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.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rutgers Reacts to Its Seed

By Mel Greenberg


Some of what follows will be seen in other coverage of Rutgers, but our colleague Kate Burkholder, the women's beat writer and associate sports editor of the Daily Targum in Piscataway, N.J., who will be helping us (that's an editorial us) through Boston, provided some reaction over Rutgers' draw last night's from the Scarlet Knights selection party.

Rutgers gets the thrill of a 20-mile trip to Trenton and the agony of a bracket that has Tennessee and North Carolina in the Cleveland regional.

But, hey, coach C. Vivian Stringer has it right. You have to play these teams sometime to win a national title and every other route also has a major roadblock.

Stringer reacted to the ESPN announcement, saying, “This is a great bracket, and if you wanna see a championship, that’s where you’re gonna see it.

"I’ve said a thousand times if you wanna be the best you gotta play the best.”

Stringer went on to comment: “If you look at the level of players, Ivory Latta (North Carolina), Candace Parker (Tennessee), and our own Cappie Pondexter, the committee obviously wants to put the best teams and best players in the same bracket.”

She added, Iit’s better to deal with them now, that’s really the way I feel about it. I know how Pat [Summitt] is, she’s really competitive and that’s how I am, so it’s like ‘Bring ‘em on.’ I don’t really care, so if the team takes that attitude, I don’t care who we play and when we play.”

“It’s nice for ours fans to be [in Trenton] and I think they can also get to Ohio (Cleveland). I think it’s better than what have done before, when we were put out on the West Coast.”

In 2000, Rutgers was sent to Oregon, as was yours truly, on the way to the Women's Final Four right here in Philadelphia.

Continuing with Kate's report, quoting Stringer, "If you get knocked off before you get there, you deserved to get knocked off. You get it done and don’t look for excuses. Nothing is really fair, and we’re not looking for breaks.”

A matchup with Tennessee would bring a meeting similar to the Philadelphia regional final at Temple last season.

“Well, It’s true, Pat and I, no matter where I am, whether it’s Iowa, whether it’s Cheyney, or whether I’m here, we always manage to play each other, so we just plan to have tea and coffee.”

The two coaches have had a series of matchups of their teams throughout NCAA history.

Freshman Kia Vaughn talked about opening against Dartmouth on in Trenton: “It’s mostly good for the fans, really. I don’t think it really matters where we play as long as we play our best.

“I am happy that we are in Trenton though, so my mom can come see me.”

Point guard Courtney Locke discussed the draw.

"I totally agree with coach. You wanna play the best and prove that you’re the best, and Trenton is a great site. We’ll have a lot of fan base and get the crowd behind us.”

Pondexter was not too annoyed by the seed, much of which was Rutgers' doing by losing to West Virginia in the Big East semifinals.

“It doesn’t matter, we’re just glad we have the opportunity to be in the field of 64," she said.
"We’re definitely in a great situation coming off a loss just to prove to ourselves what we are capable of doing. We’ll be close to home, so we can’t complain about that. It’s also my last go-around so there’s a lot of emotions going around, but like I said I’m excited and glad we have the opportunity to be there.”

I'll be back later in the afternoon with more commentary on the bracket, Temple here, and other items. The Temple coverage can be found in the print edition posted at Philly.com.

Later this week, we might do our first podcast from here, featuring Temple coach Dawn Staley and senior Candice Dupree.

-- Mel


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