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, June 29, 2010

WNBA: Mystics' Smith Chills Fever

By Mel Greenberg
The new spice in the Washington Mystics' lineup continues to help find ways to overcome seasoned teams.

A year ago the Indiana Fever owned the Mystics with a perfect record in the series and then dispatched Washington in the first round of the playoffs on the way to the Eastern Conference title.

But there has been change in the Verizon Center located down the road from where the current White House tenant is also an advocate of change.

All-Star Katie Smith, the former Ohio State star and Olympian who helped the former Detroit Shock to several WNBA titles, arrived in the offseason as a free agent signee.

Smith continues to be a free spirt on the court. Tuesday night she nailed 5 of 7 three-point shots and finished with 21 points as the Mystics dispatched the Fever from a three-way deadlock in second place courtesy of a hotly contested 68-65 victory.

She made two free throws to help get Washington to the finish line but also missed a pair that gave the Fever lingering hope until former Rutgers star Matee Ajavon came up with a steal to close the door.

Wilingborho, N.J.'s Crystal Langhorne didn't score career marks in this one, but the former Maryland star who is the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week still had an impressive night with 14 points and 10 rebounds.,

Tamika Catchings, oine of 10 All-Star selectees by the fans announced during the game Tuesday, scored 17 point for Indiana (9-6), which fellto fourth and is done for the week.

The Mystics (10-5) stayed tied with Connecticut for second unable to move closer to first due to the Atlanta Dream's rally over the Phoenix Mercury.

Washington goes to Phoenix Thursday and then on to Tulsa on Saturday.

"It's not always easy and I could have made life a lot easier at the end by hitting those two," Smith said afterwards.

"Bottom line is it keeps us in the hunt," she continued. "We;re just going to keep battling and win as many games as we can."

Langhorne spoke of being defended intensely by Indiana.

"They made it really tough, they just weren't going to let me get easy baskets," she said. "Everyone else stepped up, and Katie had a great game, everyone knows shes a great shooter."

Washington coach Julie Plank spoke of the total team effort that included a 35-24 rebounding advantage and a 16-4 differential on second-chance points.

"We are a great rebounding team," Plank said. "Every night you can count on Crystal for 10 or plus rebounds. Our offensive rebounding hurt them a lot. And those are just effort, energy and wanting to win.


WNBA Fan Vote: The Right Stuff

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru will temporarily turn his attention away from the action in here in Washington at the Verizon Center where the host Mystics are in a key Eastern Conference WNBA clash with the Indiana Fever.

A little while ago the WNBA announced the results of the tiop 10 players named by fans to next week's All-Star game at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Full details are at the WNBA site by now -- It's the middle of Tuesday evening.

As previously stated, any players named who are in the USA team mix already will move to that roster. The rest are guaranteed spots on the WNBA squad.

So here's the deal, the Right Stuff was a movie about the start of the NASA program and how the astronauts had to have the rught stuff to qualify.

But now, we have a new interpretation -- The results show that in San Antonio had the right stuff in getting four Silver Stars named in the voting. In fact, despite the East dominance, Indiana's Tamika Catchings is the only East player among the top 10.

Seattle's Sue Bird, the former UConn star, was the top vote getter and will be in the USA pool coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma.,
Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler will head the WNBA group.

Catchings would join Bird in the USA group as would Phoenix's Diana Taurasi, another ex-Uconn standout, and possibly former Huskies star Swin Cash of Seattle. Los Angeles' Candace Parker is also in that group, but will need a replacement snce she is out for the season with a separated shoulder.

The San Antonio quad are Becky Hammon, Michelle Snow, Jayne Appel -- the rookie from Stanford -- and Sophia Young who will be joined on the WNBA contingent by Seattle sensation Lauren Jackson, an Australian.

League coaches will fill the restt of the WNBA roster. Once upon a time, the media named the starters. But mob rule has enabled San Antonio to gain additional notoriety after hosting a top-flight NCAA Women's Final Four in April.


WNBA: Hitting The Mid-Stretch With Fireworks Galore

By Mel Greenberg

The WNBA won't be in action on the actual July Fourth holiday but the league will offer plenty of fireworks in the days before and immediately after prior to the All-Star game as teams hit the mid-stretch this week trying to solidify their grab for playoff spots.

At the moment as has been noted, the only team that appears in clinching mode way early, injuries notwithstanding, is the Seattle Storm, which is running away at the toip of the Western Conference with such ease that the domination has helped create a situation where no other team has a winning record.

However, anything is possible ifor the most partin how the other three teams land berths for the postseason.

The East, a weak sister conference inthe overall picture in seasons past but not recently, has a logjam at the top wih New York and Chicago trying to get closer to the conference playoff contenders.

Atlanta got off to a fast start but Washington, Indiana, and Connecticut are locked together in second place only 1.5 games behind the Dream.

This week, there's a slew of games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but nothing scheduled on the other days through Monday.

Rather then day-by-day -- five games Tuesday by the way -- let''s quickly run through things on a team-by-team basis.,

The East

Atlanta could help itself further with the biggest threat being Tuesday night's visit from the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury, which has Diana Taurasi on a day-by-day injury status in the wake of Sunday's tumble on her tailbone in Washington.
The Dream's other two games are a home date Thursday against the injury-riddled Minnesota Lynx and then at home again Saturday against the Chicago Sky.

Washington and Indiana, hoping for some help Tuesday night from Phoenix, meet each other in the nation's capital at the Verizon Center with the winner staying in at least second place. In the case of Indiana, it's the only game the Fever will play this week.
The Mystics, who have been getting outstanding work from Willingboro, N.J.'s Crystal Langhorne -- the former Maryland star who is the Eastern Conference player of the week, then head to Phoenix Thursday and onto Tulsa on Saturday.

Connecticut, the other second-place team, is in Tulsa against the Shock Tuesday night looking to recover from Sunday's meltdown in the second half against New York in Madison Square Garden. In Tulsa's previous existence as Detroit in the East, the Sun-Shock rilvalry was among the best in the league. But this is no longer the mighty bunch from Motown so a win is imperative for the Sun.
Then it's on to Chicago Thursday against a Sky team that got Connecticut a week ago at home -- the only loss to date in the Mohegan Sun Arena.

New York, off its rally to a win Sunday, is in Los Angeles Tuesday night looking to keep the momentun going against a Sparks team desperate to get some kind of win streak going to move into playoff contention. Holding a dreadful 3-10 record, it won't take much to get things done in the West, however. The Liberty finish up Saturday with a visit to Phoenix, so it is a challenge to move closer to the playoff position leaders. A hot Connecticut week and an inability to keep pace will drop the Liberty further behind in the hunt.

Chicago, in even worse shape than New York, has its hands full with Thursday night's visit from Connecticut and a trip to Atlanta on Saturday.

The West

Seattle can move ahead by another length Tuesday night, hosting the San Antonio Silver Stars and then its off to Los Angeles Saturday for another game against the Sparks. Coach Brian Agler will also be heading the WNBA squad next week against the USA team at the All-Star game in Connecticut.

As for the Sliver Stars, besides tonight's game, there's a visit Thursday to Los Angeles, which will be looking to close the gap with the playoff conrenders in the West.

Phoenix has a three-game opportunity but it won't be easy with Tuesday night's visit to Atlanta, followed by Washington's trip to the desert to meet the Mercury Thursday and then New York's visit on Saturday.

Minnesota, trying to keep Los Angeles and Tulsa from shoving past the Lynx, has one game and a tough one at that with Thursday's visit to Atlants.

Los Angeles, right behind Minnesota, has three games to reverse direction: -- Tuesday night;s visit from New York, Thursday's visit from San Antonio, and Saturday's appearance in the Staples Center by Seattle. Not an easy week for the Sparks but they're approaching now or never urgency.

Tulsa, in theory, is close enough to Minnesota and Los Angeles to not be a lost cause. But this week's we're talking abiout Tuesday night's visit from Connecticut and Saturday's visit from Washington.

That;s the way it is heading to the holiday weekend.

--Mel (who has figured out how to do fonts with the iPad in this post)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

WNBA: Pondexter Gets Payoff From Rutgers Defense

By Mel Greenberg

The New York Liberty had just achieved an incredible win off full-court defensive pressure to rally from a 16-point deficit and beat the Connecticut Sun 77-68 in a game of WNBA Eastern Conference rivals late Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

On another busy WNBA day, the Liberty were one of four winners in five games who had to come back from deep deficits.

