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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

March Madness: Rutgers' Defense Wins ... WNBA Coaches

Guru's Note: As a present to apparently many of you who have been visiting here without seeing new copy the last 24 hours, here is a special story that only appeared in our New Jersey zone in Saturday's paper with coaches, particularly in the WNBA, praising Rutgers' defense.

The Guru has also been busy making the rounds, keeping up with the WNBA activities, and will have reports over night from the media and WNBA parties. There's still a chance Phoenix could make a deal involving the Mercury's No.1 pick.

We'll also be emceeing the United States Basketball Writers Association, Tuesday morning brunch, also open to media reps who are not members, if you are here in Cleveland, or contact the Guru ahead of time for access. It will be in the Marriott.

Later that day, the Guru has been asked to speak at the WBCA's Awards' brunch on behalf of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees class of 2007, of which he is a member.

-- Mel

By Mel Greenberg

Inquirer Staff Writer

CLEVELAND - Rutgers' daunting defense isn't necessarily making the Scarlet Knights the favorite to win the NCAA Women's Final Four that gets under way tomorrow night at the Quicken Loans Arena.

However, the way Rutgers has developed to advance here has drawn praise and admiration from C. Vivian Stringer's colleagues at the Women's Basketball Coaches Association annual convention.

Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie has seen her Spartans victimized twice by the Scarlet Knights this season, including a 70-57 defeat at home in East Lansing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"I don't want to see Rutgers any more. I've had enough of Rutgers," McCallie said with a smile.

"They've just gotten better and better. It's remarkable where they've come from. The young kids are surprisingly not young, and [Stringer] grew them up very quickly.

"They're remarkable to me considering the toughness and the aggressiveness of their defense."
McCallie coached Kia Vaughn, the Scarlet Knights' 6-foot-4 sophomore center, last summer on a USA Basketball squad.

"I'm very proud of her," McCallie said. "She's a force. She continues to get better and better. But even more so, she has a swagger about her defense that gets the team pretty excited, too."

Rutgers will meet Louisiana State, which also is being noted for its defense, in the opening national semifinals game before North Carolina meets Tennessee.

In the same downtown hotel lobby where McCallie spoke, WNBA coaches who are here for the pre-draft camp and Wednesday's selections were busy holding mock rounds among themselves.

Unlike a year ago, when Scarlet Knights senior Cappie Pondexter was the second overall pick in the first round by the Phoenix Mercury, the pro coaches are unable to target anyone on Rutgers this time.

The reason is simple. The squad does not have any seniors.

Still, Rutgers' style has caught the attention of the pro coaches, who are also looking ahead for future talent.

"I saw them early against Mississippi at Rutgers," said Seattle Storm coach Anne Donovan, who will coach the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing, China. "They make you play ugly offense. Their defense is so strong and disruptive. It got them to the Final Four, so it seems to work for them."

New York Liberty assistant coach Nick DiPillo, who grew up in North Brunswick, near Rutgers' campus, saw the Scarlet Knights during various stages of the season.

"Playing in Coach Stringer's system, defensively, isn't the easiest thing in the world," he said. "But they did a great job of coming together as a team. They knocked off a couple of teams after a tough Old Dominion loss. That was a real turning point. They're really peaking at the right time."

Washington Mystics coach Richie Adubato has been known as a defensively-oriented specialist.

"They're probably as good a pressure team as I've seen play this year," Adubato said. "They've got great tenacity, and they're going to force a lot of turnovers. But it's constant pressure.

"Usually that type of defense wears you down in the end and makes a difference at the end of games when people can't shoot anymore. It's a credit to the way they play."

Minnesota Lynx assistant coach Teresa Edwards, a former star guard in the Olympics and at Georgia as well as in the professional ranks, saw little of Rutgers but was impressed nonetheless.
"They look more mature on the floor as individuals,'' Edwards said. "They have goals. You can really tell they are going for this [NCAA title] and they know what they want.

"They could have easily folded [early in the season], and they didn't, and that's a credit to Coach Stringer.

"I know who she is. I know what she stands for. Great coach. Great woman. Great credit to her."
Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A warning to drivers on Interstate 95

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Hello yet again...

Your Guru has asked me to note here on the blog that he is currently hurrying to Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to Pittsburgh, from where he will drive to Cleveland for the Final Four.

He would have been out the door earlier but the news crossed his desk this afternoon that Temple coach Dawn Staley has signed a six-year contract extension. Mel further asked me to note that at least this time he was at his desk instead of at the sushi restaurant in Greensboro, N.C., where he was informed of Rene Portland's departure from Penn State last week.

Mel will see you all in Cleveland, or at least those of you who are going to Cleveland.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hello, Rutgers fans

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Greetings, all you out there in the realm of the Scarlet Knights. Mel Greenberg and I put together a podcast previewing the Women's Final Four, and we talk a good bit about Rutgers' chances of winning it all.

We also talk about the other teams of course, so if you're a fan of Tennessee, North Carolina or LSU, you'll hear Mel's thoughts on your team.

And if you're "Molto Monday" columnist Acacia O'Connor, you'll hear about a Cinderella team from this year's tournament that plays in the same town as your Division III institution.

You can download the show, or any of the other previous episodes of the Inquirer's College HoopsCast, by clicking here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

March Madness: Rutgers Heads for Women's Final Four

By Mel Greenberg

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Hello All

We have a lo-o-o-n-g drive back to Philadelphia on Tuesday from a trip that started in a winter ice storm and has now extended to summer weather.

The Rutgers game story covering the win over Arizona State for print should show on Philly.com. We are also going to write for the Wednesday paper in the next few hours to cover the time we will be traveling.

But the Guru's hunch paid off. When Temple was able to play tough defense on Duke in the Owls' loss to the Blue Devils Tuesday night in nearby Raleigh, the Guru thought Rutgers might be able to complete the deal off the way it had been performing of late.

But who could foresee the way that game evolved on Saturday. The Guru's selling point on staying here was that Saturday's winner was probably going to head to Cleveland, which is to take nothing away from a very fine Arizona State team.

And so Rutgers' remarkable run continues. The Guru will be involved in all kinds of events in Cleveland along with coverage, which we'll address when we get back home.

So that's it until Tuesday night at this venue.

-- Mel

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March Madness: Scarlet (Knights) Fever

By Mel Greenberg

GREENSBORO, N.C. _ The Guru first would like to take you back down memory lane to the beginning of that wonderful month, December, 2006.

On December 1, the Guru discussed the shrinking NCAA contender field so early in the season.

He named five teams that had solidified themselves as legitimate title threats -- Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma. In terms of dislodging any of the five, the Guru mentioned there was room for a Cinderella -- Can you say Mississippi over Maryland -- and then mentioned Georgia, LSU, and Connecticut as other threats besides a then-unknown Cinderella, which became the Rebels.

And then the Guru made this comment about a Rutgers squad that was slipping off almost every other person's forecast:

Looking at the rest of the rankings, Rutgers, which might slide off the list before moving upwards, has enough talent that if the Scarlet Knights have it all together in late February, they might be a decent threat.

And so here we are on the current marathon: Day nine of the Guru held travel hostage by the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

Our own print coverage of the 53-52 win by Rutgers over Duke should eventually appear on Philly.com in a few hours, but we are here for enhancement.

So in those final, frantic seconds, we first heard what Essence Carson was thinking.

We then put the question to Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer and got an answer that caused a forest somewhere in Maine to lose three trees to provide the paper upon which Stringer's comments were printed.

So what was the Guru thinking as the final minute approached.

Just try and be normal -- no not Rutgers -- the Guru, who discovered that his seat placement put him squarely on row two but directly behind the two ESPN broadcasters, making possible a background appearance when the camera focused on the ESPN duo.

The ACC media czarina, incidentally, has informed that the Guru will be in the same location Monday night.

Now back to replay action.

Matee Ajavon hits a three and Rutgers is down just a point with 40 seconds left (I'm doing this off of memory so we may be a bit inacurrate).

They go the other way. A shot goes up from Duke, it misses, we see a crowd, and suddenly there's Epiphanny Prince going coast to coast and, wow, Rutgers has a one-point lead with 12 seconds left.

Imagine, a kid who became famous the year before for scoring 113 points in a high school game in Brooklyn is about to become Rutgers history with a mere field goal.

Think about it, field goal football -- landmark win, field goal wbb -- landmark win.

But there's still time for Duke. The Blue Devils head the other way, suddenly, Carson has taken the ball out of Lindsey Harding's hands with 5.6 seconds left.

What an amazing win. No way they lose now. But then a thought seeps through.

What do you mean, no way. This is C. Viv ball where anything is possible until the time expires.

And so Carson decides to go long-ball in the wrong sport. Harding gets the interception and gets fouled with 0.1 seconds left.

And so the Guru, thinks, how many more times does he have to go through covering this kind of moment in Stringer history.

From Cheyney-Maryland in AIAW history, to Iowa-Ohio State in NCAA history, to a bunch of games in between, and now this.

Harding goes to the line and takes the first shot. As they once said when the New York Giants won a Super Bowl on Buffalo's missed field goal -- wide middle.

OK, it will be overtime. Then the shot goes up and, and, clunk, wide middle again. -- Who would believe the best player on the best team in the nation would miss two foul shots.

And the next scene on the monitor is Stringer and assistant coach Marianne Stanley hugging each other -- what a great Philly picture.

And then it's wow -- one game from the Final Four, followed soon by a phone call from the home office. ``Stay down there with Rutgers all the way.''

So, we'll be back in print late Sunday afternoon and here in Guru blog land later.

(EDIT: You're also in the morning paper and on Philly.com, Mel -- Jonathan T.)

Incidentally, for those of you in Rutgers land desiring to attend, the city of Greensboro awaits you since there is a panic that the Greensboro Colliseum is about to turn into a cavern with Duke, the nearby local team, eliminated.

The drive for you will be about nine hours with a stop or two for gas or quick snacks. Head down 95 to 295 outside Washington and follow Richmond signs back to 95. Below Richmond you will branch into I-85 and then just past Durham you will jump on I-40 and head west to here.


