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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Guru on the Move -- No Matter What

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ First of all: Nice job to Mr. Jonathan in the blog/game-story preceding this report as he handled Delaware at Penn while the Guru spent another night of sensitivity training covering the Drexel men a few blocks away. The Dragons beat Toledo in the last minute.

You can find that print edition coverage at Philly.com if you want to do see how the Guru deals with the other gender.

Our night actually began a few hours earlier Wednesday attending a book signing/reception involving Drexel athletic director Eric Zillmer.

It was also Jonathan's day off from his Philly.com duties meaning he missed on quite a catering feed from the Guru, whose turn it was to make the weekly Dunkin' Donut purchase for the central operations desk in the newsroom. That's where all the sections are designed for the Inquirer's print edition.

It was while he was in that vicinity that the Guru learned the paper, labor situation permitting, will soon be running a special advertising salute to the Guru's recent headline making event.

On Thursday night, the Guru will be on the receiving end of a fine meal, having been invited to to dine Italian with Erin's family at her home in Storrs prior to the Connecticut-Purdue game. I believe it has something to do also with the Guru's recent headline making event.

While the Guru is up North, the clock will strike midnight leading into Friday and at that moment we'll know if we're still up and running, or sidelined from the Inquirer's print edition.

For all of you who deal with the Guru in many ways from readership, etc., here's what you have to know if the paper does not publish.

First, this blog will continue since it is not housed inside the Inquirer system but linked, as it is from some of your sites.

Those who deal with the Guru on a professional communication nature should use some of the alternative email addresses and phone numbers in the event certain services are suspended. If we actually face the reality of a paper suspension, the word will go out to those who need those numbers.

The guild plans to publish its own electronic edition and members of the sports dept. will be asked to continue doing what they do, at their option, but obviously without travel expenses, which does not affect the Guru much since his travels are in the region.

Poll records, etc., will be maintained since electronic copies exist in the Guru's laptop, which is his own.

Without regard to either situation, the Guru plans to be at Rider, Saturday, for La Salle's game. Later Saturday night, the Guru will be speaking in the area here at the dinner for the Seven Sisters Tournament on the Main Line involving Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Smith, and four others.

On Sunday, we'll be at Villanova-Penn at The Palestra since Big Five takes precedence.

If there is a paper, the Guru must be on the desk Monday night to handle stories not involving the NFL Eagles' game with the Carolina Panthers.

Thus, in that scenario we could use a volunteer for the Rutgers-Duke women's game, which can be emailed to the Guru, edited and placed on the blog. There is no specific deadline as long as the story can be posted by sunrise.

If there is no paper, the Guru is not a prisoner of the desk and may be on the scene, although other events may still hold him here, so the volunteer request from Piscataway remains in effect. The assumption is that there still will be a Piscataway or New Brunswick in existence if the football team beats West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday.

Tuesday, we'll be at the La Salle-Delaware showdown. We'll update beyond that furthur as the situation becomes clear. A week from Sunday Maryland will be visiting Temple.

Hopefully, this report takes care of all the curiousity since it is better to hear from the Guru himself what his plans are.

That's it for now. We'll be back in 24 hours with whatever whatever brings.

-- Mel

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blue Hens Get Defensive in Easy Win Over Penn

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Greetings once again, followers of the Guru’s wisdom. Mel had to take another round of diversity training tonight, which is to say he was covering the Toledo-Drexel men’s basketball game. Meanwhile, yours truly was on press row at the fabled Palestra, just a few blocks south of Drexel’s gym on 33rd Street in the Philadelphia neighborhood known as University City.

I was there to see the Delaware women’s basketball team, still riding the wave from its big win over No. 20-ranked Kentucky over the weekend in San Francisco. The Fightin’ Blue Hens had a date with the homestanding Penn Quakers that served as a rematch of Delaware’s 78-34 blowout win a year ago in Newark, Del. Longtime readers of this blog might know that I’ve been covering the Quakers in various forms for a while; this evening marked the fourth season in which I’ve covered the team, which doesn’t come close to Mel’s experience but is still a bit sobering.

Nonetheless, the Blue Hens were the focus of my attention and a considerable portion of the fans in attendance. While Delaware seemed to still be suffering a bit of jet lag from that trip out west, the team lived up to the “Fightin’” part of its nickname in a physical 73-49 victory.

The game was defined largely by poor shooting by both teams. Delaware shot only 39.7 percent from the field on 58 attempts and made only two of seven three-point attempts, while Penn shot 35 percent from the field on 40 attempts and was 4-of-13 from beyond the arc.

Delaware coach Tina Martin praised both teams’ defenses, conceding that “the shots we did get were short pull-ups, and that’s what you have to do against an attacking defense.”

The Blue Hens’ tenacity soothed some of Martin’s concerns that her players might suffer a lack of energy after the cross-country travel.

“I thought physically we looked fine, we hustled,” she said. “I’m not worried about a letdown mentally, I was more worried about a letdown physically. On Monday we just pretty much watched film and shot free throws – it was basically just another day off.”

Martin employed a zone defense for much of the game, and with a considerable height advantage over Penn, was effective in restricting Penn’s perimeter shooting. The Quakers’ top outside scoring threat, 5-foot-4 guard Joey Rhoads, made only two of five three-point attempts. Both were from nearly NBA range, and the first came right as the shot clock expired.

Rhoads’ backcourt partners, Lauren Pears and Anca Popovici, are 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-7 respectively. Penn coach Pat Knapp conceded that he knew his team would struggle against a Blue Hens team whose starting guard trio of Alena Koshansky, Melissa Czorniewy and Tyresa Smith stand 5-foot-8, 5-foot-9 and 5-10 respectively.

They are “a team with length that plays a good zone,” Knapp said. “They play it smart, they’ve just got to stand there with their hands up.”

Knapp dealt with the zone by getting the ball into the hands of forward Monica Naltner as often as possible. Naltner, one of three Penn seniors along with Pears and Rhoads, led all scorers with a career-high 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She also made 10 of 11 free throws, missing only the last one with 8:46 to go in the game.

“It was, I think, the only way I really got to score in the second half,” Naltner said. “So 10-of-11 should have been 11-of-11 from my point of view.”

Martin, on the other hand, was not too concerned.

“[Naltner] did a good job and the Penn players did a good job of finding her,” Martin said. “But overall, I think our team defense was outstanding.”

The two teams combined to commit 46 fouls, with Penn whistled 26 times and Delaware 20. Knapp admitted that this was part of his game plan, although he had to watch starting point guard Anca Popovici be called for four fouls in the first half.

“They’re a physical team,” Knapp said of Delaware. “I think we wanted to play as physically as we could play, so I’m not surprised with a lot of fouls.”

Delaware’s frequent trips to the line was a major reason why Tyresa Smith was the Blue Hens’ top scorer on the night, as 14 of her 20 points came from the free throw line.

Both of these teams will be back in the Guru’s spotlight in the days to come, pending whatever might happen in the Inquirer and Daily News labor negotiations this week, and it looks like Mel will have a bit of a decision to make. Delaware will visit Drexel at the exact same time that Penn will host Villanova – Sunday at 1 p.m. Delaware will also visit La Salle two days later, which could be quite an interesting game if the Explorers are still undefeated at that point.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Guru's Tuesday Musings With AP Poll Notes

(Updated as promised to make bottom list more readable -- Guru)

By Mel Greenberg

Thoughts to ponder off this week's poll.

Others receiving votes is a category the Guru has never spent much time with, other than the immediate also-rans, but since Delaware and Hofstra claimed first-ever votes in the AP poll (glad they keep track of their history), there's this thought to ponder.

Both shools are in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), the same conference that has gone to Old Dominion in all 13 years of the Monarchs' membership. This is probably the first time that CAA schools got votes and none of the multiples was ODU.

Kristy Curry became the 23rd member of the "Doubles Club" with Texas Tech's return to the rankings. The new Raiders coach previously had a ranked team in Purdue. Last week's AP notes had the entire group (and no I don't have time to figure out the link right now -- just scroll back to last Tuesday :) )

Texas A&M, which made coach Gary Blair a "Triples Club" member last season, hit the Top 10 for the first time in the program's history.

Connecticut's Geno Auriemma has passed former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore on the all-time poll appearance list. Barmore has a few extra numbers, but they are in the tandem category when he and Sonja Hogg shared head coaching duties. Of course if you combine the two ---.

That said, and the Guru wants to head to nearby Chinatown on the way home, here's the current readout of all-time poll appearances by coaches:

Most poll appearances (521 polls overall to date)

