Diggins and Sims are familiar foes

By Doug Feinberg

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 2 2012 5:55 p.m. MDT

Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins (4) and Connecticut forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23) vie's for a lose ball during the second half of the NCAA women's Final Four semifinal college basketball game, in Denver, Sunday, April 1, 2012.

Eric Gay, Associated Press

DENVER — Left-handed guards Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame and Odyssey Sims of Baylor are very familiar with each other's game.

The two played together on the World University games team this past summer in China along with Notre Dame's Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters. The four helped guide the U.S. team to a gold medal.

"She's a tremendous competitor just like me," Diggins said. "I love playing with someone like that, all the things she did for Team USA she's doing now for Baylor."

While they were friendly in China, Diggins classified their relationship as cordial.

"Everyone thinks you're either friends or enemies, we have a cordial relationship. I respect her game and what she's done," Diggins said. "We don't text or anything, but we saw each other the other day and had a great conversation."

When the two teams met in November, Sims got the best of the matchup in Baylor's 94-81 victory. She had 25 points and six assists. Diggins did score 27 points, but had seven turnovers.

The two had a brief incident on the court when Sims picked up a technical foul after the two were involved in a loose ball scramble.

Baylor junior Destiny Williams also played with Diggins for the U.S. when the two were on the under-19 team in 2009.

"Their IQs are about the same," Williams said. "Just two point guards that are great players going at it. I enjoy playing with both of them. But I'd rather have Odyssey too."

BASKETBALL BUSINESS: Notre Dame fifth-year senior Brittany Mallory delayed her entrance into the business world in favor of another year of college basketball.

"She had already graduated, had some opportunities to pursue," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "And really, for us, I thought she was essential to this team because of all the intangible things she gives as well as being our best lock-down defender and 3-point specialist."

When a student journalist asked Mallory what classes she was taking this semester, teammate Skylar Diggins chimed in: "Brit doesn't take classes anymore. She's a seventh-year senior."

"I graduated already," Mallory said, chuckling. "I was a management/entrepreneurship major. I'm just taking some — a light class load."

She's done some of the heavy lifting on the court, though.

"I think just her attitude and personality really affects the whole team," McGraw said. "I think she's been a great leader for us. So I think getting her to come back for this year, I don't know that we'd be here without her."

RANKING TEAMS: Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has been part of some really good teams as a player and as a coach. Yet don't ask her to tell you which one is the best.

Mulkey led Louisiana Tech to the 1982 championship game as the starting point guard. Now she has the Lady Bears one game away from becoming the first team to go 40-0.

"I don't compare teams, I don't compare generations," Mulkey said. "I know this: back in the early '80s we were the dominant women's basketball team. And our first and second team could have been ranked in the top five."

Mulkey is sure of this: she wouldn't want to have had her point guard Odyssey Sims guarding her.

"I wouldn't want to bring the ball up against Odyssey Sims," Mulkey said. "She just is a gnat out there. She worries you to death."

From their brief talks on the subject, sounds like Mulkey was the same way back in her playing days.

"She always talks about how she can pass better than me," Sims said, laughing. "We kind of have a competition. She talks about how she scores a lot and how she didn't have to play any defense and we just kind of go head-to-head about what she can and what she can't do.

"She always talks about what she won in high school and her path through college but she really doesn't talk about it a lot."

But behind closed practice doors, Mulkey also talks a pretty big game.

"She tells me all the time she could beat me one-on-one and that she could take me to the hole and that she could do all this kind of stuff," Sims said. "I just tell her, 'Your days are over, you don't do that anymore'. We joke around about crazy stuff, but coach is always going to talk noise. She's going to always talk noise to me, BG (Brittney Griner) and everybody, and we get a kick out of it. She always tells BG she can take her to the hole, too."

AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton and Pat Graham contributed to this report.

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