By Charles Hallman
Although her taller teammate 6-8 junior center Brittney Griner typically draws most of the attention, Baylor sophomore guard Odyssey Sims stands tall in her own right.
Brittney Griner Odyssey Sims
Baylor came to town and left Sunday as the nation’s top-ranked women’s basketball team, and the 5-8 Sims is a major reason for their success thus far this season. She had 15 points, nine assists, and four steals in an 89-60 win over Minnesota.
“You need a point guard like that who can make that team run,” said Minnesota Coach Pam Borton afterwards.
Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey handed her the ball in her 10th collegiate game last season, and Sims has been the team’s starting point guard ever since. “I just take pride in having the ball in my hands at all times,” admits Sims, who was named national freshman of the year, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, all-conference first team and honorable mention all-American.
Last season Sims also had six 20-point games and a 30-point outing, and she had 24 double-figure scoring nights. Thus far she has scored in double figures in all her games this season as well.
Does this therefore make her a scoring point guard? Sims says she doesn’t think so, since that was last year when she was getting accustomed to her new mates. “This year I know who all my teammates are and know who to give the ball to,” the second-year player points out.
“She is one of the best point guards in the country,” proclaims U of M Coach Pam Borton of Sims. “She’s strong, tough and competitive. She can knock down the three and get into the lane.”
Borton believes that Baylor has the right one-two combination — eh, actually one-five combination. Sims agrees that she and Griner complement each other.
“We get on each other, and we just respond to each other very well,” says the guard. “When she’s not going, I help her get going. When I’m not going, she helps me. When she’s missing shots, I tell her to keep her head and keep shooting that ball.”
And Griner gets on her “when I am not attacking [the basket],” notes Sims. “That’s the connection we have on and off the court.”
Griner leads the team in scoring with 24 points a game, and Sims is second with 19 points. The Lady Bears lead the nation in scoring (89 points a contest) and seem poised to make a deep run this season, possibly all the way to Denver where the 2012 Final Four will be held next spring.
“When you have a good point guard and a center, you can put nice little pieces around those two positions and really do some damage,” notes the Gopher coach.
The “little pieces” Borton refers to include junior forward Destiny Williams (11 points a game) and fellow classmate Brooklyn Pope off the bench, who chips in nine points and six rebounds a game for Baylor. Ten of Baylor’s 12 roster players are Black.
Like Griner, Sims also played overseas this summer — she was a member of the USA’s gold-winning squad in the World University Games in China. “I played with an older group, so they taught me a lot as far as when to attack and when to bring the ball out,” she recalls.
Sims’ major is communications: “I want to be a broadcaster.”
Minnesota hopes to snap its current two-game losing streak Wednesday when they host the Air Force at Williams Arena. They also will play Harvard on Saturday and Alcorn State, the only HBCU on the Gophers’ schedule this season, on Sunday to finish the season’s longest home stand of four games.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.