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ND Women’s Basketball: Baylor’s Sims serves as unheralded complement to Griner

Chris Masoud | Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DENVER – Contrary to popular belief, the Baylor offense is more than just the lob pass to six-foot-eight junior center Brittney Griner. In fact, three Lady Bears finished with more field goals than Griner in their victory over Stanford in the national semifinals Sunday night, including dynamic sophomore point guard Odyssey Sims.

An Associated Press All-American second team selection, Sims orchestrates the Baylor attack from the backcourt – a perfect complement to Griner’s dominance in the post.

“I think she’s the key to the game. We’ll throw different things at Brittney, but Odyssey’s what makes them go,” Irish junior guard Skylar Diggins said. “She gets out, she gets steals and she’s going to be aggressive. I think we have to make sure we pay attention to her. We have to shade her side. We definitely have to be able to pressure her too and not give her as easy looks to pass.”

Sims averages 14.7 points and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting a blistering 40 percent from 3-point territory on the season. Her ability to spread the floor, penetrate the lane and find the open shooter has drawn comparisons to Diggins, Notre Dame’s own southpaw all-American point guard.

“I think it’s an interesting matchup [with them] both being left-handed,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think Skylar is a great defender, great passer … And I think Sims is a great player also. I think she’s a huge key to their team. She has really, really done a lot of great things this year. It’s not just because she can throw the ball to Griner. I think she can do a lot on her own as well.”

Griner’s monster 32-point, 14-rebound performance led Baylor in its 94-81 victory over Notre Dame on Nov. 20, but Sims made an almost equal impact. The sophomore guard finished with 25 points, six assists and six steals with Diggins defending her.

“They’ve played together on [Team] USA basketball this summer. Odyssey was the youngest player on the team,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I think you’ll see two of the finest point guards in the country. I anticipate that it won’t be any different than when Odyssey guarded [Diggins] and played against her at our place.”

Baylor junior forward Destiny Williams, who played with both Sims and Diggins last summer on Team USA in the Women’s World University Games, said the two point guards’ similarities are remarkable, but still gives the advantage to Sims.

“Playing with Odyssey, she’s growing and she’s maturing into a fine basketball player,” Williams said. “I think Odyssey’s defense is amazing. When she picks it up, I think the whole team picks it up. I think their IQs are about the same, just two point guards that are great players going at it. I enjoyed playing with both of them, but I’d rather have Odyssey.”

Diggins also had an outstanding performance in the southpaws’ last meeting, finishing with 27 points and three assists. After defending Diggins in the regular season and playing with her over the summer, Sims said the respect between the two offensive captains is mutual.

“She’s just great all-around. She has great court vision, she can pick it up and dribble and she can pull up too – that’s what makes her so great. She makes everyone around her better,” Sims said. “We played [Team] USA basketball together, two great players playing on the same team. She was a great teammate and I’m looking forward to the challenge on Tuesday.”

Contact Chris Masoud at cmasoud@nd.edu