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, April 04, 2006

Terrapins Slow to Get Respect

Hello again.

While some of us were busy socializing after the 25th anniversary party of the NCAA tournament with the likes of Cheryl Miller, Nancy Lieberman, and a few 100 other greats of the past, the worker bee on this trip was busy giving her take in a column for the KRT Campus Live Wire.

My advance is over at Philly.com or in print in Tuesday's Inquirer. Here's the Katester's latest real world transmission that posted late Monday night for college and high school papers.

Now I have to run and write a few speeches for breakfast and luncheon events I'm involved in here in Boston.

And whatever time is listed for the blog post, it's actually later than that.

-- Mel




BC-BKW-BURKHOLDER-COLUMN:PH _ sports, campus (910 words)

Terps faced tough competition to make NCAA championship debut

(EDITORS: Resending to correct slug.)


By Kate Burkholder

(KRT)

BOSTON _ Everybody in the women's basketball world suddenly loves the word "parity."

The time for an even playing field full of good competition seems to have arrived in the sport, certainly not to its potential and certainly not to the level of the men's game (George Mason is exhibit A), but this Final Four is showing more than anything the growth of women's basketball.

"I think we're continuing to keep growing this game just like the men have done," Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. "We're obviously getting closer in terms of our depth, and this year you're seeing where we could have had a handful of teams here in the Final Four _ I mean 10 or 12 teams had that possibility."

Frese understands the need for this kind of growth in the women's game in order to raise the level of competition in a sport often overshadowed by the men's side of things.

"I think you're really starting to see the resources and the support being put out there by the administrators and we're just going to continue to grow the game. I can't tell you how far away that's going to be but that's where we're at and I'm excited. Parity has arrived."

While Frese's Terrapins weren't too much of a long-shot coming in as a two-seed compared to No. 1 seeds of the other three Boston participants, Frese feels her Maryland team is deserving of much more respect than it has already gotten _ which isn't much.

With a record of 33-4 (12-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference), the Terps advanced to the ACC tournament title game with a win over the same Duke team they will face at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday for the national title.

While Maryland is the third-ranked team in the nation and Duke the fourth, Frese's bunch are still the presumed underdogs.

It will be the Terps' first trip to the NCAA championship in school history, but Maryland was in a title game once before in 1978, losing to UCLA in Los Angeles under the former Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

"I know these players in their hearts understand they're playing for the national championship game," Frese said, "but I think that from anyone's end when you put in the kind of hard work and the time and energy that you do in your sport, it's nice to be validated and respected in your sport.

"That's the one last kind of final stamp of approval that they're looking for."

Maryland took a big step toward approval Sunday night, knocking off the tournament's top overall seed North Carolina 81-70 to advance to the finals.

The Terps used a combined 47 points from post players Laura Harper (career-high 24 points) and Crystal Langhorne to shut down Ivory Latta and the Tar Heels and end a UNC run many expected to finish with the title.

For a Terrapins team with no seniors in the starting lineup, junior guard Shay Doron has been a steadying force alongside inexperienced freshman point guard and turnover-prone Kristi Toliver.

Doron is ready to lead Maryland to the championship against a bunch of Blue Devils they've already proven they can hang with.

"In the past obviously I just think Duke was better," Doron said. "Right now I think it's pretty even with the teams and that's why we're not nervous. We know we can play with this team."

For Duke (31-3, 12-2), posts Mistie Williams and Alison Bales will look to counter the hot Harper-Langhorne tandem, while All-American Monique Currie guides the Blue Devils on the perimeter.

Bales has swatted away 27 shots so far in the NCAA tournament, the most blocks in its history.

In Duke's 64-45 stomping of Louisiana State Sunday night in the Final Four, four Blue Devils reached double figures as the team shot 50-percent from the field. That's something Currie feels separates her from the other Final Four teams she's been a part of in her career _ those that failed to win a title.

"It's mainly our depth and our balance," Currie said. "We have players coming in off the bench who could very well be starting and who contribute a lot. Our bench definitely makes a difference. When we came to the Final Four when I was a freshman, we only had eight players."

Before the ACC tournament, Duke had won 14 straight games over the Terrapins and 17 of the last 19 meetings between the two, but Maryland still holds the 32-29 edge in the teams' storied history.

"The Duke win, as the players have mentioned, kind of was the monkey off their back, so to speak, given the history and tradition that Duke has had against Maryland," Frese said. "But let's not forget the tradition that Maryland has had in the past against Duke. I think people forget since it was the '80s, but Maryland still owns the most ACC titles and has done some pretty special things."

A win Tuesday night on the grandest stage would certainly be one of them.

___

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Burkholder, associate sports editor for the Rutgers University Daily Targum, is covering the NCAA Women's Tournament with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

___

© 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.

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