Here in New York, Liberty newcomer Cappie Pondexter, who had 19 points, was in the dressing room discussing the effort that got New York closer to .500 at 6-7 to be ahead of the Chicago Sky (6-9) who lost to Indiana.

In using defensive terminology, Pondexter mentioned "55" and a big grin came across her face as she connected with a media member who covered her days playing for the Scarlet Knights.

"Yeah, 55, C. Vivian Stringer," Pondexter beamed.

Since coming into the WNBA in 2006 and quickly becoming one of the league's top players, Pondexter became known more for her offensive exploits, particular her previous seasons teamming with former UConn star Diana Taurasi and winning two titles with the Phoenix Mercury.

But now Pondexter is in New York, courtesy of a block buster offseason trade, and playing for Anne Donovan, her 2008 Olympic coach who has been working the Liberty to become a defensive force.

"Yeah, some of all that paid off on nights like this," Pondexter reflected on Stringer's emphasis on pressuring the opposition.

"It's not quite the same as what Anne wants," Pondexter explained. "There's not a lot of trapping. Still, it's similar -- 90 feet of picking up for 40 minutes expending the same kind of energy.

"When you're bringing pressure for 90 feet for 40 minutes, either we're going to break or they're going to break," Pondexter described New York's effort.

"Fortunately, I think they broke today so I'm happy about that today. We defintely needed this win against a great team, that is Connecticut, and a great coach (Mike Thibault."

For the first half, all the discussion about being great was in the Sun's corner, especially after a dominating 30-16 opening quarter and a 46-33 halftime lead.

Rookie Tina Charles, the No. 1 overall pick of the draft out of UConn, celebrated her first official WNBA homecoming near Brooklyn by reaching a double double at halftime and finishing with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

But who knew with 20 minutes remaining that New York would take the latest WNBA greatest since sliced bread and turn Charles into toast the rest of the way holding her scoreless.

Kara Lawson and Renee Montgomery each had 13 points for the Sun and Sandrine Gruda matched Charles' 10 points.

At one point early on a day in which five WNBA games were playing, Connecticut (9-5) off ther big lead seemed ready to edge back into first in the east ahead of Atlanta, which was home and trailing the Los Angeles Sparks.

But the Dream rallied and the Sun had let a second game in the last week get away.

On New York's side, it was definitely a win the Liberty needed and became the second straight after Donovan's group squandered a rally at home last Tuesday night against the Minnesota Lynx.

Donovan praised rookie Kalana Greene, yet another former UConn player who was in a key role Sunday across the WNBA.

"She's no longer a rookie," Donovan said of Greene's important defensive moves late in the game.

"It's a great win for us," Donovan said. "Maybe these are games that we fought hard in the past and not come out on top at the end. I tought we played better and better as the game went along."

Donovan prior to the game had admitted several days ago she misjudged how fast the chemistry might build on a team in which center Janelle McCarville is the sole surviving key player of recent season.

"Those kinds of things, when you have that significant change in your key personnel, chemistry, identity and all those things are still coming," Donovan explained after Sunday's game. "I still think it's ahead of us what our identity is, but I'll tell you what -- our full court defense pretty good tonight."

And as Pondexter knows, it ain't nothing she experienced in her past across the Hudson River and down the highway several miles in Central New Jersey.

Langhorne Puts On Another Show

Crystal Langhorne, the former Maryland star out of Willingboro, N.J., near Philadelphia, continues to top herself in her brief WNBA career of three seasons.

On Sunday, she bested her own career effort again for the second time in a week, scoring 31 points as the host Washington Mystics brought down the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury 95-85 at the Verizon Center.

Laqnghorne is the reigning most improved WNBA player off the postseason awards of a year ago.

Former Duke star Lindsey Harding scored 24 for Washington.

The win moved the Mystics (9-5) into a second-place tie with Connecticut and the Indiana Fever, which held off the Chicago Sky 70-64 in the Windy Suburbs near Lake Michigan.

Diana Taurasi scored 18 for Phoenix and former Temple star Candice Dupree scored 14 as the Mercury (5-9)sank into third place in the medicore West, 7.5 games behind first-place Seattle and a game behind the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Washington hosts Indiana Tuesday night in yet another key Eastern confrontation.

Atlanta Rallies over Los Angeles

The Atlanta Dream continues having a dream season in its third summer of WNBA existence.

Iziane Castro Marques scored 25 points and Angel McCoughtry, the top WNBA rookie a year ago, added 19 points as the Dream (11-4) continued to hold some breathing room at the top of the East, 1.5 games ahead of the nearest pursuers after rallying from a 16-point deficit sgainst the visiting Sparks.

DeLisha Milton-Jones and former Maryland star Kristi Toliver each scored 19 points for the Sparks (3-10), who are mired just a half-game ahead of last-place Tulsa in the West but still close enough to get into playoff contention with any kind of win streak.

Seattle Rally Keeps Storm Raging

The Storm lose key personnel at times but nothing has yet to really short-circuit Seattle in its domination of the WNBA West.

Trailing by 13 points in the Midwest, Seattle came back to beat the Tulsa Shock, 83-72, and stay ahead of second-place and idle San Antonio by 6.5 games.

The Storm lost Sue Bird, for at least the moment, when the All-Star and Olympian left the game with back problems.

But when one former UConn star goes down another picks up the torch in the same manner as when they played for the Huskies under Geno Auriemma.

This time it was Svetlana Abrosimova, who had 21 points -- 19 in the second half -- for the Storm (13-2), while Australia's Lauren Jackson scored a game-high 24. Former UConn star Swin Cash had 11 points.

Tulsa (3-11), the former Detroit franchise, got 16 points from Scholanda Robinson in dipping into last place a half-game behind the Sparks but not far from fourth-place Minnesota, which would get the fourth West playoff spot if the regular season ended right now.

In having the best overall record, Seattle's success has landed coach Brian Agler the slot to run the WNBA squad against the U.S. team dominated by WNBA players and coached by UConn's Auriemma in next week's All-Star game at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Fever Holds Off Chicago

If the playoffs started now, three West teams would have losing records, while it's nothing but winners in the East in the identical slots.

Indiana made it another three-way deadlock in second place by holding off the host Chicago Sky, 70-64, as Ebony Hoffman scored 13 points.

Chicago got 15 points from ex-Liberty player Erin Thorn. Sylvia Fowles was held in check with 11 points, but the Olympian and former LSU star still grabbed 17 rebounds.

Indiana will meet Washington Tuesday night in the nation's capital that will drop one of the two out of the three-way tie.

-- Mel


Saturday, June 26, 2010

WNBA: Call Tina Charles A Rookie Veteran

(Note: The Guru was not live at Conn but will definitely be on hand in NY for the Sunday tilt.)

By Mel Greenberg

Like former Tennessee sensation Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks three years before her, WNBA newcomer Tina Charles, the overall No. 1 pick of April's draft out of UConn, is quickly transforming into a professional star who is playing more like a seasoned veteran than someone who has only been around the league a few months.

In the early weeks of Charles' activity with the Connecticut Sun, coach Mike Thibault kept cautioning those enthralled with her instant exploits to wait a while. "Let's see how she does night after night going against veteran All-Stars," he said.

Well, Charles is making night after night become might after might with few exceptions.

The phrase career performance after an outstanding evening or afternoon would normally cause a snicker or two because, really, how long has she been in a Sun uniform to give the attachment true significance?

But here's the thing. When Charles, who regularly has been posting double doubles, puts up a career mark, her milestone totals approach those All-Star performers who have spent more than a few years in the WNBA to reach the same numbers.

On Friday night a week after hitting a career high in Los Angeles while scoring against the Sparks, the rookie center had 19 points and a career-high 23 rebounds as the Connecticut Sun completed a season sweep of the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury with an 82-79 victory at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Charles' rebound total was just one short of the overall WNBA record of 24 set by Chamique Holdsclaw in 2003 - the fifth season, not second month, that the former Tennessee star had been in the league.

Sandrine Gruda added 17 points to the Sun total, moving Connecticut (9-4) to within a half-game of Atlanta for first in the Eastern Conference.

Connecticut can move back slightly in front of the Dream Sunday by winning at the New York Liberty if the Dream lose at home to the struggling Sparks (3-9), who moved up a spot in the bottom of the West Friday by not playing.

Meanwhile, it was UConn night all around at Mohegan with former Huskies sensation Diana Taurasi scoring 26 points and having some despearate attempts to rescue the Mercury fall short at the finish.

