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.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tying the ribbon

By Mel Greenberg

When Rutgers and Tennessee take the floor Tuesday night in Temple's Liacouras Center, 75 percent of the 2005 Women's Final Four will be assembled.

Thanks to Atilla the Network, also known as ESPN in this discussion, the time start is set for 9 p.m. after three of the four spots will have become known.

Tonight, 50 percent of the deal this weekend at Indy will be on the line when LSU and Duke tip off in Chattanooga, Tenn., and North Carolina and Baylor go at it in Tempe, Ariz.

Prior to the Rutgers-Tennessee game Tuesday night, Michigan State and Stanford will battle in Kansas City.

The most significant sign of the parity talked about in the sport all year is that all of these games are worthy of being a Final Four pairing. The same could be said of Sunday's game here between Rutgers and Ohio State.

Which brings us to the other sign of enhanced competition.

This is the deepest in a story concerning the Elite Eight, the gateway to the Women's Final Four, the computer keyboard has rattled along before these letters were typed into the copy: U-C-O-N-N.

That's UConn as in University of Connecticut, the former three-time defending national champion.

Stanford put the "former" tag on the Huskies Sunday night in Kansas City in yet another matchup worthy of being played a little further down the line.

Thus, coach Geno Auriemma will now get to be insufferable at Final Four parties like in the old days when his program was still trying to climb the ladder to rule the sport.

A year after history was made with the UConn men and women both winning NCAA titles in the same season, neither is around for the Elite Eight.

Press box seating just opened up in the RCA Dome because the heavy-populated contingent of journalists, nicknamed The Horde because of their size, will probably be getting an early start on their fall previews for next season.

What was the key to Connecticut's demise: No one else in the country had Diana Taurasi this season and neither did UConn after the former superstar finished her eligibility and moves to the pros with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.

There will be extra incentive besides returning to end of the dance for the Huskies next season because the Women's Finals will be held in nearby Boston.

Meanwhile a bit of irony is involved with the Rutgers-Tennessee matchup.

In 2000 when the finals were here at the then-named First Union Center, the Rutgers-Georgia game in Portland, Ore., was the last to be determined late nite on the East Coast for the remaining spot in the Philly final.

Rutgers pulled an upset but then had to travel across the country to return to the right coast on a shorter calendar schedule to face Tennessee, which beat the Scarlet Knights in the semifinals.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer's group should be quite confident, having beaten Tennessee at home in January in Piscataway, N.J.

A Final Four without Pat (Tennessee coach Pat Summitt) and Geno.

Doesn't seem possible. But after the wildest of New Orleans at last year's Final Four, serenity in Indy might be a change of pace.

We'll be back late tonight after half the field is determined.

-- Mel

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