You might get a cheap Southwest Airlines fare out of Philly to Raleigh-Durham Airport and then rent a car for the one-hour drive to here.


-- On second thought, never mind, the Guru is well-read in Arizona and will refrain from causing chalk talk on the Sun Devils' blackboard.

And one other quick thought.

You should know for one of the most excruciating moments any athlete at any level can experience as Harding did, she handled the post-game locker room scene and the media with class and dignity.

She's well on the way to becoming the pro the WNBA crowd desires.

-- Mel

Friday, March 23, 2007

Road to Knoxville and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

Guru's Note: As many of you have gathered, we've been a little, ahem, busy with a print story and also getting set up here in Greensboro for the next round of the NCAAs.

But Karen Tucker, the WBHOF director of basketball relations, has checked in with more info on activities from Knoxville. In her previous life at the New Haven Register, she would have just dumped the newspaper's budget to get to Fresno with UConn.

Instead, here's another flex of her writing muscles with a report. And, yes, you Rutgers folks, Aditi and Bridget are back on the trail and arrived here early Thursday night. Having seen tem well fed, we now have to show them the way to the arena. We'll be back later.

By Karen Tucker

Greetings from Knoxville!

Since there are a few days between NCAA tournament games, I figured I’d keep you all entertained with the latest news from the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Plans for the 2007 Induction are well underway. Information is starting to spill in about who will represent each of the six inductees the night of the actual Induction Ceremony and perhaps I can leak some of that out through this blog in the next few months.

In the meantime, here's how to get your tickets for the 2007 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, June 8-9 in Knoxville, Tennessee:

In order to be a part of this spectacular event, please call the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame at 865-633-9000 or order online at www.wbhof.com. Ticket packages range from $75-$5,000, including tickets to the Gala Reception and/or Induction Ceremony on Saturday night, “Chronicles of Legends” dinner on Friday night. Corporate packages are tax deductible.

This year’s inductees, Andrea Lloyd Curry, Pamela Kelly-Flowers, Daedra Charles-Furlow, Bridgette Gordon, Mel Greenberg and Andy Landers, will receive the coveted Eastman Award during Saturday’s “Night of Legends” at the Tennessee Theatre.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history!

This weekend the Junior Pro National Championship Tournament comes to Knoxville.
Forty-three teams will compete in six different divisions until a national champion is crowned. Last year's champions were LaFollettee, TN (Coed Instructional), Northwest Mystics, TN (Girl’s training league), E.K.B.L., TN (Girl’s Junior Varsity Restricted), Lakeview Optimist, IN (Boy’s Instructional), Knoxville Dreissig, TN (Boy’s Training league), Club Express, MI (Boy’s Junior Varsity Restricted)

Stay tuned to see who earns the 2007 titles.

Also in Knoxville was the recent VIP Movie Premiere for Believe in Me. The movie, which tells the true story of legendary Oklahoma high school basketball coach Jim Keith, premiered in Knoxville on March 8 before being released in select markets nation wide on March 9. The day was a huge success!

It started with a tour of the Hall of Fame with Jim Keith, his wife, son and daughter-in-law, original players from the Sayre High School team and their families, Executive Producer Wayne Gilbert, Associate Producer Sean Dugan and family, and lead actors Jeffrey Donovan and Samantha Mathis.

The Oklahoma memorabilia in the Hall was of particular interest and the most entertaining part of the tour may have been when Jeffrey Donovan, in full actor mode, jumped "In the Huddle" exhibit and started shouting out orders to the "players." Even Jim Keith got a kick out of the coaching rendition.

Following the tour the group went to Calhoun’s for the true taste of Knoxville while overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River. Immediately from lunch, I raced to the airport to greet Director/Screenwriter Bob Collector and bring him to the Pinnacle Theatre at Turkey Creek to tape “Live at Five.”

Finally it was time to walk the red carpet. The limo arrived with Jim Keith, his family, the producers, and Donovan and Mathis at approximately 6 p.m. Autographs were signed and photos were taken as the group entered the lobby. At 6:45 p.m. the crowd filled the theatre and the program began.

After welcoming everyone, I turned it over to Bob Collector to introduce all the special people who made the movie possible. He then introduced Jim Keith to say a few words before the showing.

Throughout the movie, the crowd laughed, cheered and even cried. It was well received by all and was finished with a few more words from Jim Keith, who introduced his original players to the crowd for an informal Q and A.

A few more photos, Jim Keith kindly posed with the Webb High School team that was fresh off celebrating their Tennessee State Championship, and then the stars of the night were whisked away to their limo. The celebration continued with an impromptu "after party" at the Marriott.

All in all, the event was a huge success.

“We had a wonderful time while in Knoxville,” Keith said. “I hope to make it back and take another tour of the fabulous (Hall of Fame), I enjoyed that as much as the movie premiere.”

Unfortunately, rumors out of California are that the numbers from the actual release of the movie are not as high as expected. So this is my chance to encourage you all ... if Believe in Me was released in your area, go see it. You will not be disappointed!

I think that wraps up the news from the Hall of Fame for now. Our crew is headed to Cleveland next week to see the final four teams battle for a National Championship! We hope to see you all there!

-Karen Tucker
Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March Madness: Wild Wednesday or Guru's Southern Strategy Continues

By Mel Greenberg

GREENSBORO, N.C. _ So how is your NCAA women's bracket holding up?

First, a leftover line from Tuesday night after the North Carolina State game.

The calendar was about to change with the stroke of midnight and bring the arrival of a new season. It was at that precise moment, the Guru noticed former Wolfpack center Summer Erb in the hallway where the locker rooms were located.

So at that moment, the Guru noted to an NCAA type, ``Spring is here and there goes Summer.''

Now that I got your attention, if you're hanging around to get a little more info on a certain story that hit the print page under the Guru's byline and, hence, also appearing in Philly.com late Wednesday night, that's a hold awaiting further developments, if any.

Travel Madness

But to continue the joys of journalistic travel, you might remember a month ago, oh it was only last Friday, a little weather problem forced us to drive down here to cover Temple's NCAA path back in Raleigh.

So at sunrise 24 hours ago, a decision needed to be enacted -- make the long drive back North or make the short drive over to Greensboro and wait for everyone else to show up Thursday for the regional.

Specifically, in our case, the concentration would now be Rutgers as we remain in local focus.

Home base gave the go-ahead tgo stay and also requested that a story be filed for print this time on Gillian Goring, which will appear on Friday.

Knowing that, a phone call was flashed to Stacey at Rutgers to try to get into the Scarlet Knights' media configuration.

She emailed back the hotel contact here since the Guru would be arriving ahead of the crowd.

The hotel said they couldn't book the Guru directly, it had to be done through the NCAA system.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rogers of the ACC was tied up in hosting meetings and was unable to get back to us as we bore down on the next stop on the tour.

Not to worry, the Guru thought, we'll just go straight to ACC headquarters.

However, because the location did not exist in the massive data base of the Guru's GPS, he figured a quick call to an ACC member contact might produce an address.

So at this time, we offer the following riddle:

What do five ACC member schools have in common?

None of them know the exact address of their conference headquarters.

It could be because they must be blind folded so no one ever discovers the road to the lavish-looking plantation-style edifice that sits alongside the 15th Tee of Grandover Golf Club.

Incidentally, Mark Kimmel of N.C. State gets the prize for the best clue because he thought the office might be near the golf club and that was good enough to get us close.

As nice as the exterior of the ACC looks, apparently the place is in its 30th month of renovation based on a staffer's comment and the 30 or so workers trying to figure out how to position a light bulb.

Anyhow, the visit proved fruitful because someone got to someone to get to someone so the Guru could have a reservation waiting, which did occur several minutes later.

But what did not occur is a room that was actually ready.

So the Guru killed a little time at a nearby mall -- very nearby -- and phoned up North to give Rutgers media colleagues Aditi and Bridgette the good news that their social leader was in place.

A year ago, the Guru had a similar job at the Cleveland regional.

Finally, a room became ready and the Guru set up headquarters and was even told the location of a coin laundry on the complex since the extended road trip was beginning to cause some shortages.

Incidentally, those of you who will be here at the Sheraton Four Seasons, free wireless connection.

Having settled in, the Guru headed for the sushi bar inside the complex which is located next to a night club.

What a juxtaposition. A year ago we dined at Sushi Rock in Cleveland. Down here, we will have sushi and rock in proximity.

Are we having fun, yet?

Well, just as the first piece of California Roll was about to land on the palate, our cell phone went off and the caller had a question. A few minutes later, another call went off from a different part of the country with a similar question.

The Guru decided to drop the eel and consult with the team captain back in the home office.

Meanwhile, the cell phone pattern continued to repeat itself and as the saying goes, Where there's cell phone sounds, there's usually a lot of noise with it. And we thought Lion out today (Thursday) was going to have a different meaning.

Finally, after giving the office what they needed and getting some refinements, of which we were asked to follow up today, it was off to the coin laundry.

Then, we learned of an all-night Steak 'n Shake (Yeah, they all are, so?) and so we went off to see if anyone else was having similar coverage discussions while we tried a late-nite meal.

Then it was back here to once again pen this and prove it isn't always as glorious as it seems.

But, it's a living.

Oh yeah, it was noted to us by a friendly editior that Germantown Academy is in suburban Philadelphia, not the city proper.

-- Mel

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March Madness: Regional Reunions

(Guru's note: Hello all. Guru operations has moved on to Greensboro where we even got to see the estate-looking headquarters of the ACC right off the 15th tee.
Apparently, the post below did not take because of the connection we had late Tuesday night in Raleigh.)

By Mel Greenberg

RALEIGH, N.C. _ Soon after North Carolina State beat Baylor, 78-72, in overtime at the RBC Center, Tuesday night, to advance to the Sweet 16, Wolfpack 6-foot-7 senior center Gillian Goring allowed herself to look ahead to her team’s next opponent and smiled.