Phoienix (5-8), best of the mediocre others in the West, fell into a virtual second-place tie with the idle San Antonio Silver Stars (4-7), some 6 1/2 games behind the front-running Seattle(12-2). The Storm avenged last week's loss at Indiana by rallying over the defending East champion Fever, 85-81, at Key Arena in the Emerald City.

It doesn't get any easier for the Mercury, who have to visit Washington Sunday against a Mystics team looking to recover from Friday night's loss at Chicago against the Sky.

Another Milestone For Donovan

No, this is not an item about the star on the U.S. Soccer team in the World Cup in South Africa.

This Donovan happens to be Anne Donovan, who reached her 150th coaching victory in the WNBA Friday night as the New York Liberty (5-7) recovered from Tuesday's tough home loss to Minnesota and beat the Tulsa Shock 92-78 in the Midwest.

When Tulsa was known as recently as last season as the Detroit Shock with three WNBA titles, the former Eastern rivalry with New York regularly featured games that went down into the final moments including many in the conference playoffs.

Donovan, who will return to the college ranks after the summer taking over at Seton Hall, has also coached at the former Charlotte Sting and at Seattle, winning a league title in 2003.

A former collegiate star at Old Dominion and an Olympic Gold medalist who also coached the U.S. to gold in 2008 in Beijing, China, Donovan has compiled a slew of honors, most notably inductions to the Naismith and Women's Basketball Halls of Fame.

Helping Donovan reach her mark on Friday night was not one of the high-profile Liberty players, but rather Leilani Mitchell, the former Utah star who set career marks with 20 points and six three-pointers.

Jennifer Lacy had 16 points for Tulsa (3-10), which fell into sole possession of last place.

Former track star Marion Jones had her best night in the league since resuming a basketball career this season that had been dormant since she helped North Carolina to the 1994 NCAA title. Jones in 15 minutes had eight points and blocked two shots.

New York's win kept the Liberty from drifting further behind the playoff position leaders in the East and right with Chicago.

But the Liberty have a big challenge Sunday afternoon/night hosting the Connecticut Sun at 4 p.m.

Seattle Continues to Storm With Rally Over Indiana

Lauren Jackson poured down 28 points and Swin Cash, yeah another ex-UConn, had 21 points as the Seattle Storm stayed perfect at home with an 8-0 record after rallying to an 85-81 win over the defending East champion Fever.

The win avenges last week's loss to Indiana in the Mid-West and a sensational won-loss record that's best in the league would be good enough for home court advantage all the way through the playoffs for the Storm.

Seattle could move further away from the rest of the West crowd Sunday with a likely win at Tulsa, while Phoenix will be in Washington. San Antonio hosts the revived Minnesota Lynx (5-9) in the WNBA's onky game on the slate Saturday night.

Katie Douglas just miss matching her career high by a point, scoring 29 for the Fever (8-5) who fell with Washington into a third-place tie a game behind lonnecticut. Indiana will visit Chicago Sunday night against a Sky (6-8) team that has won two straight, including a rare win for eague teams in Connecticut Tuesday night.

The Chicago Sky Is Rising

OK, why not say it the other way when the Sky win in the Windy suburbs.

Chicago got 20 points from Jia Perkins and beat the Washington Mystics 79-72 for the first win three tries this season in the series and stopping visiting Washington's four-game streak.

The triumph kept Chicago just ahead of New York and moved the Sky a little closer to the playoff contending leaders, though Indiana visits Sunday in a tough challenge.

Former Maryland star Crystal Langhorne, a native of Willingboro, N.J., near Philadelphia, had another sensational night scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for the Mystics, who felll with Indiana a game behind second-place Connecticut in the East.

The Mystics have a key challenge Sunday hosting Phoenix in a kind of must win for both teams as mentioned earlier in this post.

The Guru signs off for now, having successfully written this with a wireless keyboard on the iPad but now has to open the laptop and return to the copy, saved in a draft, to add the necessary bold face and italic commands.

-- Mel

Friday, June 25, 2010

WNBA: Mystics' Langhorne Shatters Sparks

(Guru's Note: The Guru attempted but could not get out of Philly fast enough to get to Washington for the Mystics game so he was not on the scene. He will attempt to get to Mohegan Friday night for the Conn-Phoenix game.)

By Mel Greenberg

Billed as a WNBA game in the nation's capital Thursday night, the Washington Mystics' cross-conference matchup with the Los Angeles Sparks drew key involvement from alums of its prominent NCAA neighbor up the road -- the University of Maryland.

Two members of the 2006 NCAA champion Terrapins were the leading scorers for their teams, most notably Washington's Crystal Langhorne, who drove the Mystics into a second-place three-way tie in the East via a 68-53 victory over the injury-riddled Los Angeles Sparks at the Verizon Center.

The native of Willingboro, N.J., a suburb of Philadelphia, scored a career high 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Mystics' 8-4 record became a match with the Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever behind the front-running Atlanta Dream (10-4).

Point guard Kristi Tolliver, acquired in a trade earlier this season from the Chicago Sky, scored 11 points for Los Angeles, which sunk further at the bottom of the West at 3-9.

However, as one member of the Sparks noted of her team that recently lost All-Star Candace Parker for the season because of a separated shoulder, a two-game win-streak puts the Sparks right back in the hunt.

Maryland was making news back on campus at the same moment with multiple sources reporting that longtime athletic director Debbie Yow about to take the soon-to-be-vancat AD position at North Carolina State, where her late sister Kay Yow had a Hall of Fame coaching career.

Ironically, Washington recently honored former Terrapins coach Chris Weller last Saturday to mark her induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this month, as yet another Maryland local tie.

The Mystics also have Marissa Coleman, another former Terrapin star, on the roster, and previously had Olympian Vicky Bullet as a player and assistant coach.

When Bullet attended Weller's induction, one member of the entourage noted that Bullet, in her brief coaching stint, had said that Langhorne had a solid foundation and was certainly a hard worker.

The win was Washington's fourth straight giving the Mystics their place in the local sports scene that was highlighted Thursday night by the NBA building neighbor Wizards selecting Kentucky's John Wall as the overall No. 1 pick in the draft.

A few miles away, the baseball Washington Nationals have been in the headlines over rookie pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg.

Meanwhile, the news of Yow's impending move -- a press conference at N.C. State in Raleigh is expected Friday, has a sense of irony involving the opening caused by Lee Fowler's departure June 30.

Her sister Kay lost a longtime battle against breast cancer in January 2009.

Despite sentimental support for Kay's longtime assistant Stephanie Glance to be her full-time successor -- she had filled in as interim several times -- Fowler ignored Kay's wishes and went with Kellie Harper, a former Tennessee star who had been head coach at Western Carolina.

Harper guided the Wolfpack back to the NCAA tournament in her first season in Raleigh.

Although Debbie Yow has run a department that produced a slew of NCAA championships, including basketball titles for the men and women, she also had been a previous coach at three universities.

And to this date, despite her adminstrative success, Debbie Yow constantly prods the Guru to continue to note that she was the first to have three different teams make the AP womnen's poll via Florida (83-84), Kentucky and Oral Roberts (a one-week wonder in 1982-83).

Several others have followed with the trifecta, including Ohio State's Jim Foster, Texas A&M's Gary Blair, and Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer.

Believe it or not, there is a UConn tie in all this because Huskies athletic director Jeff Hathaway has already been speculated as a potential successor at Maryland where he held various adminstrative slots in the early 1990s with the Terrapins.

WNBA Weekend Fireworks

Ok, the Guru didn't let it slip by, time to look ahead to another wild weekend when the schedule is more plentiful.

Friday night ioaded as is Sunday, which features a five-spot.

The Guru will be busy checking elsewhere on the WNBA Apps on his iPad and Blackberry while being hopefully live at Mohegan where the Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury have a one of the key confrontations.

The Sun could stay right in the mix for first with a weekend sweep that would include a potential Friday win and one Sunday in New York at Madison Square Garden against the Liberty.

Connecticut is coming off of Tuesday's upset loss to the Chicago Sky, the first at home. The Sun won at Phoenix last Sunday, escaping the defending WNBA champs after blowing a 21-point lead in the desert.

Phoenix (5-7), holding a slim half-game edge over the San Antonio Silver Stars (4-7) for second in the West, is trying to avoid falling even further behind the dominating Seattle Storm. Furthermore, the Mercury travel to Washington Sunday.

