s only one person that can make the decision. It doesn’t matter what other people’s opinions are,” Mulkey said. “I am a head coach. I am a mother.”

“And all that comes into play when you’re dealing with young people.”

Griner was an Internet sensation in high school with her incredible dunks and earlier this season the Houston native became only the second player to dunk more than once in a women’s college game.

Other teams are physical with her around the basket and she had stayed under control until Wednesday night. “What she did prior to that incident (punching Barncastle) speaks volumes if you’ve seen her play,” Mulkey said.

“What she will do after the incident will help define Brittney Griner. … I tend to think Brittney Griner has proven nothing to me but that she’s going to learn life’s lessons.”

While battling for position near the lane, Barncastle spun around and sent Griner lunging toward the baseline. As a foul was called on Barncastle, Griner straightened up and took two steps toward her before throwing a roundhouse punch with her right hand.

Mulkey said she has not talked to Griner about preparing for what she might encounter from opposing players and fans when she gets back on the court.

“What is she going to see that she hasn’t already seen? What are they going to do to her that hasn’t already been done?” Mulkey said. “She has seen everything that she can see.”

“There’s nothing else that can be presented to her.

She’s heard all the ugly comments. … She’s been double- and triple-teamed, she’s been pushed, she’s been shoved. She’s seen it all.”