Pat Summitt 507
Andy Landers 399
Jody Conradt 390
C. Vivian Stringer 348
Rene Portland 336
Kay Yow 323
Tara VanDerveer 315
Debbie Ryan 292
Joe Ciampi 290
Geno Auriemma 275
Leon Barmore 274
Sue Gunter 270
Joan Bonvicini 267
Marsha Sharp 264
Jim Foster 258
Chris Weller 227
Theresa Grentz 225
Sylvia Hatchell 225
Van Chancellor 221
Gail Goestenkors 214
Paul Sanderford 182
Marian Washington 176
Marianne Stanley 165
Gary Blair 156
Ceal Barry 142
Muffet McGraw 139
Linda Sharp 135
Lin Dunn 133
Wendy Larry 127
Kristy Curry 124
Carol Ross 112
Rick Moody 109
Jim Davis 106
Chris Gobrecht 104
Sherri Coale 101
Cathy Inglese 98
Jane Albright 96
Bill Fennelly 95
Nancy Darsch 85
Billie Moore 85
Joe McKeown 84
Melanie Balcomb 82
Doug Bruno 80
Kim Mulkey-Robertson 77
Pam Borton 75
Sonja Hogg 74
Don Perrelli 73
Deb Patterson 67
Terry Hall 65
Lynn Hickey 64
Joann Rutherford 60
Jim Bolla 57
Joanne P. McCallie 57
Sharon Fanning 54
Mark French 54
Kathy Olivier 52
Cheryl Burnett 51
Barmore (Leon) Hogg (Sonja) 51
Pam Parsons 49
Elwin Heiny 47
Brenda Frese 47
Vince Goo 46
Elaine Elliott 45
Harry Perrettta 44
Kurt Budke 42
Dean Weese 41
Pokey Chatman 41
Dan Ayala 40
Mary Lou Johns 39
Annie Tribble 39
L. Margaret Wade 38
Phil Lee 37
Bonnie Henrickson 36
Tom Collen 36
Shelia Moorman 35
Nancy Wilson 35
Dick Halterman 34
Cheryl Miller 34
Lisa Stockton 34
Maureen Wendelken 34
Royce Chadwick 33
Ernest Riggins 33
Cindy Russo 33
Juliene Simpson 33
June Daugherty 32
Jody Runge 32
Susan Walvius 32
Charli Turner Thorne 32
Linda Harper 31
Angie Lee 30
Pat Meiser-McKnett 30
Jennifer Alley 29
Mary Ann Otwell 29
Carolyn Peck 29
John Sutherland 28
Kay James 27
Lyndal Worth 27
Jinks Coleman 26
Lucille Kyvallos 26
Ferne Labati 26
Dawn Staley 26
Bob Foley 25
Jeff Mitte 24
Ken Weeks 24
Debbie Yow 24
Robin Selvig 22
Candi Harvey 21
Terry Kelly 21
Phyllis Mangina 21
Marynell Meadors 21
Don Flanagan 21
Debbie Leonard 20
Ellen Mosher 20
Bill Worrell 19
Strike (Sheila) Bolla (Jim) 18
Kevin Borseth 18
Aki Hill 18
Maura McHugh 18
Steve Small 18
Judy Spoelstra 18
Tucker (Amy) Stanley (Marianne) 18
Winthrop McGriff 17
Cindy Scott 17
Jeff Judkins 17
Angela Beck 16
Olga Fallen 16
Jessie Kenlaw 16
Fran Schaafsma 16
Mary DiStanislao 15
Sue Kreszewski 15
Lisa Bluder 13
Joe Curl 13
Sue Guevara 13
Laura Golden 12
Sox Walseth 12
Walt Bugler 11
Ed Nixon 11
Beth Burns 10
Gooch Foster 10
Laurie Pirtle 10
Cathy Rush 10
Joyce Sake 10
Jane Fontaine 9
Karen Langeland 9
John Miller 9
Carole Baumgarten 8
Harrelson (Scott) Blakemore (Kittie) 8
Beth Dunkenberger 8
Vicki Harrintgon 8
Al Barbre 7
Jane Schroeder 7
Jaci Clark 6
Fran Garmon 6
Chris Long 6
Joe Mullaney Jr. 6
Bob Spencer 6
Cathy Andruzzi 5
Agnus Berenato 5
Mike Granelli 5
Darlene May 5
Mary Murphy 5
Joe Sanchez 5
Bev Smith 5
Greg Williams 5
Mark Trakh 5
Mickie DeMoss 5
Judy Akers 4
Jill Hutchison 4
Joye Lee-McNelis 4
Sadie Magee 4
Glen McDonald 4
Burl Plunkett 4
Debbie Wilson 4
Connie Yori 4
Joanne Boyle 4
Sharon Versyp 4
Mildred Barnes 3
Janice Dykehouse-Allen 3
Edith Godleski 3
Caren Horstmeyer 3
Fischer (Melinda) Hutchison (Jill) 3
Terri Mitchell 3
Linda Puckett 3
Katie Abrahamson-Henderson 2
Jean Balthaser 2
Kim Barnes Arico 2
Peggy Collins 2
Chris Denker 2
Pat Dobratz 2
Mark Ehlen 2
Kelly Graves 2
Jim Izard 2
Curt Miller 2
Mary Roickle 2
Sue Semrau 2
Durward Smith 2
Jan Ternyik 2
Fred Williams 2
Cathy Wilson 2
Carol Alfano 1
Brian Boyer 1
Pam Davidson 1
Nell Fortner 1
Patterson (Joyce) Jarrett (Jim) 1
Maryalyce Jeremiah 1
Pat Knapp 1
Courtney Leishman 1
Kathy Mosolino 1
Richie Spears 1
Cindy Stein 1
Lisa Stone 1
Barbara Swanner 1

Saturday, November 25, 2006

CAA's Hofstra and Delaware Make Their Move

By Mel Greenberg

Eight months or so removed from when the Colonial Athletic Association barged its way into national notoriety in the men’s world of hoops, the conference's female counterparts are suddenly doing likewise.

The big story for the men, of course, was George Mason gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and then advancing all the way to the Final Four.

At the same time, Old Dominion made it to New York and Madison Square Garden for the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

Now, it’s the CAA women who are making a name for themselves.

On Wednesday night, Hofstra (3-1) gained its first-ever win over a nationally-ranked opponent by stunning No. 17 Michigan State, 57-53, in Lansing.

On Friday night, Delaware (3-1) followed up by shocking No. 20 Kentucky, 86-70, in the first round of the Odwalla Classic in San Francisco.

The Blue Hens had trailed the Wildcats by 11 points in the first half.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry, whose Monarchs have been synonymous until recently as the one-team in what was considered a one-team CAA.

Although ODU has won all 13 CAA tournaments since joining the league, the Monarchs have been tested in recent seasons, The most recent post-season challenge came from Delaware in 2005 when the Blue Hens won both regular-season games and then held a lead in regulation in the championship, only to fall in overtime.

Larry’s team stands to gain by the CAA’s growth because in the past a slip in the conference tournament would mean spectator seats in the NCAA event.

Now, as the Monarchs’ sister schools begin to show themselves, it changes the perception for all parties because the CAA then begins to elevate itself in the thought process as a group whose standard is rising among its mid-major designation.

Hofstra began its rise under former coach Felisha Legett-Jack, a former Syracuse star who left after last season to become head coach at Indiana.

Her successor, Krista Kilburn-Stevesky, a former James Madison assistant who starred at North Carolina State, picked up the veteran Pride contingent and took them over the threshold this week.

“It’s wild,” Kilburn-Stevensky said Friday night. “Suddenly, you find yourself spending time watching the ticker and cheering for everyone in the conference," she said while keeping track of Delaware.

The Blue Hens have developed into a competitive unit on the national scene since Tina Martin arrived a decade ago, although until Friday night, they had their shares of just-missed opportunities.

Delaware made an NCAA appearance in its final year of membership in the America East before moving to the CAA and it didn’t take long for the Blue Hens to become a factor challenging Old Dominion’s dominance.

Meanwhile, other schools such as James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth, William & Mary, and UNC Wilmington have made strides while some of the younger squads such as Drexel have shown to be disruptive on a given night such as the Dragons’ recent scare of three-time Atlantic Ten defending champion Temple late in the game.

Meanwhile, the fact that Hofstra got its big win on a hostile court and Delaware’s win was also on the road could mean extra ballot power from the Associated Press voters on Sunday night when the next poll is determined.

Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference also had a big win Friday night upsetting UCL:A in Hawaii.

Martin said of Friday night’s win that “obviously, when you win a conference like we did in the America East and go to the NCAA, it’s very special.

“But in terms of regular-season non-conference, this is the biggest win in the history of Delaware.You always schedule these games in hopes of gaining some exposure and national respect.

“For us and Hofstra to do this now means maybe people will understand that we play some great basketball in the CAA,” Martin said.

“We made some adjustments at the half and our kids did what we told them,” Martin said of the comeback. “And offensively, it was the best we played all year.

“We came out here with the promise that we could meet a nationally-ranked team. That’s what many of us have to do, since it’s tough to get home-and-home situations many times. But hopefully, this will help us all in the long run.”

Rutgers Win Is Paradise Over Old Foe Penn State

No. 18 Rutgers continued reversing an early slide Friday night by beating Penn State, 57-44, in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands in the opening round of the Paradise Jam.

In the first meeting of almost a decade between the former Atlantic Ten rulers, Rutgers eked further ahead in the all-time series between the two at 20-18.

The win enables the Scarlet Knights (2-2) to meet No. 13 Arizona State (5-1), which beat Western Kentucky (2-2) and sent the Hilltoppers into the third-place game against Penn State (4-2).

Rutgers forced 21 turnovers by the Nittany Lions, a defensive factor that may also have to be used against Arizona State.

Elsewhere, No. 16 Cal, having its best showing ever in the AP rankings, gets a good test on Saturday night when coach Joanne Boyle’s squad will meet No. 14 Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Oh, yes, Candace Parker converted her fourth dunk for Tennessee, which continues to do likewise to Stanford in their long-running series.

-- Mel

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rutgers vs. Penn State: The Reunion - Sort Of

By Mel Greenberg

First, happy Thanksgiving to everyone. As an extra treat, the Guru has prepared a huge feast for you Rutgers and Penn State fans who remember the old Atlantic Ten Wars when the two schools dominated the conference.

The Scarlet Knights and Nittany Lions were also key competitors in the pre-NCAA era as members of EAIAW Region 1B, one of the sectors when the national championship was run by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

Today's writers covering the sport are spared the agony when the AIAW had to be explained on first reference -- an exercise that strangled many an opening paragraph back in the day.

Anyhow on Friday, Rutgers and Penn State will meet in the Virgin Islands and it will be for the first time since Nov. 19, 1997 when the Nittany Lions had a rare win at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.

By then Rutgers had become part of the Big East Conference and Penn State had previously moved on to the Big Ten.

Still, the two seemed destined to continue their long series, which suddenly stopped.

No formal reason was given, but many in the know at the time alluded to Penn State coach Rene Portland being miffed when forward Shauntai Hall transferred from Happy Valley to the Banks.

Hall sat out one year under the NCAA eligibility rule then missed her junior season with a knee injury suffered in preseason practice. She wasn't much of a factor in 1999-2000, in fact may have been injury-riddled again, when Rutgers and Penn State advanced to the Women's Final Four in Philadelphia. That was the closest the two schools came to being near each other until Friday.

Portland was asked last month by the Guru at Penn State's media day about Rutgers' appearance on the schedule.

Asked the Guru: "As the only person who remembers the last time the two of you played, how did Rutgers end up on your schedule?"

"You remember too much," Portland laughed, although there should be an extra reason for her recalling that game as you readers will soon see.

"I have no idea. We signed up for a nice trip for Thanksgiving, and then they ruined it by giving me Rutgers in the first game," Portland said with a smile. "I really don't know how that happens. We don't play them during the regular season and I' m sure they (tournament officials) looked at that when Annie (associate head coach Ann Troyan) was negotiating the tournament.

"And do I look forward to that challenge? I really do. Vivian (Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer) has a great program. It's against a Big East team. It's against a Top 25 program. It's against someone I respect as a coach and I think it will be a great measuring stick for us early in the season."