Seattle (11-2) hosts the defending Eastern champion Indiana Fever, which beat the Storm in the Midwest a week ago. Indiana is trying to stay right with Connecticut and Washington in that second-place logjam.

The Mystics could finish with a dynamite week if Washington can survive the back-to-back and get a win Friday in Chicago against the Sky (5-8), over which it rallied last week at home and prevailed in overtime. As mentioned, then its back home to ready for Sunday's game against Phoenix.

New York (4-7), which rallied and then fell to Minnesota at home Tuesday night, has a must-win game at the Tulsa Shock (3-9), which is tied for last in the West with Los Angeles.

When the Shock were the once-proud group in Detroit winning three WNBA titles, the franchise existed in the East and the games with the Liberty were among the top rivalries in the league.

But the Shock is but a shadow for now of its former life in Motown, which is why New York needs a win quickly, especially with Connecticut's visit looming Sunday.

The Sun have already won the first of the five-game season series back in Uncasville.

Only one game is on Saturday's slate with the Minnesota Lynx visiting San Antonio.

The Lynx struggled early in the season and were heading nowhere fast until Seimone Augustus' return from surgery fueled a two-game sweep a week ago against Tulsa and continued with the win in New York that got Minnesota right back in the West playoff hunt.

Unfortunately, Minnesota lost former Stanford star Candice Wiggins with another injury, this time a season-ending ruptured left Achilles tendon with eight seconds left in the win over New York.

So the San Antonio game is the first test of where the Lynx go from here, while likewise, the Silver Stars are looking to get on some kind of run as both teams seek to stay ahead of Tulsa and Los Angeles.

As for Sunday's games yet to be mentioned a bit further or added to the discussion, Los Angeles at Atlanta. A must-win for the Sparks in the wake of the loss at Washington, while the Dream will be seeking to maintain its first-place East slot off the quick start it got from opening day.

Chicago, with the Washington game Friday night, and a visit from Indiana Sunday will be trying to move closer to the playoff contenders in the East, though the odds are the Sky could be further when idle Monday rolls around.

The Fever will be trying to stay in the East crowd, especially if Seattle gets revenge Friday night for last week's loss.

The Storm finish off Sunday with a visit to Tulsa in a game in which Seattle tries to keep the pedal down on the conference rivals while the Shock seek to get closer to playoff contention, which is not impossible thanks to the mediocrity of the won-loss records in the West.

That's it for now.

Hopefully, back with a live game and a wrapup from the other sites Friday night that will probably be written on a late-nite Amtrak return trip.

-- Mel

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WNBA: Lynx Take Liberty; Sky Shade Sun

By Mel Greenberg

The WNBA Minnesota Lynx have a way of producing painful moments on nights to remember.

As recent as early last week, finding something nice to say about the Minneota Lynx was like looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The cause was the absence of Minnesota's own WMDs -- Former Stanford star Candice Wiggins and former LSU sensation Seimone Augustus who had yet to return from injuries.

Wiggins, who has already missed time in all three of her WNBA seasons, was sidelined by knee surgery wile Augustus had surgery for the removal of non-cancerous tumors on her abdomen.

The result was a season that had looked so promising was about to be tossed onto the pile of failed hopes and dreams.

Though Minnesota was still struggling after Wiggins' return several weeks ago, Augustus' return has enabled the Lynx to suddenly return to the playoff hopeful trail with a three-game winning streak.

The most recent occurred Tuesday night here in Madison Square Garden when coach Cheryl Reeve's squad (5-9) was able to overcome squandering a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and prevail 75-68.

Augustus came up huge in the second half, scoring 18 of her 20 points. Rebekkah Brunson, acquired in the dispersal draft of the former Sacramento Monarchs in the offseason, finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

As the clock was winding down in the final minute, it was great to be a Lynx fan again with team energy and performance returning to preseason expectations.

And then, suddenly, with eight seconds remaining and the victory sealed, Wiggins went down again and did not leave the court under her own power.

Reeve, a former La Salle star in Philadelphis who had a large contingent of family and friends as the game from South Jersey, got the word quickly from the Minnesota trainer after the game ended.

Wiggins suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon and would miss the rest of the season.

"Win the game, lose a player kind of thing for the year," Reeve said outside the Lynx dressing room about the bittersweet effect of the night. "Our hearts go out to Candice. That's a player who was really embracing the role and what we were doing, and to have that happen to her with little time left in the game -- it's hard to understand why those things happen, but they do.

"Candice gives us a lot of things -- she gives us flexibility, gives us a second ball handler, in a lot of ways the three ball, she was really getting going. She's a leader and we're going to miss some intangibles and some very specific basketball things. We'll have to find a way to fill the void."

The situation can be compared to a movie or TV series in which during the pursuit of evil just when triumph occurs, one of the stars helping the outcome gets killed in the final battle leaving a melancholy taste in the viewers' mouths.

Reeve praised Augustus' performance in the second half.

"Seimone was a no-show in the first half and then came out and made up for some things," Reeve said. "She's going to get better and better. She's not 100 percent physically, but there's no question having Seimone out there making those shots makes things a lot easier."

Lindsay Whalen, the All-Star acquired in the offseason from the Connecticut Sun, had 11 points.

"I was really happy we stuck together and made some good shots," Whalen said of the finish.

Former Tennessee star Nicky Anosike, a native New Yorker, scored 13 points.

Five of Minnesota's first 13 games had been against the Tulsa Shook, the former francdhise that had won three WNBA title in hits previous existence in Detroit.

The Lynx travel to San Antonio Saturday.

New York coach Anne Donovan, who is headed back to the collegiate ranks in the fall as the new Seton Hall coach, questioned whether the Liberty (4-7) understand the urgency of the moment.

True, the season isn't ending tomorrow, but every loss that drags New York slightly further back from potential playoff qualification is painful.

Given the opportunity to have a big week, New York has "must win" lavels on the visit to Tulsa Friday night and the visit here Sunday from Connecticut.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was in the crowd with her staff to watch former Scarlet Knights all-American Cappie Pondexter score 16 points, as did Nicole Powell, a former Stanford star acquired in the Sacramento roster dispersal.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 13 points, while Janel McCarville who was a teammate of Whalen at the University of Minnesota, had 10 points.

Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn, two former Rutgers stars who helped the Scarlet Knights to the 2007 NCAA title game, were scoreless playing limited minutes.

Stringer did get some good news from afar about a former player.

Epiphanny Prince, who bypassed her senior year at Rutgers last season to play overseas, came off the bench to score 19 points as the Chicago Sky (5-8) rallied to an 86-77 win over the Connecticut Sun (8-4), which lost its first game at home Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

It was a must win for the Sky, who blew a lead to Washington Saturday night and lost to host Mystics in overtime.

Connecticut, however, which fell 1/2 game back to second place behind the Atlanta Dream, could be virtually tied for the lead again if Atlanta loses at home to Tulsa Wednesday night.

Sun rookie Tina Charles, the former UConn star, had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Connecticut blew a 21-point lead Sunday but still won at Phoenix to complete a West road trip sweep, including beating the Los Angeles Sparks.

Sun coach Mike Thibault had been leery of the contest. Ironically, when Atlanta lost to Chicago, it like Connecticut lost to the Sky coming out of trips to the Western Conference.

Former Tennessee star Kara Lawson, who plays for the Sun, had earlier noted that first games after trips to the far reaches of opponents from another conference can be tough to handle.

Connecticut now moves on to key games against Phoenix at home Friday and here Sunday afternoon (4 p.m.) against the Liberty.

On Thursday in the lone WNBA game slated, Washington will host Los Angeles.

The Guru will be back in 24 hours or less with more from the collegiate and pro worlds.

-- Mel


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Philly Summer League Begins In Suburbs

By Mel Greenberg

Despite some hold-your-breath moments involved in this year's startup, the annual summer league run by the department of recreation will begin Tuesday night at the Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU renegades in Hatboro.

Though allegedly retired, David Kessler returns to run league play again, this year on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the new site after previously predominantly using Northeast High in recent seasons.

Game times are 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

To give shorthanded directions based on those given the Guru -- having a GPS will help a lot -- if you are coming down from Northeast Philly, use Byberry Road west to get to the intersection of Davisville Road, which is west of the Byberry and 2nd Street Pike (aka Route 232) intersection.

Davisville Road also comes out of Willow Grove and for some of you taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Route 611 and heading north to find a street over to Davisville could be helpful.

