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.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Guru Punches In As Penn Punches Out

Guru's Notes: Teenage memories are about to become part of Erin's history. On Saturday, she will turn 20 and celebrate her birthday in Boston, where she is rowing for Northeastern University.

Wish her happy birthday. She'll also be on the scene Sunday at Northeastern for us when the Drexel women's team visits. Incidentially, we noticed her recent post on last week's Connecticut-Tennessee game has drawn heavy traffic, especially from Huskies nation.

Meanwhile, yet another contributor will soon join the blog.

Karen Tucker, the former UConn women's and WNBA Connecticut Sun sportswriter for the New Haven Register, who is now director of basketball relations for the
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., will get a chance to keep her writing muscles in shape.

As a member of the Guru's Tennessee local organizing committee for his induction to the Women's Hall in ceremonies, June 8-9, Karen is in position, obviously, to directly inform you of related events in addition to the Guru's announcements in several months when the countdown begins to get serious.

Her previous occupation enables Karen to write features as she has time for us, offer additional stories on Knoxville events and even provide coverage of key Tennessee home games in the same way Erin has been on the scene for us in Storrs and Hartford with UConn.

Oh, and Jonathan, who is running around somewhere in upstate New York and whatever this weekend with the Penn's men's team for our print edition, has a new blog of his own appearing, we think, on Philly.com, and we'll tell you more when his email appears.

That said, the Guru presents Friday's log before it becomes Saturday and wish Erin happy birthday through whatever contact means available.

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ How long does it take to book a last-minute flight on the internet to Duke in Durham, N.C., for Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference showdown with NCAA defending-champion Maryland?

Long enough for the Penn women’s team to squander a 16-point lead here in the Palestra on the way to an Ivy League loss to Cornell, 67-58.

Yep, that’s what happened Friday night in a quick sequence of events.

Penn (4-9, 0-2 Ivy) jumped off to a 22-6 lead over the Big Red (5-9, 1-0) with 10 minutes, 50 second left in the first half Friday night.

Cornell then managed to shave a chunk of that deficit off before the half and went to the break, trailing 34-27.

At that precise moment, the Guru learned through the magic of blackberry email that his second of several travel options for Saturday was no longer in play.

He quickly scurried for the media room to see if a very cheap Saturday early morning flight to Raleigh-Durham Airport was still alive.

One seat was still available. So with a tentative credential already in place at soldout Cameron Indoor Stadium and the distant scent of the Angus Barn Steakhouse near the RDU airport inside the Guru’s mind, he hit the keyboard of the laptop and became part of the flight’s passenger list.

The meeting will be the first between Duke and Maryland since the Terrapins’ thrilling upset victory over the Blue Devils in April in overtime to win their first NCAA title.

That triumph and a roster virtually intact with even more talented additions enabled coach Brenda Frese’s bunch to hit this season as the No. 1 ranked team, a spot they’ve held unbeaten into their first major showdown.

Duke, also unbeaten, has worked its way to the No. 3 slot, and it has been a 1-2-3 hold on the top of the Associated Poll by the Atlantic Coast Conference for the last several weeks with North Carolina, also unbeaten, located between the other two powers.

Meanwhile, on Friday night as the Guru returned to the game a few minutes in the second half after punching the airline ticket, the scoreboard reflected that Penn was having trouble punching a victory into its won-loss record.

Quakers coach Pat Knapp looked at the Quakers’ dismal second-half shooting from the field at 25 percent after a torrid 59 percent in the first half as a cause of his team’s demise.

Kayleen Fitzsimmons of Cornell tied Penn’s Joey Rhoads for game-scoring honors with 17 points each. Jeomi Maduka scored 13 points for the Big Red and Gretchen Gregg had 11.

Monica Naltner had 12 points for the Quakers, well below her 19.1 average, and Lauren Pears and Anca Popovici each had 11 points.

“We obviously didn’t show up to start the game,” Cornell coach Dayna Smith said. ``Defensively, we didn’t stick to our game plan.’’

It was a homecoming of sorts for Smith, who was an assistant to former Penn coach Kelly Greenberg, who is now at Boston U.