On Tuesday, the Nittany Lions' perfect 4-0 start was ruined in another measuring stick game in which No. 5 Duke romped to a 70-42 victory.

It was pointed out to Portland that new Rutgers assistant Marianne Stanley, her former Immaculata teammate, will be on the other bench.

"Oh, yes she's a great coach. It will be two against one, so Annie and I will really have to work.:

And now, let the memories begin. The first is that very last game in which one Christine Portland, the daughter of the Penn State coach, played a role in the upset. Incidentally, Rutgers went on to a 22-10 record, the first winning record near the start of Stringer's third season at Rutgers.

The Guru was on the scene so let's role the coverage:

Nov 20, 1997
By Mel Greenberg


PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Penn State women's basketball team turned last night's visit to Rutgers into a mother-and-daughter affair.

Mom - veteran Penn State coach Rene Portland - got a rare victory at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in the Lions' season opener.

The 53-43 triumph, only the second in 11 visits since 1986, was made possible in part by daughter Christine. The 5-foot-9 junior guard had a career night with 17 points, including 3 of 6 on three-point attempts.

``This is the greatest to be a part of,'' said Christine Portland, who was the only Penn State player to score in double figures.

``As a kid to sit and cheer in the stands here, I remember the bands, the good popcorn, and that Penn State always wanted to win here. But it feels much better as a player than it did as a spectator. ''

And how did Mom feel knowing she was watching her daughter's performance while she was also guiding her as one of her players?

``I know now she can do it, she now knows she can do it, so let's see her do it many, many more times,'' said Rene Portland, who starred on Immaculata's national champions in the early 1970s.

Christine Portland scored the game's first seven points on the way to an early 9-0 lead by the visitors. Then Rutgers (1-1), which had routed Maryland in its season opener Saturday, struck with a 12-0 run to take a brief lead. But by the half, Penn State was back in front, 22-19.

In the second half, the Scarlet Knights were beset by foul trouble and turnovers but still were in the contest, trailing by 34-32 with 12 minutes to play.

Then Penn State went on an 18-4 run over the next eight minutes to take control the rest of the way.

Tomora Young was the only Rutgers player to score in double figures, with 14 points.

Another reason for Penn State 's triumph was sophomore point guard Helen Darling, who dealt eight assists and controlled Rutgers freshman point guard Natasha Pointer.

``What's there, a year between them? '' Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer asked rhetorically. ``The experience showed.''

Guru's Note: Darling and Pointer became the stars who led both teams to the 2000 Final Four.


This next one was a joyous win for Stringer as she launched her Rutgers era with a huge upset. And we were there again.!


Nov 26, 1995

By Mel Greenberg


PISCATAWAY, N.J. _ After being lured from Iowa's powerhouse program, new Rutgers women's basketball coach Vivian Stringer found herself opening her inaugural season with the Scarlet Knights against No. 8 Penn State yesterday.

So how's this for a storybook beginning for Rutgers women's basketball coach Vivian Stringer?

First, give her a lot of money to leave Iowa's powerhouse program and transform the Scarlet Knights into a national contender.

Next, bring in No. 8 Penn State for the first opponent in front of the home folks.

Finally, just to make the matchup interesting, give her a roster from which she must send a bunch of girls to fight a women's war against the Lions' inside height advantage.

Pressure? What pressure?

"Never let them see you sweat," Stringer said, smiling after unranked Rutgers scored a 69-67 upset of Penn State.

Scarlet Knights freshman Jennifer Clemente hit a layup with 5.3 seconds left to help get Stringer's tenure off to a storybook start.

After Penn State failed to score as time ran out, Stringer smiled broadly as she was lifted off her feet by her assistant coaches.

"I was just praying that it went in," Clemente said of her shot, which came off a feed from another freshman, Susan Blauser.

"We all were praying," said Rutgers senior guard Liz Hanson, who led the winners with 23 points, including 10 for 10 from the foul line.

It was a remarkable performance by Rutgers , especially considering that, a year ago, the Lions had manhandled the Scarlet Knights, 100-58, at State College, Pa.

Besides Hanson's 23 points, Blauser scored 13, while Clemente added 10. Under the boards, Rutgers held its own as both teams had 35 rebounds.

"You can measure size, but you can't measure heart," Stringer said. "We were going to play 40 minutes as a team. We boxed out very well. "

Penn State , which has designs on the Final Four, was led by Angie Potthoff's 14 points, while Tiffany Longworth scored 12. The Lions were without senior guard Katina Mack, who has back problems, but Penn State coach Rene Portland offered no excuses.

"Congratulate Rutgers for all the energy and determination they played with," Portland said.

"We went the whole year and won a Big Ten title without Katina last season, so that's no excuse. We just didn't get big plays from key people."

Rutgers took a 7-2 lead and held a 35-29 advantage at intermission.

In the second half, the winners extended the advantage to 41-33 on Kristen Somogyi's three-pointer, but Penn State fought back and gained one-point leads three times in the last nine minutes.

Through it all, Stringer, decked in a maroon-colored suit, stood calm, cool and collected along her team's bench.

"I don't think we ever lost control, except for a little two-, three- minute stretch late in the game," Stringer said. "Now we may know a little more about ourselves. "

Longworth put Penn State ahead, at 62-61, with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left, but Clemente came right back with a layup to put Rutgers back in front.

Hanson made two foul shots to make it 65-62, but Longworth's three-pointer tied it with 1:16 left. The two teams then traded baskets until Clemente's game-winner.

"All those 5:30 a.m. practices paid off," said Stringer, who had a slew of family and other well-wishers at the game. "We'll get better. We have to work on timing and a bunch of little things."


What was special about the 1986 season?

Rutgers student beat writer Kate Burkholder would tell you she was born several months after it ended.

But for we oldtimers, the season was memorable when the two teams met each other five times -- once in the Orange Bowl, twice in the Atlantic Ten regular season, once for the Atlantic Ten title, and then in the NCAA East Regional Final at The Palestra in Philadelphia.

The Guru wasn't at every game but here is the chronological coverage of those we handled.

Feb 18, 1986

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

The Rutgers women's basketball team, which began the season unranked for the first time in eight years, has moved up from ninth to eighth in the weekly top 20 poll. It is the Knights' highest position since they finished eighth in 1982, the year they were the AIAW national champions.

"This is our best team in history, right now, and our players have to realize they are ambassadors for the school to keep it going," Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz said Saturday, after her team escaped with a 76-75 win over Penn State at home to capture the regular season Atlantic 10 title.

The team's 22-2 record represents the best start for the school, though there have been other seasons in which the team won as many games.

Penn State (17-6), which upset previous No. 3 Louisiana Tech, 72-68, at home last Wednesday, moved up in the rankings from 15th to 13th.

Texas (23-0), which is now the only unbeaten women's team in Division I, gained its 111th straight Southwest Conference victory and 35th straight win at home by beating Texas A&M, 77-64, to remain No. 1. St. Peter's (22-1) lost for the first time this season at Holy Cross, 75-63, on Saturday.

The Longhorns were a point short of perfect in this week's poll as one voter switched allegiances to Georgia. Coach Jody Conradt's team picked up 61 first-place votes and one second-place ballot for 1,239 points from a nationwide panel of coaches.

Second-ranked Georgia (24-1), which has clinched the regular season Southeastern Conference title, received the remaining first-place vote and 61 second-place ballots for 1,179 points.

Virginia (23-1) moved back to third from fifth and Long Beach State (21-2) jumped to fourth from sixth as Louisiana Tech (21-3) fell from third to fifth after the loss to Penn State . Western Kentucky (22-2) fell from fourth to sixth after a 93-61 rout by Georgia last Monday in Athens, Ga.

Southern California (22-3) stayed seventh, followed by Rutgers , Auburn (21-4), which moved up a spot, and Louisiana State (20-4), which jumped from 12th to 10th after upsetting Mississippi, 74-62, in Oxford. The Rebels (20-5) fell from eighth to 11th.

Then it was on to the Atlantic Ten championship after Rutgers had already won the first three games that season.


Mar 09, 1986

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. _ Eighth-ranked Rutgers (27-3) will have to wait a little longer for its first berth in the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

The Knights could have locked up a berth yesterday at the Coliseum, but they found a fourth meeting this season with 14th-ranked Penn State (23-7) to be one too many, as the Lions prevailed, 84-69, to win their fourth straight Atlantic 10 tourney.

Lisa Faloon scored 18 points to lead five Penn State players in double figures. Sue Wicks led Rutgers with 20 points.

The Knights should be one of the first teams to receive a phone call today for an at-large bid from the NCAA committee. St. Joseph's, a third conference member, also is expected to receive one of the 22 at-large bids for the tournament, which begins Wednesday.

La Salle clinched an automatic berth when it defeated St. Peter's, 78-67, last night to win the Metro Atlantic tournament. Villanova earned a berth last week when it took the Big East title.

Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz was not upset about the loss. "I don't think I'd trade any of our (three) wins over them for this one," she said.

"Our defense was a key," said Penn State coach Rene Portland. "We went into the locker room (trailing 41-39), saying 41 points was too much for a half. We couldn't allow that to continue and expect to win. "

The NCAA's 40-team women's bracket includes 18 conference tournament champions, 11 of which were decided yesterday.

Eight teams will be selected as national seeds, and they will occupy the top two berths in each of the four regions. Each region will have eight other teams, with the first six seeds receiving byes into the second round.

The four surviving teams from each region will advance to play at Texas in the Midwest, Long Beach State in the West, Iowa in the Mideast and the Palestra in the East.

LA SALLE 78, ST. PETER'S 67 - Linda Hester scored 26 points and Jill Crandley added 22 as the Explorers (21-8) avenged two regular-season losses to St. Peter's and downed the Peahens (25-3) in Worcester, Mass., to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.
The victory gave the Explorers an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the second in their history.
The Explorers led, 37-27, at halftime and boosted their margin to 64-42 with 8 minutes, 38 seconds remaining.

DELAWARE 62, LAFAYETTE 57 - The Blue Hens outscored Lafayette, 14-2, to open the second half and held off a late rally yesterday for an East Coast Conference semifinal victory at Rider College in Lawrenceville, N.J.
The Blue Hens (15-14) will play top-seeded Lehigh, a 92-78 winner over Rider yesterday, at 1 p.m. today. Lafayette, which entered the tournament as the second seed and defending champion, dropped to 21-8.


