The next three weeks will bring burberry handbags outlet inviting opportunity. Baylor was seeded No. 1 in the Des Moines Region on Monday and is heavily favored to win its first title since 2005. With six more victories in the tournament, the Bears (34-0) would become the first men’s or women’s team in N.C.A.A. basketball to win 40 games in a season.
During the regular season, Baylor defeated two other No. 1 seeds: Connecticut (29-4) of the Kingston Region and Notre Dame (30-3) of the Raleigh Region. It also defeated Tennessee, the eight-time national champion that is seeded second to the Bears in the Des Moines Region. (The fourth No. 1 seed in the tournament is Stanford (31-1) of the Fresno Region, which lost only to UConn.)
The Lady Vols (24-8) will carry the most poignant story line into the tournament. Coach Pat Summitt, who has won more games than any other men’s or women’s college basketball coach, announced last summer that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Her role has diminished this season. There has been much speculation that she will step down after the N.C.A.A. tournament, but burberry beige handbag Tennessee has said nothing officially.
As of Sunday’s practice, “Pat said she still wants to coach,” Debby Jennings, a Tennessee spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
In strict basketball terms, the overarching tournament question is this: Can anyone defeat Baylor?
Griner “plays above the rim and does things I’ve never seen another player do,” Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey said in a television interview during the Big 12 Conference tournament. “The thing she lacks is, she hasn’t won a national championship. That motivates her.”
Those considered among the greats of women’s college basketball — Nancy Lieberman, Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker — all won titles. Griner seems poised to do the same this season and/or next. And she is expected to be the only college player named to the United States Olympic team for the 2012 London Games.
Last summer, Griner played with the women’s national team for the first time. Her repertory now includes a jump hook and the ability to burberry ties turn and shoot over either shoulder. Her passing is also much improved. She is shooting 61 percent from the field and averaging 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
“She put on weight and didn’t lose any speed,” said Gary Blair, the coach at Texas A&M, the defending national champion and the last team to defeat Baylor, in a 2011 regional final. “She’s stronger finishing her midrange shots. Her spin move to the basket is very good. I think she played the whole year without a single dunk. People can now appreciate her as a complete player rather than a dunker.”
In December, UConn took a 50-39 lead at Baylor with a little more than 13 minutes remaining. It employed a couple of defensive strategies, playing Griner straight up with center Stefanie Dolson, then using double-team help.
Still, Baylor prevailed by 66-61 as Griner collected 25 points, 9 rebounds and 9 blocked shots.
Texas A&M has tried to take the ball directly burberry scarves at Griner and has had some success with a floating zone, placing its center behind Griner and using the star guard Tyra White in a double team. In one of three meetings this season, the Aggies lured Griner into early foul trouble, yet Baylor won each game.
“What’s hard is not to foul her,” Blair said. “She jumps into you. Normally, people like to put a hand in her face to try to distract her. I haven’t found a thing that works consistently.”
The best defense against Griner might be a steadfast perimeter offense, said Muffet McGraw, the coach at Notre Dame, the 2011 national runner-up, which lost to Baylor by 94-81 in November. The Fighting Irish shot only 3 for 18 from 3-point range in that game, McGraw said, while UConn was somewhat more effective a month later against Baylor while hitting 11 of 29 shots beyond the arc.
“You’ve really got to crowd her inside; you can’t let her get 45,” McGraw said of Griner. “There’s also the philosophy of, do you try to hold everybody else down? But I think a lot of it is your burberry kids skirts cheap offense. If you hit your 3s, you’ve got a much better chance, because you’re not going to score around the basket.”
At point guard for Baylor, Odyssey Sims can be just as resourceful as Griner is at center. She is a calming presence who knows when to take over a game, averaging 15 points, shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and possessing the body control to stab inside. She is also hounding in Baylor’s press and man-to-man defense. This allows the tall wing players, Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden, to take chances, knowing that Griner is positioned as the ultimate backstop.
“The best thing they do is contest shots,” Blair said. “It’s like watching an N.B.A. game.”
Although Baylor could become vulnerable if burberry bags outlet Griner fell into foul trouble, Blair said: “They don’t call nitpicking fouls in the N.C.A.A. tournament. That’s to Baylor’s advantage. I think they’ll be the most physical defensive team in the tournament.”
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