``Oh Lord, I guess soon I’ll be hearing from all of them,’’ Goring, a native of Trinidad, said. ``I’m ready for them. I can say that.’’

That would be the large, collective group of media following the Connecticut women, the Fresno regional top seed.

Goring’s appearance on the Wolfpack roster in the Fresno Regional semifinals gives the Huskies media contingent an extra story line besides N.C. State coach Kay Yow’s courageous battle against breast cancer.

There’s also some old karma here dating back to 1998 when the Wolfpack upset Connecticut in Dayton and moved on to the Women’s Final Four.

But when it comes to Goring, she once was the proud future of Connecticut basketball out of Germantown Academy in Philadelphia.

However, the blue chip talent ran into some NCAA academic clearing house difficulty and had to go to junior college in Iowa to get her grades up to gain eligibility at UConn.

When Goring just missed meeting the grade standard at her next stop, she moved on to a junior college in Arkansas and Connecticut eventually gave up pursuit.

Then Goring decided to follow a teammate down here where she thought it would be neat to play for Yow.

Last year she sat on the bench most of the season because the position was owned by Tiffany Stansbury, who was in the news earlier Tuesday signing a camp contract with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

Goring, who was a part of North Carolina State’s ACC tournament upset of Duke – the Blue Devils’ only loss to date – delivered 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Bears.

``It just feels so good because you’re so inspired to perform for coach Yow,’’ Goring said. ``Just seeing her, oh my gosh, you have to push it all for her.’’

Rutgers’ Measuring Stick

There will be a ``haven't we met before?’’ theme across the Sweet 16, but the place that might draw the most interest in the semifinals will be down the road from here in the Greensboro Regional.

That’s where No. 4 Rutgers will face No. 1 Duke, the overall top seed of the NCAA tournament.

The Scarlet Knights were whipped soundly back in December when the Blue Devils visited New Jersey and gave Rutgers an 85-45 pounding that became the worst loss for a C. Vivian Stringer-coached team at the school since she took over the program in the summer of 1995.

Besides Duke’s prowess, it didn’t help that Matee Ajavon played in her first game coming back from surgery on a stress fracture of her left leg. There was also the small matter of a youthful roster trying to figure out what Stringer meant by defense.

Someone could have made a lot of money at the time telling the Rutgers fan base that things might work out ok down the road. In fact, the Guru was one of the few who predicted that Stringer’s bunch, once they get the hang of it, would return to the rankings at the end of January and if they really had their act together by late February, they could make life interesting.

They did that in a dramatic one-week turnaround by squeezing Connecticut right out of the Big East title in Hartford after the Huskies had thrashed the Scarlet Knights at home at the end of the regular season.

The way Temple was able to play defense against Duke Tuesday night had to be encouraging for Rutgers, which was busy taking care of Michigan State.

A few months ago, we said that Rutgers was one of the few teams beyond five powers with a chance to dent one of them and advance to the Final Four.

A win Saturday will put Stringer’s team on the doorstep.

Incidentally, if Arizona State beats Cinderella Bowling Green, Saturday, then Rutgers, by advancing, will get to play the game that was cancelled at a tournament in the Caribbean over the holidays because of the death of a parent of one of ASU’s players.

Ohio of Life

It must feel that way for Tennessee, the top seed in the Dayton Regional, which no longer has a killer path to Cleveland.

Mississippi’s dispatch of defending NCAA champion Maryland, Tuesday night, and Marist’s upsets of Ohio State and Middle Tennessee means that Oklahoma will be the Vols’ toughest threat to advance.

And continuing with the reunion theme, another upset by Mississippi would make the region title game an all-SEC affair if the Vols subdue Marist.

Dancing in Dallas

In 1997 George Washington upset No. 1 North Carolina and advanced to the Elite Eight.

The Colonials will face the Tar Heels again in the semifinals. Meanwhile, if Georgia upsets No. 2 Purdue, and GWU stays alive, the region title game here would be a re-match from earlier in the season when the Colonials beat Georgia out West.

-- Mel

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NCAA Guru Notes: Cinderella Ahead

By Mel Greenberg

RALEIGH, N.C. _ ``Hello Harry, this is Pat.’’

Expect Tennessee coach Pat Summitt to get on the phone with her old friend, Villanova coach Harry Perretta, for some scouting help.

The Wildcats, who won just eight games this season, may not be in postseason play for the first time in a long while, but they were able to do something Ohio State or Middle Tennessee was unable to accomplish in the NCAA tournament.

Villanova beat Marist, which heads for its Sweet 16 debut, this weekend in the Dayton Regional.

Next up for the Red Foxes – Tennessee.

Negotiations Begin for Guru’s June Entourage in Knoxville

Note to the executives at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame: The Guru has signed a prominent video speaker and has begun negotiations with a prospective escort for the induction ceremonies on June 8-9.

Public announcements will begin after the NCAA tournament has concluded.

Aditi Fights Adversity

As bad as the Guru had it in trying to get here around Friday’s ice storm, listen to this account of our esteemed colleague Aditi Kinkhabwala of the Bergen Record, who was sidelined Tuesday night back in North Jersey instead of at the Rutgers-Michigan State game in East Lansing because of difficulty from the weather.

The following email to us is reprinted with Aditi’s permission:

Well, I had the absolute day from hell. And I'm here in NJ, when I should be
in Michigan. So...

First they canceled Friday's 1:05pm flight at 8am, which was totally
foolhardy. There was nothing on the ground then! In any case, they pushed me
to the 8:25am Saturday morning which I KNEW was not happening.

My limo driver calls me at 4:20am Saturday to double check he has to get me
- and to tell me he doesn't know if he actually can. I spent 35 minutes on
American's call line, holding, then beg my way onto the 9:55am, figuring it
has a better chance of getting out. (The early flights they just cancel
instead of posptoning.)

We're on the road to LaGuardia at 7am. Once there, my 8:25am (which the
phone service insisted was leaving on time) is indeed canceled and we're
told that half of us on the 9:55 may not actually get on the plane b/c the
weather requires extra fuel and that means the plane must carry less weight
in passengers.

We wait, we wait, we wait, while they keep insisting we're taking off shortly.

Finally, around 1 pm, they load us on a bus to cross the
not-yet-plowed airport to another gate.

We climb aboard that plane and then wait for the tow truck to pull us 20 feet pass a mound of snow so we can start taxiing on our own to the runway.

In the 45 minutes we wait, those of us in the back start smelling something burning - the fuel tank had started to smoke. Maintenance comes, checks it out, and has all of us get off and wait on the bus (which has been re-called) while they examine the burning
closer. Then they decide we should just be driven back to the gate.

We wait at the gate, we wait, we wait and they tell us they're looking for
another plane.

They finally decide they're going to cancel us. And no one
will get out before Monday. And then they tell us they don't know where the
guy who unloaded our luggage took it.

I waited another two and a half hours for the luggage to be found. I left in
the dark, I got home in the dark and I honestly don't know if I'll make it
out there.

I'm really aggravated by the NCAA too. Stacey at Rutgers begged and pleaded
to allow us (the beat reporters) on the charter. We all agreed to pay our
fares and there were plenty of empty seats, so we wouldn't be bumping

The argument was that isn't coverage and attention that we provide

The NCAA said no.

I'm not making it, Bridget's not making and poor
Paul's trying again today, but he's not definite. Smart, right?

RU had better get to Greensboro.

March Madness: Temple No Longer Just About Staley

Guru’s Note: OK, a lot of of you have been visiting and not finding anything new at this site since Saturday’s early morning arrival.

Well, I did say coverage would be multiple-platform so our energies have been concentrated on print since that is the medium from which we derive our main paycheck.

But here are two separates, one of which is below since we did not have room for print, and one above this with musings and whatever to make up for our Molto Monday woman, whom I believe reported last week she was going to spend some time away from home base in Italy.

By Mel Greenberg

RALEIGH, N.C. _ When the Temple women’s basketball delegation awoke Monday morning after the Owls’ late-night victory on Sunday at the RBC Center over Nebraska to stay alive in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament’s Greensboro Regional, they found something unexpected outside their hotel rooms.

The USA Today edition, which can be found usually left at the door of most guests, had Temple in the headlines to lead the roundup of the weekend’s activity.

``I was surprised we made it at all considering how late the game ended,’’ Temple coach Dawn Staley said, showing an understanding of deadlines of publications which are printed on the East Coast.

``Anytime you see Temple highlighted in the headlines, you know we’ve come a long way,’’ said Staley.

A former WNBA all-star and three-time Olympic gold-medal winning point guard, Staley retired from her prolific playing career in September.

``We’re proud, not just for this team that’s playing in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, but of players in the past who have afforded us the opportunity to be here. Not being here for the first time, but it being the fourth or fifth time that we’re here. So our program has really taken some steps in the right direction,’’ Staley continued.

``Opportunities to play Duke, to put ourselves in a position to compete and win, can only pay big dividends for the future of the program.”

For the first time since taking the Temple job in the spring of 2000 and turning around a program that hadn’t won in a decade, Staley will enter a new routine once the Owl’s season is over.

In the past, she went right into training for the WNBA season, so until now, even though she called it quits last summer, her routine has still been familiar going right into coaching Temple.

``I won’t really know how different things are until May (when the WNBA season starts),’’ Staley said.

``I know I’m done because I really don’t have that urge to work out as I did. And when I had to do it last year and the year before, it was a struggle to get up and do it,’’ she added.

``I fought it, and I fought my training, and I knew it was time. I could never get back (to her prime),’’ Staley noted. ``I couldn’t get back last year as much as I tried, I just couldn’t. I really felt the weight of being an older player. I didn’t feel it years before, but last year was probably the year I knew, `It’s time.’

“My body told me, and being in the locker room (with the Houston Comets) as well. There are things that don’t interest you anymore. Being with 22 year old players coming in, you just don’t have the same interests.