Several Cornell players also call the area home, including freshman Allie Fedorowicz, a St. Basil’s Academy graduate who is a niece of Greenberg’s.

Freshman Virginia McMunigal is a graduate of Penn Charter, Claire Perry is a graduate of Mount St. Joe’s Academy, and junior Lindsay Krasna is a graduate of Pennsbury High.

“This game was obviously a gut check for us,” Smith said of her team who will play at Princeton, Saturday night. Columbia will visit Penn.

Asked about getting over the loss in a quick turnaround, Rhoads began by stating, ``We’re pretty (ticked) off right now,’’ she said.

St. Joseph’s tops La Salle in afternoon Atlantic Ten/Big Five game on Hawk Hill.

Earlier our day began with a noontime game at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse between the Hawks and Explorers.

That coverage went to print to top Friday night’s women’s roundup in The Inquirer.

Because the story probably shrunk between editions due to space constraints and later games at night, here is the original pre-edited version with an extra quote thrown in the story that we couldn’t fit at the time of our submission.

By Mel Greenberg

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

St. Joseph’s turned La Salle’s best weapon of recent games against the Explorers Friday afternoon to gain a 71-60 triumph at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.

The victory by the Hawks (8-7, 1-1 Atlantic Ten) counted both in the Atlantic Ten Conference and Big Five title chases.

St. Joseph’s and Temple are the only teams still unbeaten in the City Series round-robin at 2-0. La Salle (13-4, 1-1) fell to 2-1 in the Big Five.

``Actually, getting the first Atlantic Ten home win is what we were concentrating on more,’’ St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. ``But being 2-0 is also a great place to be and puts us in contention to win the Big Five.’’

La Salle had tied a school record recently with 11 three-pointers in the Explorers’ previous two games to add to three other times they hit that total in their history.

That long-range number re-appeared in the statistics yesterday, but this time the total was achieved by the Hawks, who shot 11-for-24 from beyond the arc.

St. Joseph’s senior Ayahna Cornish, who scored 20 points, was 3-for-7 in three point attempts, while Jen Oyler shot 5-for-8 in the category on the way to 18 points. All nine of Jenna Loschiavo’s points came off of a 3-for-5 effort shooting the three. Whitney Ffrench also scored in double figures with 10 points.

La Salle, which was only 4-of-7 on three point attempts, got 20 points each from Carlene Hightower and Crista Ricketts, and 11 from Jamie Walsh. Melanie Gibbons and Ricketts each grabbed 12 rebounds for the Explorers, who had a 43-30 advantage on the backboards.

``We showed a lot of toughness on the part of our shooters, especially Loschiavo’’ Griffin said of the Hawks’ long-range scorers. ``She was 0-for-4 in the first half and then it became 0-for-5, but then she was 3-for-3. That just shows the mental toughness in coming back and taking that sixth shot, take that seventh shot, and that eighth shot.’’

St. Joseph’s trailed only once in a closely-fought first half in which the Hawks held a 30-27 lead at the end of the period.

They stayed ahead the rest of the way, turning aside several La Salle rallies. Oyler’s trey got the Hawks’ lead into double digits at 57-45 with 8 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game.

``I hadn’t been shooting that well or getting that may looks (shots at the basket) the last couple of games,” Oyler said of her performance. “So, yeah it felt good.’’

It didn’t feel that great for La Salle coach Tom Lochner.

``We spent two days identifying them as the shooters (Oyler and Loschiavo) and we made mistakes and they made us pay for it,” he said.

Although Hightower had another outstanding effort, the loss nullified any joy over her performance.

``When shooters can shoot, we just have to be in their face and make them do something else,’’ Hightower said. ``Our coaches pounded that into our heads for three days. So we just have to get better at that.’’

Temple 73, St. Bonaventure 55 – Kamesha Hairston scored 20 points, Fatima Maddox had 16, and Lady Comfort scored 12 as the Owls (12-4, 2-0 A-10) won an Atlantic Ten Conference game against the Bonnies (10-7, 0-2) in Olean, N.Y. Temple had won eight straight.


Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.

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