Womhoops Guru

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

Sunday, April 01, 2007

March Madness: Is Van the Man? Other Items

By Mel Greenberg

CLEVELAND –
On Monday morning the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of inductees for 2007 will be officially announced in Atlanta where the men’s Final Four is being held.

Indications are that women’s basketball will again be represented with an individual following Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma’s enshrinement, which was announced a year ago and occurred last September.

It appears former WNBA coach Van Chancellor might make it on the third try after being on the ballot the previous two years. His placement followed his successful effort coaching the 2004 United States Olympic Team to the gold medal in Athens, Greece.

Chancellor was also a longtime coach at Mississippi before joining the pro ranks in the WNBA’s initial season when he was named in charge of the Houston Comets and took the squad, led by Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper, and Tina Thompson, to the first four league championships.

Chancellor, who is usually prominently involved with activities at the Women’s Final Four, has not been seen.

When the Guru learned from a source here that Chancellor was in Atlanta ``on business,’’ a call was placed confirming that reason. Although he would not say specifically what was keeping him away from here, he did not sound too unhappy to be absent.

Chancellor already is a previous inductee of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

THE SOCIAL SET. The Guru and colleague from several other newspapers joined some ESPN folks for dinner at the Blue Fin restaurant near here Saturday night to get a taste of Cleveland culinary items.

Among other prominent patrons dining out were North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, as well as recently-retired Texas coach Jody Conradt, Longhorns women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky, WBCA honcho Beth Bass, and Mimi Griffin, who was one of the original color analysts in the early years of the NCAA tournament.

Then it was off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the annual media party. We didn’t make it to the WNBA party for the WBCA in time, but ran into most attendees in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, near here, which has become a pseudo-headquarters.

RUTGERS PRIDE. The local Associated Press reporter here prefaced his question during the Scarlet Knights’ portion of the four press conferences by noting, I have friends that went to Rutgers that actually admit they went to Rutgers now.

In her response, coach C. Vivian Stringer noted the increased level of support coming off the success of the football team and also added, ``It doesn’t hurt when you have people from the sopranos supporting you as well.

DRAFT OFF THE LAKE. Temple’s Kamesha Hairston and Delaware’s Tyresa Smith both received praise for their play Friday during the first of the two-day WNBA pre-draft sessions. North Carolina State coach Kay Yow has made it here in support of her Wolfpack senior Gillian Goring, a former Germantown Academy star in suburban Philadelphia, who was also invited to the camp.

Yow missed two months of the season battling a recurrence of breast cancer before returning to the bench and leading N.C. State to a Sweet 16 appearance, where the Wolfpack were eliminated by Connecticut in the semifinals.

The draft will be conducted Wednesday afternoon, following Tuesday night’s NCAA women’s championship.

COACHING CAROUSEL. Washington officials had Temple coach Dawn Staley’s name on their shopping list when they arrived here until they learned the Owls’ mentor had inked a six-year extension that Temple announced Thursday.

Staley, incidentally, will be heading to Rome, Friday, as an assistant Olympic coach to go on a training tour with a squad of hopefuls for the Beijing games in China in 2008.

California coach Joanne Boyle is being mentioned prominently for the lucratively-paid Florida opening.

Penn State announced Friday formation of a search committee to fill the vacancy created late last month when Rene Portland resigned after 27 years with the program.

If Nittany Lions officials want to wipe the slate clean, as some reports suggest, don’t look for Auriemma’s name or that of longtime Illinois coach Theresa Grentz to be involved.

Grentz was a teammate of Portland on Immaculata’s national champions in the early 1970s under Cathy Rush as was Judy Martelli, the wife of St. Joseph’s men’s coach Phil Martelli. Connecticut’s Auriemma is also ineligible under those guidelines – he was a counselor with Portland back then at Rush’s basketball camps.

-- Mel

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