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, July 03, 2007

WNBA: Shooting Stars Mar Mystics' Holiday Eve

Guru's Note: A print story from Immaculata is appearing in the Inquirer's Wednesday holiday edition and thus also in Philly.com. Continuing anything noteworthy off the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame involving the Guru's recent induction is at the special blog leading up to the Inquirer-hosted event on July 27th.

We received a picture shot last week at Immaculata of ourselves, former coach Cathy Rush, and Mary McCormick, who used to work in the PR department back in the day. That is now posted over there with some commentary as a companion to the print story in the paper.

Back to the party. A snafu involving the email launch on Monday of official invites caused those invites to go nowhere. However, the party administrator (not me) is off until Thursday and is unaware. We will try to go into some damage control in the next several days.

And now back to the regular Guru report.

By Mel Greenberg

WASHINGTON _ There are now two things in this town incapable of containment in close quarters. One involves a former official of the adminstration currently occupying the White House about a mile from the Verizon Center and we'll let the news section continue to deal with that.

The other is the offense of the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA.

A cellar dweller of the league this time last season, San Antonio shot a torrid 56.4 percent Tuesday night as the Silver Stars beat the Washington Mystics 84-79.

Second-year pro Sophia Young out of Baylor scored 24 points and was 9 of 12 from the field. Erin Buescher added 19 points off 6 of 9 shooting. Ruth Riley came off an injury to shoot 5-for-5 for 10 points, a total equaled by Vickie Johnson. Helen Darling dealt eight assists starting in place of the injured Becky Hammon.

The win moved San Antonio to 10-6, two short of the Silver Stars' best win total since moving from Utah. Washington fell to 5-12 while letting the San Antonio postwomen ring up scores consistently in the Verizon Center.

The incredible thing about San Antonio is that in looking at Tuesday's starting lineup, the Silver Stars' longevity as a unity is not actually all that long. In fact, it reeks of the way expansion teams are assembled.

Buescher arrived in the offseason as a free agent after being with Sacramento. Riley arrived through a trade with Detroit. Johnson was a free agent out of the New York Liberty last season, while the injured Hammon arrived through a trade in April on draft day. Darling was picked up in the dispersal draft of the former Charlotte Sting roster.

"Part of it is that they all are quality people,'' said assistant coach Brian Agler, who continues to run San Antonio wile coach Dan Hughes recovers from Achilles surgery. "They all rely on each other and they all have responsibilities to each other.

"I know that's a corny thing to say because whenever you win, it's because you have good chemistry, but with all the new faces within this year and a year ago, that is definitely the reason. And they play well together.''

DeLisha Milton-Jones of the Mystics, who has been in similar situations when USA Basketball teams are assembled for international competition, complimented San Antonio's performance.

"The majority of their players are veterans and they've been in this league before," Milton-Jones said. "You have a group of players who are unselfish and team-goal oriented and that calls for a winning team.

"They've won more games this season than probably anyone expected them to win, already. Out there on the floor, they have a great cohesiveness. You see the ball moving well and fast and people are not just looking for scoring opportunities, themselves, but trying to get their teammate open," Milton-Jones said.

"And that makes a team like them hard to guard," she added. "You never know who's going to shoot the ball at what point, so your one-on-one defense has to be up to par. Tonight, however, we showed differently. Our one-on-one defense was not up to par and they drove the ball down the lane for layups or drove it down there to kick it out for open (threes), it was just like they had a field day against us. The thing that plagues us is decision-making, which leads to a turnover or a bad shot, or not the best shot."

Young has thrived despite having virtually all new teammates surrounding her.

"We just have a bunch of great players on our team and we started to learn how to play with each other and develop great chemistry on the court," Young said.

All-Star Lineups

The WNBA announced the starting lineups, voted by the fans, for the All-Star game, which will be played here on July 15th.

Sue Bird, the former UConn star point guard with the Seattle Storm, was the top overall votegetter, collecting 12,838 ballots, to make the West, along with the Phoenix Mercury and former UConn star forward Diana Taurasi (124,918), Seattle forward Lauren Jackson (102, 800), San Antonio guard Becky Hammon (98,694), and Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Grffith (87,895).

Bird, however, will miss the game due to arthroscopic surgery later this week, according to the Seattle Storm web site.

The East top votegetter was forard Tamika Catchings, the former Tennessee star, who received 124,144. She'll be joined by three members of defending champion Detroit: forward Cheryl Ford (117,736), center Kara Braxton (121,436, guard Deanna Nolan (95,058), and Indiana guard Anna DeForge (84,498).

DeForge and Braxton are first-time starters and Hammon joins the retired Dawn Staley, the Temple coach as players to start for both squads in their careers. Staley started for the West last year representing the Houston Comets after previous representing the former Charlotte Sting.

Candice Dupree was the fifth best forward on the East to receive votes and the second-year pro out of Temple is likely to be one of the subs picked by the league's head coaches, whose six choices in each conference will be announced Monday after the secret ballots are tallied.

Short Retirement

Former Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss, who resigned after the season, will become an assistant to new Texas coach Gail Goestenkors on July 15th.

"There were many opportunities presented to me, not all of which were in sports,” DeMoss said as part of a statement on the Texas announcement. “Frankly, the situation at Texas is the only job in basketball that would take me out of retirement. I am very comfortable with this decision to move forward and to work for Gail and The University.”

CoSIDA News

We didn't make the annual Collegiate Sports Informationa Directors Association convention, which was held this past week in San Diego.

But at the conclusion, our good friend Larry Dougherty, the Temple SID who made the trip with Drexel's Mike Tuberosa to the induction events in Knoxville, has been named a third vice president of the organization.

Also, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt won the Dick Engberg Award at the organization's annual academic hall of fame ceremonies.

According to the Tennessee announcement, "Established in 1997, the Dick Enberg Award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. "

And on that note, it's time to head to the Fourth.

-- Mel

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