Star trio visits ESPN's Bristol campus
Griner on Mike & Mike
Editor's note: Women's college basketball players Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner visited ESPN's Bristol, Conn., studios Wednesday. espnW was there for all the behind-the-scenes action as the star trio made its way around campus.
3:21 p.m.: Diggins is headed to the airport but says a lot in a short tweet: "Love it when you meet good players that are cool. Brittney and Elena are two of those players man "
2:38 p.m.: Griner and the rest of the players are shooting promos for the upcoming women's college basketball broadcasts on ESPN.
Some would equate this to root canal work, especially people who are painfully shy. You sit in a chair and repeat certain promo phrases over and over.
"Can you say it like you mean it?"
But the three handle it in stride.
Griner is also asked about the first time she got into basketball, which was around ninth grade.
"When I first started playing, I thought, 'I've got some work to do ' I fumbled around a lot."
She said she has fond memories of playing in her backyard with her father and brother and that her sibling actually beat her a few times back in the day.
"Oh, I'd dominate."
2:19 p.m.: Diggins was getting ready for her photo shoot and realized she had forgotten her jersey. Fortunately, she found a long-sleeved Irish T-shirt to wear.
As she was getting ready, Diggins asked if she could leave her hair down. Someone said she had to wear her signature headband because "It's not the prom."
Diggins laughed and said, "Tell my followers that."
Diggins ended up wearing the headband, which the photographer said made the shoot.
1:50 p.m.: Diggins is the most followed college athlete on Twitter, with more than 250,000 followers. She reported that she gained close to 1,500 followers after her "SportsCenter" appearance on Wednesday.
"Social media has been great for a lot of reasons," Diggins said. "I got on after high school, going into college, to keep in touch with friends. I also thought it would be a good networking opportunity. When I started playing more on TV sophomore year, celebs started reaching out, it got crazy.
"I think it makes female athletes more approachable and accessible; it is great for the fans."
1:35 p.m.: Delle Donne said she enjoys bringing the Blue Hens into the spotlight.
"People want us to do well again,'" she said. "You want to be talked about, it means you are doing big things."
The most common question Delle Donne hears when she says she is from Delaware?
"What state is that?" she laughs. "Then I tell them Delaware was the first state."
1:15 p.m.: Diggins, Delle Donne and Griner were asked about possibly playing together in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. They got pretty excited.
"We would just elevate each other's games," Delle Donne said.
Diggins was already drawing up plays.
"Pick and pop, screen and roll," she said.
12:50 p.m. After a shuttle ride over to the on-campus kids center, Diggins made a quick change into her gray warm-ups and the trio prepared for an interview with Kevin Negandhi. They deferred lunch until after the sit down.
12:17 p.m.: After taping a live hit on "SportsCenter," the trio taped a scaaaary skit for UNITE. There was some basketball involved, too.
The players are getting a quick makeup touch-up before heading to ESPN's Kids Center for more interviews and a little grub.
12:03 p.m.: The talk on the basketball court after the "SportsCenter" shoot quickly turned to tattoos. Brittney Griner said she has nine, Skylar Diggins has seven -- but it's just in one spot and has been added to several times.
Elena Delle Donne has one -- of her sister's name with angel wings. But Delle Donne didn't tell her mom right away about the tattoo. In fact, Delle Donne had the tattoo a year before revealing it to her mom -- who was cool about it.
"I couldn't be mad," Joan Delle Donne said.
11:35 a.m.: As Griner waited for the other players to join her for an upcoming "SportsCenter" hit, Julie Bennett, Baylor's director of athletic communications, told a story about some of the videos Brittney shot at last year's Final Four.
During one of those shoots, Griner was asked what was her favorite thing. Her answer: bacon. But, for some reason, some folks thought she said "baking."
"I love bacon," Griner reinforced Wednesday.
She said it is common for her to have a big ol' plate of it during pregame breakfasts on the road. And not overly cooked, either, people.
This might explain why she is not a big fruit fan.
11:07 a.m.: Diggins takes on Skip Bayless on "First Take." Asked about Notre Dame's chances against Oklahoma in football, Diggins stuck up for her team.
"I know a lot of guys on the team, and we are rooting for them," she said.
If the choice is between the Notre Dame women's basketball or football teams winning a national championship?
"Naturally, I am going to pick my team," she replied.
11:05 a.m. Griner said she can't wait for the release of "Call Of Duty Black Ops II." She said she loves playing video games, often against boys half her age -- they just might not sound that young.
