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.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Don't Let Your Wrists Do the Clicking: Massacred From Boston??

Question:

What do my print stories sent to Philadelphia from Boston have in common with Kate's attempt to get to her room in the hotel elevator Saturday night?

They both got stuck somewhere trying to reach their destination.

It took Kate two minutes to free herself from the lift that was going nowhere while I went to the desk for a little help. (She'll give you her version -- I'm sure).

It's taken me a little longer from Beantown to rescue my pearls that both should have been on Philly.Com by now where the sun has helped create a beautful view high above overlooking the Charles River towards Haavard.

Well, both the notebook and preview may have made it into print back home.

But here is the print story that I've pulled from the Knight Ridder News Wire that I know had to be launched.

That will be followed by another sushi special of raw copy from my laptop that was sent from the senior all-star game Saturday night in which Temple's Candice Dupree helped her team emerge victorious.

And so here I am with me followed by the notebook rescue. On Sunday afternoon, it's off to Boston College to watch the USA Basketball squad work out before getting to the arena for Sunday nite's games.

P.S. I'm glad Kate figured her way out of the elevator since her postings here have drawn more reaction -- all good -- in one weekend then I hear from you guys (good or bad) in a month. :)

And for the one comment I saw early this morning -- But of course Kate got to the WNBA party where Kate had her picture taken with a mentor writer and one Stacey Dales-Schuman.

Among other shots was all-star point guard photo of Kate alongside Penn State legend Suzie McConnell Serio, the Minnesota coach who will potentially making a No. 1 draft pick here later this week.

Yeah, I told 'Coach she was already standing next to a No. 1 pick. :)

Oh, and one benefit of the elevator disaster was the ability to see three different key WNBA team officials huddling together, possibly just socializing or maybe working a late blockbuster deal involving someone Kate covers for you R.U. fans in the Targum. -- Mel


It's the ACC women - and LSU
By Mel Greenberg

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT)

BOSTON - Maryland basketball coach Brenda Frese has always been one of the regulars around the Women's Final Four.

Not like Tennessee's Pat Summitt or Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, two Hall of Famers who have nearly made an annual sideline appearance at this event over the last decade until now. She's been in the crowd.

"I'd sit in the stands," Frese reminisced on Saturday. "I always got teary-eyed when I thought that I would have the opportunity to coach a team and be able to bring them here."

Frese's dream is now a reality. Her Maryland squad is one of the ingredients that has transformed Boston's special tea party into an Atlantic Coast Conference extravaganza.

The Terrapins (32-4) will meet ACC-rival North Carolina (33-1) in a national semifinal at 7 on Sunday night (ESPN) at the TD Banknorth Garden before Duke (30-3) meets Southeastern Conference party-crasher Louisiana State (31-3) in the second game.

The championship will be Tuesday night, with the WNBA draft to follow the next day, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The LSU Tigers have become regulars, hoping that their third straight appearance will send senior Seimone Augustus on to the pros with an NCAA title.

Maryland, which played in the first Women's Final Four in 1982, has not been to this level since 1989. Although the Terrapins roster, including sophomores Crystal Langhorne of Willingboro High and Laura Harper of Cheltenham High, is dominated by youth, Frese's bunch refutes the concept that their appearance here is like George Mason's shot to notoriety in the men's tournament.

"Who thought that?" challenged junior point guard Shay Doron. "Not in our locker room. We think that not only we're not the underdogs, but ... we could have probably gotten the No. 1 seed."

Maryland, which was 14th in the Associated Press preseason poll, joined the penthouse portion of the rankings on Feb. 13 at No. 4. The move into the Top 5 came off an upset of North Carolina, 98-95, in overtime.

That victory is the one blot of what would otherwise be a perfect record to date for the Tar Heels, who hold the overall No. 1 seed in the 64-team tournament field.

North Carolina took care of that miscue in the ACC title game, beating the Terrapins, 91-80, after Maryland had ended a 14-game losing streak to Duke the previous day in the conference semifinals.

