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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Road to Knoxville: The Guru Gets Reupholstered

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- The passing of the Memorial Day Holiday on Monday means there are now less than two weeks before the Guru joins former Texas star Andrea Lloyd Curry, former Louisiana Tech star Pam Kelly-Flowers, former Tennessee stars Daedra Charles-Furlow and Bridgette Gordon, and Georgia coach Andy Landers as inductees of the 2007 class to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame class.

Since the Guru is not in the frame of mind to write about himself, except to note a few items for entertainment purposes, as they say, the blogging team will be providing coverage most of the way.

At this hour, Acacia is on her way back to the Stateside and her Syracuse home after spending the past five months in a special studies program in Bologna, Italy.

Erin is working the Guru beat on her own, and it should also be noted the Guru had a sit-down last week with Inquirer colleague Mike Vitez for an undisclosed project commissioned by the home office.

Kate has been known to be giving interviews as an expert on the Guru after writing a definitive biography a year ago for a class project at Rutgers that is now drawing others seeking to find pearls about the Guru for their own publications.

Jonathan will be providing technical assistance as well as commentary, we surmise, for both the Guru's blog from Knoxville and perhaps also for Philly.com.

Some items to be revealed here over the next 10 days will be releases about the Guru's escorts at the induction ceremony, the person who will provide the video commentary, the music the orchestra will play when the Guru mounts the stage, and as well as coverage of the speeches and schedule of events.

We do know that Doris Burke and the 2007 WBCA "Mel Greenberg Media Award" winner Debbie Antonelli will co-emcee the events. The Guru has been around long enough to say he covered both Burke at Providence and Antonelli at North Carolina State before they moved on to broadcast careers later in life.

The Guru is seeking clarification now as to the order of introductions since the alphabetical lineup has changed with the adjustment of married names in several instances, dropping the Guru from third to fifth. The Guru is also continuing the mammoth effort of building the invite list for the Philadelphia party so a date and time can be set.

Work on the speeches will begin late this week with the Guru recently told that he would have to reduce the time of the induction speech from the 12 minutes, 13 seconds used by Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma a year ago to seven.

"At 7:o1, the orchestra will begin to play, just like the academy awards,'' said Karen Tucker, director of basketball relations.

Ironically, both the Guru and Tucker were among several media members who spent the last induction event virtually under the Tennessee Theater in the Green Room where Tucker was then covering Auriemma in her previous job as a sportswriter for the New Haven Register and the Guru was covering his eighth ceremony -- which is all of them -- with emphasis on the Huskies coach because of his background growing up in Norristown in suburban Philadelphia.

Despite the heaving involvement with preparations, we may still sneak in a WNBA game or two this week to provide some normal news as well as a budding local collegiate story.

Incidentally, before anyone asks, no one is playing the Guru, nor is he playing himself, in the movie about Immaculata, which recentlybegan filming in the area.

Meanwhile, it was a year and two months ago, that the Guru was given word of his induction from the WBHOF board that solved its fight over "who would be first to officially tell" by all being in the same room when the Guru was informed.

That created a tie among the group, but the person who made the actual un-official, official speech was former Texas coach Jody Conradt, the president of the board, who simply told the Guru in Knoxville, "When you come down here next year, make sure you bring a tux."

On Monday, a sartorial committee consisting of the Guru's sister, brother-in-law, one of his nieces and her boyfriend took the Guru to a clothier to fulfill Conradt's request.

A Tux, a new suit, two new pairs of shoes, cuff links, two shirts, and several pairs of dress socks went into the purchasing mix.

When the appropriate time comes, team Guru will provide photo and, perhaps, video footage of the Guru's new look.

And that's the report for Tuesday AM, with lots to follow from the team, I'm sure.

-- Mel

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Washington Captures Valley Forge

By Mel Greenberg

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. _ This is just a quick Guru note to mention we took a quick trip to the Valley Forge Convention in suburban Philadelphia where conditions were quite different Monday than those experienced by another Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Penn State's annual caravan made a stop to meet with its largest collection of alumni in the state and the contingent included Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno, men's basketball coach Ed DeChellis and new women's basketball coach Coquese Washington.

