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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

WNBA Playoffs: Suspense Everywhere

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA _ Until recently, there hasn't been much intrigue involved at the WNBA's annual postseason party, especially in the early phases of the playoffs. Home-courts did their job most of the time, especially after the favored teams would lose openers on the road.

The Houston Comets (remember them?) owned the league the first four seasons virtually untouched except for a challenge in the 1998 finals from the Phoenix Mercury and an extended third game in 1999 when one Teresa Weatherspoon managed to nail a basket at the buzzer from several solar systems beyond the Comets' arena in Game 2.

The Los Angeles Sparks (remember them, also?) then became the new rulers for a couple of seasons and seemed poised for a three-peat after whacking the Detroit Shock in the 2003 opener. But coach Bill Laimbeer boldly said immediately after the game that back in Motown everything would go quite OK and they did, although both games in the Palace went down to the wire.

The Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm (Also soon to be consigned to memory lane?) had a nice little get-together as first-timers in the finals in 2004 with the Storm almost being swept at the last second of Game 2 before bouncing back to triumph.

A year ago, the finals were the most interesting with the Sacramento Monarchs and Detroit having better success on each other's floor until the Shock finally emerged at an adopted home arena for Game 5.

And so, we're not even close to the Finals yet this time around and there is definitely a different ambience in the early matches.

At the preseason, the forecast was that Detroit would dominate, which did occur in the regular season as the Shock managed to cope with injuries sidelining Cheryl Ford from the All-Star break until the playoffs.

Then the New York Liberty delivered such a one-sided surprise to Detroit at Madison Square Garden that even Laimbeer was a little sure if his Shock could regain its footing back home in Game 2 of the conference semifinals.

The Shock did Sunday, but New York's ability to go almost the distance makes Tuesday night's third and deciding event in Auburn Hills intriguing.

On Monday night, the other piece of the Eastern Conference early action gets determined and back in the state that goes ga-ga over women's hoops there is concern over which Connecticut Sun will appear in the Midwest for Game 3 with the Indiana Fever.

Given a chance to close out the Fever on the heels of the triple-overtime triumph in Game 1 and extend their mastery over Indiana, the Sun seemed to have packed their life-form and little else in Game 2. So anything goes in this series.

The rest of the West gets decided Monday night when the San Antonio Silver Stars host the two-time defending conference champion Monarchs. Each have had lopsided victories on their home courts in the first two games. The deciding game remains in Texas, but trends continue to be difficult everywhere but on the desert.

That's where Phoenix yielded a 22-point lead but remained unruffled to finish a sweep of Seattle with the Big East alumnae of former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter, former UConn star Diana Taurasi, and Australian Penny Taylor leading the way.

The Mercury are beginning to take on the appearance of a worthy challenger for the whole works. If New York upsets Detroit, or if the Shock fall in the East finals, home-court advantage the rest of the way will belong to Phoenix.

The draft-day trade of Mercury overall No. 1 pick Lindsey Harding to the Minnesota Lynx for Tangela Smith continues to loom as a factory in Phoenix's return to the elite.

"As long as we could get the right deal, we were going to make it," Mercury first-year general manager Anne Donovan reflected on one of several dividend-paying offseason transactions.

Seattle exits without much known of its future considering the threat by ownership to move both the Storm and brother NBA Supersonics to Oklahoma City.

League MVP candidate Lauren Jackson, who becomes a free agent, might decide to remain in Australia next summer to prepare for the Olympics with her country's national team.

Speaking of Olympics, Storm coach Anne Donovan and All-Star point guard Sue Bird, who also becomes a free agent, won't have much time to dwell on Seattle's future. Just ahead are peparations for the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament which include training in New York and Philadelphia before a pair of exhibition games with Australia in Trenton, N.J., and Connecticut.

Bird's status has raised fantasy speculation on media row that if Minnesota wins the lotto with the No. 1 pick, would the Sun attempt to sign the former Huskies all-American and then package Lindsay Whalen back to her home state to get the No. 1 pick. Again, fantasy only at this time. But it would be a tough consideration if Tennessee star Candace Parker makes herself available at the end of this collegiate season.

When Temple trains at Temple in Philadelphia, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Donovan, who coached the Rage in the former American Basketball League during the uncompleted season when the ABL collapsed under bankruptcy.

Temple coach Dawn Staley, an assistant to Donovan with the USA team that both had storied careers with as players, has not said whether she'll have a menu of cheesesteaks ready for the USA crowd when they arrive here.