``I mean it was fun, but at the end of our practice I had to go home and I had another job to do – I had to recruit. I had to talk to the office. They’re (WNBA teammates) going out, movies, hanging out, mall, clubs – those things interested me before but not now.’’

Staley does have a trip to Italy on the horizon as an assistant coach with the U.S. Olympic team, which will take a training tour in April. Ironically, Duke coach Gail Goestenkors, who was on the other sideline Tuesday night, is also on the staff under Anne Donovan.

``I’m always going to be a player at heart,’’ Staley said. ``But I know I really can’t. But that part of me I will instill in our players. Just because when you have that competitiveness, you have somewhat of an edge, somewhat of a motivation to achieve – not just on the basketball court, but in life.

``When it’s time to outwork somebody, you have that competive spirit.’’

Staley also talked about the moment of truth, when a player has a chance to rise to the occasion such as reserve point guard Ashley Morris did on Sunday night.

``You can tell them, but there’s going to come a time when you’re going to have to come through. There’s coming to come a time when you have to play a certain way,’’ Staley said.

``And if you don’t have it, you’re going to fail in that moment. And then you’re going to feel bad. I’m going to feel bad. And we’re going to have to start this process all over again.’’

In the early years of Temple’s program under Staley, the news interest was focused on her debut into a new career.

Now, the Owls, themselves, are worthy of attention in their own right, a change Staley felt arrived by last season.

``We had a player like a Candice Dupree, and you look at what she’s done for our program, last year was the year our program took on a change from people saying Dawn Staley before saying the Temple Owls. It became. `Who is this Candice Dupree?’’’

The former Temple center, who became Temple’s all-time player, was drafted sixth overall in the first round by the Chicago Sky and made the WNBA all-rookie team, as well as being chosen for the All-Star game.

Dupree even got to play against Staley, her former coach, a few times, including the All-Star game.

Duke’s Lindsey Harding, who on Tuesday was named to the USA Basketball senior women’s training team, was asked if she missed a chance to go against Staley this summer when the Duke star is expected to play in the WNBA.

``I probably would have been in awe of her,’’ Harding said.

Staley continued to talk about the change in perception of Temple.

``That’s what I always wanted. I wanted Temple to have its own identity. Of course, in order for us to do that, it helps to have somebody with a name that can bring on some national attention and then, hopefully, with that in play, with our passion, with our ability to put ourselves on the national spotlight, that helps.

``Now Kamesha (Hairston) is doing it, hopefully Lady (Comfort) will do it next year and we’ll have people continue to come in and be the face of our program.’’

-- Mel

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Madness: On Second Thought . . .

By Mel Greenberg

RALEIGH, N.C. _ The preceding dateline means one thing in relation to the previous post -- We made it !!!!

So we needed to hear 96 tracks of our 146 Disco play list on the Ipod. Whatever works.

But the GPS predicted the Guru would arrive here at the Marriott's doorstep at 5 a.m. and we did.

Meanwhile, as the Guru started out, he checked on how the fortunes of his Rutgers media colleagues Aditi Kinhabwala of the Bergen Record and Bridget Wentworth of the Newark Star Ledger had fared trying to get to Michigan. -- Not too good.

As for us, driving south out of Philadelphia was quite the adventure, but when we got below Wilmington, the Delaware authorities have discovered something they have yet to learn in Pennsylvania -- how to treat a highway suffering from the effects of an ice storm.

The I-95 road surface was at pavement level, and when we got near the Susquehanna River, the conditions had turned to rain.

Once we got within range of Washington, everything was dry and normal.

The GPS readout said we drove 403 miles in 7 hours, 35 minutes, of which 42 minutes involved stopping to refuel the gas tank and shop for munchies.

Meanwhile, our colleague Donna Tommelleo of the Associated Press bureau in Hartford, which is also hosting two sets of sub-regionals, emailed some notes describing how UMBC's bus broke down on the New Jersey Turnpike and that defending NCAA champion Maryland was unable to get a flight up to Hartford.

We also discovered Temple is next door to us in another hotel.

Meanwhile, what has two doors and lots of space and requires a roadmap to navigate.

That's right, Guru fans.Yours truly landed the last available room in the Marriott, which happens to be a hospitality suite on the top floor.

So you party types in Raleigh see me later today at the RBC Center and we'll organize.

But now that the sun is coming up, it's time for some shut-eye.

All begins well that ends well as for Friday's chapter.

Saturday's will unfold in a few hours.

-- Mel

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Madness - The Road to The Road Not All Glamour

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ Two years ago this weekend we began the Guru's blog offering a little of everything.

Welcome aboard to the trip to ---.

It seems only 24 hours ago that "Plan A" was in place for the front part of the tournament.

As locally obligated as we are every year at the outset, the fine folks designing the NCAA bracket awarded the Guru, courtesy of the Temple draw, another trip to the triangle, but this time away from Durham in Raleigh's domain with the Owls seeded eighth and set to play No. 9 Nebraska.

Oh yeah, Duke is the other name of note in this draw. We've already been down that way several times this year for the Blue Devils's matchup with Maryland in Durham, and the 1-2 showdown in Chapel Hill with North Carolina.

Each trip offered the fine dining of the Angus Barn steakhouse near the airport, so there was much to look forward to along with Temple coach Dawn Staley returning her haunts where she used to terrorize Atlantic Coast Conference opponents as the star of Virginia in the early 1990s.

But, as teams along the seaboard learned Friday, the movers and shakers may be right. Get the timing of this tournament moved back a week or so further into April and we might avoid the weather disaster that struck several of us.

We already heard from Rutgers being sent back to campus when flights out of Newark, N.J., were cancelled, thus delaying the Scarlet Knights' trip to East Lansing, Mich., by a day to open play against East Carolina at Michigan State.

Temple was set to fly on Southwest on an early afternoon flight from here. Your Guru had a 5:30 p.m. departure scheduled on the same airline.

We learned on the way to the office at mid-afternoon where we were going to make a quick stop that Temple's flight was cancelled and the Owls were planning to bus to Raleigh.

Soon thereafter, the Guru's flight was cancelled.

Not to worry.

Southwest re-booked us on an 8:50 p.m. flight.

Twenty minutes later as we attempted electronic check-in, we learned that flight was cancelled.

Having been caught in the office, a friendly editor asked if we could file a quick Rutgers story to fill a news hole in the Jersey section caused by high school cancellations.

That will show at philly.com as will two other stories -- a short on temple's travel troubles and our opening round philosophical piece.

We then returned to pursue a variety of options to get out of Dodge, aka Philly, until only one frightening alternative remained.

The Guru is about to do an all-night drive to Raleigh.

The press conferences most necessary to us are not until late Saturday afternoon.

As soon as we sign off here, we are heading for the company garage to program the GPS and pick a selection of music from our 59.8 gig-size collection on the Ipod.

If you want to stay in touch, you can email the Guru at mgreenberg@phillynews.com and leave either a message or a number for conversation and we'll report back. Whatever it takes to stay awake.

Feel free to guess the arrival time.

Through the wonderful laptop technology of aircards, hotspots, and wireless, we'll report our progress along the way.

We'll be back at some point tonight. The Guru has targeted 5 a.m. for arrival time.

-- Mel

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Durkin Quits Duquesne: Will McConnell Serio Be the Successor?

By Mel Greenberg

Dan Durkin, a native of Philadelphia, resigned as Duquesne's women's basketball coach Wednesday after 14 seasons.

The Dukes finished 7-20 overall and 2-12 in the Atlantic Ten, failling to qualify for the recent conference tournament in Cincinnati.

Durkin's overall record was 176-217 with his best year over the program occuring in 1998 when Dquesne was 19-9 and senior Korie Hlede, a two-time Atlantic Ten player of the year received honorable mention all-America status and was a first-round draft pick in the WNBA.

His departure comes on the eve of an NCAA women's tournament sub-regional being hosted by cross-town rival Pittsburgh of the Big East conference.

In recent season, the Panthers have turned their program around under former Georgia Tech Agnus Berenato and on Monday night Pittsburgh received an at-large bid for the Panthers' first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Pittsburgh, seeded eighth, will meet No. 9 James Madison Sunday night in the first round.

So where might Duquesne turn to find Durkin's successor.

The answer might not be far from the doors of the athletic office in a town where the sport's greatest name is weighing her future options.

Suzie McConnell Serio recently returned to her native city with her family after leaving the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx head coaching job late in the season when the team faded from the playoff hunt.

A former local high school star, McConnell Serio went on to become an all-American at Penn State and was a member of the 1988 gold-medal winning United States olympic squad at the game in Korea.

Ironically, Durkin was an assistant coach at Penn State when McConnell Serio as a storied point guard had the Nittany Lions competing in the Atlantic Ten wars when the Nittany Lions were a member of the conference.

Her one-on-one confrontations with St. Joseph's Debbie Black were some of the best in the sport at the time.

McConnell Serio went on to become a very successful coach of Oakland Catholic in Pittsburgh, landing several state titles.

A decade after the gold medal, she came out of retirement to star in the WNBA with the former Cleveland Cavaliers and went on to cach the league's Minnesota Lynx, where she earned coach of the year honors before the team began to fade this past season.

McConnell Serio has also provided color commentary on broadcasts of Big Ten Conference women's basketball games.

There were whispers recently at the Atlantic Ten tournament that Durkin was going to depart Duquesne and McConnell Serio's name was speculated as a successor.

However, she said at the time she had had no discussion with Duquesne officials.

But she did add that with the family growing older, she thought she was ready to take a shot at a college coaching job if the opportunity was right?

So is Duquesne prepared to take a shot at McConnell Serio?

-- Mel

Mel Speaks to the Masses Again

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Hi again, folks. I'm stopping by to let you know that last night, Mel and I recorded a special edition of the Inquirer's College HoopsCast in which we preview this year's NCAA Women's Tournament. Mel and I talk about the top seeds, potential upsets, local representatives Temple and Rutgers, and who we think will make the Final Four.

You can listen to the show by clicking here. Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AP Poll Category -- Coaching Appearances

Guru's Note: Good morning or whatever

As they say in the WNBA and at ESPN, we'll be posting across multiple platforms over the next several days.

