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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bean Counting and Other Mentions

By Mel Greenberg

Now we know the whole story of how the seeds went down when the NCAA women's basketball tournament committee made its deliberations that set off a wave of controversy.

True, the Rutgers loss to West Virginia, a 12th seed in the Big East Conference tournament, began to toss things out of alignment as the Scarlet Knights fell from a projected No. 2 seed, possibly a No. 1, to a No. 3.

But it appears someone looked at the calendar wrong.

Next year, you see, the Women's Final Four is in Cleveland.

So all those high powered teams that will be going at it near the shores of Lake Erie this weekend are there because the committee accidentally set the heavy hitters of the 64-team field as No. 1 seeds for Cleveland.

Maybe that's why Ohio State got a No. 1 seed -- Local identity, you know.

Boston College is out to correct that mistake and the first thing the Eagles have done is re-focus the local excitment back to the place where the Women's Final Four will actually be held.

That would be about a half-hour (traffic conditions) from Chestnut Hill in Massachusetts.

There is a recent history of locally-known teams making an impact.

In 2000, here in Philadelphia, our Women's Final Four had Connecticut, coached by local guy Geno Auriemma; Tennessee, with local star Ace Clement; and two schools that happened to be Rutgers and Penn State, which have been covered heavily over the years here as the state powers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, at least until Temple turned it around.

In 2001, Missouri State, known then as Southwest Missouri, made it to the Final Four in St. Louis as did nearby Purdue and Notre Dame.

In 2002, Oklahoma, a school in Big 12 country, made it to San Antonio.

In 2003, Tennessee was a bus-ride away from Atlanta.

In 2004, LSU took a short trip to New Orleans.

And last year, Michigan State had to be in Indianapolis because its male counterparts were not far away in St. Louis.

So maybe that's why Boston College, a team everyone questioned as to their at-large selection, sent Ohio State packing on Tuesday night. The Eagles still have some work to do, but hey, like we said, history is on their side.

It Ain't All Glamorous

When I began this blog a year ago, I tried to give you some behind-the-scenes stuff in this business along about things less thrilling than looking at Stephen A. Smith's unoccupied desk in the office.

Prospect buyers of The Inquirer take note, the first thing you have to do is get a handle on the technology here.

At about 10:35 p.m. on Tuesday, I was exceptionally thrilled to finish a half-decent account of the Georgia-Hartford game.

All that was needed to do was file.

The Sovereign Bank Arena, which was ok except we didn't have wireless connections, was the scene.

I had been connected to the home office for quite some time by a phone line.

When it came time to file, I accidentally hit our email access page off the favorites list and was suddenly greeted with one of those famous "server not found" pages.

Then I hit the gateway page in which we drop our stories to the sports department. A similar message appeared.

So, I went to an alternative email account page, which came up fine and tried to email the backfield, but got a rejection notice saying the domain didn't exist.

An ensuing phone call brought the information that all runways were closed. In otherwise, if you were an airport, it would have been a heck of a mess.

However, yours truly ran a jury-rigged rout that involved sending the story into my blackberry and then to an alternative email account of colleague Don McKee, from which they were able to copy the file into the publishing system specs.

So, obviously, getting the Rutgers story shipped 30 miles away became a lost cause because no one was left to post it to Phillynews.com, which is why you see that story down below.

If you can't get to the WNIT ....

Villanova women's coach Harry Perretta gets a thrill out of making things miserable for the opposition with his unique style of offense.

At the moment, he's making life extra hectic for his school administration.

A certain other Wildcats squad, you see, has the town all agog because it has become a favorite to win the men's tournament.

Meanwhile, the Villanova women, whom many believed should have been in the NCAA, continue to hang around the WNIT, winning two straight home games.

Now comes the aside. A week ago I had a conversation with several prominent coaches about the merit of Western Kentucky being in the NCAA tournament.

I did not see the Hilltoppers all year. I could only go by data the way the committee does many times. They did not seem to fit the profile compared to those Big Dog conference reps, most of whom have been dispatched.

However, each coach, either through personal observation, or watching tape because of scouting other teams on the schedule, told me what a quality squad Western Kentucky was.

My response was, "What we are having here is a basketball discussion and if I was in a room and you were telling me this, I would accept your impression over mine."

Well, life is strange, sometimes. Villanova has gotten another home game in the quarterfinals and guess which WNIT team is going to visit Thursday night?

You got it, Western Kentucky. So I guess in the end, we will see for ourselves.

Sometimes you can't make this stuff up.

-- Mel

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