Whereas the other Washington had to deal with quite the chill several centuries ago, this Washington was warmly greeted by Penn State attendees and appeared to make a favorable impression on all those who approached the former Notre Dame star and associate head coach.

Coach Washington even had a few moments to be a willing conspirator of the Guru involving one of the sports department editors in the home office.

Since her appointment several weeks ago, the individual has been after the Guru to find the background behind how Coquese got her first name.

Well, using one of the Guru's cell phones on hand, Washington dialed the individual and had a small chat to answer the question.

Then it was time for the formal session to begin and the Guru to depart the premises.

-- Mel

Monday, May 21, 2007

Guru's WNBA Weekend Musings; Other Items

By Mel Greenberg

As the WNBA got off to the start of its second decade this past weekend, there were few veterans from the original season in 1997 and even fewer who have or will have potentially played wire to wire all in the league from the beginning through September.

The 10-year veterans heading into season No. 11, according to the rosters after the final cuts were made, are the Houston Comets' Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, the Los Angeles Sparks' Lisa Leslie and Mwadi Mabika, the San Antonio Silver Stars' Vickie Johnson, and the Seattle Storm's Wendy Palmer.

That adds to a total of six founders.

However, Swoopes missed a season due to a knee injury and a large part of her initial season, which is still on the books, due to pregnancy.

Leslie might also not end up with 11 appearances in 11 seasons, also because of pregnancy, but she recently noted she is thinking about a return to action in August.

Of the six founders, only the Houston and Los Angeles duos have been on the same roster.

Wendy Palmer was drafted by the former Utah Starzz, and later moved to the Detroit Shock, on to the Orlando Miracle, which became the Connecticut Sun; and then back to San Antonio, which had been Utah before signing this past offseason with the Seattle Storm.

Vickie Johnson played her first nine seasons with the New York Liberty until she signed as a free agent with San Antonio.

Meanwhile, there are some other 10-year pros, who were founding players in the former American Basketball League.

In fact, a tangible piece of the two-time ABL champion Columbus Quest exists on Detroit, where a reunion of sorts has occured with the free-agent signing of Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson, who is now with her former teammate Katie Smith.

Sheri Sam was an original ABL star out of Vanderbilt with San Jose Lasers and is now with Houston.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin began with the Richmond Rage, which became the Philadelphia Rage in the second ABL season. She then was picked by the former Orlando team and moved with the franchise to Connecticut, where she starred until being traded to the Sparks in the offseason.

Crystal Robinson was with Colorado for two ABL seasons, then landed with New York until signing last season as a free agent with Washington.

Dreams of Youth

New York Liberty rookie Shay Doron has been a 10-year veteran observer of the WNBA from her seat in Madison Square Garden while growing up playing for Christ the King before becoming a prominent member of Maryland, especially the 2006 NCAA championship Terrapins squad.

On Sunday, Doron had the best seat in the house for a regular season game -- directly on the bench in New York's season-opening win over the Chicago Sky.

However, she didn't get much farther, seeing no action in her regular season roster debut, but Doron did make history of sorts.

By making the roster, Doron becomes the first Israeli native to make a WNBA team. Limor Mizrachi, also a former Maryland star in the early 1990s, was on a training camp roster in the past, but got injured and never lasted into the regular season.

Mercurial Start

Now if the Phoenix Mercury had only done the same thing last year.

Second-year coach Paul Westhead, who now has a squad that starts from the get-to with knowledge of his fast-paced offensive schemes, saw Phoenix grab an opening night win over San Antonio.

The Mercury picked up off their hot finish of a year ago when they lost a playoff spot on the final day of the season off a tie-breaker. However, had Phoenix won last year's opener, the Mercury would have been playoff bound.

Meanwhile, the Guru was not at any opening weekend games, having worked the desk her Sunday night and also having attended a reunion-of-sorts in town involving his high school class that existed at a time most of the Guru's readers had yet to be born.

However, we'll be on the scene in Washington Tuesday night when the Mystics host the Sacramento Monarchs, who now have former Rutgers star Chelsea Newton back in the fold after a trade with Chicago.