And then it was on to the East Regional and coverage here


Mar 20, 1986

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland wishes her 13th-ranked Lions and 10th-ranked Rutgers had been placed in different regions in the NCAA tournament, because as it is, "one of us is going to go home from Philadelphia empty. "

The teams will square off at 8 tonight in the second game of an NCAA East Regional semifinal doubleheader at the Palestra. The game will be the fifth meeting of the season between the Atlantic 10 rivals.

"Well, there's one advantage," Portland said. "I haven't had to go begging for scouting films. I've got four of them in the closet. "

The first three videos show Rutgers victories, but the fourth, which was produced in the Atlantic 10 title game two weeks ago, features a Penn State triumph.

However, Penn State (24-7) will be concerned about other memories tonight.

The Lions still recall the bitter defeat by Ohio State in last year's East semifinal.

"We know how we'll feel tomorrow if we lose," said 5-foot, 3-inch sophomore Suzie McConnell, the nation's leading point guard. "That was one of the worst losses of my career. "

A defeat tonight could be equally tough for Rutgers (28-3), which has been somewhat of a surprise this season.

"We got here with two guards who were questionable, a sophomore nobody wanted and leadership from a one-legged player," said coach Theresa Grentz, a former teammate of Portland's at Immaculata.

The two freshman guards, Telicher Austin and Janet Malouf, gave the Knights a strong outside attack this year to go with the inside games of Regina Howard and 6-2 sophomore Sue Wicks, who somehow was passed in the recruiting wars.

The "one-legged player" is 5-11 Kristen Foley, who did not see much playing time in the two previous season because of various leg injuries.

Before Rutgers and Penn State battle, fifth-ranked Western Kentucky (30-3) will take on 17th-ranked James Madison.

James Madison (28-3) is very glad to be here.

"At the beginning of the season, we were expected to finish first in our conference," said junior guard Floretta Jackson. "(But) we weren't expected to be in the NCAA tournament or be in the top 20.

"But now that we here, we're going to play as hard as we can. We're thinking of winning the national title. "

James Madison advanced from the first round by defeating host Providence at the buzzer, 55-53. Then last Saturday, the Dukes upset No. 6 Virginia, 71-62, in Charlottesville, eliminating the region's top seed.

Western Kentucky knows about being a spoiler. Last year, the Hilltoppers ruined No. 1 Texas' chance to advance to the Final Four by upsetting the Longhorns in the Mideast semifinals. Western Kentucky went on to the national semifinals.

"I think James Madison is stealing our act," said coach Paul Sanderford. ''We have ideas about still playing the Cinderella role ourselves. "

But it would be hard to call Sanderford's team a Cinderella this year.

The Hilltoppers are loaded with talent, including guard Clemette Haskins, the daughter of men's coach Clem Haskins, 6-2 senior center Lillie Mason and 5-9 guard Kami Thomas.

The squad is capable of winning the East in Saturday's title game, which would mean a Final Four appearance in close-to-home Lexington next week.

By playing in the East, Western Kentucky has escaped the possibility of having to beat No. 1 Texas (30-0) in Austin; No. 2 Georgia (30-1), which trounced the Hilltoppers, 93-61, earlier this year, or No. 3 Southern California (28-4).

But even though the East might be the easiest road for Sanderford's group, it will not be easy.

Western Kentucky likes to run, while James Madison likes to slow the tempo. Then there is a matter of rebounding.

"We're not very good. In fact, we usually rebound the ball after it goes through the basket," Sanderford said.
In other region semifinals tonight, Texas will host No. 19 Oklahoma (24-6), and No. 7 Auburn (24-5) will meet No. 11 Mississippi (23-7) in the Midwest Regional in Austin. No. 12 Ohio State (23-6) will meet No. 9 Louisiana State (26-5) before Georgia faces No. 15 Tennessee (22-9) in Iowa City in the Mideast. No. 4 Louisiana Tech (26-4) will meet host No. 8 Long Beach State (29-4) in the West, where senior Cheryl Miller will try to extend her Southern California career in a game against No. 16 North Carolina (23-8).


Mar 21, 1986

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

What is Rutgers ?

Despite the No. 10 Knights' national ranking, despite their 29-3 record, the question keeps occurring.

The answer was provided last night at the Palestra, where the Knights defeated 13th-ranked Penn State , 85-72, to move to within a step of the NCAA Final Four in Lexington, Ky., next weekend.

The victory, Rutgers ' fourth in five meetings with its Atlantic 10 rival (24-8), sends the winners into tomorrow's East title game at noon against No. 5 Western Kentucky (31-3), which ended No. 17 James Madison's Cinderella dreams, 72-51, in the first game.

But if the Dukes' hopes were destroyed, the Knights' rush for glory may just be beginning.

"I think they're going to be the team to represent the East," Penn State coach Rene Portland said after the Lions' bid ended in the regionals for the fifth straight year.

Western Kentucky, though, is not about to give up the villain's role. The Hilltoppers, who intimidated their opponent (28-4) into a 19-2 deficit in the first 5 minutes last night, would love to return to the finals, which this time would be within a hundred miles of their multitude of fans.


However, Rutgers may be working with the same chemistry that delivered an NCAA trophy to Villanova's men's team in Lexington last year.

The Knights got power on the inside from their 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore forward Sue Wicks (28 points, 13 rebounds), and leadership and clutch shooting rom Kristen Foley (25 points, 7 assists) as Rutgers put an end to the see- saw battle midway through the second half.

"That is the finest game Foley has ever played," said Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz, whose 1982 team won the last AIAW title in the Palestra. "And I'm talking about back to the days when I was recruiting her in high school. She certainly saved her best for the right moment. "

The game swung back to Rutgers for the last time after Regina Howard's baseline shot gave the Knights a tie, 60-60, with 8 minutes, 22 seconds to play. Then Foley hit two baskets and Wicks contributed five points to help increase the margin to 71-60 with 4:09 left.

Earlier in the half, Penn State 's press bothered Rutgers enough that the Lions were able to take a 55-51 lead with 13:17 left.

"We weren't able to run our offense right," Grentz said.


But if the Knights had momentary problems, State seemed to suffer from a breakdown throughout the evening despite a balanced scoring effort that included five players with 10 points and Laura Hughes with 13. Additionally, Suzie McConnell, who was in double figures, contributed 17 assists.

Western Kentucky was led by Lillie Mason's 18 points and Kamie Thomas's 14 in its victory. Alisa Harris scored 14 and Missy Dudley had 13 for James Madison, which still managed to outrebound the Hilltoppers, 38-31.

"This was a big jump for our kids and I think the jitters were there," said Madison coach Sheila Moorman. "Western Kentucky is also capable of applying pressure. "

In the Mideast Regional, the worst of No. 2 Georgia's fears about Southeastern Conference rival No. 15 Tennessee (23-9) were realized.

The Lady Bulldogs (30-2) were upset by the Vols, 85-82, in the Mideast Region at Iowa City. Olympic coach Pat Head Summitt will face another SEC rival for the region title tomorrow in No. 9 Louisiana State (27-5), which edged No. 12 Ohio State, 81-80.

In the Midwest, No. 1 Texas (31-0) is within a victory of its first Final Four in the NCAA. The Longhorns routed No. 19 Oklahoma, 85-59, at home after No. 11 Mississippi (24-7) edged SEC rival No. 7 Auburn, 56-55, in overtime.

The Midwest title game will be the second meeting between Texas and Mississippi; the Longhorns won the first encounter in Miami. Out West, No. 4 Louisiana Tech (27-4) edged host No. 8 Long Beach State, 71-69. No. 3 Southern California downed No. 16 North Carolina, 84-70.


And finally this advance of a game Rutgers did not win. Texas ultimately won it all, avenging the Western Kentucky upset and ending Cheryl Miller's collegiate career on a sour note.


Mar 22, 1986

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

In mid-February, an NCAA spokesman familiar with the organization's computer rankings of men's and women's basketball teams offered a revelation about the Rutgers women.

"If the computer means anything, Rutgers should go to the Final Four. They are right up there," he said.

The index measures a team's success against the difficulty of its schedule and compares it to the other schools in Division I.

The Knights (29-3), ranked 10th by a national panel of coaches, can make the computer into a genius by defeating No. 5 Western Kentucky (31-3) at noon at the Palestra for the East region title. The Hilltoppers are still miffed at their fourth-place seeding in the region, which was a result of the disrespect shown by the microchips.

Machine over coaches would make a nice Cinderella story for Rutgers , which was not expected to do much when the season began. But if Western Kentucky wins one for the humans, the Hilltoppers will provide the Final Four in Lexington, Ky., with revenue at the gate, which is in serious trouble at the moment. In fact, the financial situation could get bleaker if the Kentucky and Louisville men's teams win their regions today and go to Dallas.

"We would be excited about going back to the finals if they were in Seattle or New York City," said Western Kentucky coach Paul Sanderford. "Yes, we would bring seven or 8,000 fans, but let's get one thing straight, the pressure is on the University of Kentucky. They're the ones hosting the thing and they're the ones who have to sell the tickets. "

Rutgers is not about to do anybody any favors, however. In fact, if 6-foot, 2-inch forward Sue Wicks (28 points against Penn State in the semifinals), and center Regina Howard can patrol the boards, the Knights might be well on their way to their first final since winning the last AIAW title at the Palestra in 1982. Rebounding has been a a deficiency for Western Kentucky.

However, coach Theresa Grentz, who used to play at the Palestra for the Immaculata national champions in the early 1970s, will need more than board work to stop the triple-threat offense of Lillie Mason, Kami Thomas and Clemette Haskins. If the trio can get the Hilltoppers' running game and transition game into action, it might be a long afternoon for the Knights.

Meanwhile, the crowds over at ESPN-TV and CBS-TV, which will broadcast the national semifinals Friday and title game Sunday, respectively, have reasons for cheering for certain teams to emerge from the other three regions today.

If unbeaten Texas (31-0) can beat No. 11 Mississippi (24-7) at home in Austin for the Midwest title, and if No. 3 Southern California (29-4) can get past No. 4 Louisiana Tech (27-4) in Long Beach, the two would be favored to meet for the national title. That would give CBS the No. 1 team in the Longhorns against the No. 1 player in USC senior Cheryl Miller, a matchup that
would do much for the Nielsen ratings.

