By Parmida Schahhosseini
Leadership has different forms. For senior guard Odyssey Sims, it’s all about action. Her ability to take over games and propel No. 9 Baylor Lady Bears to wins is unmatched.
Despite Sims being the only returning starter, Baylor hasn’t lost a step, winning by an average of margin of 47 points.
“How many plays can I run for her? That’s what I think,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Odyssey is just a special player. She feeds off of her own success. One minute she is the off-guard, the other she is the point guard. I’m glad she is on my team.”
Prior to this season, many people wondered how Sims would perform with Brittney Griner gone, but she has elevated her play as the focal point of the team.
Against Rice, Sims put on a show, dominating the game and finishing with 33 points.
“Too much Odyssey. She actually outscored us at halftime,” Rice head coach Gregg Williams said. “She had six more points than our whole team at halftime. At least our team outscored her at the end of the game, and she lived up to everything that has been said about her.”
With the ability to dictate the game, Sims is hard to stop when she is determined to get her way.
Even last year against Louisville in the Sweet 16, Sims led Baylor to an attempted comeback after being down 17 points in the last 7½ minutes. Sims continued to fight hard, which energized the team, allowing Baylor to go on a 19-4 run.
The comeback attempt fell short, but Sims gave signs of life for Baylor moving forward.
This season, Sims is determined to send a message to the young team.
Sims has played 80 minutes and has only turned over the ball twice. Sims’ intelligent play coupled with her physical ability makes for a lethal combination on the court. The ability to read what the defense enables her to exploit the opponent’s schemes. Against Grambling State, Sims and the other guards on the team created shots for the post players to give Baylor a 16-0 start.
Sims also can score, averaging 28 points per game. Whether she’s cutting though defenders for a layup or scoring off a fast break after creating a turnover, her playmaking ability makes her dangerous to defend.
Even the best players have a hard time guarding Sims when she’s focused. Sims also can beat defenders with her perimeter shooting.
Against Rice, Sims took advantage of the Owl’s zone defense as she ran past defenders, received the ball and hit a three with three seconds left in the first half.
“She can beat you off the dribble, she can shoot the three-ball, and a lot of times those good ones do not want to play defense, but we all know what she means to everyone on the floor defensively,” Mulkey said.
Sims dictates how Baylor plays. Baylor can only go as far as Sims goes, because even if other players step up, they need that extra push from Sims. Both sides of the ball go through her.
Mulkey stresses guard play because good guard play leads to wins. Despite 54 shot attempts – 30 more than the second-highest shots taken, Sims continues to make wise choices. She facilitates the offense with her unselfish play, distributing the ball when she needs to and taking the shots when they are available.
“My job is to go out and lead my team, knowing I’m going to shoot the majority of the shots, but at the same time not being selfish with it,” Sims said. “I did my best to lead them. I’m not going to be selfish when I’m on the court. If I’m missing, I make sure I find an open player. And no matter how I play, as long as my team is doing well, that’s all that matters.”
Even the rest of the Lady Bears marvel at Sims’ ability. The underclassmen are taking everything in stride as they learn from one of the best.
“It’s very hard when all-American has the ball she’s going to score so you might get caught watching her, but I just try going for rebounds. If the shot misses I’ll be there,” freshman forward Nina Davis said.