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, June 26, 2007

Grentz Heads Back to Roots

Guru’s Note: To Get to the blog at philly.com covering the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame events in Knoxville involving the Guru as one of six inductees in early June, click here. That site will continue to add info as well as more coverage and pictures as they become available, leading up to the Inquirer-hosted party on Friday, July 27th, at a site to be determined in Philadelphia that's dependent on the growing invite list.

Acacia and Erin of the Guru's blog team have already been signed by several publications to contribute coverage of the Knoxville activities. Erin will also be in town this weekend to compete in some rowing events.

A week ago we took Jonathan along with us to a dinner at the Palm as the guests of New York Daily News men's basketball writing legend Dickie "Hoops" Weiss, a Temple classmate of the Guru back in the day, and Mike Flynn, who runs the Blue Star AAU program out of Philadelphia. Much reminiscing occurred of the early days of the Guru era.

Other than that, stay right here for other women's hoops musings, commentary, stories, and other reasons you all visit.

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ Since the Guru is the source of several pargaphs in the briefs column of the Inquirer printed sports section in Wednesday's editions involving a prominent graduate of Immaculata College, we proceed a little further here where we have a little more room.

Incidentally, the Guru will be out at the school for Wednesday night's filming of the future Our Lady of Victory picture and also to have lunch Thursday to renew old ties.
At this moment, no one is playing the Guru in the movie, nor is he playing himself unless convinced otherwise as the Guru came on the scene just after the glory days in Chester County.

Former star guard Marianne Stanley, now an assistant coach at Rutgers, will be involved in a walk-on shot, make that a ride-on shot, later this week as a passenger in a school bus. Many former players are also involved in roles as movie "extras."

Theresa Grentz, however, will be doing more than that, beginning in the middle of next month.

The former star center of the Mighty Macs' three-time national champions in the early 1970s is coming home to work with the school's president Sister Patricia Fadden, IHM.

Grentz surprisingly resigned from Illinois in April after 12 seasons in charge of the Illini. Previously she spent 19 seasons in charge at Rutgers, and two previous ones at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia after her graduation.

"It's funny," Grentz said from Illinois earlier this week as she continued preparing for her move back East.

"I never intended to go to Immaculata, initially, because I had a full paid scholarship from Mount St. Mary's," Grentz recalled. "But then we had a fire at our home and I decided to give up the scholarship and play for Cathy Rush.

"Now, I'm at the other end and I'm returning to Immaculata, although I was not thinking about that, initially, after leaving the Illinois job. I had a wonderful offer as a gifts officer at the Newman Club which I almost took,'' Grentz said.

"But I had been back there a year ago to make a speech and one conversation led to another and now here we are."

Immaculata is now co-ed and Grentz did not totally discount the idea of coaching the men's team if the job came open down the road, although she laughed about it.

"You never know," Grentz said.

"But back in the early days I had a passion to get into coaching and now I have a new passion for some of things I will be doing like teaching and speaking. Immaculata is in a tremendously new growth period right now."

Although she experienced roller-coaster seasons in recent times at Illinois, Grentz has always had a talent for raising money back to her days at Rutgers.

"I got all the scholarships here (at Illinois) endowed -- we raised over $4 million," she said.

Grentz has been to some of the filming of Our Lady of Victory, although no one is specifically playing her.

An Immaculata spokeswoman said former coach Cathy Rush is the only person specifically being portrayed, but the players are not all based on fact.

"For example, the center on the team is very good, and one could say `that's Theresa.' But the player has five brothers and that wasn't true of her.''

Grentz said everyone at Illinois has been "super" since her resignation. "They're coming to help at the yard sale. I was able to sell the house quickly."

She also said that the cast of the movie "were all very interested and were asking a lot of questions when I visited. They really want to get it right."

Center stage. That would be former Vanderbilt post player Chantelle Anderson who made her debut in Connecticut last weekend doing television commentary on the San Antonio broadcast of the Silver Stars' victory over the Connecticut Sun.

Anderson was selected second overall by the Sacramento Monarchs in the 2003 draft and later traded to San Antonio before the start of the 2005 season.

