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, October 29, 2006

The Guru's Time Machine: ODU Wins NCAA Title

By Mel Greenberg

Today we stop in 1985 when Old Dominion beat Georgia for the NCAA title in Austin, Texas, a town in mourning because their beloved and nationally-favored Texas Longhorns had been upset earlier in the tournament at Western Kentucky. A year later, however, coach Jody Conradt's squad redeemed itself with an unbeaten title.
This was also the first tournament in which the smaller "women's ball" came into use.

Before reprinting the story, some Guru personal history from Oct. 29, 1969.

The Guru had been on the job one month at The Inquirer as an editorial assistant on the business page. A pal wisecracked that Walter Annenberg, then the owner, wouldn't last a month with the Guru as an employe.

And so it was at 3 p.m. after the stock market closed that the Guru walked to the Dow Jones ticker machine and saw a line that read: Knight Newspapers Buys Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

The Guru walked into the main newsroom next door and yelled to a colleague, "We've just been sold," bringing all activity to a dead stop just before deadline.

Unfortunately, the incident established the Guru as the person in the know around this building.

Which brings the question: What's going to happen at the paper Tuesday night when the contract extensions expire.

Hard to say but in either event, the Guru will be on the way to Indy the next day, no matter, to attend the 24-hour NCAA get-together with print media types to discuss women's basketball issues involving coverage and growing the game.

That said, here's today's time machine stop. In the next few days, in honor of one of the games in the State Farm Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff in two weeks: Rutgers vs. Georgia, we'll reprise the only two Rutgers wins, both of which we covered, in the eight-game meeting between the two schools.

-- Mel


Apr 01, 1985

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

AUSTIN, Texas -- Old Dominion's Lady Monarchs ruled the backboards against favored Georgia yesterday afternoon to produce a 70-65 victory in the NCAA women's basketball championship game.

The winners outrebounded Georgia by 57-30. Indeed, coach Marianne Stanley's team (31-3) used second efforts to more than make up for a rather poor 38.2 percent shooting performance.

Old Dominion got 24 points from 30 offensive rebounds, while Georgia got only 10 points from eight offensive boards.

This is Old Dominion's first NCAA crown, but the Lady Monarchs won titles in 1979 and 1980, when the tournament was run by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

Those squads were led by Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen, who joined the team before Stanley became coach in 1977.

"The last time (ODU won)," Stanley said, "people questioned whether they were my players. This one is nice because this is my team. "

Two of Stanley's seniors, 6-foot, 3-inch Medina Dixon (18 points) and 6-2 Tracy Claxton (17 points), outrebounded the entire Georgia team by grabbing 15 and 20, respectively. Georgia collected 30 rebounds.

Early in the nationally televised game, it appeared that Georgia (29-5) might fulfill its role as the preseason favorite and post a victory in front of 7,597 at the Erwin Special Events Center. The Lady Dawgs held a 31-22 lead when Dixon was sent to the bench with her third foul with 3 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first half.

"I didn't know what to say to my teammates," Dixon said. "I know they look up to me, but I was feeling frustrated. "

"I told her, 'You better start getting on the boards, or we're going to lose this tournament,' " said Claxton, named the tournament's most valuable player.

Although Dixon was on the bench for the rest of the half, Georgia began missing shots and Old Dominion managed to sneak back to within a point, 31-30, as the half ended.

Part of the reason was the foul trouble of Lisa O'Connor, Georgia's 6-1 junior forward, who was sent to the bench with her third foul shortly before the cold spell began.

"She is as important as anybody on the roster," said Georgia coach Andy Landers . "We experienced a lot of frustration running the offense. "

In the second half, Old Dominion, which had shot 37 percent in its win over Northeast Louisiana in the NCAA semifinals, was picking up every loose ball, while Georgia was getting deeper into foul trouble.

Georgia's Teresa Edwards, the Olympic point guard, was charged with her fourth foul with 13:23 left in the game. When she returned at the 9:24 mark, her stay was short-lived. She picked up her fifth foul with 8:10 left and her team behind, 50-48.

Georgia still had its chance, primarily because freshman guard Traci Waites (19 points) was filling the void left by Edwards. Waites' basket with 5:06 left gave Georgia the lead back, 58-57.

It was the last lead, however, and it came after Georgia's 6-2 Katrina McClain fouled out a minute earlier on a questionable call under the Old Dominion basket.

Then Georgia turned the ball over three straight times. The Lady Monarchs converted the opportunities and were on their way.

"I have to take the blame for the rebounding," Landers said. "We really don't work a lot on it in practice and don't really have people who are aggressive on the boards other than McClain.

"I believe Old Dominion is also quicker on the inside than us. They were able to get that step in front of us. "

Dixon, who stayed out of foul trouble the rest of the game, also managed to neutralize all-American Janet Harris, who had 13 points and six rebounds.

Claxton and Dixon were joined on the all-tournament team by McClain, Edwards and Western Kentucky's Lillie Mason.

Harris 6-10 1-3 13, O'Connor 4-8 2-2 10, McClain 3-7 2-3 8, Abrams 0-1 4-4 4, Edwards 5-15 1-2 11, Waites 8-14 3-4 19, Bootz 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 26-57 13-18 65.
Claxton 7-17 3-4 17, Goodson 3-10 3-4 9, Dixon 9-21 0-3 18, Christian 4-9 3-4 11, B. Jenkins 2-7 2-2 6, Cullen 2-7 1-2 5, Blais 0-0 0-0 0, Harrington 2-5 0-2 4, A. Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-76 12-21 70.
Halftime - Georgia 31, Old Dominion 30. Fouled out - Edwards, McClain. Rebounds - Georgia 30 (McClain 8), Old Dominion 57 (Dixon 15). Assists - Georgia 10 (Waites 4), Old Dominion 11 (Christian 7). Total fouls - Georgia 23, Old Dominion 17. Attendance - 7,597.


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