For the second straight year, Connecticut Sun forward Kelsey Griffin led the Bendigo Spirit to the WNBL Championship in Australia, collecting 25 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in a 94-83 victory over the Townsville Fire.
And for the second straight year, Griffin was named Grand Final MVP, receiving the Rachael Sporn Medal for her performance.
Griffin had 14 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter. At one point, she hit three straight three-pointers as Bendigo built a 13-point lead in the game.
Last year, Griffin had 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Fire, earning her first Grand Final MVP as Bendigo won its first league title.
Overall, it was another strong season for Griffin, who received serious consideration for league MVP. She finished fifth in the voting after averaging 14 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Spirit. Griffin had 10 double-doubles, including four in a row at one point, and finished with 20 double-figure scoring games and 12 double-figure rebound games.
Recently, Griffin took took a minute to discuss another successful season in Australia.
This is the second straight year Bendigo has won the WNBL Championship, and the second year in a row you have been named MVP of the Grand Final. Seems like you have really found your niche in Australia.
"I have! I truly do love it here. My teammates are incredible. The chemistry we have is what makes so much of a difference, I think. I am very lucky to play for Bendigo!"
How different was it this year beginning the season as a defending champion vs last year as a team that was hoping to win it all? More pressure? More confidence?
"This year was definitely a grind! There was a lot more pressure because even when we were top of the ladder last year, we were still the underdogs. This year from day one we expected a championship. I've never played for a team going back to back or a team that from the very first training session thought anything less than a championship was a complete failure."
Was it sweeter this time, making a successful defense? Or is it just impossible to top winning the first one?
"I think it is impossible to top the first one in the way it felt personally. Everything was unexpected and really exciting! This year felt far more like handling business. Don't get me wrong. The amount of confidence and experience you get from defending a title is HUGE. The feeling of the first though cannot be beat. It makes sense though...because everything we've done this year is all about defending what was achieved last year and you now have a comparison and expectations."
You received serious consideration for WNBL MVP honors this year, and you have now put together two really strong seasons in Australia. How do you think the WNBL is helping your development as a professional?
"The exposure to great competition, smart basketball and playing with a world class point guard has helped me tremendously. Practicing with and against some of the best players in Australia and Canada doesn't hurt either. I also think the opportunity to have individual shooting sessions and workouts whenever I want throughout the week has been fundamental in my growth as a shooter. This year I think I improved my leadership as well.. Kristi does most of the leading on the team so I was able to learn quite a bit from her and also help with being more of a vocal leader instead of my preferred role of leading by example."
What are your expectations and goals returning to the WNBA this summer for your fifth season?
"I feel like last season I took some big steps in how I can impact the league. I want to build on that and be more consistent in my role. I've worked very hard on becoming even more of an offensive threat, especially from 3 point range. However, more than a particular stat, I want to be able to will my team to victories."