Newton is also coach C. Vivian Stringer's director of player development.

Rutgers prominent alum Cappie Pondexter, in her second season, will be making her East Coast swing with Phoenix, visiting Connecticut on Saturday, June 2, at 3:30 p.m before traveling to New York the next day at 4 p.m. The Washington visit will be on Wednesday, June 13, at 7 p.m.

Internationally Scarlet?

Speaking of Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights made a strong presence at last weekend's three-team basketball trials at Colorado Springs, Colo., for finalist spots on either the Pan American, Under 19, or Under 21 squads.

Junior Essence Carson and sophomore Kia Vaughn were among the 14 finalists named to the U21 National Team, while junior Matee Ajavon was one of 14 finalists named to the Pan American squad, which will be coached by Temple's Dawn Staley, who retired from the WNBA at the end of last season.

In her first time away from WNBA action, which was spent watching the selections, Staley missed becoming part of the 22-point, second-half meltdown to Seattle Saturday by her former Houston Comets squad. She didn't miss a thing, however, from her former Charlotte Sting squad, because the franchise was folded during the winter, leaving the league, for now, with 13 teams.

Meanwhile, Rutgers incoming freshman Khadijah Rushdan was one of 12 finalists named to the U19 National Team.

Rushdan was joined on the finalists by another Wilmington, Del., product -- that would be
Elena Delle Donne, considered the top high school senior prospect, as well as overall prospect, next season.

Two senior Maryland stars with Philadelphia-area connections were also named to the U21 finalists in Crystal Langhorne of Willingboro High and Laura Harper of Cheltenham High.

-- Mel

Thursday, May 17, 2007

When A Simple "Hello" Becomes a Cell Phone Novel

By Mel Greenberg

Question of the Day:

How come the Guru draws more internet visitors over a short span when he is not writing than when he is? Just curious.

But to move on so you didn’t waste your time coming here today:

Stacey Brann has joked about writing a book on her first season as the Rutgers media relations contact for the women’s basketball team.

Though not predicated on the topic, C. Vivian Stringer, the Hall of Fame coach of the Scarlet Knights, already has recently announced she will be authoring, herself.

Because Stringer is known by the media for at times giving complex answers to their questions, the Guru recently mused whether her book would be composed of just one chapter, but it would be 900 pages long.

Anyhow, back to our friendly media contact who had an outstanding season as an SID transfer.

Sorry, the Guru does not accord rookie status to someone with previous extensive experience at Long Island U., Richmond, and in the TV production world.

Thanks to Rutgers’s run to the NCAA title game and the Don Imus controversy that quickly followed, Brann learned this week she has already written a battery-charging, musically-loaded, multi-page epic, courtesy of her monthly cell-phone bill.

“3300 minutes!” Brann said, although it might have been slightly less since the Guru’s own company cell was causing difficulty during the conversation. “Do you believe that?”

Brann said the monthly tabulation period began on the day of the title game and at one point included 32 straight calls to her when the Imus situation took off.

The Guru suggested in the future she ought to assign different song identities for the various sectors and then if a similar situation happens again, she could also cut a CD to be a companion piece.

On The Town

It wouldn’t be the start of the WNBA season without the Guru being somewhere in the company of Temple coach Dawn Staley.

No, the former All-Star and three-time Olympic Gold medalist has not un-retired.

In fact, one last farewell to her stellar career will be noted Thursday night at her annual Dawn Staley Foundation Black Tie & Sneakers fundraiser, of which the Guru will attend.

No, don’t go looking for the Guru is anything special, yet. We’re saving it for a certain required-dress event next month in Knoxville.

Madness Without March

Since we just alluded to the forthcoming Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductions, for those of you media colleagues out there who are taking great amusement in the Guru’s dealing with the planning process, here is what is differentiating him from Georgia coach Andy Landers and former players Andrea Lloyd Curry (Texas), Pam (Kelly) Flowers, Daedra Charles-Furlow (Tennessee) and Bridgette Gordon (Tennessee).

