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 11, 2010

Philly People Spicing Hoops News

By Mel Greenberg

Some of this has been out there but some of you don't read other key sites or links from such to the news of the day so the Guru provides the following as a public service.

West Catholic and Rutgers grad Patty Coyle has been named an assistant to South Jersey's Agnus Berenato at Pittsburgh.

Coyle most recently had been head coach of the WNBA New York Liberty until let go by Carol Blazejowski during last summer.

She had been head coach for five seasons after being promoted from the assistant position when former coach Richie Adubato had been ousted.

Coyle and her twin sister Mary starred for the Scarlet Knights in the late 1970s and into 1981 when Rutgers captured the final Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) title at The Palestra on Penn's campus.

She also has been head coach at Loyola of Maryland and held several collegiate assistant jobs, including one to former coach Theresa Grentz at her alma mater and to former St. Joseph's coach Jim Foster with the Hawks.

The Guru had heard the move was in the works while attending the NCAA Women's Final Four in San Antonio, though Berenato would not comment at the time in a well-known restaurant where the Guru was dining with media friends near a table of the Panthers mentor.

Oddly, the move completes an intriguing turn of events.

Coyle had been a candidate for the vacant La Salle position after Tom Lochner was let go but also became involved with the opening at Seton Hall, according to multiple sources familiar with both searches.

The Explorers then went to former Pitt assistant Jeff Williams, who held the position Coyle will now fill.

At one point Coyle appeared to be the front runner with the Pirates in South Orange, N.J. until Seton Hall officials learned of Liberty coach Anne Donovan's interest and ultimately hired her.

Donovan is a former Bergen Catholic star who also coached the Olympic team to a gold medal in Beijing in 1988 and coached the WNBA Seattle Storm to a title in 2004.

She also had been Coyle's assistant and was elevated last summer to the top Liberty coaching job, which she'll hold to the end of this season, which begins Saturday.

Coyle's hire gives Berenato some quality seasoning with the Panthers as well as someone credited with being an excellent individual when it comes to strategy.

Black A Finalist

Vermont announced that former St. Joseph's and Archbishop Wood star Debbie Black is one of three finalists for the vacant Catamount position.

Black gained notoriety as a feisty point guard with tenacity on defense as she helped the Hawks to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1985 under Foster.

She is currently serving as an assistant to him at Ohio State but told the Guru during the Final Four she thinks she is ready to get her own gig.

Ironically, if Black lands the job at the America East school she would become a conference colleague of Boston University's Kelly Greenberg, the former Penn coach and La Salle star, and would also be in the same league as Hartford's Jenn Rizzotti, the former UConn star who had many court duels with Black in the former American Basketball League and WNBA.

Black was an all-star in both pro organizations and last played with the Connecticut Sun, being credit of providing leadership and cohesion to Mike Thibault's early teams after the Sun moved North from being the former Orlando Miracle.

UConn Spice Continues at Temple

When former longtime assistant Tonya Carsoza succeeded her friend Dawn Staley in charge of the Owls two years ago, she said she would always have some UConn influence on her staff.

Apparently that will continue with the hiring of recently-graduated Huskies player Jacquie Fernandes who was on the other bench in Norfolk, Va., in March when UConn was adding Temple to its massacre list on the way to a second straight unbeaten NCAA title.

The two apparently had a discussion while both were in Virginia according to the Connecticut Post's Rich Elliott reported the hire on his blog Tuesday.

Temple may still finishing the paper work, which is why the news arrived first from the North. Things move slow adminstratively in the summer on North Broad St, according to a former athlete department official who in the past had commented on previous hires.

Cardoza also has former UConn star Willnett Crockett. Fernandes will fill the graduate position that had been held the past two seasons by former Huskies manager Stacey Nasser.

Geno Mouthpiece Search

Nothing new 24 hours after the Guru reported Connecticut has to fill the vacant assistant Sports Information Director position following the departure of Randy Press, who had been the media liason for the national champs.

Without regard to the so-perceived star women's SIDs at prominent Division I schools across the country who may or may not be interested -- see the previous post for a description of the daily job -- the Guru has two people in mind, one not at a school, who have UConn DNA in their careers, would probably be approved by coach Geno Auriemma, and have familiarity with the ongoing media masses who cover the Huskies regularly.

WNBA Sunrise Special

It will be a Big East special of sorts in the WNBA Tuesday morning with a 10:30 a.m. preseason game in Madison Square Garden when the host New York Liberty meet their Eastern Conference rival Connecticut Sun.

The game will mark the unofficial debut of the newest Rutgers alum on the Liberty -- former Scarlet Knights star Cappie Pondexter -- who was traded from the defending champion Phoenix Mercury and will make her first appearance with former collegiate teammates Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn.

New York also has rookie and former UConn star Kalana Greene who will be playing against former Huskies teammates for the first time when Connecticut's Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery play for the Sun.

Recent free-agent signee Taj McWilliams-Franklin, a WNBA All-Star, will make her home debut for New York.

And, yes, just as the Connecticut media are heading at the moment for trains South to the Garden, the Guru will sign off to do likewise in Trenton, N.J., for trains north.

And to answer the question ahead of time that's already been asked at Mohegan and in Washington, for those of you who might ask the Guru in the Garden, the Guru only retired from the Inquirer, not women's basketball.

-- Mel


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