Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Staley Reacts to Latest WNBA News

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Before starting this post, the author would like to briefly note two things. First, that he suspects that this blog and the Inquirer now have the same number of foreign bureaus, for better or worse; and second, that he just saw a television ad for the Inquirer's forthcoming jobs supplement, which gives him some optimism about the marketing department. Now, on with the show.


As Mel noted previously, I filled in for him covering the Brown-Temple game on Friday night. Yes, that might be a reflection of one 23-year-old Philadelphian's social life, but I hope it's not too much of one.

Anyway, I had a few reasons for wanting to attend this game. First, those of you who've read this blog for a while know that I always enjoy watching Ivy League teams, no matter their level of talent relative to the opposition. A family commitment kept me away from the Princeton-Penn game last night at the Palestra -- though, from what I've heard, the same cannot be said for now-former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher. His daughter, Meagan, is one of the Tigers' top players, and one of the main reasons why Princeton is considered among the favorites to win the Ancient Eight title this year.

Anyway, to return to the point, I figured Friday's game would be a good time to ask Temple coach Dawn Staley for her views on two pieces of recent news to which she is connected -- the folding of the WNBA's Charlotte Sting, where she played from 1999 to 2005, and the retirement of Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor, who coached Staley in her final season as a player.

It turns out I was beaten to the punch. Credit is due to the reporter for the Temple News, the school's student newspaper, who asked Staley the Charlotte question before I did.

Staley admitted that she had "not much" of a reaction because she has been so tied up in her coaching duties of late.

"I'm in Temple mode -- when I'm in Temple mode, anything outside Temple really doesn't affect me," she said. "I know I'm not playing anymore, and I just keep up with players and not really any organizations or franchises."

But the media pack sensed that this was not the end of the subject, and indeed, Staley elaborated just a bit.

"I actually talked to one Charlotte Sting player, Kelly Mazzante -- she's from this area -- she's got to go into the Expansion Draft," Staley said. "I think she's looking forward to it, but Charlotte's a good city."

Mazzante is in fact from Montoursville, Pa., which isn't really in the Philadelphia region; it is, however, close to Williamsport, which you all might know as the home of the Little League World Series. It is also not far from State College, which I am sure you all know is where Penn State, Mazzante's alma mater, is located.

The odds from here are that there will be more to come on this subject later if events warrant.

On the subject of Van Chancellor's retirement, Staley said that the longtime coach is "going to be sorely missed."

"I spoke to him before he announced it," she said. "It's sad, because he's given a whole lot to women's basketball, and to see a career come to an end, it's always sad. He's my last coach that I played for, so I'm always going to be forever indebted to him for giving me the opportunity to come to Houston and try to win a WNBA championship."

Finally, one of the things I forgot to mention to Mel in relaying the events of Friday was that Temple celebrated the birthday of Staley's mother, Estelle, with a surprise ceremony during the game's final media timeout.

"I thought that was pretty sweet," Dawn said. "I always try to come up with different surprises for my mother's birthday and I think this might have topped it."

I overheard at one point a Temple staffer saying that it took quite a bit of effort to coax Mrs. Staley out of her house, but that after the celebration she admitted that it was a good thing that she came.

"She actually was late getting to the game," Dawn said of her mother. "I was trying to get her here because it was supposed to be at halftime. But that's my mom -- she gets here, and she'll celebrate whenever she gets here."

The aforementioned Temple News reporter asked Dawn -- simply for the purpose of reporting to the public, of course -- to disclose her mother's age. Dawn did not hesitate, and said that her mother turned 64.

So happy birthday to Mrs. Staley from all of us in Guru-land.


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