If No. 15 Tennessee (23-9) can get past No. 9 Louisiana State (27-5) in the Mideast in Iowa City, it would mark an eighth Final Four appearance for Olympic coach Pat Head Summitt, who has yet to win a national title.

On the other hand, if Mississippi, Louisiana State and Louisiana Tech come through, it will be an advertisement for parity in the sport, but who will pay attention?

-- Mel

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Guru's Data Base: AP Poll Notes

By Mel Greenberg

Louisville became the 140th team to crack the Associated Press women's poll Monday in the 31-year history of the rankings.

The Cardinals, who entered at No. 24, are the third team from Kentucky to earn a spot from the voters following former appearances by Western Kentucky and current appearances by Kentucky.

Coach Tom Collen joined the doubles club which is a little less exclusive than the triples club of coaches with different teams in the poll. He previously coached at Colorado State and led the team to a national ranking, although one could make the case that future New York Liberty walk-on Becky Hammon in the WNBA had a word or two to say about that team's past success.

We'll run the lists and other updates with coaches in the poll at the bottom of this report.

Rutgers' setback to Pepperdine dropped the Scarlet Knights from 14th to 18th, the lowest ranking since being 24th the last week of December, 1994.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer's team then did an immediate about-face, beating three top-five teams and in turn making the fastest rise in history to the top five over a two-week stretch.

Rutgers meets Penn State in the Virgin Islands Friday for the first time since the two former Atlantic Ten rulers met in a season opener in November,1997, at Rutgers after the Scarlet Knights had moved on to the Big East and Penn State to the Big Ten.

The two came close to meeting in the Women's Final Four in Philadelphia in 2000, well, sort of close, but Tennessee beat Rutgers while Connecticut beat Penn State in the semifinals.

Penn State coach Rene Portland is a former teammate of Rutgers assistant coach Marianne Stanley at Immaculata during the Mighty Macs' national championship era in the early 1970s.

Stringer is fourth on the all-time appearance list of coaches in the AP rankings with 347 from three different schools. Portland is fifth at 336 off of a stint at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia before moving on to Colorado and eventually Penn State.

In some historical trivia known only by the Guru, Portland actually had a de-facto two teams ranked at the same time because her former Colorado team cracked the rankings the same time her Nittany Lions' bunch appeared soon after her arrival.

Anyhow, our data-man Dylan Purcell here might run some stats later Tuesday but enjoy some of these notes also being kept manually as the season rolls along.

Dylan is also working on a plan to eventually get the poll history interactive at Philly.com, part of the special features the Guru's minions here are attempting to augment the Guru's season-long road to Knoxville, Tenn., in June for his recently-announced impending induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Anyhow, here's the list which will also include a breakout list of doubles rankings at the bottom.

By Mel Greenberg
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Quick hits on AP poll (week 3) for coaches thru week No. 3 of the 2006-07 poll

(This is 520th poll after week 3). (Records on pages through Monday, 11/20/06)

Coaches With Three Ranked Teams

C. Vivian Stringer (Cheyney-85), (Iowa-155), (Rutgers-107), 347
Jim Foster (St. Joe-35), (Vanderbilt-164), Ohio St.-59), 258
Marianne Stanley (Old Dominion-141), (Southern Cal-24), (Stanford*-18), 183
Gary Blair (Stephen F. Austin-79), (Arkansas-67), (Texas A&M-9), 155
Lin Dunn (Miami-2), (Mississippi-1), (Purdue-130), 133
Don Perrelli (Northwestern-52), (S. Conn.-20), (St. John’s-1), 73
Sharon Fanning (Kentucky-4), (Miss. St.-46), (Tenn.-Chattannoga-4), 54
Debbie Yow (Florida-2), (Kentucky-21), (Oral Roberts-1), 24

Kittie Blakemore, Scott Harrelson – West Virginia 8
Sonja Hogg, Leon Barmore – Louisiana Tech 51
Jill Hutchison, Linda Fischer – Illinois St. 3
Jim Jarrett, Joyce Patterson – Georgia St. 1
Marianne Stanley, Amy Tucker – Stanford 18
Jim Bolla, Sheila Strike – UNLV 18

Coaches All Time Ranking Appearances

1. Pat Summitt, Tennessee – 506 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 398
3. Jody Conradt, Texas – 389
4. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 347
5. Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
6. **-Leon Barmore, Louisiana Tech (51-shared with Sonja Hogg) – 325
7. Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 323
8. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 314
9. Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 292
10.**-Joe Ciampi, Auburn – 290
11. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut, 274
12. **-Sue Gunter (2 schools – Stephen F. Austin, LSU) – 270
13. Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
14. **-Marsha Sharp, Texas Tech – 264
15. Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 258
16. **-Chris Weller, Maryland - 227
17. Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
18. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 224
19. **-Van Chancellor, Mississippi – 221
20. Gail Goestenkors, Duke – 213
21. **-Marianne Stanley (3 schools – Old Dominion, Southern Cal, Stanford*) – 183
22. **-Paul Sanderford (2 schools – W. Kentucky, Nebraska) – 182
23. **-Marian Washington, Kansas – 176
24. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 155
25. **-Ceal Barry, Colorado – 142
**-Not in college or not in as a head coach

Active Coaches-All Time AP Ranking Appearances

1. Pat Summitt, Tennessee – 506 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 398
3. Jody Conradt, Texas – 389
4. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 347
5. Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
6. Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 323
7. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 314
8. Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 292
9. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 274
10. Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
11 Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 258
12. Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
13. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 224
14. Gail Goestenkors, Duke – 213
15. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 155
16. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 139
17.Wendy Larry, Old Dominion – 127
18. ()()-Kristy Curry, Purdue – 123
19. Carol Ross, (2 schools – Florida, Mississippi) - 112
20. )))-Chris Gobrecht (Washington) - 104
21. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma – 100
22. Cathy Inglese (2 school - Boston College, Vermont) – 98
23. ---Jane Albright (N. Illinois, Wisconsin) _ 96
24. Bill Fennelly, (2 schools – Toledo, Iowa) – 95
25. Joe McKeown, George Washington – 83
26. Melanie Balcomb (2 schools – Xavier, Vanderbilt) – 81
27. Doug Bruno, DePaul – 79
28. Kim Mulkey-Robertson, Baylor – 76
29. &&-Jim Bolla, UNLV* – 75
29. Pam Borton, Minnesota – 75
31. Debbie Patterson, Kansas St. – 67
32. Joanne P. McCallie, Michigan St. – 56
33. Sharon Fanning (3 schools – Tenn.-Chattanooga, Kentucky, Miss. St.) – 54
33. Mark French, UC Santa Barbara – 54
35. Kathy Olivier, UCLA 52
36. @@-Cheryl Burnett, Missouri St., 51
37. Elaine Elliott, Utah – 45
38. Brenda Frese (2 schools, Minnesota, Maryland) – 46
39. Harry Perretta, Villanova – 44
40. ##-Kurt Budke, Louisiana Tech. – 42
41. Pokey Chatman, LSU – 40
42. ++-Bonnie Henrickson, Virginia Tech – 36
43. Tom Collen, (2 schools, Colorado St., Louisville) – 35
44. Lisa Stockton, Tulane – 34
45. June Daugherty (2 schools – Boise St., Washington) 32
&&-Active at Hawaii (Shared 18 with Sheila Strike); @@-Active at Michigan; ##-Active at Oklahoma St.; ++-Active at Kansas; )))-Active at Yale; ---Active at Wichita St.; ()()-Active at Texas Tech.

The Doubles List

Doubles Club

*-Rene Portland (2 schools - St. Joseph, Penn St.) - 336
*-Tara VanDerveer (2 schools - Ohio St., Stanford) - 314
Sue Gunter (2 schools - Stephen F. Austin, LSU) - 270
*-Joan Bonvicini (2 schools - Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
*-Theresa Grentz (2 schools - Rutgers, Illinois) - 225
Paul Sanderford (2 schools - W. Kentucky, Nebraska) - 182
*- Carol Ross, (2 schools - Florida, Mississippi) - 112
*- Cathy Inglese (2 school - Boston College, Vermont) - 98
*&--Jane Albright (N. Illinois, Wisconsin) _ 96
&-currently at Wichita St.
*- Bill Fennelly, (2 schools - Toledo, Iowa) - 95
*- Melanie Balcomb (2 schools - Xavier, Vanderbilt) - 81
Lynn Hickey (2 schools -- Kansas St., Texas A&M) - 64 .
Pam Parsons (2 schools -- Old Dominion, South Carolina) -- 49
*- Brenda Frese (2 schools, Minnesota, Maryland) - 46
.*- Tom Collen, (2 schools, Colorado St., Louisville) - 35
*- June Daugherty (2 schools - Boise St., Washington) - 32
* - Carolyn Peck (2 schools -- Purdue, Florida) - 29
Marynell Meadors (2 schools -- Tennessee Tech, Florida St.) - 21
Ellen Mosher (2 schools -- UCLA, Minnesota) - 20
*$- Maura McHugh (2 schools -- Oklahoma, Arizona St.) -- 18
$ - currently at Stony Brook
* - Lisa Bluder (2 schools -- Iowa, Drake) -- 13
*- Beth Burns (2 schools -- San Diego St., Ohio St. ) -- 10

Temple Stings Yellow Jackets

Guru’s Note: We were not on the scene for this one, having to be the inside desk guy in sports Monday night. But we did talk to coach Staley afterwards and are filing this enhanced report of the story that led the women’s roundup in The Inquirer’s print edition.

By Mel Greenberg

After Temple pulled back from the brink of a stunning season-opening loss at Drexel on Friday night, coach Dawn Staley was a little unsure what might occur next when the Owls were to host Georgia Tech in the home opener Monday night at the Liacouras Center.

The former WNBA star point guard was pleasantly surprised as her veterans helped key a program-best 65.2 shooting percentage (15-23) in the second half that carried Temple to a 76-62 victory.

The Owls also shot a nifty 22 of 28 attempted free throws to Staley’s delight.

“I’ve never been part of a Temple team that made that many foul shots,” said Staley, who is now in her seventh season at the North Broad St. campus near where she grew up.

“It’s a great win for the program. We really grew up tonight,” Staley gushed. “Kamesha did an excellent job hitting buckets when we needed them.

Senior Kamesha Hairston, who has ascended to the leadership role in the wake of the graduation of all-America Candice Dupree, had a game-high 23 points.

Senior Fatima Maddox added 18 points and junior Lady Comfort scored 16.