The others, in terms of guest lists, basically have three categories – family, teammates/opponents, coaches or, in Landers’ situation, players, colleagues, and family,

Here are the component categories to date from which the Guru is working his lists for both Knoxville and an event in Philadelphia at a date afterwards to be determined:

Family, Media colleagues, Sports information directors, Local Division I group highlighted by Big Five schools; Local Division II and III schools; Immaculata-era people; officials past and present from WBCA, NCAA, AIAW, local past players; other coaches across the country; WNBA home office and team level persons; Conference office commissioners and media relations persons, current newsroom colleagues; past newsroom colleagues (including executives).

But the Guru’s blogging team will be on the scene reporting live from events in both cities and some are already working on advanced coverage.

We also mentioned the above for purpose of varied entertainment to a certain former department colleague at the St. Louis Post Dispatch who recently noted to persons here his bemusement over the Guru’s blackberry coverage of pre-game culinary items at the media feed at the Mohegan Sun.

And no, it was not the Guru who described the pre-game Mexican meal (paid for) in Madison Square Garden before the New York Liberty exhibition game as Stinko De Mayo.

-- Mel

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rutgers' Law to be Introduced at Illinois

By Mel Greenberg

Rutgers associate head women's basketball coach Jolette Law will be named the new women's basketball coach at Illinois Friday sources at both schools indictated Thursday.

Don't give the Guru credit for any scoops because he believes others are getting the same info at this moment.

The post is in the interest in speed off the blackberry.

Ironically Law, who comes off C. Vivian Stringer's staff, is the second straight person to come from the Scarlet Knights to take over the Illini.

In 1995 Theresa Grentz, who resigned last month, took the position and Stringer moved from Iowa to replace her at R.U., hiring Law as Stringer's first staff member.

Law was a finalist for the Charlotte job which last month went to former Baylor associate head coach Karen Aston.

A sucessful recruiter of such Midwest products as Chicago's Cappie Pondexter, Law has helped Stringer to two Final Fours in 2000 and last months NCAA title game.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sun Don't Shine This Time

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, er, METRO PARK, er PRINCETON, N.J. - It's 4 a.m. On a Wednesday as the Billy Joel song doesn't go.

Live from an Amtrak night owl as the Guru returns from Uncasinoville and a Connecticut Sun loss to the Seattle Storm in a WNBA exhibition game.

This brief report is being created on the Guru's blackberry devoid of typeface commands.

Synposis: both sides still missing enough players to win a title.

Katie Douglas is playing great for Sun. Enough said.

Guru highlights: Arriving in New London same time as a WNBA home office operative thus saving cab fare to Mohegan.

Moist tender salmon as part of pre-game media meal.

Sun assistant coach Scott Hawk's birthday cake.

Meeting a walk-on from the 1991 UConn Final Four team who is now rich enough to buy courtside seats.

Newsworthy: Norwich Bulletin beat writer Arthur Sherman covered his last game before joining a NYC publishing firm.

Oops, conductor says Trenton ahead.

Time to go.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Coaching carousel still has some spin in it.

By Mel Greenberg

Two different coaching positions suddenly became open at Princeton Monday when the school announced that women's basketball coach Richard Barron resigned to become associate head coach at Baylor, replacing Karen Aston, who became head coach at Charlotte, replacing Amanda Butler, who became head coach at her alma mater at Florida, replacing Carolyn Peck, who wasn't retained and was announced last week by ESPN that she is returning to the electronic media world as an analyst for men's and women's basketball.

We're not keeping track of staff moves at ESPN, however, so we don't know if Peck replaced her former self or someone else who moved on. Technically, on the full time employee equivalency chart, a phrase made popular in recent Inquirer turmoil, one might say that Peck replaced Rick Majerus, who returned to coaching with the St. Louis men's team in the Atlantic Ten.

At least, that's one of the many threads and the only reason we're keeping count is that a well-known women's basketball referee based in Philadelphia challenged the Guru at a restaurant in Greensboro -- ok, part restaurant, part sports bar -- to track the eventual total number of people who would be involved in the domino as a result of the 10 major openings that existed at that moment. We're also adding several that followed.

