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, August 30, 2006

WNBA Finals: Afternoon Edition Prior to Game One

By Mel Greenberg

SUBURBAN DETROIT _ Yes, the Guru has made it out here for the opening leg, but won't be heading West. That's because that phase of the best-of-five series could create travel complications in trying to get back East in time for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductions in Springfield, Mass., involving Connecticut women's coach Geno Auriemma, one of our Philly guys, along with Charles Barkeley, who used to be one of our Philly guys, and several others.

The reason the daeline is ambiguous is because,well, we are not quite sure where we are right now, other than our trusty GPS (Garmin Nuvi 350 for the curious) got us from the airport to our hotel, which is also the WNBA headquarters operation, at a very nice rate, I might add.

The designation says Troy, but about three other location indicators appeared as we drove off the ramp from the interstate.

We do know a few hours from now, we'll be a few miles away in Auburn Hills, Mich., at the Palace to bring blog coverage of the opening game between the Detroit Shock and Sacramento Monarchs.

But, since we are currently charging the ipod, GPS, cell phone, and a few other devices, we thought we'd check in with another tale from the road.

It begins this morning with a nice greeting transmitted to our blackberry (which is not being charged at the moment) from our young associate Kate Burkholder telling us to have fun in Detroit, even though we may never get to actually see the Motor City.

But I won't assume anything. In 2003 during the 'tweener day, we were invited to join the group at a then-woeful Detroit Tigers game where Swin Cash threw out the first ball and then we all spent the rest of the night in a luxury suite.

But I mention Kate's greeting as an embarking point because she's sent such a message at the start of several previous journeys.

And I also do it to make the point that as a precise writer, she has never said, have fun "on the way" to such and such, because she knows better. The exception is our road trips by auto where she has a choice of 350 playlists of music to select and also can do some of the driving with the computerized female voice on the GPS giving directions.

And today was such an occasion of not having fun on the way here because the Guru was declared a criminal by the TSA folks at USA Airways during the security check-in.

Yes, apparently the very same headache pills in tiny gel capsules that went through three airports without any problem in the same bag exactly one day after the most recent warning alert was raised, didn't past muster today (being Wednesday for the calendar-challenged).

Now, this is curious on several fronts. On that particular trip we flew Southwest. And we've noticed that the only time we've been randomly stopped flying USA Air is immediately following a previous trip in which we used Southwest.

So, we suspect a bit of profiling is going on here because of US Air's status as a rapidly diminishing airline flying out of the City of Brotherly Love.

Then, again, if they toss the pills, and considering other situations, such as the wandering baggage epsiodes, they can now boast themselves as offering customers "the headache you'll never forget."

Which brings us to the landing part of the trip. Due to confusing signs pointing the direction of baggage claim, it would have been easier to be a rat running through a maze. Maybe that's why the Shock wins a lot here, they driving the visitors dizzy before they even meet.

Of course, as we got dizzier until we found the right place, and we had no cure, because that was deprived at the front end of the trip.

Next came a small episode involving one of our rental car companies that provides express pickup service -- except when we got off the shuttle bus, a car was not available.

Now, what would be your immediate reaction, Guru fans?

You land in the Motor City and the one thing that there suddenly is a shortage of happens to be -- you guessed it -- cars.

Not to worry, though. Before our blood could boil, one appeared.

So we plugged in the GPS, which immediately knew where we were, if we did not. And we plugged in the ipod for the half-hour trip out here.

For you local folks back East, the experience would be like landing in Philadelphia to see a game in Trenton, 30 miles away, although at least you would pass center city on the way North.

But the room is nice, access to concierge is right across the hall, and if Christina the planner from the WNBA appears soon with my parking pass, everything will be fine.

Meanwhile, speaking of Ms. Burkholder, watch this space Friday morning for a special annoucement involving a new milestone in her career. The act has already been executed but will not become public until then.

And you Rutgers fans of her work will be pleased, but it does not involve the sport that causes you to visit the Guru here.

And speaking of visits, Kate did exactly that on Tuesday to Guru World Headquarters, where she was well received by the highest levels of Inquirer newsroom management, including sports department management.

So on that mysterious note, we're going to check around and see who's in the house and we'll be back with more serious stuff tonight. Maybe, if Kate reads this and is so inclined, she'll give you her own impressions as her summer comes to a close.

You have to give her credit as the new SI-style jinks. While working on her first paid freelance magazine assignments, Suzie McConnell Serio was not longer coach of the Minnesota Lynx a week after the interview, Katie Douglas got injured after Kate's pre-game interview before the Washington game, and as for the Connecticut Sun, well on the whole, we'd rather be siting in Big Bubba's Barbeque in Uncasville, right now.

But we'll make do. Maybe Shock assistant coach Cheryl Reeve will remember she's from the Philly area.

So that's it until a few hours from now.

-- Mel

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