Will Sun Days Ever Be the Same? The Connecticut Sun, at the moment, are very much like customers at the slots in the adjoining Mohegan Sun casino parlors in Uncasville.

Suddenly unable to produce jackpot wins in bunches as in the past -- Connecticut fell into a last place tie Tuesday night with Washington in the East after losing to the Mystics -- the inability of New York and Chicago to move forward leaves the Sun still in position to make a jab at a playoff berth.

-- Mel

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Silver Stars' Battle Cry: Forget the Alamo

(Guru’s Note: It’s not true that we said we won’t come off the induction break until the Connecticut Sun wins two in a row in the WNBA. However, because of the continuing interest in the blog covering the recent Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductions in Knoxville, that included the Guru, and the fact there are still more related events such as the Inquirer-hosted party on Friday night, July 27th, at a site to be announced in Philadelphia, here is the link to all that to keep it at the top of this blog: click here.

Continuing news with additional pictures and related media from all that will be posted over there. Incidentally, you'll have to click on a continuing link on several posts to see all the pictures and click on either cagtegories for the wbhof or archives to see everything from the moment Erin, Acacia, and yours truly landed in Knoxville on June 6.

If you’re coming over here from that site, welcome. Incidentally, most, if not all, of the same blogging team from Knoxville will be at the WNBA All-Star weekend in Washington.)

We now return you to regular coverage at this site.

By Mel Greenberg

Since the Utah Starzz, an original WNBA franchise in 1997, became the San Antonio Silver Stars, the contingent has spent more time under siege in its league wars than a group of forlorn Texans once spent in the 19th Century at a nearby mission against the Mexican army.

That may be coming to an end based on the Silver Stars’ current performance, which, by the way, is being handled with their general, coach Dan Hughes, sidelined recovering from Achilles surgery.

San Antonio is now 8-4, following Saturday night’s 71-58 victory against the suddenly forlorn Connecticut Sun in a cross-divisional game at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Silver Stars followed up on a back-to-back that began on Friday night when San Antonio rallied late in the game to beat the New York Liberty, 70-63, in Madison Square Garden.

That marked the first home-coming of sorts for former Liberty star Becky Hammon, who was traded to San Antonio on draft day for former Ohio State star Jessica Davenport, the second overall pick in April.

The win Saturday night was the fourth straight for the Silver Stars, who are just four wins short of matching their all-time win record in Texas, which was in 2003 when they went 12-22 after moving from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The streak is also an all-time mark in the Lone Star State.

``We are playing well and the majority has to do with how these players are playing together,” said assistant coach Brian Agler, who took over for Hughes at the start of the streak.

Agler has a past history of success in this state when he was in charge of the two-time champion Columbus Quest against the New England Blizzard in the former American Basketball League.

In Saturday night’s game, Hammon had a game-high 20 points, while second-year pro Sophia Young out of Baylor scored 17, and Vickie Johnson, a former Liberty star who signed with San Antonio as a free agent last season, scored 10 points.

Connecticut, which is now 5-8 and is just 1-5 at home, got 15 points each from Lindsay Whalen and Katie Douglas. Le’Coe Willingham scored 10 points.

The Sun had rallied for a key road win Friday night against the Indiana Fever to plug a five-game losing streak, but atrocious 31.1 percent shooting put Connecticut back on the negative side of the won-loss result again Saturday night.

``We are shooting the ball awful,’’ Sun coach Mike Thibault stated the obvious.

Sun all-star Nykesha Sales was also sidelined with nagging Achilles soreness and having had rolled her left ankle in the win over Indiana.

Connecticut had a chance to gain the momentum near the end of the third quarter when the Sun pulled to within a point of the Silver Stars at 50-49 with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the period.

But Connecticut was unable to convert the next several possessions and San Antonio found a groove to pull away into a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter.

“When we started using the mid pick and roll into some hand-offs, it went from a two-point game to a 12-point game in a hurry,” Agler said.

San Antonio owes its advancement to several deals, including the acquisition of former Penn State star Helen Darling in the dispersal draft of the former Carolina Sting roster, the trade for Hammon, the restrictedfree-agent signing of Erin Buesher, who had been with the Sacramento Monarchs, as well as acquiring former Notre Dame star center Ruth Riley from the WNBA champion Detroit Shock in exchange for center Katie Feenstra.

