Saturday, March 6, 2010

Griner's haymaker gives women's basketball a black eye

When Baylor freshman Brittney Griner punched Texas Tech’s Jordan Barncastle during a women’s basketball game Wednesday night, it was obvious a suspension would be handed down.

The idea Griner will only sit for two games, though, is a joke.

With a tick more than nine minutes left in the game, the two players were tangled, and Barncastle aggressively pushed Griner away. Barncastle was whistled for a foul and disengaged.

That’s when Griner spun around a sucker punched the Texas Tech player, breaking Barncastle’s nose. Griner was ejected from the game.

The Lady Bears’ coach Kim Mulkey announced Griner would be suspended for one game in addition to the NCAA mandated one-game suspension.

The two games mean the freshman will miss the final regular season game versus No. 18 Texas and the opening round matchup of the Big 12 tournament.

Where is the punishment? Even if Baylor (ranked No. 15 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 14 AP polls) loses both games, they are still likely to make the NCAA tournament and Griner would be available to play.

When Oregon senior running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State’s Byron Hout following a football game this fall, Blount was given a season-long suspension. Blount was later reinstated by the school (the reinstatent was approved by the Pac-10 Conference), but missed eight football games of his senior season.

That was an appropriate suspension.

Blount was confronted by Hout after the game. It is not that Hout likely expected to be hit, but it was not the blindside, sucker punch Griner delivered on Barncastle.

Griner should be done playing basketball for the 2009-10 season. She is a freshman. She can learn from this, come back as a sophomore and play a lot more basketball for Baylor. But she should not play this year.

“I don’t believe this incident should define Brittney Griner – either as a person or a player,” Mulkey was quoted by saying.

Unfortunately for Coach Mulkey, this incident is linked to her player. It is going to take a lot of work for Griner to shake this reputation, but she can use her final three years of college eligibility to do so.

Mulkey should use the same period of time to shake the stigma of being the coach who didn’t take this incident seriously, and the coach who did not hand out a real suspension.

View the clip here.

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