Now that the final poll of the season is over, we'll be listing several categories of performance here that are part of the notes files sent to conferences and schools.

Our coverage in print of the bracket in Tuesday's paper can be found at philly.com although we'll have more extensive reports right here.

Here is the report of coaching appearances all-time overall though this list is not the complete list since we had to cut it at some point. The fuller list, of course, has coaches with less appearances in terms of significance.

We'll have comment later in the day on Jody Conradt's retirement. For the purposes of this chart, she remains current until the season itself is history and then will note the asterisk reflecting her departure.

In terms of Pokey Chatman's retirement from LSU, we left her on the active list for now for those interested in her ranking. Because she left before the polling season ended, Bob Starkey is credited with one appearance as a coach of a ranked team.

By Mel Greenberg
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Quick hits on AP poll (week 19) for coaches thru week No. 19 and FINAL of the 2006-07 poll

(This is 536th poll after week 19). (Records on pages through Monday, 3/12/07)

Coaches With Three Ranked Teams

C. Vivian Stringer (Cheyney-85), (Iowa-155), (Rutgers-116), 356
Jim Foster (St. Joe-35), (Vanderbilt-164), Ohio St.-75), 274
Marianne Stanley (Old Dominion-141), (Southern Cal-24), (Stanford*-18), 183
Gary Blair (Stephen F. Austin-79), (Arkansas-67), (Texas A&M-25), 171
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 – 522 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 414
3. Jody Conradt, Texas – 395
4. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 356
5. Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
6. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 330
7. Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 326
8. **-Leon Barmore, Louisiana Tech (51-shared with Sonja Hogg) – 325
9. Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 292
10.**-Joe Ciampi, Auburn – 290
10. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut, 290
12. Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 274
13. **-Sue Gunter (2 schools – Stephen F. Austin, LSU) – 270
14. Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
15 **-Marsha Sharp, Texas Tech – 264
16. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 240
17. Gail Goestenkors, Duke – 229
18. **-Chris Weller, Maryland - 227
19. Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
20. **-Van Chancellor, Mississippi – 221
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) – 171
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 – 522 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 414
3. Jody Conradt, Texas – 395
4. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 356
5. Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
6. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 330
7. Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 326
8. Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 292
9. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 290
10 Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 274
11. Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
12. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 240
13. Gail Goestenkors, Duke – 229
14. Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
15. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 171
16. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 139
17.Wendy Larry, Old Dominion – 127
18. Kristy Curry (2 schools – Purdue, Texas Tech) – 124
19. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma – 116
20 Carol Ross, (2 schools – Florida, Mississippi) - 114
21. )))-Chris Gobrecht (Washington) - 104
22. Joe McKeown (2 schools - George Washington, New Mexico St.) – 99
23. Cathy Inglese (2 schools - Boston College, Vermont) – 98
24. Melanie Balcomb (2 schools – Xavier, Vanderbilt) – 97
25. ---Jane Albright (N. Illinois, Wisconsin) _ 96
25. Bill Fennelly, (2 schools – Toledo, Iowa) – 96
27. Kim Mulkey, Baylor – 92
28. Doug Bruno, DePaul – 86
29. &&-Jim Bolla, UNLV* – 75
29. Pam Borton, Minnesota – 75
31. Joanne P. McCallie, Michigan St. – 70
32. Debbie Patterson, Kansas St. – 68
33. Brenda Frese (2 schools, Minnesota, Maryland) – 62
34. Pokey Chatman, LSU – 55
35. Sharon Fanning (3 schools – Tenn.-Chattanooga, Kentucky, Miss. St.) – 54
35. Mark French, UC Santa Barbara – 54
37.Kathy Olivier, UCLA 52
38. @@-Cheryl Burnett, Missouri St., 51
38. Tom Collen, (2 schools, Colorado St., Louisville) – 51
40. Charli Turner Thorne, Arizona St. – 47
41. Elaine Elliott, Utah – 45
42. Harry Perretta, Villanova – 44
43. ##-Kurt Budke, Louisiana Tech. – 42
44. ++-Bonnie Henrickson, Virginia Tech – 36
45. Lisa Stockton, Tulane – 34
46. 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..

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Field of 64

By Jonathan Tannenwald

Before I start this, breaking news that Jody Conradt has stepped down as the head women's coach at the University of Texas. More to come on this, no doubt; it is certainly notable that the Longhorns have missed out on the Big Dance for the second season in a row.

You probably already know this, but in case you don't, the field of 64 for teams for this year's NCAA Women's Tournament follows.

Here is a printable bracket you can use to chart your picks, courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dallas Region

Games to be played March 18 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

No. 1 North Carolina (30-3) vs. No. 16 Prairie View (18-13)
No. 8 California (23-8) vs. No. 9 Notre Dame (19-11)

Games to be played March 17 in Los Angeles, Calif.

No. 5 George Washington (26-3) vs. No. 12 Boise State (24-8)
No. 4 Texas A&M (24-6) vs. No. 13 Texas-Arlington (24-8)

Games to be played March 17 in Minneapolis, Minn.

No. 6 Iowa State (25-8) vs. No. 11 Washington (18-12)
No. 3 Georgia (25-6) vs. No. 14 Belmont (25-6)

Games to be played March 17 in Minneapolis, Minn.

No. 7 Georgia Tech (20-11) vs. No. 10 DePaul (19-12)
No. 2 Purdue (28-5) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts (22-10)

Dayton Region

Games to be played March 18 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

No. 1 Tennessee (28-3) vs. No. 16 Drake (14-18)
No. 8 Pittsburgh (23-8) vs. No. 9 James Madison (27-5)

Games to be played March 17 in Palo Alto, Calif.

No. 5 Middle Tennessee St. (29-3) vs. No. 12 Gonzaga (24-9)
No. 4 Ohio State (29-3) vs. No. 13 Marist (27-5)

Games to be played March 17 in Austin, Texas

No. 6 Marquette (25-6) vs. No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (25-8)
No. 3 Oklahoma (26-4) vs. No. 14 Southeast Missouri St. (24-7)

Games to be played March 18 in Hartford, Conn.

No. 7 Mississippi (21-10) vs. No. 10 Texas Christian (21-10)
No. 2 Maryland (27-5) vs. No. 15 Harvard (15-12)

Fresno Region

Games to be played March 18 in Hartford, Conn.

No. 1 Connecticut (29-3) vs. No. 16 Maryland-Baltimore County (16-16)
No. 8 New Mexico (24-8) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay (28-3)

Games to be played March 18 in Raleigh, N.C.

No. 5 Baylor (25-7) vs. No. 12 Tennessee-Chattanooga (25-7)
No. 4 North Carolina State (23-9) vs. No. 13 Robert Morris (24-7)

Games to be played March 17 in Austin, Texas

No. 6 Xavier (26-7) vs. No. 11 West Virginia (20-10)
No. 3 Louisiana State (26-7) vs. No. 14 UNC-Asheville (21-11)

Games to be played March 17 in Palo Alto, Calif.

No. 7 Old Dominion (24-8) vs. No. 10 Florida State (22-9)
No. 2 Stanford (28-4) vs. No. 15 Idaho State (17-13)

Greensboro Region

Games to be played March 18 in Raleigh, N.C.

No. 1 Duke (30-1) vs. No. 16 Holy Cross (15-17)
No. 8 Temple (24-7) vs. No. 9 Nebraska (22-9)

Games to be played March 18 in East Lansing, Mich.

No. 5 Michigan State (23-8) vs. No. 12 Delaware (26-5)
No. 4 Rutgers (22-8) vs. No. 13 East Carolina (19-13)

Games to be played March 17 in Los Angeles, Calif.

No. 6 Louisville (26-7) vs. No. 11 Brigham Young (23-9)
No. 3 Arizona State (28-4) vs. No. 14 UC-Riverside (21-10)

Games to be played March 18 in East Lansing, Mich.

No. 7 Bowling Green (29-3) VS. No. 10 Oklahoma State (20-10)
No. 2 Vanderbilt (27-5) vs. No. 15 Delaware State (20-12)

Molto Madness? The Un-Tourney

by Acacia O'Connor

For college basketball fans all over the United States, these mad weeks in March are the most anticipated and enjoyable of the entire year.

My readers, I'm sure, all know why.

I was never by any means exempt from this fact.

The thing which made the NCAA Tournaments infinitely better in the past several years was the happy fact that the first two weeks always fell fortuitously (as if by sivine intervention even) during Vassar's two-week long spring break.

While many of my friends fled to tropical climates during the break, visiting typical Spring break locales like Puerto Rico and Miami, I returned home to Syracuse and fixed myself permanently on our living room couch.

From there I was able to catch as many college basketball showdowns as the natural time-space continuum allowed.

Then, with the addition of wireless internet in my home, I could concurrently talk to my equally-obsessed friends about the games as they were played.

My memories of the past few tournaments have only served to increase my tenderness toward the lovely month of March.

(Not to mention that the past few years were also exciting for fans of the Syracuse mens side. From the 2003 Tournament Win--the after-glow of which was enough to make Syracusans neglect their next tournament performances--to the intense, short-lived excitement following last year's crazy Big East championship win)

The tournament also fed my basketball withdrawal, which always began to creep up three weeks or so after the end of the regular season.

All of this backstory serves to set up the sad void that is my 2007 NCAA tournament experience.

From what I've been able to figure out, few if any men's tournament games will be broadcast here on regular television.

Women's games? Yeah, right.

I'm hoping I can succeed in finding a sports bar somewhere to watch some of this weeks games, since Bologna is Basket City after all.

There is also the additional problem of the time difference.

Since the US "spring ahead" this week, the gap has lessened, but there is still a substantial 5 hour time difference, ensuring that any night games will be inconveniently broadcast while I am sleeping.

(And you know that those games, the double OT games that finish after the 12 o'clock news should have started, are the best.)

I may be able to follow some games as they are broadcast live on the internet, but the internet availability in my dorm is still sketchy.