The other vacancy out of the Princeton news is that Tigers softball coach Maureen Barron will also be departing since she happens to be Richard's wife. It was love at first office when the two first met when he took the job several years ago.

I know there's a tendency to wonder if former Pittsburgh Steelrs coach Bill Cowher would be interested in taking over the program to coach his daughters Meagan in her senior year and her sister Lauren since he has time on his hands.

But if he isn't up to the task, his wife Kaye has experience as part of the famous North Carolina State backcourt duo of Kaye and Faye Young, who also did a wrigley doublemint twins commercial back in the day.

In fact, and it's probably mentioned at some other point in the short history of this blog, that the Guru, upon meeting the famed Steelers coach in Princeton, noted to Cowher that he could now say he met the only guy who ever wrote both about his daughter and his wife in their collegiate careers.

Meanwhile, Illinois has still not be filled. We recently heard Carol Owen's name as a possible candidate but the Guru has already used up his rumor mill's share of people with Notre Dame backgrounds while working the Penn State hiring of Coquese Washington several weeks ago.

In another transaction on Monday, Xavier assistant Mike Bradbury is departing Kevin McGuff's staff (there goes another Notre Dame name -- McGuff) to become the new head coach at Morehead State.

So in case the other sites are a little slow to post this morning, you heard it here when you got here. But for others, no scoop claim, you already knew.

-- Mel

Monday, May 07, 2007

Guru's Monday Morning Musings

By Mel Greenberg

We made the trip to Bridgeport, Conn., Saturday to watch the second Temple product of Dawn Staley's program make her preseason debut in the WNBA as the Connecticut Sun met the New York Liberty.

That would be Kamesha Hairston, who was chosen in the first round by the Sun, making it the second straight season a Temple senior has been chosen early.

A year ago, Candice Dupree was the sixth overall pick by the then-expansion Chicago Sky and she went on to be taken as substitute in the All-Star game and also make the all-rookie team.

Dupree has already scored 17 points, twice, in Chicago's two preseason games.

Our main reason for going was to interview Hairston for our locally-connected print preview of the WNBA's 11th season in a few weeks. We'll also be in the Connecticut Sun's real home at the Mohegan Sun Arena Tuesday night when the Seattle Storm visits.

For that reason, we'll withhold formal comments for now, although some of what she had to say has been printed in Connecticut papers.

In side chatter, however, Hairston said she was enjoying the comforts of the Mohegan's hotel room, as the Guru told her she would. She also made her first visit to Big Bubba's Barbecue but had yet to dine at the Summer Shack, two of the media's favorite post-game stops.

Staley, who will be spending her first season spectating as a retired all-star, had commitments elsewhere as did the rest of her staff. However, former assistant coach Ervin Monier, who is now with Rhode Island, was among the crowd.

In a humorous exchange, Hairston did note the difference in the size of crowds and media from college, but we'll refrain from what was actually said.

Incidentally, Staley's final retirement celebration event is a major one that will be held by her own Dawn Staley Foundation at its annual black tie and sneakers gala. The affair will be held here in Philadelphia on May 17 at the Cescaphe Ballroom, 923 North 2nd Street, at 7 p.m.

Many of Staley's former teammates and other associates from her Olympic, professional, and collegiate career are already among the invitees.

For further details, contact Angelia Nelson, executive director of the Dawn Staley Foundation, at 215-457-1270.

49ers Seek Gold

No, we're not talking about the seekers of riches who helped established the state of California.

These would be the University of Charlotte 49ers, who will represent the United States in the World University Games competition in Bangkok, Thailand, August 7,18.

In a rarity, the representation will be by an entire existing team, instead of conference all-stars or USA Basketball selectees, as has been done in the past. Charlotte is guided by new coach Karen Aston.

Although USA Basketball made the announcement last week, the team won't be considered as a squad of the organization, according to a USA Basketball spokeswoman.


Claire Smith, a colleague of the Guru in the Inquirer sports department, told us last week she will be part of a panel Monday night at Morehouse in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to a release, Morehouse Alumnus and award-winning director Spike Lee '79 will host an explosive forum on the black athlete. The forum, which will feature some of the biggest names in sports, will focus on the under representation of African Americans in the sports arena.