Freshman guard LaKeisha Eaddy added eight points and dealt five of the Owls’ 17 assists.

“The stats don’t show what her real value is,” said Staley, who is starting a freshman for the first time in her reign over Temple’s fortunes. “She’s bringing a different dimension, defensively, that we’ve never had. She has a gift and really has a promising future .She’s really grown.”

Considering that Staley is one of the all-time point guards in the history of the women’s game, that’s quite a compliment for the newcomer.

Speaking of compliments, Staley also noted, “Our players really commended the scouting report done by coach Boyer,” she said of assistant coach Lisa Boyer. “Our players are always complimentary to the staff for their help.”

Georgia Tech (3-1) was the first of four opponents Temple will face from the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference, including defending NCAA champion Maryland at home on Dec. 10.

Janie Mitchell scored 18 points for the Yellow Jackets, who led 31-28 at the half. Temple’s marksmanship produced a 48-31 advantage the rest of the way and the Owls are now 6-1 under Staley in home openers.

Local Battle of the Unbeatens

Penn (2-0) will host La Salle (3-0) in a Big Five matchup at Penn’s Palestra Tuesday night that begins at 5 p.m. The Guru’s weekly gender equity class will continue later at the same site as he covers the men’s game between Penn and Drexel, the team he has handled at lot for the home office.

La Salle is playing some of the best basketball the Explorers have shown in recent seasons with the inside attack of senior Crista Ricketts and junior Carlene Hightower leading the way.

Ricketts is the current Big Five player of the week and has also won a second straight Atlantic Ten Conference weekly honor.

Penn has been led by senior guard Joey Rhoads with the Quakers getting extra help from Lauren Pears, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

As for the second game, Drexel is off to a 2-0 start after beating Vermont on the road last weekend. We’ll know more about Penn when we get the scouting report from recent Quaker grad Mr. Tannenwald [updated by the person in question -- Ed.] , who is now an office neighbor in nearby Philly.com.

On Wednesday, we’ll review the reunification of the long dormant Penn State-Rutgers war that used to be a highlight when both were in the Atlantic Ten.

-- Mel

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Penn Strikes Gold on Alaskan's Shot in Quakers' Opener

By Mel Greenberg

It took Penn five minutes of overtime a year ago in The Palestra to win their season opener against Lehigh.
This time the Quakers got the job done with 15 seconds left in regulation when sophomore Maggie Burgess hit a short jumper for a 54-53 triumph Thursday night.
It’s the first time Penn has been above. 500 since last season’s non-conference win over the Mountain Hawks (1-1). The Quakers immediate went on a 10-game slide and went on to finish 5-22 overall.
Adrienne Blount had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Lehigh, and Sara Ellis scored 11 points.
Burgess, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, was asked if she ever had a game-winning shot previously in her basketball career.
“Absolutely not,” she said, showing a little bit of nervous excitement.
Burgess made every shot count because her heroics came off the only attempt she took the entire night.
Afterwards, she had no recollections over how the winning play unfolded.
“Absolutely not. It’s all gone. I wasn’t thinking.”
Penn coach Pat Knapp, however, said the play went as designed.
“It was the right pass and she spotted it up in the right place,” Knapp said.
Statistically, it was senior night in terms of the Quakers’ win Joey Rhoads and Monica Naltner each scored 18 points, and Lauren Pears dealt eight assists and had five steals.
Pears had suffered a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game of that early slide a year ago.
“Bottom line is a year ago we did not have all our people,” Knapp said. “One of those kids was Lauren Pears. And Lauren Pears is a big part of our team, particularly with the kind of defense Lauren plays.
“Joey is always going to give a great effort both ends of the court, but Lauren Pears was at least the defensive MVP tonight.”
The game was close throughout the entire night. Anca Popovici hit a layup with 57 seconds left in the first half and then Pears hit a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to send Penn to the break with a 34-30 advantage.
The Quakers maintained the lead until late in the game when a few bad plays and missed shots enabled Lehigh to go ahead, 53-52, on a pair of foul shots with 1:24 left in the game.
But Penn was able to produce the winning play that began with the Quakers gaining possession on Naltner’s blocked shot.
Still, the Quakers had to defense the Mountain Hawks in the closing seconds and did not secure the triumph until Lehigh missed a shot from the corner.
“We still have to improve the depth from our bench,” said Knapp, whose team travels to Rider, Sunday, before the home opener Tuesday night in a Big Five game against La Salle at the Palestra. “But the guards with Popovici added to our pressure defense.”
That was the same theme Rhoads spoke of after the game.
“It all came down to our defense,” the graduate of Germantown Academy said. “We made a couple of mistakes at the end, but we showed that if you play strong defense, you can get it done.
“Of course that shot by Maggie was huge,” Rhoads added.
Pears was obviously thrilled to be back in uniform.
“It feels great to be back and to be part of the team again,” Pears said. “Coming out with a `W’ in the first game is just a good feeling for us.”
-- Mel

Temple Signs Five Recruits

By Mel Greenberg

While the Guru was taking his sensitivity class for the sports department Wednesday night covering the Drexel men’s team’s season opener, the Temple women were announcing the signing of five recruits.

The news comes on the eve of Temple’s season opener Friday night, also at Drexel, in West Philadelphia.

Anyhow, the news is also probably posted at Temple’s web site but here is some additional info through some internet research. We'll stay on the case.

But, apparently, Temple coach Dawn Staley was able to collect a quality group while also winding down her final days as an active player in the WNBA.

Lindsay Kimmel is a 6-0 shooting guard who chose Temple over Ohio State, Rutgers, Villanova, and Notre Dame, according to the Binghamton Press and Sun in upstate New York, which twice named her to the publication’s all-Metro team.

Kimmel suffered an ACL injury in January playing for Harpursville High but says she is now completed recovered. She also played AAU ball for Fencor, one of the better known programs here and nationally.

The Press & Sun covered her signing announcement last Wednesday and quoted Kimmel about choosing Temple – “I always had that in the back of my mind. I loved it. I would want to go there.

She also said of her future coach, one of the all-time guards in the game, “It’s the coach (reason she made the choice). I’ve talked to a million different coaches. I compared everybody to her. I kept reverting back, and (the others) weren’t quite up to her.”

Judging by those comments, the Staley name has shelf life even though she is in the early months of retirement from the WNBA.

The Guru, assuming he’s still around next season, had only regrets she isn’t a center for the play on words we can have on Kimmel Center. Ah, for you non-Philadelphians, that’s the name of the music hall downtown.

Marli Bennett is a 6-1 center from Pilot Mountain, N.C., and played AAU ball for Team Carolina, the same squad that once contained North Carolina all-American Ivory Latta. That squad won its third straight National AAU Junior Olympics title last spring.

The next recruit is bound to cause confusion at times at Temple when Dawnae Roberts is around. The coach has been often heard to referred to as Dawnie, so this should be fun.

Roberts was a second team Baltimore Sun all-Metro selection and the 5-9 guard helped lead Saint Frances to a 24-4 record and a fourth straight Maryland A Conference title.

The Guru will note that on a recent trip to College Park to observe the defending national Terps, someone did mention on the quick that Temple had picked up a good prospect from the area.

Qwedia Wallace is a 5-9 guard from Wilmington, N.C.

Hmmm, the Guru is beginning to notice a correlation between some of these finds from Atlantic Coast Conference recruiting country and the number of ACC teams on Temple’s nonconference schedule this season.

The final name is a junior college player 6-3 forward Shanea Cotton from Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi, where she was second team all-Panhandle Conference last season.

“I’m excited about this recruiting class,” Staley said in a statement. “They are a strong and talented group and we expect that they will contribute immediately.”

We’ll know more when we visit with Staley in the next 24 hours.

The Guru will also be in the Bethlehem area Thursday night (no.not the Mideast), if he clears his other work, to view Penn’s opener at Lehigh. (Hey, they have a good restaurant up there, if nothing else.).

The sensitivity training continues Saturday. The Guru’s blackberry lit up Wednesday night with a marching order to cover the Villanova football team’s visit to Delaware.

Considering the Guru almost didn’t make it out of the Pavilion Tuesday night after the La Salle-Villanova game due to construction at Villanova, he’s happy to take this brief road trip, although his original plans were to drive further South and catch George Washington’s game against TCU at College Park, followed by the Maryland-Arizona tilt.

-- Mel

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

La Salle Tops Villanova For Memorable Big Five Triumph

Guru's Note: This is an enhanced report of The Inquirer print edition coverage of the La Salle-Villanova game.

By Mel Greenberg

Carlene Hightower is not a name that’s kicking around in WNBA circles these days in the hunt for future post players.

That could change before the season is over.

The Archbishop Prendergast High graduate poured 26 points, three below her career high, Tuesday night as La Salle got its first win over Villanova in the current millennium, a 74-62 triumph in a Big Five women’s game at the Pavilion.

Senior forward Crista Ricketts delivered 23 points to account for 49 of the Explorers’ total from inside the paint. Jenna Graber was the next highest for La Salle with eight points, of which six came off a pair of treys.

The win pushed La Salle off to a 2-0 start and snapped a six-game losing streak that began in the 2000-01 season.

It was the Explorers’ first win on the Main Line at the Pavilion since 1988.

“I think I was two years old,” Hightower said with a smile.

OK. So this is not your grandmother’s Villanova team, whose 0-2 start is the worst for the program since an 0-3 beginning in 1992-93. But it is still a Wildcat team that can provide the traditional three-point attack as was evident in the first half when a 9-of-18 effort from beyond the arc enabled coach Harry Perretta’s group to go to the break with a 39-38 lead.

The margin was extended to five at 47-42 in the second half before La Salle exploded with a 19-1 run that was helped by Villanova’s sudden cold spell.

“You have to outscore this team to beat them and a 1-for-17 (shooting) effort is not going to win many ball games,” Perretta said. “That’s part of the game. That’s part of growing up.”

Because of Villanova’s ability to frustrate opponents, Ricketts didn’t feel totally comfortable about her team’s control of the action until the closing minutes.

“We’re not used to playing a team that’s coming off a zillion screens,” the senior, who is the Atlantic Ten Conference co-player of the week, said. “Even when you think you’re playing good defense, they still frustrate you.”

Hightower was the Big Five’s and A-10’s most improved player last season and the way she talked afterwards, she could likely be in the hunt for those honors again.