Former North Carolina star post player Camille Little was acquired with the second round pick in the April draft.

``We are just trying to focus on being us and when we play the style we feel we shoud, we are a tough team to beat,” Hammon said.

``We have a lot of weapons out there and people that do a lot of different things, so it’s nice to be versatile at all positions. I thought defensively we have been on point and tonight we executed on defense for the most part for 40 minutes.’’

Sam Bowie, William Travis, and Davy Crockett should have been so lucky at the Alamo.

-- Mel

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Short form of the post below

Just so it's at the top of the page, this blog has moved URLs for the weekend.

To go to the new version of Women's Hoops Guru, blogging live from Knoxville, click here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Road to Knoxville: Guru's Blog Suddenly Multiplies

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ And so it is Tuesday, the eve of the Guru's historic trip to Knoxville, Tenn., where the second of two flights will arrive early Wednesday afternoon with team members Acacia and Erin, who are also part of the Guru's traveling press corps.

Acacia, recently returned from her five-month study program in Bologna, Italy, will join us here on Tuesday and then fly on Wednesday to Charlotte, where Erin will converge with us from Boston to the connector flight to complete the journey.

The history involves the Guru becoming the first media member to be inducted into the nine-year-old Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Ceremonies and events are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, as well as a party at a well-known local coach's residence, Thursday. The other five individuals in the six-member induction class are Georgia coach Andy Landers, Andrea Lloyd Curry (Texas), Bridget Gordon (Tennessee), Daedra Charles-Furlow (Tennessee), and Pam Kelly-Flowers (Louisiana Tech).

And to add special coverage from the site, the Guru, for the moment, now has two blogs.

The original womhoops.blogspot.com will continue here offering news, commentary, and coverage of on-going activities in women's basketball at the pro and collegiate level.

The second and new blog is an outgrowth of Jonathan's creation at Philly.com which will highlight the events this week in Knoxville, although some induction coverage will also appear here.

The internal Women's Hoops Guru directly inside Philly.com at the shortcut address of http://go.philly.com/womhoops will offer, besides print coverage, photographs and multi-video, which will expand upon Jonathan's arrival Thursday afternoon.

Thus, it might be possible that a worldwide viewing audience on the internet can see events for the first time soon after they happen during the proceedings all weekend.

Eventually, it might be that the two blogs will merge into the newer site.

At the moment, some test copy of meaningful dialogue exists at the site with a pair of 2006 Final Four photographs until the advance team augments it with on-site coverage beginning Wednesday.

It's possible some new copy will go into play on Tuesday.

The Women's Hoops Guru site will have a link back here and vice versa.

In developing action on Monday, the Guru completed his reupholstering for the trip, having picked up the tux, suite, and other new apparel.

So now it's time to start packing, begin working on the weekend speeches, of which full texts will post, and get ready for the ride.

-- Mel

(Editor's Note: If you like the new blog, drop us a line and let us know. Our email addresses are linked to on the new blog, and you probably have Mel's anyway. If you like it enough we might just keep using it. -- J.T.)

(Guru's Note to Editor above: It took a few hours, but after you called it a night, you actually, unknown to you, did talk me out of the previously intended headline and associated copy.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Richie Adubato Resigns as Mystics Head Coach

As reported by the Washington Post's Marc Carig and washingtonpost.com D.C. Sports Bog writer Dan Steinberg, Mystics coach Richie Adubato resigned this afternoon.

Mystics assistant Tree Rollins takes over at the helm of a team which has started 0-4 this year, with losses thus far to Connecticut, Sacramento, New York and Detroit.

The team also announced that forward Crystal Robinson has retired and will take a position with the coaching staff.

I just spoke with Mel, who reports being "surprised."

"That does come as a sudden, quick decision," he added.

I am sure he will have more to say about this later.

