All Griffin does for this team is just everything


Kelsey Griffin, born in Alaska and graduated from Nebraska, continues to turn her critics into dumb-askas. It is quite likely her detractors would have exited Mohegan Sun Arena after Sunday's game feeling that ache that comes when you are loud and wrong at the same time.

Griffin was sensational, in her Kelsey Griffin way. Which is to say doing a little of this and some of that. Except that it's become a mortal sin in sports now to mention "intangibles" because they can't be quantified by a statistic. As if hitting a baseball or executing the pick and roll must have some cosmic kinship with a quadratic equation.

Sorry. You want to watch sports that way, go to the other side of the room. Griffin's game is to be appreciated. Savored. Because nobody else tries harder, cares more or is more about the concept of team.

Griffin scored 12 points and had nine rebounds, helping the Sun, minus Chiney Ogwumike (college graduation) and Allie Hightower (knee tweak) win their fourth straight, sending New York deeper into the basement.

Griffin also guarded Tina Charles in the post. (Sure hope Tina is enjoying the home life).

She switched on ball screens and was left guarding Cappie Pondexter.

How many other players do you know adroit enough to do both?

She made a 3-pointer late in the third period that gave the Sun the lead for good.

And a late game up-and-under would have made Kevin McHale grin.

This was after Friday's win in New York featured Griffin keeping a possession alive late in the game by tipping a ball to Katie Douglas, who made a three.

Funny, though, how discussion of Griffin's game usually begins with everything she can't do.

"She's a kid most people think can't hurt you," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "She does a lot little things that don't show up on the stat sheet. It's nice to know she's appreciated."

More Donovan: "She's so active defensively. I go back when I was in college (at Old Dominion), I was the anchor. When Nancy Lieberman or someone got in trouble, you have to have an anchor. That's what big girls are supposed to do. Kelsey doesn't fall in the big girl category, but she plays far bigger than most big girls because she's so adept and intuitive in how to help people."

Which explains how one guards Pondexter the guard and Charles the center, sometimes on the same possession.

"That's Kelsey using her strength as a mobile post," Donovan said, "and not a stick in the mud. We're able to switch up our schemes with her."

Tremendous job there by Donovan explaining Griffin's worth. Note, though, how switching defensive schemes and being active defensively don't show up in boxscores. Which is ultimately how players are judged.

Perhaps Griffin should be judged by Donovan's assessment. Or perhaps her own:

"I try every night to leave it all out on the floor," Griffin said. "Being down an all-star in Al and Chiney, we knew we had to make it up. It wasn't just up to one person. You can go down our roster and look at what everyone did. It wasn't just me. We're starting to understand we need everybody to win games."

Griffin was in the starting lineup Sunday because of Ogwumike's absence. She's not necessarily a starter anymore. How many other athletes, in any sport, would take this news as a demotion and pout?

"It's part of my upbringing. I have to thank my parents for putting a good head on my shoulders," Griffin said. "But I just want to win games. That's what this league is about. That's what I've wanted to do since I got drafted to Connecticut. I have a lot of faith in this group.

"I can only control the things I can control," she said. "Starting or not, that's up to the coaches. If I can go rebound, get extra plays for the team, that's what I'll do. Shots might not always drop, but I can control defense, hustle and do little things, get extra possessions for our scorers."

And about that up-and-under: It came with 5:15 left and the Sun up by four. Liberty coach/sourpuss Bill Laimbeer watched the play happen and slumped his shoulders after Griffin got Avery Warley Talbert in the air, hit the shot and was fouled.

"I have to give credit to Jen (assistant coach Jen Gillom) for that. You probably saw her pull a couple of those in her day," Griffin said. "As an undersized (post) player in this league, I'm learning how to be crafty as opposed to muscling people, which is what I did in college and what I tried to do when I first got in the league."

Crafty Kelsey.

Love it.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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