“I worked really hard in the summertime improving my game a lot,” Hightower said. “I was also in summer school. I know education comes first, but I was in the gym twice as much.

“Villanova is going to knock down shots, no matter how good we play defense.”

But La Salle was able to dominant the boards with a 45-28 rebounding advantage.

Hightower spoke of what she focused on to get even better.

“Basically just being more aggressive and going to the basket strong,” she said. “I’m not used to going to the basket strong. This is college. This is a different level.

“My sophomore year was the first year I actually played. I had to make a lot of adjustments. These girls out here are strong. I had to go to the weight room a lot and work on how to go to the basket extra strong. I can’t go soft. I have to be strong all the time.”

Ricketts enjoys having someone else to provide scoring now that Divineia Payne has graduated.

“I knew she was going to step up and be good,” Ricketts said of Hightower. “She’s fun to play with.”

La Salle coach Tom Lochner talked about the two halves.

“We made some adjustments, but it could be their shots just didn’t go in. Sometimes it’s what the other team does or doesn’t do,” Lochner said.

He praised Hightower’s performance which also included seven rebounds, a blocked shot, and a steal. Furthermore, the La Salle run began after her fourth foul.

“She had a monster game,” Lochner said. “She’s a very skilled offense player. She’s a competitor. When the lights go on, she turns it on.”

If the post game continues, the search for a singular point guard may not be as critical as it was thought going into the season.

“We just have to make sure they (Hightower and Ricketts) touch the ball each time and we have to have movement on the perimeter,” Lochner said. “They need to touch the ball and good things will happen.”

Perretta talked about the frustration of the learning process his squad is going through, especially since Stacie Witman’s stress fracture leaves senior Jackie Adamshick as the Wildcats’ only experienced player.

“This team is a very good running team, but we’re not very good defensively,” Perretta said. “I have to figure out a way we’re going to play. I’m not sure running the ball for 40 minutes is a good idea.

“Coming into the game, we were worried, because we felt they had two kids we were going to have serious problems stopping,” Perretta said. “And we did.”

-- Mel

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Guru Muses Over The Start of His Season-Long Journey to Induction Into The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

By Mel Greenberg

NORMAN, Okla. –
And so it was this past weekend here that the Guru was writing news and making news at the same time.

Writing the news follows this blog with coverage of the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. Stay here to read about making the news.

As you Guru-followers know by now, we will be following two highways this season – one is the road to Cleveland and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

The other is the road to Knoxville, Tenn., and induction as one of six individuals who comprise the Class of 2007 into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

The other five are Georgia coach Andy Landers, former Tennessee stars Bridget Gordon and Daedra Charles-Furlow, former Texas star Andrea Lloyd Curry, and former Louisiana Tech star Pam Kelly Flowers.

The Guru noted to the other five inductees this weekend that at one time or another they have all appeared in at least one story under the Mel Greenberg byline.

Last spring in Trenton at the NCAA first and second round site, coach Landers and I made a fun bet that whoever made the induction class first would buy the other a dinner.

When I knew he was going to be inducted with me, I called to inform him the bet was “a wash.”

“No it isn’t,” Landers replied. “I understand they had my name on the table for discussion before they got to you.”

Now you all know the real reason the Guru’s Time Machine began appearing at this site. In fact, we’re thinking of putting together a reprint publication in time for next June.

We’re going to try to make this a celebration all the way, and have some fun because everyone has been part of the journey that has resulted in this latest chapter of notoriety.

Now is not the time to start thinking about the acceptance speech, but it’s always the time to be thinking of those who have shared the friendships and helped the cause. I get far too much credit for being a solo act.

Certainly, the sports information directors from my locals in the Philadelphia area to the rest of the country and to the conference SIDs have helped the cause considerably. To my media colleagues (and I remember when there were just a few of you), it’s been great to continue to serve with you and for you.

To the home team over the years at The Inquirer, past and president, thanks for making me sound better in print. Thank you to the Associated Press folks, who helped guide the growth of coverage to get things done without overdoing things.

To the players who performed and those especially who were able to take the sport to a new professional level in the United States, thanks for having the skills to give us something to write about.

To the coaches, thanks for the many conversations and insights. To the players who became coaches, no thanks for making me realize how time is moving on.

Obviously, the more recent relationships with the various wings of the WNBA, along with those that existed in the ABL, thanks to all of you.

Special thanks to Jonathan, sneak that he was at this site Sunday morning while the Guru was at sleep, Kate and Erin for making the Guru’s judge of future talent look good.

It was a little surreal Saturday night at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic dinner being in the room when the WBHOF folks made the first public announcement of the induction class.

At the Rutgers table was, of course, legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer, who was a budding superstar strategist at Cheyney near Philadelphia when the Guru first hit the scene. And when that occurred, some of the earliest planning on how to do the poll occurred in the apartment of Rutgers assistant Marianne Stanley, who was then a young assistant coach at Immaculata, her alma mater, a year removed before she became head coach of Old Dominion.

Meanwhile, I’ll save the entire story for a future date when we get closer to the ceremonies, but the word of my selection came after the WBHOF board of directors had a “three-hour” discussion about who should be the official person to give me the official notification.

They found a way to get it done through a 20-way tie for first (that was rather interesting), but it was Texas coach Jody Conradt, the current president of the board, who informed with the following line – “When you go to Knoxville next spring (I’ve covered all eight previous ceremonies), make sure you bring a tux.”

And there will be other facets of the ceremony to ponder such as who appears in the introductory video, who escorts the Guru from the audience to the stage, what does the orchestra play (I told Dawn Staley, they’re not giving me this because I went to Temple, so the fight song is not eligible.)

The Guru may even invite you to get involved with the decision process. The Guru has already begun appointing organizing committees because as coach Conradt noted, “You are a whole different animal than anything that has already been inducted.).

I have been told I’m allowed as many minutes for the speech as Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma spoke last April. (I still have the readout in my digital tape recorder.). Relax, it wasn’t THAT long.

Since our induction group has been known as a “partying crowd,” we’ve already began talking this past weekend to adding a few events to the celebration a day ahead of the Friday-Sunday events, depending on the interest.

You should also know that some people still can toss a pretty good shot without the ball in their hands, such as Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale did Saturday night during dinner.

After DePaul coach Doug Bruno and Landers mentioned the Guru’s early days of developing women’s coverage, Ms. Coale noted, “I can’t remember much about when Mel began doing all this because I was in kindergarten at the time.”

And on that note, it’s time to pack the bags and catch a flight back to Philadelphia.

But we’ll have lots of treats and stories for you and, unfortunately, I’m sure others will also. But as they say, it comes with the territory.

-- Mel

Fountain of Youth Drowns Rutgers

By Mel Greenberg

NORMAN, Okla. –
There were no revelations, only confirmations, at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic doubleheader Sunday afternoon where No. 9 Georgia overcame No. 11 Rutgers, 78-69, in the first game before host and No. 3 Oklahoma routed No. 20 DePaul, 105-71.

The Georgia-Rutgers game figured to be the more competitive of the two events, and it was. Both teams, which were missing key players, figure to be much better at midseason as they probably will be.

Most important, if Oklahoma doesn’t make it to Cleveland and the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the only acceptable excuse will be if the Sooners match-up early in the Sweet 16 with a similar bonafide national championship contender.

Sophomore 6-foot-4 center Courtney Paris, whom DePaul coach Doug Bruno has labeled a likely successor to Lisa Leslie’s long reign as a the dominant post player for USA Basketball, set a school record with her 34th double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Senior 5-9 guard Chelsi Welch had a career high for the Sooners with 23 points and Courtney’s twin sister Ashley had 16 points.

Erin Carney had 19 rebounds for the Blue Demons and Jenna Rubino scored 18 points for the under-sized visitors in the match-up.

“We had only one player ready to compete and she’s sitting next to me,” Bruno nodded toward Carney.

Meanwhile, Coale used the sister-combo on the floor at the same time more frequently than she had done in the past.

Asked if that would continue, the personable Coale quickly retorted, “Unless I’m absolutely crazy, yes.”

Courtney Paris enjoyed the action inside the paint with her sister.

“It was pretty cool,” Courtney said of the assists that went back and forth. “Playing together all our our lives, it’s nice to see something that we have worked together on for so long come together like that. It was special.”

The only thing special about Rutgers was the Scarlet Knights’ ability to use their defensive prowess to erase a 10-point deficit in the second half and take a 65-62 lead with 3 minutes, 40-seconds left in the game.

However, Georgia recovered to launch a 10-0 run and regain control of the contest.

Bulldogs freshman Ashley Houts scored 18 points, a total matched by teammate Janese Hardrick.

Georgia was also 8-for-16 on three-point attempts vs. Rutgers’ 3-for-17 effort. The Bulldogs also shot 22-for-24 from the foul line, while the Scarlet Knights were just 6-for-8.

Kia Vaughan had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Rutgers, while Essence Carson matched the scoring total with 16 points. Freshman Epiphanny Prince had 14 points in her debut and freshman Brittany Ray scored 10 points but both youngsters were plagued by foul trouble and eventually were disqualified after their fifth miscue.

Tasha Humphrey, a 6-3 junior forward with all-America potential, is currently suspended for under-aged drinking, while on Rutgers’ side 5-8 junior guard Matee Ajavon has missed the preseason with a stress fracture.

If youth was not quite ready for prime time, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was in midseason form taking a long while after the final buzzer to address her team before appearing at the post-game press conference.

When she arrived, she bemoaned such mistakes as her players committing 14 of their 19 turnovers in the second half, including a few costly ones after Rutgers had taken the lead.

“We’re just not in condition right now, we couldn’t sustain,” Stringer noted her team’s inability to use its pressure defense more. “We’re just young and made a number of mistakes.

“Our freshmen are young and sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know,” Stringer continued after team played its first official game in the post-Cappie Pondexter era.

“It’s early in the season and what’s most difficult for us is we have freshmen in all positions,” Stringer said. “It’s one thing if you just have them in the post, or if you have them just in the perimeter, but when you have them as a one, two, three, four, and five, then it’s like – in a couple of years it will be fine, but right now it’s the worst nightmare.”

Georgia hit a bunch of three-pointers at the outset.

“We found ourselves watching,” Stringer said of the Bulldogs’ early air attack. “We don’t play well in the man and we don’t play well in the zone. It’s a victim of the youth. To be honest, we don’t conceptually understand and this is a difficult game to play with our youth.”