When reaching Davisville, make a left from Byberry and then a right at the first light. The commish says it winds into an industrial park and the gym is easy to find.

Application for certification was made to the NCAA Friday May 7 and approval was received last Friday at 4 p.m. on a summer day that was four days before the league was set to start, according to those familiar with the process.

The NCAA also advised that the organization's brand cannot appear on the name of the league as in past years because it is not an NCAA-run event.

When the Guru gets a printout he'll be able to read the rosters better. But the Big Five past and present is well represented as well as Drexel, Holy Family, West Chester, Philadelphia University, Lehigh, along with other area schools. Princeton, Harvard, James Madison, and St. Bonaventure are also represented.

That is it for now -- the Guru has WNBA games on tap this week on league nights so he will appear next week.

-- Mel

Monday, June 21, 2010

WNBA: Connecticut Sun Shines Out West

By Mel Greenberg

Let’s consider this premise as the Guru’s thematic Thrive and Survive week concluded Sunday with two games in the WNBA.

In terms of nicknames, if the Connecticut Sun and the Seattle Storm switched conferences with their records of the moment preserved, they would still be at the top but their nicknames would be more appropriate geographically speaking.

The Sun would be over the Western Conference while the Storm would be raging in the East.

Finishing off the weekly calendar, the UConn alums continued to headline the drive to the top for each team.

Sun rookie Tina Charles, the overall No. 1 pick of the draft – can we cast our rookie ballot now? – had 24 points and 12 rebounds while Kelsey Griffin, the No. 3 overall pick of the draft out of Nebraska – can we submit two of our all-rookie ballots – grabbed 11 rebounds as Connecticut squandered a 21-point lead in the desert but held off the defending champion Phoenix Mercury 96-94.

Former UConn sensation Diana Taurasi had 24 points while Australia’s Penny Taylor scored 23 for the Mercury.

The two teams meet again Friday night at Connecticut.

The result put Connecticut (8-3) into a virtual first-place tie with the Atlanta Dream (9-4) in the East while Phoenix (5-7) picked the wrong night for another loss. The Mercury fell 5 ½ games off the pace coupled with Seattle (11-2) beating the San Antonio Silver Stars 82-61 to stay unbeaten at home in Key Arena.

Squandering that kind of lead is enough to keep the Sun humble, though Connecticut is looking at moving slightly ahead at the top of the East Tuesday when the last-place Chicago Sky (4-8) visit.

Seattle is the only West team with a winning record and at the present pace should be given a bye straight to the WNBA

In fact, an appropriate adjustment would be to drop the fourth-place contender and move over New York from the East except the Liberty (4-6) are also under .500.

In the Seattle win, the UConn former stars residing in the West were headed by Swin Cash’s 22 points while Australian sensation Lauren Jackson added 19 points to the Storm total.

Of concern was former UConn star Sue Bird suffering a hyper-extended left knee injury – the same knee that has been hurt before by the Seattle All-Star.

San Antonio (4-7) battling for either second or being in danger of finishing up last at the moment got 12 points each from Becky Hammon and Chamique Holdsclaw.

The Silver Stars must have felt like they were back in time back home in San Antonio at the Alamo. Just like the Texans, they were overwhelmed, but on the boards where Seattle had a lop-sided 46-23 advantage.

Guru’s Thrive and Survive Week Winners

Connecticut had been winless on the road before sweeping the West – 4-0 overall on the crossover but Seattle to come – to move into a first-place tie.

Indiana (8-4) with big wins over Seattle and Atlanta put the defending Eastern Conference champs directly into the logjam a half-game behind.

Washington (7-4) came back from a deep deficit Saturday night at the Verizon Center to beat the Chicago Sky in overtime. That put the Mystics, who host the Los Angeles Sparks (3-8) Thursday night, right into the mathematical momentary mix in the Eastern race.

The Guru was there and posted but, alas, a glitch at blogspot caused the post to be erased during the implementation.

A smarter Guru is writing this in the Word program first as a backup. He should have learned his lesson during the first go-round when the platform was used when the blog was launched back in 2005.

For those of you who want to know what the Guru intended to write, in tribute to Katie Smith’s 17 points and clutch shooting down the stretch and at the finish, he started with the premise that when doing business in the nation’s capital it helps to have a seasoned veteran to get things done.

Such an individual is Katie Smith, whom the Mystics picked up as a free agent in the offseason.

The other special item was directed to the Guru’s media colleagues – you all still with me in this post?

Though the pre-game media feed continues to be a thing of the past, the Guru learned from a Washington source not necessarily authorized to speak on behalf of himself or employers that the soda machine had been turned on and will continue be on at future games unless told otherwise.

Nothing like a modification in ownership to quench one's thirst, let alone the thirst by the Guru’s friends in Connecticut.

Seattle gets a thrive medal also despite losing at Indiana. The Storm came right back after the Fever setback to win at New York and then return to handle San Antonio.
Several weeks ago Connecticut veteran Kara Lawson, previously with the former Sacramento Monarchs franchise, noted the first home game after a road swing to the opposite conference can often be treacherous making the time re-adjustment on a short turnaround.

As for the survivor of the week – that honor belongs exclusively to the Minnesota Lynx (4-9), who swept the Tulsa Shock (3-8) on a home-and-home, back-to-back slate to win the season series, 3-2, and, get this, return to the playoff picture in the West.

The big news was the return of Seimone Augustus from surgery as the Lynx finally had its core group together for the first time this season.

Minnesota has a chance to solidify some more with a visit to New York Tuesday night and a visit to San Antonio Sunday. The trip to Manhattan should draw a large contingent from South Jersey where Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, a former La Salle star, calls home.

Looking Ahead

This will be more focused after Tuesday and then later updated with Wednesday’s single game on the WNBA slate.

Highlights, however, begin with the return visit Friday night of Indiana at Seattle. The host Storm, who can actually vanish for a while and still have a hefty West lead, also visit Tulsa Sunday.

In other periscope sightings ahead for the West, Minnesota was just mentioned. Los Angeles can get better or worse with visits in the East to Washington Thursday and Atlanta Sunday.

Tulsa has a tough week visiting Atlanta Wednesday and hosting New York (Fri.) and Seattle (Sun.).

In the Eastern gridlock, it’s a big week for the Sun with the Chicago and Phoenix visits and a trip to New York on Sunday.

Atlanta has a chance to stay on or near the top hosting Tulsa and Los Angeles.

It’s a very big week for Washington hosting Los Angeles, visiting Chicago, and then hosting Phoenix Sunday.

Indiana has a key swing to Seattle, as mentioned, and then will need to hold serve in the upper mix by winning at Chicago Sunday.

New York can make up some ground, depending what happens in front of the Liberty, by beating Minnesota Tuesday, winning at Tulsa Friday and then beating Connecticut at home Sunday. That last game will be the second battle of the season involving organizations affiliated with the competing Indian tribe-owned casinos of Foxwoods and Mohegan

That’s it for now. Let’s see if you all actually get a chance to read the Guru here this time around.

-- Mel

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WNBA Weekend: Tina(s) in Tinseltown

(Updating with a new post for the Guru's Thrive and Survive weekend in the WNBA)

By Mel Greenberg

The former next big thing in the WNBA sat on the Los Angeles Sparks bench for the first time this season as well as the rest of the way.

The new next big thing wore the uniform of the Connecticut Sun and continued to prove her worth as the overall No. 1 pick in April's draft.

That's the way it went Friday night not far from Hollywood where Connecticut finally won one for the road by overrcoming a 16-point deficit to top Los Angeles 78-75 and move close to first place in the Eastern Conference.

In terms of the Guru's Thrive and Survive weekend, those who thrived Friday night in the league were the Sun and Seattle, while those who earned survival points were San Antonio and Minnesota.

In Los Angeles not long after the NBA Lakers claimed another league title in the same Staples Center earlier in the week, Connecticut's Tina Charles, the outstanding rookie from UConn -- the alums were dominate all over the WNBA Friday -- set career highs with 26 points and a franchise record 19 rebounds.

The Sparks were without former Tennessee sensation Candace Parker, the No. 1 pick of the 2008 draft, who will miss the rest of the season and most likely the FIBA World Championships with a dislocated shoulder injury.

Connecticut (7-3) won its first road game in four tries while all six previous wins were gained back East in the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Sun go for a road sweep Sunday in the desert when they meet the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury.