The Tar Heels, under veteran coach Sylvia Hatchell, and the Terrapins are two teams built on speed. North Carolina's junior guard Ivory Latta, the United States Basketball Writers' Association player of the year, gives the same emotional edge that Diana Taurasi used to provide for Connecticut, which has been missing from this event since her graduation in 2004.

"I'm out there having fun and I'm going to keep doing it," Latta said. "My little dances, my smiles, my anything, I'm just going to have fun out there."

LSU and Duke are two teams loaded with Final Four frustrations. The Tigers fell to Tennessee in the semifinals two years ago in the last seconds off a turnover. They returned last season, only to blow a 15-point lead to eventual champion Baylor.

LSU has had a tough year off the court, dealing with the death of former coach Sue Gunter, and the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Duke, which has Laura Kurz off the bench, has also had Final Four miseries, losing to Purdue in the 1999 title game and to Oklahoma and Tennessee in semifinals in 2002 and 2003.

But coach Gail Goestenkors, whose team advanced by edging Connecticut, 63-61, in the Bridgeport Regional title game, has strengthened her bench and the Blue Devils post play with such players as 6-7 junior center Alison Bales, 6-0 senior Monique Currie, and 6-3 senior Mistie Williams.

___

© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at http://www.philly.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

(And now the notebook)

Doing It With Dupree

On Women’s Basketball by Mel Greenberg

BOSTON _ Temple’s Candice Dupree and Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter were on display last night for WNBA scouts at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena in the senior all-star game sponsored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

Pondexter, who was alongside of Dupree on Team Bisque, is expected to be taken first or second in the draft here Wednesday by the pro women’s league that will celebrate its 10th anniversary season this summer.

Dupree is also expected to go early in the first round.

Team Bisque edged Team Chowder, 90-87, as Dupree matched Bisque most valulable player Sophia Young of Baylor with 24 points, each. Young grabbed 10 rebounds and Dupree had six. Pondexter finished with 14 points.

Connecticut’s Barbara Turner was the Chowder MVP with 19 points, a total matched by Tennessee’s Shanna Zolman on the squad.

The “Night of the Stars” also featured a high school all-star game earlier in the evening.

During the game, the Temple assistants were busy text-messaging head coach Dawn Staley, who was back in Philadelphia hosting the annual black tie event on behalf of her foundation.

“I was a little nervous but I was ready to play,” Dupree said. “My coaches told me to go out and dominate. I think this game was good for me since I’m not participating in a combine. I’m more nervous as to what number I’m going to get picked as to where I’m going. We’ll see on Wednesday.”

Dupree is already drawing praises from the Los Angeles Sparks and the new Chicago Sky, who hold the fifth and sixth picks.

“She’s a very nice player,” Sparks general manager Penny Toler remarked. “Do you know if she wants to come West?”

Former Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens, the coach of the Sky, also has Dupree as a potential target.

“She’s playing very well tonight,” Cowens said. “Does she like to play? Does she ever get mad?”

Pondexter gushed over the Temple center’s performance. “That’s my buddy. I love her to death. Somehow roommates keep being around together.”

The two played on the gold-medal winning United States squad last summer in the World University Games.

Awards Galore. Earlier in the day Pondexter was named to the WBCA’s 10-member Kodak All-America team. She previously has earned first-team all-America honors from the Associated Press, the Wooden Award voters, and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Joining Pondexter on the Kodak team were Duke’s Monique Currie, North Carolina’s Ivory Latta, Oklahoma freshman Courtney Paris, Stanford’s Candice Wiggins, Baylor’s Sophia Young, Lousiana State’s Seimone Augustus, Ohio State’s Jessica Davenport, Georgia’s Tasha Humphrey, and Tennessee’s freshman Candace Parker.

Augustus, Currie, Pondexter, and Young were the only seniors to be named.

North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell was named the AP’s coach of the year yesterday and Augustus repeated as the wire service’s player of the year.

The USBWA previously named Hatchell coach of the year and the Tar Heels’ Latta as player of the year.

Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.

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