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, September 09, 2007

WNBA Finals: "Shoe-Time" Mercury?

By Mel Greenberg

In the late 1980s in the NBA, Los Angeles coach Pat Riley gave us the "Showtime" Lakers offense.

Now several decades later and over in the WNBA, the Phoenix Mercury has reached their first finals with a well-oiled machine that may be more than just a "showtime" operation under coach Paul Westhead.

Consider this exchange from the post-game press conference following Phoenix's 98-70 win over the defendng champion Detroit Shock, leveling the series at 1-1, that was e-mailed to all of us who were not on the scene in the Motor City.

Tangela Smith and, herself, also known as Diana Taurasi, were answering questions when the following began to roll from the tongues of both.

Q. Are you okay with a split?
TANGELA SMITH: Are we okay with a split?
DIANA TAURASI: It would have been nice to win two, but one is nice, I guess.
DIANA TAURASI: We'll take one.
TANGELA SMITH: We're going home now.
DIANA TAURASI: Got to buy coach some new shoes now.

Q. New shoes, how come?
DIANA TAURASI: We're sitting there ‑‑
TANGELA SMITH: Ask him about that.
DIANA TAURASI: We were sitting there, we look down and coach has got two different pairs of shoes on. So that was the talk of the ‑‑ that was our game plan is to get coach two matching shoes.
TANGELA SMITH: A brand new pair of shoes.

Q. Was it brown and black?
TANGELA SMITH: No, they were two black shoes.
DIANA TAURASI: One was gator leather and the other had a buckle penny loafer. It was weird.

Q. What was it again?
DIANA TAURASI: Never mind.

Q. Gator?
DIANA TAURASI: One was gator leather and the other was like a penny loafer type shoe. You know coach is a little old, we got to get him into style.

Q. You don't think he may have done that on purpose?
DIANA TAURASI: No, because he was as red as those chairs. He was all he was feeling the heat.

Q. So some more poetry or music or something?
DIANA TAURASI: He needs some fashion tips. We'll hook him up though. We'll get him ready for next year.

Earlier in the playoffs it was revealed that Westhead was giving speeches to players quoting from such vintage ballads as Dobie Gray's "Drift Away."

Thus, Westhead becomes the first coach in the 11-year history of the playoffs to become the subject of one discussion focusing on Soul and another on Sole(s).


For those of you who like to keep up-to-date profiles on the Guru, the arrival of Sept. 9 on the calendar means its time to change the length-of-service at The Inquirer from 37 years to 38.

Also, for those of you not familiar with the workings of big city newspapers, the copy of stories that get to the internet from the print editions also include the headlines that appeared in the paper.

During the process involving those particular works, the writers produce the stories and the copy desks produce the headlines. The exception is the blog sites, which many of us apply our own titles. But the difference between the two should be obvious as to which stories are derived from the publishing process.

Hopefully, this little lesson answers questions about an item that appeared elsewhere advancing the finals last week under the Guru's name that managed to create some confusion.

-- Mel


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