Meanwhile the "other" Tina, as in Tina Thompson, the last of the original WNBA players as a first choice of the Houston Comets in 1997, scored 24 points for the Sparks and became the second player in league history to reach 6,000 career points behind former star Lisa Leslie. The alum of Southern Cal finished her career after last season with 6,263 points, also playing exclusively for the Sparks.

Los Angeles fell to 3-8, barely above last in the Western Conference and consider this:

Three summers ago, Leslie's first pregnancy and the defection of Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 2 of three in her WNBA career) helped Los Angeles to a tie with Minnesota for the overall bottom and the Sparks ultimately won the lottery pick to select Parker, who bypassed her final season at Tennessee.

With the Sparks already in an early struggle -- though the closeness of the bottom of the West is keeping them in playoff contention -- could it be that if Parker's absence contributes to an ongoing slide, the effect might ultimately be another top lottery pick.

And that would be Charles' former UConn teammate Maya Moore, who by the way, is certainly the next next big thing in the WNBA.

Seattle Back in the Saddle

The Western-leading Seattle Storm quickly shook off Thursday's night's loss at Indiana to the Fever and completed its back-to-back trip across the nation by downing the New York Liberty 92-84 in Madison Square Garden.

More UConn alums were the story here as Sue Bird got 13 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Storm (10-2) prevailed. She also dealt 10 assists while Bird's former Huskies star Swin Cash had 16 points. Australian veteran force Lauren Jackson had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Seattle finishes up the week Sunday hosting San Antonio.

Former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter had 24 points for the fifth-place Liberty (4-6), whose loss wasn't embarassing.

The Survivors

Point-starved San Antonio quenched its scoring thirst in the desert Friday night at Phoenix with a 108-105 shootout over the defending champion Mercury (5-6) that kept the Silver Stars (4-6) very much in the rest of the Western pack that trails Seattle.

San Antonio's Sophia Young, the former Baylor star, had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Becky Hammon had 21 points and dealt 10 assists.

Second-place Phoenix fell to 5-6 and 4 1/2 games behind the leaders as Diana Taurasi (yes, another former UConn sensation) scored 39 points.

Meanwhile, with the original Minnesota Lynx core roster on the floor for the first time this season, former LSU star Seimone Augustus celebrated her return to action with 27 points as the Lynx beat Tulsa 78-67 at home in the Target Center and evened the series with the Shock at 2-2.

The Lynx are at 3-9 at the bottom, but Augustus' return could propel Minnesota toward stability in chasing a playoff berth. Tulsa, the former three-time champion Detroit franchise reduced to expansion team makeup, fell to 3-7.

The two move back to the Midwest Saturday night to complete their five-game series on the season.

The Rest of the Weekend

The Guru failed to make it to New York as planned Friday but still intends to be at the Verizon Center Saturday night when the Washington Mystics (6-4), which gets more time off than Congress, host the Chicago Sky (4-7), which is last in the East.

As mentioned previously, Washington needs to take care of business on a favorable home schedule in June, while Chicago needs a win quickly to stay close to the playoff contenders.

The major Eastern title on the night Saturday is the first-place Atlanta Dream's (9-3) visit to Indiana (7-4), which is on a 5-of-6 win tear after struggling out of the gate.

Indiana needs to keep pace with Connecticut, while Atlanta will be looking to keep distance from the duo right behind the dream.

The Minnesota-Tulsa game on Saturday has been previously addresses earlier in this post.

On Sunday, Connecticut is at Phoenix as mentioned for another big night for the Boneyard message board fans of UConn -- the two-time NCAA unbeaten and defending champions. (Seven titles overall and two more unbeatens by the way).

Depending on the Indiana-Atlanta outcome, Connecticut can move into a virtual tie for first with Atlanta, perhaps ahead by percentage points. Of course, the Sun can also fall back a bit to the Fever.

Phoenix will be looking to avoid falling further from Seattle, especially if San Antonio wins in the Northwest.

Yes, thast's the other game -- Seattle hosting San Antonio with Storm beat writer (and Guru pal) Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times blogging and tweeting all the way.

Evans may also be the last print publication team beat writer covering the WNBA who also makes most road trips.

So, hopefully, this time, a little more energy onto the road and the Guru will post after Saturday night's Washington game in the nation's capital.

-- Mel

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WNBA Weekend: Thrive Or Survive

By Mel Greenberg

(Updating to reflect the Indiana win over Seattle on Thursday night)

The headline spotlighting the rest of the WNBA schedule this week through Sunday pretty much tells the storyline of competition.

Teams off the competitive starts, such as Eastern Conference leader Atlanta and Western Conference runaway-at-the-moment Seattle, have a chance to add to their successes to date.

Teams trailing at the bottom of each conference need a quick jump start before starting to fall away from the pack. In the case of the West, which at the moment is the Seattle Storm and the five others, though Thursday night the Indiana Fever became the second team in the East to short-circuit the folks from the Northwest., the one upside to the mediocrity of the moment is teams may continue to play bad but because four spots must be filled in the two rounds of conference play in the postseason, the teams that play less bad will still be in the hunt.

Rather than do a day-by-day, which the Guru has been offering on idle Mondays, let's look at the view through each team's windshield at the stops and hosting just ahead.


Atlanta (9-3) -- The Dream, which maintained forward progress with a win Tuesday night over the Chicago Sky, has a chance to open some space at the top if the teams right behind stumble, which is a possibility.
Coach Marynell Meadors' squad has chance to take care of some of its own business visiting the defending Eastern champion Indiana Fever on Saturday night.

Connecticut (6-3) -- On a variation of a traditional theme at the moment, the Sun video could be called the home to the playoffs.
Coach Mike Thisbault with an excellent blend of youthful talent and experienced veterans is 6-0 at home. The bad news is the winless road mark at 0-3.
So a test is just ahead with the Sun visiting the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night and then to the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
A split is mandatory to keep pace behind Atlanta, though the Sun could return to its previous brief moment in first place last weekend with a sweep and an Atlanta loss to Indiana.
With Los Angeles struggling at the moment, Connecticut could be playing with house change by winning at Staples.

Indiana (7-4) -- The Fever in the one game Thursday night on the WNBA schedule stopped Seattle as coach Lin Dunn's troops looked impressive with a win that continued the recent recovery from a wobbly start.
Then comes a visit from Atlanta Saturday so it's a big week. From the Fever perspective, a split that includes a competitive loss to the Dream will be a good enough statement for now though a sweep will mean so much more.

Washington (6-4) -- The Mystics, on a bit of a roll at the moment, hosts the Chicago Sky Saturday night in a game the Guru will attend at the Verizon Center after traveling to New York Friday night in Madison Square Garden.
A must win is in the cards, not from any long-range life-or-death situation, in terms of staying in front of the Liberty, especially if New York upsets Seattle Friday night.
Besides, with a heavy home schedule this month, Washington needs to capitalize -- no pun intended -- after letting Atlanta off the hook earlier this month.

New York (4-5) -- The Liberty has one game but that is value enough when Seattle visits Friday night coming directly from Thursday night's visit to Indiana looking to get back in the win column after the loss to the Fever.
A win keeps pace with the pack tightly grouped in front. A loss isn't terrible, but with a chance to make some headlines at home, why waste the chance.

Chicago (4-7) -- After a four-game win streak, the Sky has been trending downward and needs a win at Washington to keep the talk more about playoffs than the future draft lottery pick featuring UConn's Maya Moore. Of course, some would argue that in the long range, landing that prize may be worth a dismal summer. But it's way too early to think like that, especially when trying to increase the fan base in the Windy City.


Seattle (9-2) -- The Storm, having been stopped in the Midwest sector of the East again -- this time Thursday night by Indiana -- continue a back-to-back road swing with a visit to the New York Liberty Friday night in Madison Square Garden . The San Antonio Silver Stars visit Sunday.
A 2-1 week would not be terrible though a 1-2 would be a bit sour if the next loss is to San Antonio without regard to an impending result in New York.

Phoenix (5-5) -- The Mercury host San Antonio Friday night and then Connecticut on Sunday. A sweep would be helpful in the conference race for first if Seattle cools down. Beating the Silver Stars would be considered a necessity while getting the Sun at home would be good insurance for a series split with a return game still to play in Casinoland.

San Antonio (3-6) -- Now we're in Survival Land the rest of the way in the Western standings. The Silver Stars have two toughies, visiting Phoenix Friday night and then Seattle Sunday. While a sweep would be wonderful, for now a split could be satisfactory, especially if San Antonio can catch Seattle off guard Sunday night on the Storm's return from its Midwest-East swing.

