Womhoops Guru

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

Friday, April 06, 2007

March Madness in April: Guru Musings

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ Yes, we're back in town for a while.

Give the WNBA credit. When the prto folks say they will throw a draft right after the Women's Final Four, that's exactly what they mean in more ways than one.

When we finally left the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland following the NCAA championship decided by Tennessee over Rutgers late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, take your pick, we passed a temperature reading on a building that had the number 68.

Hours later, the winds blew in from Lake Erie and by the time we had finished writing our stories in our hotel room and planned to go to dinner, the number plunged into the low 30s and snow squalls were sighted from our window.

By morning when we were ready to leave to drive to Pittsburgh to fly back here, the waves from the lake were lapping over the protective jetty cove in the distance.

We did return in time to attend Temple's postseason dinner for its men's and women's teams, the first of many by schools we cover.

Besides saluting senior Kamesha Hairston, the second straight player to go in the first round from Dawn Staley's program, the Temple coach announced that senior Fatima Maddox was accepted as a free agent signee by the Houston Comets, which is Staley's former team before she retired at the end of last season.

We noted to Hairston, who was picked by the Connecticut Sun, that as an employee of a casino owner -- the Mohegans -- if she plans to gamble with friends and family, she must take them to the nearby Foxwoods Resort under the rules of the Nutmeg State.

We learned this fact from former Sun star Debbie Black, who played at St. Joseph's and now is an assistant at Ohio State.

Inflation Hits the Lone Star State

It doesnt seem that long ago that our friend Texas women's athletic director Christine Plonsky, who was then a fledgling sports information director, thought nothing of spending $2.50 to buy the Guru a margarita on Sixth Street at a popular mexican establishment in Austin.

Now, she's willing to spend a little more to buy herself a women's basketball coach since reports on the hire of former Duke coach Gail Goestenkors have her salary reaching anywere between $800,000 to $1 million.

Inicdentally, one coach not moving anywhere noted that the vacancies at several major schools was probably going to bring in a lot of money to the sport as schools seek to tie up successful coaches with contract extensions.

In that regard, we're thinking of sending a service bill to Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti, the former University of Connecticut all-American. It seems every time we toss her name into a story involving good candidates to fill vacancies, Hartford immediately gives her a contract extension.

Blogger's Row

Chilly weather or not, Jonathan and yours truly plan on being at the finish line Saturday morning along the Schuylkill River in town here to watch our Womhoops Guru blogger team member compete in a rowing race with her team from Northeastern.

More on the WNBA Draft

Space limitations caused some of our print coverage of the draft from Cleveland to be deleted.

Three other players with local ties from here were selected.

Delaware's Tyresa Smith was taken by Phoenix, making her the first ever Blue Hens player to be selected.

The team rented a restaurant in Newark to watch the draft with Smith's selection following Delasware's second-ever NCAA appearance and first-ever as an at-large team.

``I was getting nervous when my name wasn't coming up, but I'm excited,'' said Smith, who attended the pre-draft camp in Newark.

Former Germantown Academy star Gillian Goring was taken by the Washington Mystics.

``I don't know a lot about them, but I'm going to learn real quick,'' said Goring, a senior at North Carolina State.

Penn State senior Amanda Brown was taken by the Los Angeles Sparks, which welcomed the return of Michael Cooper as its coach on Wednesday.

Beware of the Curse of the No. 1 Pick

You might remember last summer after Suzie McConnell Serio resigned as coach of the Minnesota Lynx, we noted how coaches, especially, didn't last much longer after using a No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft to select a future star.

Former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor, who was announced as an inductee of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Monday, dodged the curse for 10 years after taking Tina Thompson as the very first No. 1 pick in the WNBA in 1997.

Successive coaches met their fates quickly within two years after taking their top selections. San Antonio Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes avoided the jinx when he was at Cleveland in 2000, but three years later when he once again had a No. 1 choice, the Rockers folded at the end of the ensuing season.

When Ann Meyers became general manager of the Phoenix Mercury during the winter, we noted the phenomenon to her after the Mercury won the lotto.

The Guru is just mentioning it, since we noticed Phoenix traded their No. 1 pick away, although they actually made the selection of Duke's Lindsey Harding first before making the deal with the Minnesota Lynx for Tangela Smith.

WBCA Ambush

In case you missed it because it was not announced in advance this time, broadcast analyst Debbie Antonelli was the winner of the WBCA's Mel Greenberg Media Award at Tuesday's luncheon at the convention in Cleveland.

The WBCA powers that be wanted to surprise Antonelli, a former player at North Carolina State, at the event where she was actually an emcee along with Beth Mowins.

The only thing announced on the official order of business was that the Guru would speak on behalf of the 2007 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame class of inductees, of which he is one of the six.

A few minutes into the comments, the Guru looked at Wolfpack coach Kay Yow and remembered how she enjoyed ambushing the Guru in 1991 as president of the WBCA when the first media award was given to him in New Orleans.

The Guru then went on to say, ``There have been great winners over the years, every time.

But in one case, there's one person who actually year in and year out has campaigned for the honor -- Debbie.

Every year, `What do I have to do to win your award?'

Get your friends in WBCA to nominate you, we told her.

Then we realized the problem -- she doesn't have any friends.

Even this week, `What do I have to do? ...'

We told her, `Just show up. Just show up.'

So Deb, now that you finally showed up, I'm please to announce your the winner.

Road to Knoxville

Although official induction events at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame will be June 8-9, a Friday and Saturday, during the Final Four in Cleveland, we began negotiating with a well-known coach in Knoxville, ahem, to host an informal party on June 7, which that coach is now checking into the schedule.

Successful negotiations have been concluded with the person who will do the video introduction of the Guru at the ceremonies, an individual whose name has been recently in the news. Other negotations will soon begin with another person who has been in the news as to being part of the Guru's entourage at the official ceremonies. Separate announcements will be made at a future date.

Penn State Search.

The Nittany Lions might be chasing longtime Connecticut assistant Chris Dailey, according to several other coaches wh0 have interest in the vacancy that occurred following Rene Portland's recent resignation.

None of them had been contact but believed Dailey to be targeted. However, they noted that their info was more or less off the rumor mill.

-- Mel


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