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 18, 2006

WNBA: It Seems They've Met Before

By Mel Greenberg

There's no Philly team in the WNBA, but there are a couple of Philadelphia stories brewing this summer.

One that had gone into play on draft day took on added twist on Tuesday with the news that former Temple backcourt star Cynthia Jordan was signed as a free agent with the Houston Comets.

That addition will send Jordan to training camp on a roster that includes her former coach at Temple, one Dawn Staley, the three-time Olympic gold medalist who will be making her farewell tour of the league this season.

"We've been a team before when she was on the floor and I was coaching," Staley said of Jordan.

"I've taught her a bunch of my tricks, now she'll probably try to use them against me," Staley said.

Houston coach Van Chancellor is familiar with Jordan, because she has played for Comets assistant coach Kevin Cook's AAU team in the fall that has gone against colleges in preseason games.

"It'll be coach against player: Winner take all," Chancellor quipped of the training camp head-to-head matchup to come.

Staley already had one potential coach against former player angle in play with Temple senior Candice Dupree's first-round selection in the WNBA draft by the new Chicago Sky as the sixth overall pick.

Mark June 2 on the calendar when they all might tangle when Chicago visits Houston.

Coach vs. Former Player II

It will be a La Salle reunion in the WNBA's Western Conference with new Phoenix Mercury head coach Paul Westhead battling his former player Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant, who was formerly named on Monday as the new coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Bryant, of course, is the father of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers all-star center. After being an assistant to former Sparks coach Henry Bibby, the elder Bryant took over the Sparks the last five games of the regular season, guilding Lisa Leslie and friends into the playoffs.

Westhead coached Bryant in the early 1970s.

In fact, hard to believe for some of you (especially those of you who weren't born yet), but the Guru actually covered a tournament the two were involved in New Orleans.

In the real world at the time, the cost of sugar, a staple of the region, was escalating in the manner of what's currently happening at the gas pumps.

La Salle pulled two upsets to win the Sugar Bowl basketball tournament and in the lockerroom, Jelly Bean stood up on a table and proclaimed: "The price of sugar is up, and so is La Salle."

Not Missing in Action

In case some of you are wondering why a certain name associated with this sport does not have his name on a story at Philly.com involving a well-known name at a school in the middle of the state, our football writer, who speaks five languages, six counting his coverage of Geno when we hosted the Women's Final Four in 2000, happened to be on the scene some 200 miles away from here at Guru control.

In other news, the recent spouter of house secrets :) is well along in her project of becoming the Guru's new Boswell.

A little while ago, one of our top department editors passed by and proclaimed "I gave you up and didn't lie about anything."

That's it for now but feel to return later tonight to see some commentary from the new Phoenix coach about playing against his former La Salle person, if such Mercury GM reached such coach to send him in my direction.

-- Mel


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