Tulsa (3-6) -- Someone making the league schedule must have got their eyesight stuck on the Shock and Minnesota Lynx continuously meeting each other.
It's a home-and-home this weekend with a visit to Minnesota Friday and a return trip from the Lynx Saturday.
The good news for both teams is their five-game series will actually be over and the next time they'll meet is either in the playoffs or next season unless the two teams are passing through the same airport.
The Shock, the former once-proud three-time WNBA champion Detroit Shock, has been reduce to a roster resembling expansion team material. The good news for Tulsa is the domination to date of Minnesota has kept Nolan Richardson's squad potentially alive for a playoff berth. The last night needed from Tulsa's perspective is Minnesota suddenly living up to the promise of the preseason.

Los Angeles (3-7) -- The Sparks are perhaps the disappointment to date in the WNBA, not counting the views of fans living in the Twin Cities metropolis in Minnesota.
If the Sparks can take advantage of Connecticut's road stumbles Friday night, it's a start, for the moment, to stay in the playoff race, though, as mentioned at the top of this post, surviving over the long haul may be good enough.

Minnesota (2-9) -- Ground control to the Lynx, are you there. Injuries and an inept offense has soured a promise before the launch of the season. But the two wins are over Tulsa in Oklahoma on opening night, and a home win over Phoenix. Basically, from a psychological standpoint, a sweep is mandatory. But all is not lost yet, due to other struggles in the West. However, two more losses and people will soon be uttering some phrases from the old Steve Miller Band song, time is slipping, slipping, slipping ...

The Guru will be back with the New York game Friday night and also doing the usual game stuff at http://twitter.com/womhoopsguru

-- Mel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guru Musings: WNBA's Cappie and Taurasi Together Again

By Mel Greenberg

Former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter and former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi were together again Monday on opposite teams.

Pondexter and Taurasi, who had combined in two of the last three seasons, including 2009, to lead the Phoenix Mercury to WNBA titles were in the same release by the league announcing players of the week.

Only this time, Pondexter, who was dealt to the New York Liberty before the season, was named the Eastern Conference top player while Taurasi, still with Phoenix, took Western Conference honors.

Doing The Conference Shuffle

The Guru noticed in recent major news outlet stories all covering the tug-of-war resulting to date of Nebraska moving from the Big 12 to the Big 10 and Colorado moving from the Big 12 to the Pac-10, few women's coaches, if any, have been called upon for their reaction.

There has been coverage by the women's writers online, particular Mechelle Voepel, who lives in the heart of Big 12 country.

More is still to come, perhaps, but since at least one more season will be played under the current alignments, it will be interesting to see how much of an affect the departure of Colorado and Nebraska will mean in terms of women's basketball.

Colorado had gone into decline the last several seasons. Nebraska, of course, had the breakthrough year, going unbeaten until the Big 12 tournament while playing in front of massive crowds.

With Kelsey Griffin graduated and now playing for the WNBA Connecticut Sun, it will be interesting if the Cornhuskers can maintain their momentum. If so, Nebraska's departure will definitely be a key loss on the women's side.

Meanwhile, back in the summer of 1995 when Big 10 women's basketball was one of the very top competitions in the country, C. Vivian Stringer did a lot of inquiries about how the Big East might grow in similar fashion beyond just what UConn achieved during her deliberations over moving from Iowa to Rutgers.

For now, the Big East easily went ahead of her former conference with Stringer rebuilding the Scarlet Knights as a nationally recognized entity.

So, while Stringer is not making public comments over Rutgers being speculated as a potential school to move to the Big 10, she will say how appreciative she is over what the Big East has established.

WBHOF Wrap Up II: More induction night speeches

Wow. Did the Guru call it 24 hours ago in offering the previous post below this. The complete transcriptions of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma's video introductory remarks and former Huskies star Rebecca Lobo's acceptance speech at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn., drew over 500 hits in the period lasting just over midnight.

Thanks to those of you on the boneyard, WNBA.com, and womenshoops, for providing the links.

The Guru promised more and doesn't want to be filled with empty promises, but in the interest of time to transcribe and the late nite/early sunrise hour, here are highlight sound bites of the other inductees.

As promised, first here are some comments from former Maryland coach Chris Weller, who had a large entourage cheering her last weekend. The group included her three players of different eras to make Final Fours and become Olympians -- Tara Heiss, who is a previous WBHOF inductee, Vicky Bullet and Jasmina Perazic.

Weller, as the anchor, worried how to follow up the speeches of the previous five inductees in her opening remarks.

A key passage was when she discussed firsts, in terms of making history.

"Teresa (Edwards) gets her first gold medal, it's got to be exciting. ... She gets her fourth, how many more does she want? (laughter).

Every first that a person experiences is exciting. Now I have my firsts and I'm thinking I wouldn't give up my firsts to have their (other inductuees) firsts. Because I love my firsts.

My firsts don't sound as glamorous as their firsts, but we, at Maryland, when Dotty McKnight (who attended last weekend) was our coach, we went to Frostburg State College and played in the first tournament where we stayed overnight.

We played three games in two days and slept on the floor of the gym and had camp out with four other teams. Now that was was exciting -- I'll never forget that, that was one of my firsts.

Here's the aha, the aha is we all have our firsts and everybody's first is theirs and it means so much to them and they should be so thankful for them and enjoy them as immensely as I know my teammates did. We loved our competition and it wasn't anything like yours, but it was our first.

And it came to me, aha, that is what the Hall is about. It is about documenting all the firsts that all of us experienced as we helped the sport grow and that is what we should be so thankful for, that Gloria (Ray) got this Hall of Fame so we could follow all the tremendous number of firsts. I wouldn't give up my firsts for yours, but we should all just be blessed at the love the opportunities that we've had to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.

In another noteworthy Weller comment: I feel like I've accomplished my life's goals because I felt like I never had a real job.

Teresa Weatherspoon's speech

T used so much energy and spoke so loudly and understandably, but in listening to the tape, it would take to many rewinds to get her remarks exactly right because of her loud enthusiasm as if she had been coaching Louisiana Tech on the spot.

But she did tell a tale of how a coach back in the day in her pre-collegiate formative years said she would never become a great basketball player and how after she won the Gold Medal in 1988, upon her return home went straight to that coach's home to gain her revenge.

Spoon's Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore did the video introduction. Weller, incidentally, was introduced by former Maryland athletic director Lou Perkins.

Comments from Gloria Ray
(She was the first Tennessee women's athletic director who oversaw the building of the WBHOF. Pat Summitt did the video intro telling a funny story about the two of them shopping and buying trash cans.)

I can feel the spirit in this room and am pleased to be here.

I am referred to around the office as the reluctant inductee in that I feel uncomfortable, but I feel so honored and so proud, particularly to be in the 2010 class.

(Discusses induction class) I've got the greatest high school coach in the country (Texas' Leta Andrews). We've got a championship caliber college coach that's going to teach them life skills and how to play as a team. And I've got three players in this induction class Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon, Teresa Edwards, and I'll tell you what -- I'll play those three kids up against class that's been inducted. I'll sell the tickets. I'll print the T-shirts (inaudible).

It's overwhelming in that I didn't score many points, I didn't win any games as a coach, but I think my reason for being here tonight is as symbolism in that it takes a lot of people to accomplish things.

Teresa Edwards

There's so many people that I could thank because I never felt once in my life that I could do things alone.

The gift (playing basketball) gave me much more than I could possibly give it. As I mentioned yesterday, I took it one day at a time.

I never once in my life that it would land me where I am standing now -- to be amongst the class I am tonight.

I went from Cairo, Georgia, not really to Georgia, but to Andy Landers (coach and Guru 2007 WBHOF classmate).

About Summitt: I really like you. I might have said it so I can get out of Tennessee tomorrow.

My mother never played the game of basketball in her life but she could question me about my shot.

I played the game with a passion and I'm always looking for a purpose. And with my heart and soul I hope I gave you the best I could possibly give you this time around and I thank you.

Leta Andrews

I truly admire the rich history in basketball in our country.

When I was a little girl I thought I'd grow up to be the next Dolly Parton.
I'd get off the bus and I would go to the barnyard singing to the horses, the chickens, and the cows, thinking I could fulfill that dream.

And one day my daddy said, Leta Mae, I think you need to pick up a basketball. So I took daddy's advice and picked the basketball up. And guess what, I did fine tune those basketball skills.

