Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Company's Coming

By Mel Greenberg
So what happens when people with local connections are set to come to Philadelphia for an NCAA women's basketball tournament regional?

The local writer suddenly discovers he's been appointed the official social co-ordinator for media friends as well as team delegations.

For example, soon after Rutgers had beaten Temple in Connecticut on Tuesday night, Scarlet Knights' Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer anticipated the long hour-and-a-half trip to a city she's visited a zillion times by saying:
"So we'll have to have Mel show us what the best cheesesteak place is in town. "

Then hours after arriving back here in the office to help plan coverage, Ohio State coach Jim Foster checked in - the same Jim Foster who grew up in Elkins Park and once coached St. Joe's for almost a decade.

"What's the name of that pizza place in Port Richmond? Can we pull information on them up on the web?"

That was followed by a conversation with the local media contact at Temple, who is handling the Philly Regional arrangements:

"ESPN wants to know where everybody's going."

Of course Texas Tech has never been here, so they simply shot a simple line:

"We know it's your town, so we're counting on you ... ..."

The Rutgers beat writers were next: "Think we can get away to Atlantic City for a few hours."

The NCAA media person coming to town from headquarters asked about Friday night availability

Well, next week, he has to return the favor since the Women's Final Four will be in his town -- Indianapolis.

And so it went.

Meanwhile, questions occasionally come in about the glamorous aspects of this time of year:

Well, in the office, we get to walk past the famous unoccupied desk of Steven A. who is usually on someone's airway. We're thinking of adding it to the newsroom tour.

Then there's life on the road.

Back in Hartford, for example, I learned that when you leave your hotel room for the first time during the day to go interview a player and the maid is in the hallway and you say:

"Hi. Is it possible to get someone to change a burnt lightbulb in the lamp on the left side of the bed?"

Four hours later you discover that the foreign language translation of your request has really meant:

"Hi. Say listen, you don't really have to make up my room today."

That said, there's the technological aspects such as:

The woods of Connecticut are not conducive to cell phone conversations with the office.

On Monday afternoon, a player from a school came into the media room offering girl scout cookies (already paid for) to the working contingent.

Unfortunately, no one was able to find an NCAA manual to learn if acceptance of such substance would be considered a violation by the media for taking an extra benefit from a player, thus causing suspensions for a game from press row.

And on that crumb, we'll be back with meaningful stuff the next time around.

-- Mel

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