Her college career is over after Louisville pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of an NCAA tournament by defeating Baylor 82-81 in the Sweet 16 on Sunday night.
Griner will leave Baylor as the rarest of examples of a female college athlete whom the university actually profitted from rather than the other way around. She drew big crowds, generated untold revenue in media publicity, and led her team to an NCAA title.
And after the most disappointing defeat of her life, she handled herself with the class her head coach should have emulated.
Louisville leaned and beat on Griner all night in a game the officials never really controlled. Griner still finished with eight free throw attempts, tying her with teammate Odyssey Sims for the most in the game. Baylor was 19-of-26 from the line; Louisville 12-of-16.
"Most of the time you get more calls. You just play through it," Griner told the media after the game.
Notice - no complaining from the player who was being treated like a giant tackling dummy.
“I'll be glad to answer any referee question you want to ask me, because I don't mind getting fined, so ask me,” Mulkey said in the post game presser. “Now is the time to ask me, OK?”
And then ...
“I thought the game started out way too physical, way too physical. I thought that all three of them, if they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the game.”
As a member of the media, many thanks for the candor and the hyperbole. But this is not the best example of leadership.
Officiating basketball is a difficult, and thankless, gig. Just start with the baseline that all college officiating honks.
Mulkey mentioned the refs blew a couple of late game calls, but the officials had little to do with Louisville making 16-of-25 3-pointers, including a few from NBA range. The refs didn't help the Cardinals shoot 48 percent from the floor.
The refs didn't hand Louisville a 19-point lead.
Mulkey was justifiably upset because she knows she had the best team in the nation and her team should have won another NCAA title.
But this is sports where upsets happen.
Her points about the officiating, and specifically a couple of those calls, may be accurate but like everything there is a time and a place.
It would seem that Griner knew that but Mulkey deliberately forgot.
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