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, June 03, 2005

Doin' Devon - Episode I

By Mel Greenberg

DEVON _ We know why you bothered to stop by this space.

You are curious as to how will yours truly find a way to involve women's hoops in a blog report from the Devon horse show out on the Main Line.

Well, here it is right from the top in the first of a three-night extravaganza.

Upon our arrival in late afternoon, Thursday, seated in the press box was our colleague and good friend Benjamin Lowe, who reports for us out here in the suburbs.

Soooo?

What you don't know is Ben's sister Sarah is a senior guard for the University of Florida women's team coached by Carolyn Peck, who previous coached Purdue to the 1999 NCAA ttitle and also coached the former Orlando Miracle WNBA team now known as the Connecticut Sun.

That's all the basketball there is here tonight, but enough small fodder to not disappoint your computer click to this location.

Next question.

Did I survive night one in an exercised that could be subtitled "Out of My Element?"

Well, yes, and it went rather well.

It went well because the Grand Prix event was executed in a manner that is looked upon fondly by journalists when it occurs -- The story wrote itself.

First, about the event.

Because of space limitations, we were in a "just the facts" mode and didn't have to go into great detail.

For the participant riders and horses, the goal is very simple -- In the opening round, clear all the rails to get to at least the jump-off.

Once advanced to that portion of the event, the next goal is clear all the rails and do it quickly.

In Thursday night's contest, three riders and their horses survived the first round. In the jump-off, the first horse didn't clear all the rails, the second horse cleared all the rails, and the third and final horse cleared all the rails and did it quicker than the previous horse.

Game, set, match, and this isn't even tennis.

Ask the winner a few logical questions and type the story. It's also helpful to have some veteran experts sitting near by to protect you from unknown errors.

As to the story itself, since I am still figuring out how to insert links back to Philly.com, you can buy the paper and enable me to claim I am actually driving readership traffic to the print edition.

So give them some color, Mel!!!

Right!!!

We arrived in late afternoon under clear skies and a cool breeze.

Curiously, we ran into a lot of traffice several miles up the road and expected conditions to stay that way, considering the event was going to be watched by a sellout crowd of 7,500.

But a block later, many made a left turn off the main drag, as they were actually the working class crowd returning to the neighborhood.

It reminded us of the time the University of Maryland women's basketball had its first ever sellout and we were asked, when did we believe there was really going to be a crowd in Cole Fieldhouse?

We responded, "When night school didn't make the left turn at the light."

But we digress, one of the lavish excesses of blogging.

After wheeling our computer operational tools from the parking lot across Lancaster Ave. to our working location alongside the Dixon Oval, we had a chance to check out the local scene.

It is here the very rich of Main Line Society and the rest of us gather side-by-side. The high side of that equation saw many spectators dressed to the nines with women wearing fancy hats as they do down South at the Kentucky Derby.

In a very small area, food concessions, amusement rides, and souvenir stands are organized in an impression fashion to give the impression of a village.

Incidentally, if you are a local reading this and plan to attend the last two days of Devon, try the $1.00 tea sandwiches, which are quite tasty.

The Dixon Oval in person is striking because the area of the competition is more compact than it appears in pictures and on television.

Once the event begins, in Thursday night's instance, the Grand Prix, one is amazed at watching these large horses sleeky navigating the hurdles in the manner of a jumbo commercial airliner jumping over an air pocket.

The individuals associated with the competition are gracious and easy to interview, but we must allow it was our first-time ever at this event.

Two more are ahead and the action will be conducted somewhat differently than Thursday night.

So, we'll be back

- Mel

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