Going into Selection Monday, Tennessee Lady Vol head coach Holly Warlick was pretty positive the team would end up being a No. 3 seed in the Women's NCAA Tournament.
On March 19, the Lady Vols were named a No. 2 seed and placed in the Oklahoma City region. In the midst of much celebration, one obstacle loomed in the mind of every coach, player and fan.
Baylor's star player Brittney Griner.
There's a lot of controversy revolving around the female dunking sensation who is Griner. From her 6-foot-8 body to her protruding "Adam's apple" and baritone voice, haters hate with a vengeance, but maybe that's not where their argument should begin.
There's no denying her talent on the court. Griner averaged 23.8 points and 9.42 rebounds per game. She was the team's leader and the program was built around her.
With Griner, Baylor went 34-2 overall, 18-0 in their conference and 17-0 at home this season. They were a decided No. 1 seed for the tournament and lacked no confidence that they would end up at the championship.
In fact, during the Selection Monday coverage, Griner was asked what team she thought would have a chance to put Baylor in their place.
Her answer? The Miami Heat.
I would have liked to see Lebron's chuckling face when he heard that.
Now, her confidence in her own ability and in her team's ability to support her seems a little out of place. Her season is over. Her collegiate basketball career has ended and not on a good note.
The team fell 82-81 to No. 5 Louisville in the Oklahoma City Region semifinals. Griner didn't score a basket until the second half.
Lady Vol senior Taber Spani said it best.
"Everyone knows and respects Baylor and we all know they're a great team, but we also believe in who we are and what we can do," Spani said. "They call it 'March Madness' for a reason. You never know what's gonna happen."
The madness happened, pride went before the fall and now Baylor and their Griner-centered team is no longer a threat. The Lady Vols still have a tough road ahead, but with Baylor out of the way, the road seems a bit smoother.
While Baylor may have experienced some success with Griner at the helm (OK, a lot of success), no team is flawless when based on the talent of one player. That player is always vulnerable to mistakes, and they generally happen when they least expect it.
A team focused on a specific player faces the dangers of injury, bad days and mistakes that can be the means to an unsuccessful end. That's why teams are teams. It's been said before, but there's no "I" in team, and Griner, her teammates and her coaches seemed to forget that.
Sunday night was an unhappy reminder for them. Unfortunately, it came all too late.