AMES (NCAA Women) - There have been plenty of impressive performances by the national team players of the United States of late, including one by UMMC Ekaterinburg’s veteran point guard Sue Bird on Wednesday when she competed in the EuroLeague Women for the first time this season.
The three-time Olympian had 10 assists, eight rebounds and six steals to go with her five points as Ekaterinburg blew out
USO Mondeville for their 10th win in as many games in the competition.
Back in the American college game, though, where Bird once competed for the University of Connecticut, a future Team USA star is closing in on an amazing mark.
After her six-swat performance on Wednesday night for the Baylor Bears against Iowa State, Brittney Griner is just six blocks away from equaling the record of 663 held by Saint Mary's great Louella Tomlinson.
While Griner is tough to stop when she has the ball, as her 22 points in the 66-51 win over Iowa State demonstrated, her defense has just as much of an impact on games.
"Normally, I really don't pay attention to such things," Griner said after her latest display of defensive domination.
"But blocked shots are my favorite thing, my favorite part of the game. I look every now and then."
Griner excels in so many aspects of the game that what the Iowa State players may remember most is her steal and dunk in the first half that sparked a 17-0 Lady Bears run.
She now has 11 slam-dunks in her career, and that is a record that she owns.
Iowa State's Anna Prins marveled at Griner’s progression.
"She's such an amazing basketball player," Prins said.
"Just every aspect of her game has improved so much since freshman year. Her footwork, the way she sets her player up, the way she keeps the ball high before she turns, she's so hard to guard."
Next up for Griner and Baylor is a clash with Oklahoma in Waco, Texas, on 26 January.
Baylor will go into that game ranked first in the nation with 17 victories and just one defeat.