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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WNBA: Weekend Tangle Ahead In The East

By Mel Greenberg

After the Connecticut Sun's opening win last Saturday at home over the Chicago Sky, coach Mike Thibault noted on the 17-point performance of rookie Tina Charles, the No. 1 overall pick out of UConn, that the big test will be the night-after-night opponents she will play against as opposed to that not always being the case at her alma mater.

On a previous conference call he rightly suggested there are no "nights off" in this league this season in terms of the competiton, made even tougher with the reduction of the former Sacramento Monarchs whose roster of quality talent was dispersed to the surviving 12 teams.

However, due to the spacious scheduling days at the outset there are plenty of nights off at the moment until the weekend arrives.

Then it will get interesting real quick in the Eastern Conference, which is not to say there are not stories of note in the West.

But with the Sun off to a 1-0 start, New York off the a 1-0 start, and Atlanta and Washington off to 2-0 getaways, it will look like amusement park bumper cars with all these teams colliding into each other.

The teams that don't hold their own will have plenty of time to decide their fates. But the ones that can keep the momentum going will be in good spots in terms of pocketing early conference wins that might mean tie-breaking perks for seed positions in the postseason or making the playoffs themselves.

Remember, last season Washington edged Connecticut and Chicago out in a three-way tie for the final Eastern spot. Things didn't turn out so bad for the Sun, however, in being able to negotiate its way to get in position for Charles.

So with everyone having sweep in their minds, a New York 2-0 at Washington, Friday night, and at home Sunday against Atlanta enables the Liberty to solidify their new look with the addition of former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter and veteran free agent Taj McWilliams-Franklin -- the oldest player in the league with plenty of shelf life.

Washington sweeping New York and then winning at Connecticut Sunday, especially if the new-look Monique Currie continues her torrid scoring she showed last weekend, will say much for the Mystics being able to get to the postseason without the benefit of tiebreakers.

Atlanta, despite the apparent departure of Chamique Holdsclaw, beating Connecticut at home Friday and then at New York Sunday will show the Dream intends to prove the big jump to the playoffs in their second season in 2009 was not a fluke.

And, obviously, Connecticut winning at Atlanta before returning home to face Washington could keep the Sun on a running start with a youth group that still awaits the return of Ashja Jones from achilles surgery in February and Sandrine Gruda from overseas competition in France.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the line, the defending Eastern Conference champion Indiana Fever and Chicago have a home-and-home with each team heading into the weekend with 0-2 starts.

So in that little Midwest scrum fans will learn who wants a playoff spot and who wants to be counting losses that could ultimately lead to UConn's Maya Moore, undoubtedly the overall pick of the 2011 draft.

But, hey, that label may be unfair to Indiana, which also was 0-2 a year ago before dominating the East.

Given the competition, what probably will happen is that things may settle into the gridlock of last season with many of the aforemention teams unable to sweep this weekend.

But for the ones that do, they will earn the spoils of Week No. 2.

WNBA Tech

The league on Tuesday announced WNBA Center Court, a new apps for smart-phone users of such devices as blackberries and I-Phones.

In recent years, the Guru has been less than thrilled with internet searches and the WNBA mobile site accessed on his blackberry to keep track of the nightly battles.

So, with enough room to add more, the Guru went on a seek-and-install mission for his blackberry.

Although it may be there by now, he was unable to find WNBA Center Court in any of the BB Apps locations.

However, a search of WNBA did yield an available download.

It took a bit because it is a 5-plus meg apps but once installed what a pleasant surprise in the robust appearance.

Today's date at the top lists the action, but a click on the date enables one to then get a choice of any night of the current season for those that want to plan ahead, among other things.

One can also click on arrows alongside in either direction for the previous or next nights of action.

There are several menu entries on the bottom of the home screen.

On the immediate left, a click produces the games scheduled of the night with updated stats, etc. The entry level for each game gives start time and TV venue, if any. One then can navigate through each of the two competiting teams per game.

Word of advice here based on other experiences. Unless you absolutely need every second updated -- which is understandable in end-of-game and stretch-drive scenarios -- keep refreshing to a minimal to avoid having your battery chewed up.

The Guru already has to deal with this issue off twiter and facebook apps.

The league icon produces several choices.

Teams leads you to the obvious and then you can look at team stats or click on a roster. Then you simply click on a player to get their stats, though they have yet to appear as on 3:21 a.m. Wednesday. But that will probably be rectified shortly since the Apps was just launched.

News gives you stories of the day, mostly from the Associated Press, which will put those of you in non-team cities and even those in team cities -- where was the NY Times Sunday? -- on equal footing with readers of print publications that will rely more on the wire service then their own staffs, especially when teams go on the road.

Connect gives you the Tweets out of the WNBA.

The next main icon -- standings -- gives you exactly that in two formats one by conference and the other for the entire league top-to-bottom with breakouts of divisional records in both cases. That will be crucial during the stretch drive.

There is also a More incon for technical info.

The Guru had some server connection problems but that might be because of the high volume of apps on his blackberry.

As for nit-picks and they are nits, the Guru would like to see the coaching staffs added to the rosters -- short bios if possible but more for checking spellings on the blackberry while writing this blog on the laptop.

A search engine might be useful in the future to zero in on a particular player ala goggle, though one can switch out to a goggle search in quick enough operation.

And down the road once the playoff spots are being contested at the finish, it will be useful to see team records against each other -- perhaps that can be another icon just for the playoffs with all the tie-breaking info in one area.

But all-in-all a wonderful start to the season and for the Guru enough to end this blog for now.

-- Mel

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