Once, twice, thrice as Griner goes dunking again

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey promised fans turning out for the Memphis regional final Monday night the chance to watch Brittney Griner dunk in pregame warmups.

And the 6-foot-8 freshman did.

Too bad more people didn't get the chance to watch her put on a quick show.

Griner shook the backboard with a quick dunk, and a couple minutes later threw down the ball with her right hand. That seemed to get her going, and Griner jumped up and slammed the ball through with both hands — hanging on the rim for a few seconds to some cheers from the scattered fans. She finished with one more one-handed dunk.

The pregame show is nothing new from the freshman who dunked 52 times in 32 games as a senior at Nimitz High School in Houston. Griner became just the seventh woman to dunk in an NCAA regular-season game on Nov. 24 against Jacksonville State.

Griner has four dunks in her first season at Baylor, trailing only Candace Parker who dunked seven times while at Tennessee. Parker also remains the lone woman to dunk in the NCAA tournament, doing so twice in 2005.

But with Baylor and Griner sending homestate favorite and top-seeded Tennessee home on Saturday, a small crowd got to watch her dunking away. Curtains covering the upper deck helped trim the usual capacity at FedExForum from 18,085 to 9,343, and local organizers had to be happy at least a few in Tennessee orange stuck around with only 29 fans in one end zone.

They wound up with 3,263 in attendance, well below the 6,577 for Saturday's semifinals.

Griner did make a different mark in helping Baylor down Duke 51-48. She blocked nine shots, giving her 36 and the NCAA tournament record. That topped the 30 blocks Alison Bales had for Duke in 2006 through six games.

"I think it'd be kind of funny being 6-8 and not having any blocks at all," Griner said to laughs. "It's kind of like second nature. Just see the shot go up there and try to grab it or throw it out of bounds."


REMEMBER ME?: Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma grew up quite the fan of UCLA's men's program and legendary coach John Wooden. He got to meet Wooden at a clinic in California after UConn's first national title, spending 15 minutes with the coach in the hospitality room after asking someone to introduce him.

"Like a grandfather would, he told me to sit down right here," Auriemma said Monday. "He put his hand on my knee, talking to me about the game and coaching. We spent about 15 minutes. I just listened to what he had to say. It was really neat, really a great experience."

After the Huskies won the 2000 national championship, Auriemma said he read in Sports Illustrated how Wooden loved watching UConn's women with something like 97 backdoor layups and how pretty they played.

"I thought, 'Wow! That's really cool.' And he makes a comment that I'll never forget the rest of my life. He says, 'You know, I've never met their coach, but he seems like a wonderful young man.' So, that's my fondest memory of John Wooden."


ROUGH CELEBRATION: Baylor senior Morghan Medlock watched her teammates celebrate their Memphis regional win from the bench after snipping her piece of the net. She wasn't angry at being benched late as coach Kim Mulkey went to a smaller and quicker lineup.

"I'm actually so excited I'm sick," Medlock said. "I'm up here trying not to puke. I can't believe it. I've got Sprite in my cup because my stomach's hurting, and I don't even drink soda. I had to sit over there and watch the kids celebrate. They came through in the clutch when we needed it."

The Baylor freshmen also celebrated in a new fashion. Brittney Griner and 6-2 Mariah Chandler helped hoist Mulkey up — without an assist from the ladder — to cut down the net. Mulkey hung onto the rim.

"I wanted to make sure they didn't drop me ... I had visions of them hoisting me up there. I'm thinking, 'This is the closest to a cheerleader I'll ever get,'" Mulkey said.


GOOD HIRE: One Big East coach thinks Seton Hall's decision to hire Anne Donovan as its women's coach is a very good move.

Auriemma said a school can go a lot of different ways by going with a young coach or an established college coach. Donovan will take over Seton Hall after coaching the New York Liberty in the WNBA until the season ends in August.

"Now you get somebody who has been a college coach, who's been a pro coach, who's been an Olympic gold medal winner as a player, as a coach. You talk about filling the whole box score, the whole stat sheet with one person, Seton Hall has certainly done that," Auriemma said.


SOCIAL MEDIA CATS: Kentucky's upset win over top-seeded Nebraska on Sunday night caught most folks by surprise — and made the Wildcats players a hot item on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Point guard Amber Smith said she had about 90 notifications on Facebook when she checked it Sunday night, shortly after Kentucky beat Nebraska 76-67 in the Kansas City regional semifinals. Guard Keyla Snowden had the most Facebook messages on the team with 99 after the game, according to teammate Amani Franklin.

"So many people congratulating me," Smith said. "We're just happy that we have so much support from back home."

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has a Facebook page as well, but the third-year coach said he hasn't checked it lately.

"I'll tell you where I am on that," Mitchell said. "I had to ask (forward Victoria Dunlap) what a notification is."


OUCH: Being a cheerleader isn't easy, especially when an official gets in the way. A Baylor cheerleader was doing backflips down the court during the first media timeout of the second half at the Memphis regional final when she crashed into an official, sending the girl to the floor. But the official helped her back up quickly.


MEMPHIS REGIONAL TEAM: Brittney Griner of Baylor was the Most Outstanding Player. She was joined by teammate Kelli Griffin on the all-regional team. They were joined by three Duke Blue Devils in Jasmine Thomas, forward Joy Cheek and reserve Karima Christmas.


AP Sports Writers Rusty Miller in Dayton, Ohio, and Luke Meredith in Kansas City contributed to this report.