Quotable: As reported here over the weekend by Mr. Philly.com, it is true that somewhere just below New Haven, Connecticut, on I-95 Friday afternoon on a drive originally intended for Madison Square Garden in New York, the Guru received a call from the home office to head to Reading to cover the baseball rehab appearances of the Phillies' Chase Utley and Adam Eaton at the team's minor league Double-A affiliate in an Eastern League doubleheader.

The Guru deals with the Reading folks on his desk shifts in the home office in the summer when he handles the minor league roundup.

So, when he came strolling through the pressbox door late Friday afternoon and noticed a look of surprise among the regulars, your Guru quickly commented: "What can I say? I was called up to toss 10-inches of copy and then I'm being sent back down after the doubleheader."

It was just after the night ended that the Guru learned of New York's triumph where the Guru would have been in Madison Square Garden. That caused a comment to one colleague: "It looks like neither of us (the Guru and Detroit) showed up in New York, but at least I wasn't in the building."

Incidentally, situations kept us away from the TV set on Sunday, so the only way we had a sense of the WNBA action was Erin's constant update email reporting from Boston to our blackberry. So a special thanks for keeping our knowledge base in tact.

-- Mel


Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 09.09
oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co, cheap ugg boots outlet, ugg outlet, prada outlet, cheap ugg boots, ugg australia, jordan shoes, replica watches, replica watches, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, louis vuitton handbags, burberry outlet online, tiffany jewelry, nike free, christian louboutin, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet online, red bottom shoes, cheap oakley sunglasses, nike outlet, prada handbags, burberry outlet online, ugg boots clearance, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton, christian louboutin outlet, oakley vault, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet online, ray ban outlet, tory burch outlet online, michael kors handbags, louis vuitton outlet online, longchamp handbags, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online sale, ray ban sunglasses

3:34 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

nike free pas cher, air max pas cher, guess pas cher, true religion jeans, kate spade outlet, coach outlet, hermes pas cher, kate spade outlet online, true religion, vans pas cher, coach purses, ray ban pas cher, michael kors, nike roshe run, tn pas cher, michael kors uk, lacoste pas cher, timberland pas cher, scarpe hogan, longchamp, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online, nike air force, north face pas cher, air jordan, oakley pas cher, longchamp pas cher, north face, true religion outlet, sac vanessa bruno, new balance pas cher, coach outlet, coach outlet store online, burberry pas cher, converse pas cher, hollister uk, nike air max, ray ban uk, hollister, chanel handbags, nike blazer pas cher, lululemon outlet online, michael kors canada, louboutin, ralph lauren pas cher

3:35 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

chi flat iron, new balance outlet, soccer shoes, nike air max, instyler ionic styler, beats headphones, jimmy choo shoes, hollister clothing store, mac cosmetics, herve leger, nfl jerseys, abercrombie and fitch, nike free, abercrombie and fitch, asics shoes, ferragamo shoes, vans outlet, nike roshe, lululemon outlet, valentino shoes, soccer jerseys, reebok shoes, hollister, ralph lauren uk, insanity workout, p90x workout, mulberry uk, nike trainers, nike air huarache, celine handbags, birkin bag, longchamp, north face jackets, north face jackets, air max, wedding dresses, nike air max, babyliss, mcm handbags, nike roshe, mont blanc pens, bottega veneta, giuseppe zanotti, baseball bats, ghd

3:37 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

michael kors handbags, sac louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, swarovski uk, pandora jewelry, air max, marc jacobs handbags, links of london uk, abercrombie, ugg, vans, coach outlet, gucci, louis vuitton uk, converse, michael kors outlet online, louboutin, oakley, louis vuitton pas cher, uggs canada, juicy couture outlet, converse shoes, wedding dress, pandora charms, doke gabbana outlet, louis vuitton canada, toms outlet, hollister canada, pandora uk, replica watches, louis vuitton, supra shoes, thomas sabo uk, montre femme, swarovski jewelry, sac lancel, ugg, karen millen, ray ban, ugg boots, juicy couture, michael kors outlet, timberland boots, iphone case, ugg soldes, ralph lauren
ninest123 09.09

3:37 AM  
Blogger 小 Gg said...

prada outlet
cheap nba jerseys
cheap uggs
cheap nhl jerseys
cheap nfl jerseys
true religion jeans
belstaff jackets
ugg uk
ralph lauren uk
uggs clearance
ralph lauren uk
nfl jerseys wholesale
chanel outlet
roshe run
ray ban sunglasses
the north face uk
michael kors wholesale
michael kors outlet online
true religion jeans
canada goose outlet
nobis outlet
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ray ban sunglasses
soccer jerseys
karen millen dresses
ugg uk
ray ban sunglasses
cheap nfl jerseys
coach outlet
lebron james shoes

9:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home