Road to Knoxville: The Guru's Tabulation

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ While others are busy covering the Guru over the next several weeks, it doesn't mean the Guru can't continue to offer pearls others would miss about his induction classmates at next week's enshrinement events at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

There are also other notations to be made until members of the blogging team are actually on hand with the Guru to take over most of the coverage. Incidentally, in that regard, Jonathan is working on building a special coverage site at Philly.com to enable better multi-media applications from Tennessee , but links will be provided back and forth between here and there, if that comes about so you all don't miss anything.

Friday's (today's) major event will be the Guru getting his official haircut for the Friday night events June 8 and the ceremony, itself, on June 9.

But since there is a time limitation on the speeches, as previously noted, the Guru will continue to offer some insights that won't make the cut, otherwise. Work will begin this weekend on the speeches, themselves.

Meanwhile, here are some Associated Press women's basketball poll statistics about the rest of the class who made the baskets or coached the games that got them ranked.

For those of you who will be lurking here, the Guru will also be offering extra stats about himself that are not part of his bio, such as total number of sports editors at The Inquirer, who have had to endure his presence during his 37 years of employment.

First, the class covers the entire 536-week history of the poll, with the Guru contributing by being around the first two seasons to count the ballots in 1976-77 and 1977-78 before the rest of the group came on the scene at varying intervals the rest of the way.

Extracting the Guru from the equation, this group spans every season since those two, beginnng with Pam Kelly Flowers' arrival at Louisiana Tech in 1978-79.

Overall, they are responsible for 468 appearances, with Georgia coach Andy Landers doing all the heavy lifting, alone, to those numbers since the 1991-92 season.

The four players: Kelly Flowers, Tennessee's Bridget Gordon and Daedra Charles-Furlow, and Texas' Andrea Lloyd Curry are responsible for 221 rakings, while Landers took care of the other 247 rankings since Charles-Furlow's graduation in 1991.

In working this tabulation from our historical database, only one credit was given to a given week in which one or more inductees may have been on ranked team the same week. However, in some cases, the overlap kept streaks alive.

Kelly-Flowers and her Techsters teammates went 70-for-70 during her era, which lasted until 1981-82 when La. Tech won the first-ever NCAA title.

Andrea Lloyd Curry showed up as a freshman at Texas the next season and took care of the entire route with 67 straight rankings with the Longhorns through 1985-86 when as a senior she became part of the first-ever unbeaten NCAA champion.

Two of Lloyd Curry's seasons overlapped Bridget Gordon's freshman and sophomore years at Tennessee in 1984-85 and 1985-86.

In terms of the class, that became important because Gordon's first season saw Tennessee, believe it or not, miss nine ranking weeks in the middle. Remember, overall the Vols have missed only 14 weeks in the poll's entire 31-year history with coach Pat Summitt, as well as the school, having the most total appearances at 522.

Landers, incidentally, is second with 414 poll appearances at Georgia, which matches his number.

Daedra Charles-Furlow seems to have not played as a freshman -- something we will doublecheck later Friday since we no longer make weird-hour phone calls thanks to email. Undoubtedly, based on reports, the Guru expects to hear plenty about those calls in comments from those who are being interviewed about him.

Anyhow, to return from digression, Charles-Furlow did shoot 1.000 with 51 straight poll appearances with the Vols after Gordon's graduation, spanning 1988-89 until 190-91.

Then it was up to Landers to take this year's class the rest of the way, which he did rather well, although his first two of those seasons saw a lot of absenteeism from the weekly vote.

There were also some other bumps, but Georgia and Landers have been in every poll since the start of the 1998-99 season for a current streak total of 163.

Leon Barmore on Kelly Flowers

Retired Lousiana Tech coach Leon Barmore, who is in both the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., suggested to the Guru the other day that if he needed to purchase some minutes for his acceptance speech from one of the other inductees, his former star Pam Kelly Flowers may be a good person to approach.

"I know she won't say all that much," Barmore jested. "But what she will say will probably be memorable. She was a great player for us."

He also noted that he once coached Charles-Furlow on a USA Basketball sports festival team years ago.

"I gave her a nickname that stuck for a while," Barmore said. "She was from Detroit and I called her 'Night Train' after that pro football player from up there named Dick "Night Train" Lane."

-- Mel