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.

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


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