We mention this, because you Rutgers folks who visit the Guru's blog will be particularly interested.

As the released stated, Monday's panel will feature the following heavy hitters: Curtis Bunn, Atlanta Journal Constitution, columnist; Algee Crumpler, Atlanta Falcons; Jim Brown, NFL Hall of Famer; William "Bill" Rhoden, New York Times, columnist and author of "40 Million Dollar Slaves;" Stephen A. Smith, ESPN reporter; Claire Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer, columnist; Coach Vivian Stringer, Rutgers Women's Basketball; Etan Thomas, Washington Wizards/author; Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star, columnist; and, Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat.

This is noted here because Whitlock was one of the few, maybe the only, columnist who was critical of Stringer's speech during her team's press conference to speak to the controversial comments made by national talk show host Don Imus about the Scarlet Knights on the morning after Rutgers lost to Tennessee in the NCAA title game.

Imus was subsequently fired but did apologize to the team, which was accepted, after the two sides met at the mansion of the New Jersey governor.

-- Mel

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Guru's Time Machine -- Connecticut Suspended?

By Mel Greenberg

Relax, the headline is not news, just a device to entrap those boneyard readers up North into keeping up traffic here in a slow period.

But it is time again for golden oldie Guru items of the past and we'll soon get to the one involving the headline on this post.

The Guru told you he is busy at the moment in the Inquirer's electronic and regular library picking apart the bones of his journalistic past for the purposes of reprint and decoration at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction weekend ceremonies, June 8-9, and the ensuing Philadelphia party at a date soon to be determined.

Some previous stories of the past were run at this site in the fall when we were in down time from WNBA and collegiate coverage.

Being in that mode again, the Guru would like you to know he took a tour of the actual newspaper clippings of his old pre-computer age byline file, long before the birth of any of our blog site team members, and was fascinated at some of the stuff that was covered.

We even found our first-ever byline, we think, back in 1974.

The pre-computer clippings can't be posted, as of right now, but we found some interesting items we covered, such as the hirings of Rene Portland at St. Joseph's and Theresa Grentz, who had been with the Hawks, at Rutgers. Grentz's new position is also noted as landmark in that she wasn't required to do other duties besides coach the Rutgers women.

We also found a story we noted out of Tennessee in which we mentioned that then-football coach Johnny Majors had been "kidnapped" by a campus sorority and made an appeal on TV for donations to their cause so he could be returned to be with his team.

And what was their cause? Well, they raised some $15,000 dollars as part of proceeds involved so that the varsity women -- women's basketball was specified -- could purchase their own bus.

Who knew then that coach Pat Summitt would go on to make enough money to be able to actually go out and purchase her own fleet.

We found our first news-breaker in the sport -- Immaculata coach Cathy Rush revealing she had been approached by Maryland to become their coach and was going to be interviewed. -- Chris Weller, then an assistant, was eventually promoted.

We found coverage of an AIAW convention in which the prime story was the elimination of all forms of recruiting, but the legislation also had, as the Guru noted, "a loophole as big as a hangman's noose.''

If a person as part of their job did general recruiting for a school involving non-athletic students, then that same person could get involved in recruiting athletes.

We learned that here in Philadelphia we reported that La Salle was the first Big Five school to give out athletic scholarships to women and it was done when the school had gone co-ed several years before Title IX became a reality.

We also found coverage of our first two national tournaments -- both AIAW -- which occurred in 1976 at Penn State and in 1977 at Minneapolis.

Under the headline, ``Something new at Old Dominion," we interviewed one Nancy Lieberman who was settling in with the Monarchs in Norfolk, Va., after having been the No. 1 target of coaches around the country.

There's also coverage of Cathy Rush's resignation, which became retirement, from Immaculata.

Hmmm, wonder if the crew in the area filming the Immaculata movie are aware of this clip. There may yet be a walk-on role for the Guru.

