Post-punch: Griner, Barncastle have first rematch

Brittney Griner and Jordan Barncastle haven’t spoken to each

other or had any direct contact since the punch. They won’t be able

to avoid each other Saturday night.

No. 1 Baylor is hosting Texas Tech in the first meeting between

the teams since a confrontation last March that left Barncastle

with a broken nose and Griner suspended for two games. The video

went viral.

”That’s all behind us,” Griner said this week. ”That was last

year, everybody’s moved on. So we’re just going to come out and

play a good game.”

Baylor (17-1, 4-0 Big 12) has won 14 games in a row overall, and

its last 13 at home. The Lady Raiders (16-2, 3-1) are coming off a

loss at No. 14 Oklahoma that snapped their second eight-game

winning streak of the season.

Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry, like Griner, insisted that the

focus is on this game.

”It continues to be where others want to bring it to the

forefront, but if you’ve noticed from my comments, it hasn’t been

talked about, won’t be talked about,” Curry said. ”Different

team, different year. Those two young ladies need to be allowed to

just play the game.”

They play again Feb. 19 in Lubbock.

The day after the punch, which came in a Baylor victory at

Lubbock, Griner issued a written apology through the school to

Barncastle, Texas Tech and her own teammates and coaches. But they

haven’t seen each other since.

Even at the Big 12 media day in October, Griner and Barncastle

didn’t see or talk to each other. Their teams were involved in

different sessions with reporters.

Barncastle has started all 18 games this season for Tech,

averaging 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds, about what she did a year

ago. Texas Tech officials said she wasn’t among the players

available for scheduled interviews Friday.

At the Big 12 media day, Barncastle said the incident wasn’t

going to change her physical style of play.

”We’re not really dwelling on the past,” Barncastle said


The 6-foot-2 Barncastle was called for a foul on the play that

led to the infamous scrap.

When the two players got tangled under the basket, Barncastle

twisted and slung the 6-foot-8 Griner off of her. After lunging

toward the baseline, Griner stopped, took two steps and delivered a

roundabout right to Barncastle’s face.

Griner, already a YouTube sensation for her dunks and blocked

shots, got an automatic one-game NCAA ban for the punch. Baylor

coach Kim Mulkey added a second game to the suspension.

Mulkey repeatedly said that Griner shouldn’t be defined for the

mistake. In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this

season, Griner spoke about learning from the incident.

”I’ve just got to keep a cool, cool head no matter what

happens,” Griner said. ”You’ve just got to be able to walk away

and just not retaliate. That’s what I learned, that’s not

acceptable at all. … I’ve just got to be able to just walk away,

and I feel like I can do that.”

There have been no issues this season for Griner, who averages

22 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.

When asked then about the first game against Barncastle, Griner

said she didn’t feel like anything needed to be said between the

two players.

”Just go play,” she said. ”It’s a one-time thing, you don’t

even have to say anything about it. Just go play.”