Also, the timing of the tournament is less preferable to the Italian University schedule: this week I have midterms and two weeks from now I have my first dreaded Bologna University Oral Exam upon which my entire grade depends.

Next week, after midterms, is Spring Break for the Eastern College Consortium Program.

Just like Spring Break at home, many of my program peers will be going to other countries--Spain, Greece, Ireland.

Sadly, however, I will have no ESPN channels to enrich my life this time.

Instead, to easy my ex-patriot pain, I've decided to take a tour of several northern cities.

Not a complete consolation, but there are worse things in the world.

Buon Torneo!

(The writer would like to add the following post-script which affirms her entire statement of Tournament Oblivious-ness: She was unaware at the time of writing that Syracuse had been snubbed by the Men's NCAA selection committee, given a 2-seed in the NIT instead. She only found this out after spying a Facebook.com member group which is directing outrage and uncivil language in the direction of aforementioned committee.)

Road to the NCAAs: Tonight's the Day

By Mel Greenberg

Random thoughts and notes on the eve of Selection Monday.

First to all SIDs and media types who have been checking in here:

Despite the men's bracket geographically terminology reverting to the old Midwest, South, etc., format, the women's bracket will remain the same as in recent years. Hence, it's still the Greensboro and Dayton Regionals and so on.

Campaigning for DePaul

No, not me, the Guru must remain neutral.

But a follower of the Blue Demons sent the following email stating their case, since they are healthy again but sit precariously on the bubble.

--DePaul played its entire season down three good players. Happens toEveryone. That's life!

--DePaul played 19 games ONLY down three good players: Record 15-4.

--15-4 record when down only three includes wins over Rutgers, NotreDame (twice), South Florida, Seton Hall, @Wisconsin-Green Bay.

--DePaul played 12 games from Dec. 21 through Feb. 3, down an additionaltwo players; down a total of five good players and playing with onlyseven healthy players, six of whom were guards. Record 4-8.

--4-8 record when down five good players and playing with only seven healthy players includes good losses TCU (neutral by 1), Marquette (by3), West Virginia(by 11), @UConn(by 8), and @Louisville(by 18)

--4-8 record when down five good players and playing with only seven healthy players includes bad losses @UNLV(by 18), @Cincinnati(by 18), @ST. John's(by 17). Bad is Bad!

--three bad losses while down five good players is what has shot the team's RPIto hell.

--the two injured players that dropped the roster to only seven healthyplayers, and our RPI even further, have returned and will be available in the tournament, giving us the same roster that recorded the abovementioned 15-4 record that included wins over Rutgers, Notre Dame(twice, once neutral in Big East tournament), South Florida, Seton Hall, @Wisconsin-Green Bay.

--have played its last 8 games of season again healthy and have recorded 5-3

--5-3 record in last 8 games includes wins over Notre Dame (twice, once neutral),South Florida, Seton Hall and Syracuse.

--5-3 record in last 8 games includes defeats @Notre Dame (before the two wins over Notre Dame), @Pitt, and Rutgers (neutral).

--Played only 12 home games. 19 road or neutral games.

--19-12 Record achieved with total of 113 total women games missed because of injury.

--if ever there were a team that epitomized the NCAA Memo from Committee Chairs Judy Southard and Gary Walters stating that "RPI is not everything", DePaul is that team!

And now back to more musings!

Things we'd like to see but won't when the bracket is announced.

Robert Morris vs. James Madison with the winner having the strongest constitution.

Temple vs. New Mexico so Fatima Maddox, who transferred from the Lobos two years ago, can have a double senior farewell.

All the teams with dog mascots placed in the same pod such as UMBC, Drake, Georgia, etc.

Territorial wars between Maryland and UMBC, while Delaware plays Delaware State, and Idaho State meets Boise State. And let's not forget Wisconsin-Green Bay against Marquette.

How about Washington against George Washington?

Harvard against Stanford to recall famous 1-16 matchup of yesteryear, even if it can't work out that way by seed this time.

Does anybody think Oral Roberts has a prayer?

Vanderbilt against Ohio State which would be a Philly coaching-area connection in disguise.

Prairie View against Temple to matchup two former WNBA all-stars on the sidelines in Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, and Dawn Staley.

How about Xavier against Notre Dame so Musketeers coach Kevin McGuff can face his former boss. Likewise for Georgia Tech, if they get in, place them against Purdue.

Better yet, Georgia Tech against Delaware State matches the Yellow Jackets against the Hornets.

Create the Tennessee pod group with the Vols, Belmont, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, and Chattanooga.

Did anybody notice how many conference games went down to the final minute?

If Oklahoma is not a No. 2 seed, will the Sooners, a preseason projection for a No. 1, be the most dangerous No. 3?

When Rutgers is announced, which scenario will have the Scarlet Knights message board screaming conspiracy? Answer: Any of them.

Did anybody notice that in the CAA they took the tournament out of Virginia but couldn't get Virginia schools eliminated from the tournament? Old Dominion, making it 16 straight, beat James Madison in the title game.

The other night at the CAA dinner, your Guru suggested to the emcee to make the following announcement: Despite the fact that Drexel and Northeastern are here tonight, we promise that the dinner won't go into overtime and become the longest conference awards banquet ever held.

You know things are changing in the Western part of the Keystone State when Pittsburgh is in the tournament and Penn State is not.

You know things are changing when all four projected No. 1 seeds will make everyone in their respective regionals swallow hard when they hear their name called.

On that note, it's time to beat the sunrise out of here. We'll be back later today.

-- Mel

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Road to the NCAAs: Locks, Near Locks, and Bubbles

(Updating to reflect conclusion of Sunday conference games -- MVC and Amer. East Also correcting numbers below in second group. BYU was already listed in the lock group, meaning three spots open for third group on my chart -- Guru)

By Mel Greenberg

This edition is about picking the teams. The previous post focuses on the upsets within conferences and the consequences or lack thereof.

The committee is going to have a bigger problem at the bottom of the bracket than at the top because of the number of mediocre RPI/Strength-of-schedule/Won-loss records of wrong winners that did barge their way through.

As previously noted, few teams are getting displaced off the wrong winners list other than seven or eight regular season conference champions along the way. Three more No. 1 conference seeds in play on Sunday’s wrap-up schedule.

We’re going to project ODU as the CAA winner, although either way the Monarchs and James Madison are in our field. We’ll also project Hartford in the America East and Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Horizon as Sunday winners, for the sake of this exercise.

Undoubtedly, some teams will come out of nowhere – they always do – and some we all think should be there, will vanish.

We will give BYU out of the Mountain West a rescue award and we will leave Tulane under consideration.

That said, here, first, is the lock list that includes all automatic bids to date, except the Big Sky title showdown between Northern Arizona and Idaho State. We cannot rescue Big Sky regular season champion Montana off the Grizzlies’ strength-of-schedule.

Locks – 56 and *-indicates a conference winner.

ACC (5)
*North Carolina
North Carolina State
Florida State

*UMBC is America East winner (1)

Atlantic Ten (2)
George Washington
(Note – We’d take Temple, just holding them for comparison’s sake)

*Belmont is winner of Atlantic Sun (1)

Big Ten (3)
Ohio State
Michigan State

Big 12 (4)
Texas A&M
Iowa State

Big East/Old CUSA (8)
Marquette (old CUSA)
West Virginia
Louisville (Old CUSA)
Notre Dame
South Florida (Old CUSA)

*UC-Riverside is winner of Big West (1)

*Idaho State is winner of Big Sky (1)

*N.C.-Asheville is winner of Big South (1)

*Old Dominion is CAA winner (1)
Holding two others for comparison

*East Carolina in Conference USA winner (1)

*Wis.-Green Bay is Horizon winner (1)

*Harvard is winner Ivy League (1)

*Marist is winner of MAAC (1)

*Delaware State is winner of MEAC (1)

*Bowling Green is winner of Mid-American (1)

*Oral Roberts is winner of Mid-Continent (1)

Mountain West (2)
*New Mexico
BYU (regular season winner)

*Robert Morris is winner of Northeast Conference (1)

*SE Missouri is winner of Ohio Valley (1)

Pacific Ten (4)
Arizona State

*Holy Cross is winner of Patriot League (1)

SEC (5)

*Chattanooga is winner of Southern Conference (1)

*Texas-Arlington is winner of Southland (1)

*Middle Tennessee is winner of Sun Belt (1)

*Prairie View A&M is winner of SWAC (1)

*Boise State is winner of Western Athletic (1)

*Gonzaga is winner of West Coast (1)

*Drake winner of Missouri Valley (1)
Next Group off high bubbles (5)

James Madison

Fighting for last three slots (7)

Georgia Tech
Texas (Committee might)
DePaul (worth examining if over injuries)
Tulane (wrong loser saved?)
Ball State (MAC runnerup)
Southern Cal

Note—some out there would interchange the bottom two groups.

-- Mel

Road to the NCAAs: Wrong Winners Cause Little Damage to At-Large Candidates

(Updating through Saturday's mid-evening results)

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. -- On Location at CAAs.

Despite the avalanche of upsets striking teams holding No. 1 seeds in conference tournaments, there does not seem to be much need this time for the NCAA women’s basketball committee to send St. Bernard dogs out on the slopes to perform rescue work.

In some instances, certain victims such as Duke, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Ohio State, are still in very good shape and can handle things themselves as far as accessing the Big Dance.

In other instances, rescue work is not really worthwhile, although it’s possible some at-risk victims may get saved because of the strange season in which projection numbers for a 64-team field are running short of completion. Basically, however, wrong winner is a phrase meaning little this time.

But in this particular blog edition, let’s survey the damage that’s been done. Based on what we see so far, if this carries through to the NCAA tournament, a record number of surprises may be looming after the bracket is announced Monday night.

While the top of the bracket has little controversy, other than my poor colleagues up North who are dreading Connecticut being placed atop the Fresno regional, the seeds from the three line through the seven line, or maybe more, could be very even.