There's an account of Carol Blazejowsi's 52-point performance in Madison Square Garden for Montclair State in a 102-91 victory over Queens. The Blaze, now the GM of the WNBA's New York Liberty, shot 17-for-21, in the second half after Queens had changed defenses on her.

At least that's the way WNBA president Donna Orender tells the story after drawing the defensive assignment on Blaze for the first half. (Hi prez!).

We were there because of what was supposed to be the top attraction in the second game. But the outcome of Delta State's 79-62 victory over Immaculata made the Blaze performance the only item worth covering, unless, of course, you were from Mississippi.

We found another one for you Penn State fans and, Jen Rizzotti, if you're reading this, it's about your Hartford athletic director, Pat Meiser-McKnett, when she was then coach of the Nittany Lions and her team had just beaten Immaculata at State College to become nationally ranked.

The story notes that on the day of the game she awoke at 8 a.m. to rush and teach dance class and then hurry home to "dress her year-old daughter, Julie, and feed her breakfast.

"Somewhere among the diapering, coffee-brewing, spoon-feeding, and egg-scrambling, Meiser found time to scribble a few plays for the 1 p.m. game that would bring victory and -- ultimately -- a 15th place ranking in this week's top 20.''

In terms of drawing talent, Meiser (no McKnett back then) noted, "I think that Penn State's record of academic and athletic excellence is a selling item. We feel that once a kid gets to see our place, we've got her. The problem, of course, is getting her here to look."

(Guru's note -- This was the pre-Bryce Jordan Center-era in the days of Rec Hall.).

Then came this comment from center Mary Donovan, whose younger sister Anne, later went to Old Dominion and went to coach the Seattle Storm to a WNBA title and is now also coach of the U.S. Olympic squad for the 2008 games in Bejing, China.

"The people seemed so different here. I really liked it (the campus) when I came to see it."

And moving back to the electronic treasurer chest, here's that Connecticut story which occurred long before people could spell Geno Auriemma on a regular basis from a time before his hire.

It was a result of the battle in the final months of the war between the AIAW and NCAA over control of women's athletics. It was another of our weekly women's sports columns, which also has a poll on the bottom.



(Mar 03, 1981)

By Mel Greenberg

Special to The Inquirer

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) leadership
appears to be carrying out a vendetta against those people and schools that
supported NCAA sponsorship of women's championships.

Connecticut athletic director John Toner was in court yesterday seeking an
injunction against AIAW, which suspended his school from the organization over
a student-eligibility issue - the strongest action ever taken against a
member school.

Toner was recently elected secretary-treasurer of the NCAA
and was on the NCAA governance committee that produced the legislation that
brought women into all levels of the NCAA .

" All we want is due process from AIAW and we'll abide by whatever decision
they make," Toner said last night. " But if we don't receive due process, then
I'm prepared to say some pretty heavy stuff after Wednesday's hearing. "

There was no court decision but Connecticut was given a stay of suspension
until a hearing at a special AIAW executive board meeting in Washington

The basketball team, meanwhile, was selected as the eighth seed in
the New England regional.

At that same executive board meeting there will be an attempt to remove New
Mexico women's athletic director Linda Estes, the Intermountain region
representative. Estes was recently named to the NCAA Executive Committee.

The AIAW views the appointment as a conflict of interest. NCAA officials point
out, however, that their organization has had people serving in the council
and also in committees of the NAIA.

AIAW President Donna Lopiano stated in a letter to Estes that legal counsel
Margo Polivy advised that it would be inappropriate for Estes to vote on her
own removal.

" The executive committee will recommend to the board that an interim bylaw
be adopted to permit removal of a member of the board 'for cause' by a two-
thirds vote of the board without referral to any other body," the letter

Polivy, whose law firm is paid more than $140,000, is the real power in AIAW
- to the point that many people have confused her role with executive director
Ann Uhlir.

Tomorrow's action is so secretive that most of the AIAW membership is
unaware of it.

But people who are aware, such as UCLA senior association
athletic director Judith Holland - a former AIAW president - are so incensed
that they are prepared to organize an " economic boycott" of AIAW if Estes is

" This action goes against everything AIAW has stood for," said Holland, who
was recently appointed to the NCAA Council. " Maybe the leadership really does
have a death wish.