Carson spoke of the frustration over problems getting things done with a young lineup around here.

“Like coach said, our youth at times can seriously hurt us,” the 6-foot junior guard said. “I mean, right now it’s just going to take some time. We have to get these concepts together. Once we get them together, I believe we’ll be fine.

“Once we turned up the defense, everything started to fall together. We just have to get points out of that. That’s the best we can do right now – be a defense team and get as many points from that. Hopefully, in time, everything will fall together on the offensive side.”

-- Mel

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mel Greenberg to be Inducted into Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Hello all you followers of the Guru out there. You might remember me as the Mystics correspondent for this blog for the last two summers. Well, as Mel noted here earlier in the fall, I was hired at Philly.com -- the website for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to be a producer and help run the website.

Part of my job involves a 6 a.m. Sunday shift to help arrange the site and clean it up for the afternoon's Eagles game and all those who sign on well after the sun rises to read the online edition of the day's Inquirer. As such, I can relay to this blog far earlier than Mel would that the Guru will be introduced today as one of six new inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

The announcement will be made this afternoon during halftime of the Rutgers-Georgia game at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the first game of the State Farm Tip-Off Classic doubleheader at the University of Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center. Mel is in Norman this weekend, as he noted on the blog on Friday, and I am fairly sure that he is not awake yet.

He did, however, give me permission to write this post, because the Inquirer was allowed to break the embargo on the news in its print edition this morning. As the day's stories are posted to Philly.com at 3 a.m. Eastern, I am technically reporting something that has already been reported. The print story can be read here, and since part of my day job involves tracking the number of hits various stories get on the site, I would encourage all of you to click on that story as many times as you like. If you're in the Philadelphia region, you could also show your support for Mel by buying the Inquirer.

(Yes, that is a pretty blatant shill, but given the company's financial situation, I hope you'll forgive it, because we do need as much revenue as we can get.)

Anyway, back to more important matters. This is the sixth major award Mel has received, with his first -- the WBCA Media Award, later renamed in his honor -- coming in 1991. He also won the 2005 Jake Wade Award, presented annually by the nation's sports information directors to a member of the media that made significant contributions to college sports.

I am sure that Mel will enjoy sharing the spotlight this weekend with two of the game's top coaches, Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer and Georgia's Andy Landers. They are third (750) and ninth (657) all time in wins respectively in the women's game. I do not have any statistics for how many games Mel has covered in his career, but I am sure it is plenty high.

Now you may be wondering about the current state of another writer for this blog, Kate Burkholder, who covers Rutgers as an associate sports editor for the school's student newspaper, the Daily Targum. I do not know if she is traveling to Norman this weekend, but my vague recollection is that she is not. Which is understandable, at least from my perspective, given that the Scarlet Knights' football team has captured the nation's attention with its undefeated season, possible Big East championship, and the berth in a big-money BCS bowl game that would come with that.

Nonetheless, Kate wrote a preview of the Rutgers-Georgia game that you can read here. As my college newspaper career did not end all that long ago, I can tell you that the Targum's website is well worth a visit for those of you looking for the latest news on the Scarlet Knights. I understand that this blog gets a lot of traffic from Rutgers fans, so I probably don't have to tell you that, but perhaps it will be worth something to everyone else.

For the one or two of you out there (i.e. my mother and perhaps the Mystics' P.R. staff) who are interested in my journalistic exploits these days I am actually in Syracuse, N.Y., at the moment, where I am watching the Penn men's team play in the 2006 Black Coaches Association Invitational tournament. In addition to my work with the website, I've been helping the Inquirer with its coverage of Penn sports on occasions, though I am not here for that particular purpose this weekend. Nonetheless, you might see my byline around a few more times in the months to come on stories about the Quakers as well as the the local women's basketball scene in Philadelphia.

That's enough from me. Hopefully your eyes didn't glaze over at any point in this post, which I realize is pretty long. My heartfelt congratulations to Mel, who has helped me a lot in my journalistic career since I met him at a Penn women's game at the Palestra in Philadelphia while covering the Penn women in the 2003-04 season. I'm privileged to now work in the same building as him, and hopefully we'll both still be around after the current round of labor unease finally comes to an end.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Guru Heads to Oklahoma

PHILADELPHIA _ Rumors concerning the Guru intensified early Thursday night when the sports editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer sent a note to the newsroom implying to staff members they might want to break away a few minutes from watching the Eagles-Redskins game to tune to ESPN2, particularly at halftime of the Rutgers-Georgia women's basketball matchup that wll kick off the annual State Farm Tipoff.

DePaul meets host Oklahoma in the second game.

The Guru provided only limited responses to questions from newsroom colleagues who were otherwise pre-occupied and enthralled watching Rutgers upset Louisville in football.

"These rumors have occurred several times in the past at the start of the season," the Guru said of previous speculation that he might become part of the news as opposed to covering the news.

The Guru also noted similar TV alerts are given ahead of time about any staff member who is a threat to be interviewed or otherwise involved such as the recent specualtion about Dancing With The Stars' pursuing one Stephen A.

When that one propped up the same editor suggested the Guru provide either The Protege or a recently-retired WNBA player in town as a dancing partner.

"One's too young, the other too old," the Guru replied.

As for the coincidence of Thursday's newsroom message and the Guru's Friday morning plane ticket to Oklahoma City, the Guru noted that Rutgers is a local team he covers when the Scarlet Knights meet national rivals.

In any event, more may be known in the next 48 hours when an institution in Knoxville, Tenn., begins sending its annual release indictating participants in next spring's ceremonies.

The Inquirer's sports section is also reported readying a special display for Sunday editions.

Meanwhile, the Guru will be headquartered from Friday afternoon on in the Postal Training Center in Norman, a hotel-corporate facilities that may one day have to be re-named for the talented postal centers the Sooners seem to be attracting these days.

-- Later

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

WNBA Salutes Staley Upon Her Recent Retirement

Guru's Note:

We have a two-blog special Tuesday morning. This is the enhanced version of Tuesday's print report in The Inquirer. Below is another time machine visit, this time to the Rutgers-Georgia game in 2000 that sent the Scarlet Knights to the Women's Final Four.

That was Rutgers' last win in the series, which will resume Sunday at the State Farm Tipoff in a doubleheader at the University of Oklahoma.

By Mel Greenberg

_ Remind the Guru to request the team trainer to be along for the trip the next time he hitches a ride with Temple women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley’s entourage.

Bone-jarring experience up the New Jersey Turnpike in the chauffeur shuttle aside, the reason for Monday’s trip was to attend a WNBA-hosted luncheon at a midtown Manhattan restaurant to honor Staley, an all-star point guard and three-time Olympic gold medalist, upon her recent retirement from her playing career in the league.

This report, by the way, is the enhanced account of the event we reported in Tuesday’s print edition of The Inquirer, which is also over at Philly.com.

Officialdom at all levels of the WNBA home offices, including those over at NBA Entertainment and WNBA.com, attended the event, led by president Donna Orender and former president Val Ackerman, who is currently the first female president of USA Basketball.

The major news among the honors and tributes was the creation of the Dawn Staley Community Service Leadership Award, which is being publicly announced Tuesday by the league.

The Guru and WNBA.com’s Matt Wurst were the only media types in the house among the group, who near the end of the event rose and offered a champagne toast to Staley.

In full, as detonated by the league, the award to begin next season in Staley’s name is described as follows:

The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award, which will be introduced as a new award in 2007, will be given to the WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives. The honoree will be one who has demonstrated a continued and meaningful dedication to charitable and community causes through the significant contribution of time, effort and/or resources.

This award will be presented annually to the WNBA player who best exemplifies Dawn’s contagious spirit, leadership, charitable efforts and love for the game. Staley, a true legend in women’s basketball history, has excelled at the highest levels on the court and has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities as a point guard, coach and philanthropist/humanitarian.

Orender also presented a $10,000 check from the league to the Dawn Staley Foundation, which helps at-risk inner-city youths in Philadelphia.

“We have now been around long enough to begin celebrating the players who retire in the league,” Orender said. “But we’re not ready for you yet, Becky,” the president joked in the direction of the New York Liberty’s Becky Hammon, who was in the house.

“When I first got into the league, I met Dawn at the NCAA Final Four,” Orender said. “She later sent me a note about her passion for the game. The moment I read that note, along with Val’s assurances, there was no reason to doubt that I had made the right decision to come to the WNBA.”

A video highlight was then shown that was an extension of the one that aired during Staley’s official retirement ceremony in Houston at the Comets’ final home game of the regular season in August.

Staley was also given a framed jersey she won at last summer’s All-Star Game. The jersey had the signatures of players from both the East and West squads.
Carla McGhee, a former Tennessee star now a personnel director in the WNBA, made the presentation.

She spoke of the famous upset by Staley’s Virginia team in 1990 that deprived McGhee’s Tennessee squad from advancing to its home court for the Final Four that season.

The two later became Olympic teammates on the 1996 squad. McGhee also served a season as an assistant coach under Staley at Temple.

“She gives a lot and never wants any credit,” McGhee spoke of Staley’s qualities.

Staley also received a book featuring photos from her basketball career.

Comedian Bill Cosby offered a video tribute.

“Dawn is that special leader that people follow. I am happy that she is near me in the city of Philadelphia because when I’m down I can always stop some place in Philadelphia and Dawn is doing something for the betterment of the present and the future,” Cosby said.

Staley, in her remarks, joked that when she won the three-point shooting contest at the All-Star game last summer, the league should name that competition after her.

She thanked Ackerman for her passion, and praised Orender for energy to “take this league to another level.”

She also cited Rene Brown, in charge of player personnel who was an assistant coach on Staley’s 1996 Olympic contingent. She thanked NBA commissioner David Stern for his role in bringing about the WNBA.

The day didn’t end with the event, however. As the shuttle began to head out of town, some members of the group that included Staley’s coaching staff but who shall remain nameless, got hit with a shopping pang and so we headed over to Niketown.

Staley wasn’t the only celebrity shopper in the store, however. A certain filmmaker by the name of Spike Lee was also in search of athletic goods.

The Guru was also getting a bit nervous since he had to be on the desk Monday night.

“Just tell them lunch became dinner,” someone with a warped sense of humor, whose name has appeared many times under the Guru's byline, suggested.

“That only happens when (Connecticut coach) Geno Auriemma starts to speak,” the Guru replied.

-- Mel