- Michelle Smith, Contributor, espnW.com
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There's something kind of cool about just shutting the doors of the gym and doing battle, Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike says.
Cooler still if you are in the gym when they shut the door.
Top-ranked Baylor will take on No. 4 Stanford on Friday evening in the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii. It's one of the marquee matchups of the nonconference season, but the existential question is: Can it be a marquee matchup only if there's an audience?
Certainly, there will be a crowd, those lucky enough to have tickets to the game. But there won't be any viewers. As of Thursday morning, there will be no national television broadcast for the game (though the game will be televised live statewide and there will be a live stream on the Internet).
The tournament format (which means the game doesn't fall under the rights agreements of either the Big 12 or the Pac-12), the distant locale and the time difference all contributed to the lack of a television broadcast.
So it will be Brittney Griner versus Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims versus Amber Orrange, Kim Mulkey versus Tara VanDerveer -- all for the sole benefit of the folks in the stands.
"I've talked to people and I tell them we are playing Baylor and they respond, 'Cool, what channel?' and I have to tell them it's not on," Ogwumike said.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott scribbled down the information in his notebook three weeks ago at women's basketball media day when informed there would be no TV for this game. But Scott couldn't make it happen. The new Pac-12 Network, for one, already has previous commitments to live-event programming in that spot.
So fans who are not on the island are left to the box score and their imaginations.
In reality, it's an intriguing early-season matchup that will likely have no bearing on where either team will end up in April.
For Baylor, coming off a 46-point win over No. 6 Kentucky and playing its second straight top-10 opponent, it is another opportunity to look like a team that won't lose a game this season.
For the Cardinal, it is an opportunity to measure against the best, and take another shot at VanDerveer's defensive game plan, which proved fairly effective against Griner last spring in Denver.
It was Stanford's inability to hit shots in that game that kept the Cardinal from playing closer to the end in a 59-47 loss. Griner finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in that game.
"We're going to do a lot of the same things [from the Final Four]," VanDerveer said. "We're going to learn from the things that we did last time and do a lot of the same attack. Chiney is playing very well, [Joslyn Tinkle] is playing very well, Amber's playing very well. We have our 'big three' and we need it to be four, five, six or seven. We need really major contributions from a lot of people."
Stanford guard Jasmine Camp, the sophomore who sat out the last meeting with Baylor with a foot injury that caused her to miss most of the 2011-12 season, says this is a "statement game" for the Cardinal.
"We want to show everything we have to offer, how hard we've been working," Camp said. "I am definitely anxious, mostly excited."
For her part, Griner sounds as if she's looking forward most to her trip to the Hawaii.
"It's always good to just play," Griner said. "And on the other side, it's Hawaii and I'm trying to surf -- don't tell Coach. And I'm looking forward to Pearl Harbor. I'm just looking forward to all of it."
17dBonnie D. Ford