Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.
During games, Baylor runs a video series on its giant screen at the Ferrell Center called "Speaking Australian" with Kristy Wallace, the Lady Bears' senior guard from Loganholme, Queensland. She cheerfully sports a cork hat and shares Aussie phrases that are arcane to most Americans.
On Thursday, it was to have "kangaroos loose in the top paddock." That basically means exhibiting crazy, eccentric or nonsensical behavior. We Americans might say that someone "has a screw loose" or "has bats in the belfry." Like most things Australian, the kangaroo version is cooler.
Wallace played for the Australian U-23 team in the Four Nations tournament in Japan in August, and hopes to one day compete for the Aussie senior national team. She is the Baylor player who competes with her emotions closest to the surface, and the fans love that.
"When Kristy hits a big shot and the crowd just roars, it makes you play a lot better," Baylor center Kalani Brown said.
Wallace certainly did that in Baylor's recent victories, earning espnW national player of the week honors.
The third-ranked Lady Bears beat then-No. 6 Texas 81-56 on Thursday and then-No. 20 West Virginia 83-72 on Sunday. Against the Longhorns, Wallace had a career-high 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, four assists and seven rebounds. Against the Mountaineers, she had 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, four assists and two rebounds. She is shooting 54 percent from the field, second on the team only to Brown's 69.1.
Brown and fellow post Lauren Cox combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds against Texas, and 24 and 26 versus West Virginia. No one has beaten Baylor with those two in the lineup this season; the 19-1 Lady Bears' only loss came Nov. 18 at UCLA when Cox was ill and didn't make that trip.
The interior play will continue to be a major strength for Baylor. But having guard play at the level it was this past week, led by such an experienced player as the 5-foot-11 Wallace, makes Baylor even more dangerous.
Texas coach Karen Aston, whose team played No. 1 UConn and No. 3 Baylor 10 days apart, was asked to compare the Huskies and Lady Bears.
"The size of Baylor is different," Aston said. "UConn has a lot of ways of mismatching you, and isolating you in different spots. Baylor does the same thing; they isolate you. And they've just gotten so much better at post-to-post passing that it's very difficult to double.
"Those guards are making shots, and with Wallace playing the way she did tonight, they're going to be hard to beat."
When Wallace sees openings to score, she takes advantage. She's averaging 12.2 PPG this season, compared to 7.9 over her first three years. But ultimately, Wallace sees herself as a distributor and floor general for Baylor; she's averaging 4.9 assists this season.
"We have two of the best bigs in the country," Wallace said. "So I'm going to give them the ball and facilitate. That's my job. It's about winning, and we're good at that."
Also nominated: Bridget Carleton, Iowa State; Megan Gustafson, Iowa; Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon; Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan; Jessica Shepard, Notre Dame; A'ja Wilson, South Carolina
Previous winners: Louisville's Durr (Nov. 20) | Ohio State's Mitchell (Nov. 27) | Florida State's Thomas (Dec. 4) | Oklahoma State's Goodwin (Dec. 11) | Texas A&M's Carter (Dec. 18) | Western Illinois' Clemens (Dec. 26) | Stanford's McPhee (Jan. 1) | Houston's Harris (Jan. 8) | Louisville's Durr (Jan. 15) | Florida State's Thomas (Jan. 22)