The lines to avoid if a team hopes to make a deep run are the 5-4, which feeds to a No.1.

Some teams will be pushed up higher than they suspect because of the large pile of teams worthy of seeds no better than maybe an 11.

But, for now, let’s look at the chaos that’s occurred so far with two more days left of teams being able to state their case on the court for the committee.

Atlantic Coast – Top seed Duke lost to fourth seed North Carolina State, but Blue Devils still loom as the overall No. 1 region seed.

America East – Concludes Sunday. Top-seed Hartford still alive, while No. 2 Stony Brook tumbled. If Hartford should not win, however, it’s No. 37 ranking at CollegeRPI as of Friday morning’s report may not be good enough. On the other hand, if everything else falls into place, there’s an outside chance for rescue work.

Atlantic Ten – No. 1 George Washington fell to No. 5 St. Joseph’s in the conference tourney, but the Colonials are still in decent shape and don’t need much rescue work, although they may start out on a different ledge.

Atlantic Sun – Top-seed Belmont beat East Tennessee State for title Saturday. ETSU and Jacksonville tied for second in regular season, two games back.

Big 12 – Top-seed Texas A&M fell to No. 4 Iowa State, but Aggies are still NCAA bound with honors. Oklahoma, which tied Texas A&M for first in the standings beat Iowa State, which tied for fourth in the standings. Both teams have NCAA tags, but Sooners could work their way as high as a No. 3 seed, depending on other factors.

Big Ten – No. 1 Ohio State fell in title game to No. 2 Purdue, but Buckeyes still likely to get either a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAAs.

Big East – No. 1 Connecticut fell to No. 2 Rutgers at home, but Huskies’ numbers strong enough to hold a No. 1 region slot. However, the region it gets may not be close to home.

Big Sky – So much for home court when it came to No. 1 Montana, which fell to No. 2 Northern Arizona Friday night in the semifinals. NAU, which meets No. 4 Idaho State for the title, Saturday, has a 112 RPI, while Idaho State sits at 13-13 with a 164 RPI. So the eliminated Grizzlies, with a 43 RPI, better hope everything else is perfect at other places to be considered for rescue.

Big South – No. 1 High point fell to No. 8 Winthrop in the quarterfinals. Tsk tsk. RPI at 150 will keep the rescue workers idle. No. 2 Radford, which finished a game behind High Point, lost to No. 4 UNC Asheville for title, Saturday. This is a winner-only event.

Big West – No. 1 UC Riverside beat No. 2 Santa Barbara, the perennial champion, on Saturday for title. UCR’s RPI is 101, UCSB, the perennial champ, has a 115 RPI. This is another winner-only event.

CAA – We’re here folks, we haven’t been home for over a week, though that travel configuration wasn’t in the original game plan. Enough of the Guru’s complaints. If the committee wants to grow the game, here is where talent exists to make up for the short fall of teams from the big time conferences. Major showdown semifinal today with perennial champion ODU beat No. 4 Hofstra before host Delaware, the No. 3, lost to No. 2 James Madison. An upset of ODU by JMU on Sunday will end a 15-season title run. Three teams have an RPI in the 20s. Hofstra’s RPI and conference standing lags behind the other three, but Pride stay in the NCAA at-large discussion. The other three are all already at-large worthy.

Conference USA – Tulane, which won the No. 1 seed by a game, fell to No. five Rice in the semifinals. An RPI of 67 most likely turns the Wave into a ripple. No. 3 East Carolina was the surprise winner. It will be tough to rescue Tulane unless a slot exists in the final hours of deliberation.

Horizon – No. 1 Wisconsin-Green Bay had to go into overtime to beat No. 4 Wisconsion-Milwaukee. Can the Butler do it in Sunday’s title game? If so, WGB may be left feeling like Swiss Cheese.

Ivy – No upset here. Why. No tournament, silly. Harvard won the regular season and that was enough. The Crimson are one of the many with a terrible RPI, but a low seed in either the Hartford or Pittsburgh opening rounds site seem in Harvard’s immediate future.

MAAC – Good for No. 1 Marist. They did what they needed to do – just win, baby. That 52 RPI may get them a 9 or an eight, though they’d be much happer with a 10 or an 11.

– Bowling Green, the overall No. 1 seed which is also nationally ranked, beat the other conference divisional winner in Ball State, which may have needed to win the title Saturday.

MEAC – Top-seeded Coppin State had not lost in the conference since cell phones were invented until No. 4 Morgan State changed that in the semifinals. But Morgan State lost to No. 2 Delaware State for the title. How does Delaware-Delaware State sound for a first round game. Sorry, the first state wouldn’t meet itself in the first round. As for Coppin State, which won the regular season by six games and has a 74 RPI, have fun in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

Mid-Continent – No. 1 Oakland, with an RPI of 140 didn’t make. The conference will be represented in the NCAAs by No. three Oral Roberts.

Missouri Valley – Top-seeded Southern Illinois won its slot by three games and then had it all taken away in Friday’s quarterfinal by No. 8 Drake, which has a 13-18 record. SIU’s RPI was 86. Drake beat Evansville, Saturday. Other team still alive here is No.62 Creighton State. You can’t script the way these tourneys are going.

Mountain West – This used to be a multi-access conference. Top-seed BYU, with RPI of 39 lost to No. 2 New Mexico with RPI of 60. BYU might get rescued.

Northeast – Top-seed Long Island lost at home last weekend to No. 8 seed St. Francis of N.Y. The bid contested Saturday was won by Robert Morris over Sacred Heart LIU’s RPI of 88 not good enough.

Ohio Valley – Top-seed SE Missouri is the winner.

PAC-10—Top-seed Stanford is the winner.

Patriot – No. 1 seed Bucknell lost, early,as did No. 2 Army, the defending champion. When the smoke cleared, No. 3 Holy Cross with a 15-17 record and 226 RPI, regained its former conference castle.

Southeastern – No. 1 Tennessee was upset by No. 4 LSU in semifinals, but Vols still have enough for a No. 1 region seed. No. 3Vanderbilt won the automatic bid.

Southern – No. 1 seed Chattanooga, tied in the conference standings, won the bid.

Southland – No. 1 Texas-Arlington, which was unbeaten in the conference and won by five games, beat No. 2 Stephen F. Austin, Saturday.

Sun Belt – Thank you very much, No. 1 Middle Tennessee State.

SWAC – Jackson State and Prairie View tied for first in the standings and on Saturday Prairie View won the automatic bid.

Western Athletic – No. 1Boise State,which tied Louisiana Tech in the standings, beat No. 7 New Mexico State, Saturday. Techsters were eliminated early and won’t be in the NCAAs for the first time.

West Coast – No. 1 Gonzaga won with RPI of 47.

The score to date, and we’ll update inside this blog Saturday, shows 13 #1s won, 15 #1s did not and 3 #1s are pending. Six of the 14 are getting access despite losing. Seven probably will not, although if room exists, as many as two slots might re-fill.

-- Mel

Friday, March 09, 2007

WNBA: Phoenix No. 1 Pick Undetermined as Parker Stays at Tennessee

By Mel Greenberg

With the WNBA draft less than a month away, the Phoenix Mercury will return to the research department in terms of holding the No. 1 pick.

There had been a buzz that Tennessee sophomore superstar Candace Parker, a candidate for national player of the year, was considering skipping her remaining eligibity and turning pro because she might be graduating ahead of schedule.

Parker was red-shirted two seasons ago because of an injury.
If that had been true, the speculated move would have made the Mercury’s choice quite simple.

But Parker told USA Today in Friday’s editions she was going to remain with the Volunteers, although it could be noted she did not speak of her plans beyond next season when she could still leave Tennessee early.

``Obviously, if she was going to come out, she would have been our No. 1 pick,’’ said Mercury general manager Ann Meyers-Drysdale said Friday. ``I’m happy she’s staying at Tennessee and playing for (coach) Pat (Summitt) and we move on.’’

Meyers-Drysdale, a member of the Naismith and Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame, was a star at UCLA in the late 1970s and joined Phoenix after the season ended.

Prior to that, she had been a color analyst for various national broadcasting networks, including ESPN. In that previous occupation, she would have been deeply involved at this time of year with coverage of conference women’s tournaments as well as the NCAA women’s tournament, also.

``I really like this side of the business,’’ Meyers-Drysdale said. ``You get your deals done and you build your team.’’

Earlier this week, the Mercury re-signed guard Penny Taylor from the World Champion Australian team. Phoenix also announced a trade with the Indiana Fever brining reserver forward and former Stanford star Olympia Scott to the Mercury in exchange for former Connecticut star Ann Strother, who was a rookielast season.

A year ago former NBA coach Paul Westhead, who also coached at Loyola Marymount and at La Salle, took over the Mercury and brought his high-octane offense to the Southwest.

Phoenix took former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft last April. The Chicago native, combined with former Connecticut superstar Diana Taurasi, fueled a late-season push that ended with the Mercury left out of the playoffs on the wrong side of a tie-breaker with the Houston Comets.

Although most believe Duke point guard sensation Lindsey Harding or North Carolina point guard star Ivory Latta might be the best overall senior, Phoenix is focused on improving itself in the post to help Westhead’s torrid pace on offense.

Thus, names such as Ohio State senior center Jessica Davenport are in the mix for the number one selection. However, the Mercury could still make a trade to get a valuable WNBA player with post experience in exchange for the slot that another team could desire to improve its backcourt.

In the other major story that has developed, Meyers-Drysdale deferred from commenting until learning more about the situation at LSU where Pokey Chatman suddenly resigned this week

News reports soon after surfaced that Chatman had an inappropriate relationship with a former player. ESPN.com more spefically cited sources claiming Pokey’s departure occurred ``after the university became aware of an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between Chatman and a former player on Chatman's team.’’

-- Mel

Thursday, March 08, 2007

CAA Poster Child For Mid-Major NCAA Access?

By Mel Greenberg

– The Colonial Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament opens here Thursday at the Bob Carpenter Center on Delaware’s campus and is attracting some national interest that is rare for this conference.