"I was online with a 7-year-old you would have thought it was a grown man," she said. "He was trash-talking me and telling me I suck."
Griner said she also likes to play "Assassin's Creed," while Diggins shook her head and said she isn't very good at those kind of games.
"Give me Wii bowling," Diggins said. "I can do that."
11:01 a.m.: Delle Donne is doing an interview with Dan Le Batard in a small space known as the "bureau cam room." Beam her up, Scotty!
Many analysts and guests in Bristol do interviews out of this tiny room.
We can't hear the questions being asked, but the Delaware star is actually talking volleyball: "If you don't know how to block correctly, you can really get hurt," Delle Donne is overheard saying.
After leaving Connecticut, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne enrolled at Delaware and earned Colonial Athletic Association all-rookie team honors her freshman season with the Blue Hens' volleyball team.
Delle Donne, who led Ursuline Academy (Wilmington, Del.) to four state basketball championships and the 2007 state volleyball title, led Delaware with 117 blocks and ranked second on the team with a .223 hitting percentage in 2008.
10:45 a.m.: Diggins talked headbands with the fans during her live chat on ESPN.com.
This season, there will be a camouflage one to wear for the Carrier Classic, as well as lime green, pink and Navy headbands, all with the Irish logo on them.
When asked who she is rooting for in the WNBA Finals, Diggins said she is rooting for the Lynx -- former teammate Devereaux Peters and best friend Candice Wiggins play for Minnesota.
10 a.m. Griner left "Mike & Mike" and headed to the hallway, where Kentucky coach John Calipari spotted her. The two hugged, someone asked for a picture, and the two complied.
Then Coach Cal stuck his head in the makeup room where Delle Donne and Diggins were hanging out.
"I want to get [a photo] with all three," he said.
As the group got together for a picture, coach jokingly started recruiting.
"How about the three of you come play for me this year?" he asked. "We are going to be pretty young this year."
9:54 a.m. Mike Greenberg stands back-to-back with Griner, saying his daughter will love to see how short he is compared to the star.
Greenberg asks Griner about breaking her wrist long boarding and her relationship with RG3. She says she sees the former Baylor QB, now an NFL rookie with the Redskins, when he returns to campus. "He is just a good guy," she says, "easy to be around."
9:48 a.m. Griner's stopover at "Mike & Mike" lasts about eight minutes, and myriad topics are covered as the Baylor star and Mike Greenberg banter back and forth.
No, she never considered leaving school to join the WNBA after last season. Yes, she and her teammates realize that being role models is part of the job -- and one they embrace. And yes, of course, if she's double- or triple-teamed, that just means her teammates are open. "I'm willing to do whatever I can to get my teams to win," Griner says.
Greenberg recounts a conversation he had this past summer with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who said deep down, Griner is nothing but a big goofball.
Griner's grin grows and she nods her head.
"Definitely, I'm a big goofball," she says. "I just got done playing foosball in the back. And I have to say, I was the champ. If we weren't on air, I'd be playing with all the bobbleheads right here."
9:32 a.m. While Griner is getting prepped for an interview on "Mike & Mike," Delle Donne is chatting online with ESPN.com and espnW readers.
A few of the questions that draw laughter from the room are: What is she wearing for Halloween, and should Delaware change its name from the Blue Hens to the Delle Donnes.
"You can't get rid of the Blue Hen," Delle Donne says.
As for the costume, that needs a little more explaining. There apparently is a mural in Delaware that bears a likeness to Elena. She and her best friend will try to depict the mural.
For the complete chat, click here.
9:08 a.m.: Delle Donne is visiting campus with her mom, Joan. They lament the Yankees' loss to the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS. The men in their family, Elena's father and brother, are big Yankees fans.
9:02 a.m.: Griner plays foosball to pass the time before "Mike & Mike," crushing every opponent in sight. "I didn't know I was good at it," Griner says.
8:34 a.m.: Griner returns from makeup saying it is only the second time in her life she has worn any -- the first was for the Honda Awards.
8:16 a.m.: Delle Donne answers a Twitter question from espnW about leaving UConn. She says she is often reminded about the national championships she could be missing out on. She says she's happy to be home, at Delaware, and that family is more important.
8:16 a.m.: The three head to a waiting room. One by one they go to makeup. Griner goes first, laughing about how excited she is to get it done.
8:05 a.m.: Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner arrive.
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