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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

WNBA: Missing Lynx Hurting Minnesota?

By Mel Greenberg

It will be Lindsay Whalen's other homecoming night Thursday when the Minnesota Lynx visit the Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Whalen, who quickly became one of the WNBA's better players after being drafted by the Sun, was dealt near her home town in the Twin Cities in one of the offseason's blockbuster trades that saw Connecticut acquire former UConn star Renee Montgomery and the overall No. 1 pick in April's draft. That second attraction enabled Huskies senior Tina Charles to make her pro debut less than an hour away from where she helped her alma mater to back-to-back unbeaten titles.

On the East Coast by the sea, the trade helped key a youth movement for the Sun, who missed the playoffs for the first time since moving from Orlando.

In the Midwest, however, it looked like Minnesota had all the pieces for new coach Cheryl Reeve, a former La Salle star, to challenge for a championship.

However, surgeries to former Stanford star Candice Wiggins and former LSU star Seimone Augustus have deprived Minnesota of their special talent.

Additionally, former Georgetown star Rebekkah Bruson, an acquistion in the roster dispersal draft of the former Sacramento Monarchs, just returned for a delayed season debut after playing overseas.

That arrival forced Reeve to waive former Drexel star Gabriela Marginean, a second-round pick who bvecame the first Dragons player to appear in the WNBA.

Marginean, the all-time scorer in Philadelphia collegiate women's history, played in four games before returning to the city this week in time for graduation ceremonies.

Minnesota has been competitive, but the roster subtractions has the Lynx at 1-3 going into Thursday's action in casino-land, an event the Guru will attend.

On one hand, it could be noted teams have quickly got into the mix before such as the Indiana Fever, which lost the first two games a year ago and then dominated the Eastern Conference and advanced all the way to Game 7 of the WNBA finals against the Phoenix Mercury.

On the other, if the Seattle Storm continues to surge, things could turn into a wild scramble for the other three spots in the West and those early losses could become a sticky thorn down the stretch.

Connecticut has managed to go 2-1 despite missing its two best players -- Ashja Jones (achilles surgery) and Sandrine Gruda (Europe) -- who are expected back in uniform shortly.

Of course in the Minnesota situation, a missed playoff spot -- not the way the Lynx are thinking -- gets the team in the draft lotto with the possibility of lucking into another overall No. 1 pick -- which would UConn senior-to-be Maya Moore.

Another ex-UConn star will return Thursday night near her alma mater with the Lynx -- Charde Houston, who has made a fine start.

Minnesota also has former Virginia star Monica Wright, the overall No. 2 pick of the draft who broke Dawn Staley's scoring record with the Cavaliers.

Speaking of Staley, who is now coaching at South Carolina entering her third season following eight coaching Temple, the annual black-tie and sneakers dinner run by her foundation which benefits inner-city youngsters in Philadelphia, will not be held this spring due to financial considerations.

Nebraska's Griffin Fortifying Sun

A separate deal also involving Connecticut and Minnesota will be highlighted with the Sun performance of former Nebraska star Kelsey Griffin, the No. 3 pick of the draft by the Lynx who then swapped her to the Sun.

Griffin helped the Cornhuskers to go unbeaten overall and through the Big 12 until they suffered their first loss in the conference tournament.

While Nebraska seemed to be a mystery to those of us in the East leaving under the shadow of the UConn powerhouse and its twin perfect records, the Guru recently asked Griffin her thoughts about this part of the world while finishing college in the Midwest and what she has found since arriving here.

"I got a great taste of it when I went to the Final Four for the All-American awards and all that stuff," Griffin said. "I got a great taste of Connecticut fans.

"At the time I didn't know if I was coming here -- I was hoping I'd end up here," Griffin said. "They were very nice to me but I think that's because I wasn't playing. I know they are die-hard so I knew if I ended up here, there was going to be great fan support.

"One thing about this team is there's so many talented players -- there's so many scorers. We have so many options and so that's a part of our chemistry. We know who's ever on the court we have the ability to score the ball. On defense, we're getting that chemistry as well."

-- Mel


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