In regards to the CAA, the only team that has advanced to the NCAA tournament most times in the past has been the conference champion with an automatic bid.

Furthermore, the only team to be “that” team has been Old Dominion, the grand old national title contender of yesteryear, which has claimed all 15 titles since the Monarchs became a member.

This year, however, things are a little different, even though Old Dominion (21-8) managed to take the regular season title.

``I think our conference showed this year we can play with and beat ranked teams,’’ Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. Her Dragons (9-20) seeded, ninth, opens the entire affair Thursday at noon against No. 8 Georgia State (15-14) , while Delaware has a bye.

Delaware (25-4) and James Madison (25-4) are both being discussed as potential at-large bids to the NCAA field, as is Old Dominion, if someone finally figures out a way to stop the Monarchs here this weekend.

Hofstra, before the Pride faded somewhat, and Delaware had big wins outside the league. The Blue Hens beat Kentucky back in December when the Wildcats were ranked, while Hofstra had a victory at Michigan State.

The CAA has become part of the speculation of NCAA at-large teams because the major conferences that normally send a slew of teams have not done exceedingly well. The Big Ten, for example, is only worth three representatives. The Atlantic Coast, even with the formidable trio of North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland, may only be limited to four or five teams.

The Southeastern Conference, which has sent six or seven in the past, is considered only good for five NCAA participants.

With the playing field somewhat more even beyond the major programs, hence the increased prospects of more CAA teams in the national tournament.

Drexel spent most of the year in 12th place before making a late move upwards towards the ninth seed.

``It took a while but we got some things done,’’ Dillon said.

The Dragons drew attention with a recent win over Northeastern in five overtimes, the longest women’s game ever played.

Freshman Gabriela Marginean, who starred in that marathon contest, was named the CAA’s rookie of the year at Wednesday night’s conference awards dinner. She was also named to the all-rookie team and the all-CAA’s third team. Delaware’s Tyresa Smith was named defensive player of the year and to the all-CAA first team.

```Gabby’ didn’t know what to expect when she came here,’’ Dillon said. ``But she worked hard and she’s going to be a big-time player.’’

SEC Coaching Merry-Go-Round?

Fillng NCAA slots won't be the only thing on the mind of Judy Southard, the chairwoman of the tournament committee, this weekend.

As the primary women's administrator at LSU, Southard now has a vacant women's basketball coaching position that needs attention.

As the CAA Awards dinner got under way here, many people through their internet access on their blackberry and cell phones got word off the Associated Press of the sudden resignation of coach Pokey Chatman, a former star player for the Tigers who became coach at her alma mater after former coach Sue Gunter had taken ill.

Chatman went on to lead the Tigers to the NCAA Women's Final Four in nearby New Orleans in 2004 and then became coach in her own right when Gunter anounced her retirement after that season.

A year later Gunter died shortly before the announcement of her selection to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Chatman continued to coach LSU at a high level.

Early indications are that Chatman might be headed for the vacant Florida job that became vacant when LSU's SEC rival fired Carolyn Peck shortly before the end of the season.

Though no one was speaking for the record, here, at least one coach mentioned hearing that Chatman may have visited Florida.

The AP report said Chatman had resigned ``to pursue other opportunities.''

Several persons associated in different capacities with teams here mentioned that coaching staff personnel at their schools with Florida ties had mentoned Chatman might be headed for Gainesville.

The AP report said there would be no further discussion while Chatman continues to coach the Tigers through the NCAA tournament.

Southard was on her way to Indianapolis for the annual behind-closed-doors deliberations of the NCAA committee.

Ironically, your Guru over the last several days had become involved with a hypothetical sports marketing project at a Midwest school involved with filling the Florida job.

Two student-players of one of the Guru's many coaching acquaintances checked in for ideas on who he might go after to fill the position.

After drawing up a list of prospective candidates for one of the students, he was told, ``Remember. Florida can spend whatever it wants on the next women's coach.''

Your Guru then elevated the list to much bigger fish and made the comment, ``Well, you can always try to go after LSU's Pokey Chatman, but I don't know how that would go over in the SEC involving rival schools.''

I guess, soon we'll fnd out.

As for filling LSU's vacancy, speculation has already begun at the Big 12 tournament involving Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who led the Bears to the 2005 NCAA title and is a Louisiana native who starred at Louisiana Tech in the early 1980s.

Incidentally, Mulkey's alma mater was bounced out of the Western Athletic Conference tournament by New Mexico State Wednesday night and the school basically issued a concession statement involving the NCAA field.

Coach Chris Long ackowledged afterwards that the long streak of the Techsters having played in all previous 25 NCAA tournaments was over.

-- Mel

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Road to the NCAAs: What A Weekend For Upsets

Guru's note: We're updating Sunday's blog to provide you with the AP Voter's link for week No.18 with one to go; and to correct a Conference USA typo, and to update through Sunday's game.

We're still in Cincinnati as the dateline says. We're assuming there's a Molto Monday since Acacia can now file directly when she doesn't need a second pair of eyes on her copy.

We'll be in Hartford for the Big East title Tuesday night.

By Mel Greenberg

After a weekend such as the one just past, what’s an NCAA selection committee to do? Probably pop some extra headache medication after results had two projected No. 1 seeds – Duke and Tennessee – falling before reaching their respective conference title games.

And upsets weren’t limited to the so-called big timers. In the Patriot League, for the first time a No. 8 took down a No. 1 when Colgate upset Bucknell. When that score came in, writers began making travel arrangements for West Point, projecting Army would survive the weekend to become the host in the title game, Wednesday, on the first anniversary of the Knights’ title triumph that brought joy and later sadness when first-year coach Maggie Dixon died suddenly a day after the Final Four. However, several hours later Army was taken down by Lehigh.

And over in the Northeast Conference, after Long Island had a record-setting season, the Blackbirds fell at home to eighth-seeded St. Francis of New York.

Over here, 11th-seeded St. Louis nearly upset host Xavier, the No. 3 seed, in the Atlantic Ten tournament. The Big upset hit Sunday when St. Joseph's ended George Washington's 19-game win streak and conference tournament title hopes. The host Musketeers recovered from Saturday's challenge from St. Louis and went on to beat No. 2 Temple by a point. Game account of the doubleheader is at Philly.com.

So with all that said, here’s our up to date look at the locks and bubbles, let us count the ways. First, in a stricter interpretation, here’s the locks at this hour.

Atlantic Coast Conference (4) -- North Carolina meets North Carolina State for the title and both go along with Duke and Maryland.

America East (1) – Just the tournament winner, likely Hartford or Stony Brook.

Atlantic Ten (2) – Since George Washington can only go as an at-large now, tht means at least two, but it may become four if St.Joe's beats Xavier for the automatic bid Monday night. We believe Temple and Xavier are close to locks, but Xavier may take care of business Monday night unless the Hawks still have another effort in them.

Atlantic Sun (1) – Just the champion.

Big 12 (5) – Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Nebraska, and Iowa State are tough enough.

Big East (4) – For now, it’s Connecticut, Marquette, Rutgers, and Louisville seem solid locks in this group. More will go, but we’ll place them in the other high bubble list for now. Yeah, we're switching Louisville and West Virginia after Sunday's result.

Big Sky (1) – Likely to be Montana and likely to be trouble if the Grizzlies don’t get an at-large bid if they fail in the title hunt. At-large hopefuls, to play it safe, should cheer for Montana.

Big South (1) _ Could be quite the battle if it involves Liberty and High Point in the championship contest.

Big Ten (3) – That’s all folks. Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, and enough said.

Big West (1) – UC Riverside won regular season, now it must prevail in the tournament.

CAA (1) – Maybe three will go out of this conference, but some games are still to be played among Old Dominion, James Madison, and Delaware.

Conference USA (1) – Just like the number says and it won’t belong to the regular season C-USA champion – Tulane, the top seed which was upset by Rice, Saturday. East Carolina beat Rice for the title making the Pirates' berth their first in 25 years when a Cathy Andruzzi-coached ECU squad went to the first NCAA tournament.

Horizon (1) – Likely to be nationally-ranked Wisconsin Green Bay.

Ivy (1) – Harvard has punched its ticket.

MAAC (1) – Marist has claimed the bid.

Mid-America (1) – Projecting nationally-ranked Bowling Green.

Mid-Continent (1) – They’ll give us the name when the dust settles this week.

MEAC (1) – Likely to be Coppin State.

Missouri Valley (1) – Likely to be Southern Illinois, but maybe not.

Mountain West (1) – Don’t know which one, yet, but it might be two.

Northeast (1) – Overall winner yet to be decided, but it won’t be Long Island after its big upset lost at home in the quarterfinals.

Ohio Valley (1) – Welcome SE Missouri.

Pacific Ten (3) – Stanford, California, and Arizona State

Patriot (1) – Winner to be determined.

SEC (5) _Still crowded but less so than in the past. The list has the usual suspects – Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, conference-tournament champion Vanderbilt, and Mississippi.

Southern (1) _ Welcome Chattanooga.

Southland (1) – Frontrunner SE Louisiana has a two-game lead.

Sun Belt (1) – Well, it’s two if the topic is politically charged.

SWAC (1) _ We have to do this under the rules of automatic bids to conference champions who excel.

Western Athletic (1) _ Louisiana Tech and Boise State might fight everyone at the end of this round.

West Coast (1) – Gonzaga checked in with a dance card Sunday night.

This gets us to a grand total of 50 locks. That means we have to go to the bubble teams to complete the field and fill 15 other vacancies. They should be easily found in this crowd.
Here’s the offerings believed to be in the quality bubble lists of committee members.

Florida State
George Washington
South Florida
Notre Dame
DePaul (right on the bubble after the loss to Rutgers)
James Madison
Southern Cal
Western Kentucky (early exit in Sun Belt tourney)
(well that gives us 13 -- Ithink and we still need two more so we’ll do this again near the end of the week after we see who makes a late charge to the shore.)

--- Mel