" We're going to barrage them with telegrams to try and stop the action.
I've been on the phone all day calling people to let them know what's going

" If I didn't care about AIAW I wouldn't be doing this. The people who don't
care are the people who are acting against Connecticut and Estes. "

The top 20 women's basketball poll is useful, but cannot serve as the
definitive guide to seeding this year's nationals. A mere check of the
strength of schedules of this week's list of teams demonstrates the point
rather well.

Quality opponents are considered to be 17 teams that have been ranked most
of the season. Using these 17 as a standard, schools have performed as

Top-ranked Louisiana Tech is 10-0 against the toughies - once again proving
its worth as the No. 1 team. Tech is also 6-0 on the road over this group.

Second-ranked Long Beach State is 7-5, which includes two wins over Kansas
and a split with UCLA and Southern California. Third-ranked Tennessee is 6-4
and the Vols also have a loss to unranked Alabama. Fourth-ranked Kansas is 3-
3, which includes the Long Beach defeats.

Rutgers is 3-4 with wins over Long Beach State, North Carolina State and
Kentucky. Losses have come to Cheyney State, Maryland, Louisiana Tech and Old
Dominion. The latter school, which is the two-time defending national
champion, is 9-5 against the sweet 17.

Cheyney State's 2-1 record is built with wins over Maryland and Rutgers. The
loss was to North Carolina State. By comparison, eighth-ranked UCLA is 6-4.
Ninth-ranked Southern California has only beaten Long Beach State for a 1-6
record. Kentucky has an overtime win over South Carolina against losses to
Rutgers and Tennessee for a 1-2 record.

Sub-top 10 teams have played tougher schedules than some of their higher-
ranked counterparts. Lack of victories, however, have kept them from moving
higher. The records:

Maryland is 4-6, while Texas, at 1-5, has two losses to Old Dominion. South
Carolina is 6-4, Clemson is 5-3, but most of the wins of the two schools have
come at home. Oregon is 1-4, North Carolina State is 6-6.

Stephen F. Austin is 1-5 and also has several losses to unranked teams,
Virginia is 1-7 and Auburn is 1-2. East Carolina is 3-3.

Besides the top 20, the performance of this week's two honorable mentions
are also worth noting. Colorado is 0-2, while Penn State is 2-4, depending on
who is ruling or not ruling on the Maryland forfeited (Or is it
discontinued?) game.

(Guru's note -- this was the infamous band game in which Weller pulled the Terrapins pulled the Terrapins off the floor contending the AIAW role prohibiting music during the action was being violated. Penn State had a big lead near the end of the contest.)

State also has three losses to unranked teams.

This week's top 20 rankings (through Feb. 28) showing first-place votes in
parentheses, season records and points.

Team Record Pts.

1. Louisiana Tech (50) 27-0 1,500
2. Long Beach State 23-5 1,366
3. Tennessee 19-5 1,234
4. Kansas 24-4 1,200
5. Rutgers 24-4 1,074
6. Old Dominion 21-5 990
7. Cheyney State 22-2 890
8. UCLA 23-6 808
9. Southern Calif. 20-6 678
10. Kentucky 21-4 601
11. Texas 26-6 490
12. Oregon 22-5 484
13. Maryland 16-7 391
14. South Carolina 20-7 367
15. Minnesota 25-5 290
16. North Carolina State 17-9 257
17. East Carolina 22-5 173
18. Clemson 22-7 142
19. Auburn 25-5 87
20. Stephen F. Austin 21-9 64
(tie) Virginia 21-8 64
Other teams named on at least 15 ballots in alphabetical order: Colorado,
Penn State
(c) 1981 , Mel Greenberg

* * *

One note in the current time because we didn't see it noted at our sites and message boards. The wire service reported Tuesday night that Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw signed a two-year extension.

And on a second note, we recant our critique of Jonathan's video work at Philly.com we alluded to in the previous post after seeing the tiny size of the camera.

(Thanks -- the aforementioned, who's up this late waiting for some other sports to come to an end for the night as part of his website duties)

-- Mel