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, September 10, 2006

WNBA Finals: Detroit Shocks' Triumph Brings Katie Smith Future Hall of Fame Stature

By Mel Greenberg

On a weekend when six new members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame were inducted, including Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma, the Detroit Shock’s Katie Smith earned herself a future enshrinement. Of course, she still has to retire and then wait five years to become eligible.

As it is, the former Ohio State all-American was well on the way to Hall of Fame acclaim in Springfield, Mass., and is certainly set for a future induction in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

However, after helping the Shock rally in Detroit, Saturday, to dethrone the Sacramento Monarchs and claim her first WNBA title (it was Detroit's second), Smith can start working on her future acceptance speech.

The all-time scorer in the professional ranks in the United States, Smith had already led Ohio State to an NCAA title game in 1993 as a freshman; won two Olympic gold medals, and also earned two championships in 1997 and 1998 with the former Columbus Quest in the American Basketball League that went bankrupt early in its third season.

UConn Future Famers

During Friday morning’s interview session after the jacket presentations, Auriemma was asked which of his former Connecticut players did he see as future Hall of Famers.

“Well, first, remember there are a lot of (men’s and women’s) great players and great coaches who aren’t in the hall. Sometimes more is involved than just the basketball,” Auriemma noted.

“I think Rebecca Lobo and Diana Taurasi, for sure. Usually, if you win a couple of NCAA titles and at least one Olympic gold medal, you get in.

“After 1995, Rebecca was the face of the WNBA those first couple of seasons. And Diana, she already has a gold medal and a couple of NCAA titles,” Auriemma explained. “And she’s like Charles (Barkley). She brings that `something extra.’

“Sue’s (Bird) already won a WNBA title, an Olympic gold medal, and a couple of NCAA titles. Maybe Swin.’”

Swin Cash probably earned a candidacy, at worst, Saturday, with her second WNBA title as a member of the Shock to go with several NCAA crowns and an Olympic gold medal.

Updating The Bio

From time to time, the Guru has noted that his bio off this blog has been used for introductions when he makes speaking engagements, etc.

So for those of you who have a previous version, you need to change the length of employment at The Inquirer to 37 years because Saturday, Sept. 9, was the date of hire. The change has already been made to the profile here.

However, keep the information on the QT. The Guru, who is No. 2 on the seniority list in the entire newsroom, is still trying to determine whether he’s a treasure or target under the paper’s new ownership.

The Social Scene

So the Guru had stopped for a moment to chat up NBA Commssioner David Stern during the pre-reception before Friday night’s Hall of Fame ceremony.

One topic was speculation whether any of the prospective future owners of the Philadelphia 76ers might have daughters who play basketball and, hence, might have interest in adding a WNBA team to the summer operation.

Suddenly, the Commish grabs an NBA Entertainment camera guy, pulls the Guru near him, and yells to the photog, “Take a picture. I want (WNBA president) Donna (Orender) to see this.

Incidentally, the Guru knows he’s getting old when former UConn players he covered several years ago offer to buy him drinks during the weekend.

What Lull?

In recent weeks as we’ve been pursuing the Dawn Staley retirement coverage, the WNBA playoffs, and Auriemma’s Hall of Fame induction, collegiate schedules for the 2006-07 season have been slipping into the blackberry, as well as the office computer.

Still, we were looking for a break in the action after this past weekend, not counting some attention to the USA Basketball pursuit of another FIBA World Championship, which begins this week in Brazil.

Since April, we’ve gone from NCAA title game, to day-after WNBA draft, a small break before the WNBA season, and then on to all that was just mentioned.

So as we thought about a pause to refresh before getting ready to cover the winter action, the following electronic media advisory arrived:

“Join the National Champion Maryland women’s basketball team on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. for a reception to celebrate the championship season and meet the 2006-07 Terrapins. Coach Frese and players will be available for interviews.”

So much for “See You in October.”

-- Mel

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