Daddy had mounted a basketball in the chicken yard. I became a good shooter, but I want you to know I became a great rebounder. Everytime I shot the basketball I would follow it because you could imagine what it landed in.

And from that moment forward, basketball became a great passion to me.

-- Mel

Monday, June 14, 2010

WBHOF Wrapup I: Rebecca Lobo's Speech

By Mel Greenberg

Actually, this is being written late Sunday after the Guru's return to Philadelphia follwing the 12th induction ceremonies adding individuals to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Guru taped all the speeches and video introductory remarks, but to transcribe it all is more intensive than realized. Mechelle Voepelle, who was on the scene for ESPN.com, and Helen from Women's Hoops (women'shoops blogspot.com) reported extensively.

However, to do the first part of the wrapup at this end, in the event some pictures soon start appearing on the internet, at the post-ceremony reception in the theater lobby where music played and some fine bites were served, the Guru will admit being asked onto the dance floor by a another Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, a longtime friend who has been known to be coaching Rutgers and who was to be one of his escorts at the 2007 ceremony until the airlines played havoc with her journey that weekend.

Yes the music was rock and roll, in Knoxville, no less, and within a few seconds a flurry of paparazzi assembled from all directions. The Guru went through a smiliar experience several years ago at Dawn Staley's retirement party at the end of her WNBA career.

During the ceremony, the Guru sat next to a fellow WBHOF Hall of Famer also known as 2010 inductee Rebecca Lobo's coach at Connecticut. Yes, some emotion was detected from him during his video intro and her speech.

Because no media was on the scene from the horde -- the troops were all shot down by their expense-minded editors in this tough financial times -- and because this blog draws a high volume of traffic out of the Nutmeg State, the Guru only finds it appropriate to offer the complete transcription of his video introduction and Lobo's acceptance speech.

In the next day or so, he'll try to provide what he can off former Maryland coach Chris Weller's speech -- what an entourage from the Terrapins by the way -- as a gift to his friends at D.C. Basketball Cases, who often send links in his direction.

You folks must be happy with the play of the WNBA Washington Mystics in the past week.

The Guru will also listen for sound bites from the other speeches, but in case you haven't seen reporting elsewhere, everyone was fine. Weatherspoon was as pumped up at the reception after speaking without a prepared text as she was after making that famous 50-foot shoot in the WNBA playoffs at the buzzer that extended the former Houston Comets to a third and deciding game in the championship series.

Leta Andrews was folksy, Gloria Ray was inciteful, Teresa Edwards was extra humble, and all, of course, paid tribute to all the people around them in their lives who helped make this past weekend possible.

That said, here is Auriemma's intro and Lobo's acceptance speech. The Guru, to help break up the type here, will insert some subheads into Lobo's remarks.

Geno Auriemma Video Introduction of Rebecca Lobo
(He spoke in accented but eloquently-paced measured phrases, pausing at the commas inserted by the Guru, so you know as you read this.)

I’m Geno Auriemma, I’m the coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program.

I had the pleasure of coaching Rebecca Lobo for four years. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for much longer than that and my recollections of Rebecca as a youngster, coming out of high school, coming to Connecticut, and be put in a situation, where she was asked to be the most important player in the history of Connecticut basketball.

Not an easy task.

It was an incredible performance by Rebecca during those four years, to transform Connecticut from a regional basketball ok program to a national champion program.

It’s an incredible performance in the sense that as a player, as a person, as a student, as an ambassador for the game of basketball. I’ve never been around anyone who handled it with the grace and the integrity that she brought to everything she did.

It’s amazing what has happened to the University of Connecticut since Rebecca Lobo decided to become a student there.

No one is all the years that I’ve been there, has had the impact on the court and off the court, that Rebecca has had and has continued both in the WNBA, as being one of the founders, both as a representative of our university, as a member of the board of trustees, continuing to promote the game on ESPN, and all the other things that Rebecca has done to further the role model that she is, for all the young people that looked up to her, emulated what she has always been, a great student, a great athlete, a great person, someone that I’m cherished, to have had the opportunity to work with, and to call my friend, and now to call my boss.

I’ve never ever been around anyone who has held herself to a higher standard and contributed to the growth of girls, women, the university, it’s been a ride that I can’t even describe.

I’m so thrilled to be in this situation right now to present to you for the induction to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Class 2010, Rebecca Lobo.

Rebecca Lobo Acceptance Speech

(Music plays as she mounts the stairs to the stage for her remarks)

I’m glad they allowed me to play the UConn fight song tonight.

It’s so nice to be able to listen to Coach Auriemma say so many nice things about me after so many years of Thanks coach I’ll continue to take my heels off when I interview you on the sideline. That was his request a couple of years ago.

I’m so thrilled to be here and I want to thank the board of directors and everyone at the Hall of Fame.

I had my first opportunity to tour the museum yesterday and it just struck me – the history and stories of these strong women. From walking through and looking at the exhibit of the All-American Redheads, to all the women who played in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s, played the game before scholarships, before school support, before a lot of people were taking notice.

And I realized and appreciate that I would not have this opportunity if it wasn’t for those strong women. And I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for the strong women in my own family.

I grew up with grandmothers, when we would have them to the house and have family gatherings, it was my grandmothers more than my grandfathers, who were outside playing with the ball.

It was my mother’s mom who was beating all her grandchildren in ping pong and not letting up.

And it was that same grandmother who, when we would play cribbage, would have us sit in front of the sliding glass door so she could see our cards in the reflection.

We were young kids but she wanted to let us know how important it was to win even if sometimes it meant cheating.

Mom's Influence

And the strong mom that I’ve had in my household when we signed up in the local park rec league in our town play basketball. I was in the third grade. And when she got the phone call saying, We’re sorry Mrs. Lobo but Rebecca can’t play because we only had two girls sign up.

My mother’s response was, That’s fine. They’ll just have to put her on the boys’ team.

And when we went down to the first day of practice and she said to the coach, I know Rebecca’s the only girl and I want you the treat her the exact same as all the boys. When they run sprints, she runs sprints, if you’re yelling at the boys, you yell at her.

The only thing is when you go shirts and skins, I would like her on the shirts team.

And it was that same strong mother, who, when I was in high school, I would be embarrassed when she would pick up our rotary phone and call up ESPN after SportsCenter was on and berate them for not having any women’s scores.

That happened on more than one occasion.

And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the strong men in my life – my father who supported me, even when I was this little tomboy asking Santa Claus to bring a New York Giants football uniform for Christmas.

And he was very OK with me wearing jeans and tee-shirts and sneakers to school so I could play with the boys at recess instead of getting all dolled up in a dress.

The same man who drove me to countless AAU practices and drove me back to the point how stinky a little pickup truck was when we got home.

Recalling UConn

My coaches – my middle school coach – Mr. Larrabee (spelling?) – my high school coach – Mr. (Vincent? inaudible) and, of course, Coach Auriemma and his staff at UConn – Coach Dailey, Tonya Cardoza, Meghan Pattyson, Jack Eisemann, who is here tonight.

I know with certainty I would not be inducted into the Hall of Fame if I went to any other university and played for any other coaching staff. They knew what it took to make me a player, they knew what it take (to make) this silly 18-year-old girl into a young woman, who, not only did they teach how to play the game of basketball the right way but taught me how to conduct myself while playing the game and afterwards.

You guys mean so much to me in my life. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more opportunities to thank you but it will still never be enough.

And how Coach Auriemma got me there was everyday calling me the worst post player in America, and my favorite – the dumbest smart person in America.

And saying it with all the love that you can imagine he was saying it with.

And I’ve had such wonderful and caring teammates who have continued to be my best friends – and one’s here – Kara Wolters.

One of the best things she ever did for me, she was two years younger than me, was to come to Connecticut because the second she stepped onto our campus she became the worst post player in America.

Tribute to Husband Steve Rushin

And I’m fortunate to have another strong man in my life in my husband Steve, who, it’s not probably very easy to be married to me and live in Connecticut.

Our first wedding present that came to the house was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Steve Lobo. And when Steve and I met, I was playing for the New York Liberty and he was a sportswriter for Sports Illustrated living in Manhattan. And (inaudible) story goes, we met in a dive bar, a dive Irish bar in New York, and I knew who he was, I knew his writing because I had been reading Sports Illustrated for a long time.

And when we met, I just looked at him, I said, Are you the guy who made fun of the WNBA and New York Liberty a couple of weeks ago?

And he looked at me kind of sheepishly and said, Yeah, I guess I am.

And I asked him how many WNBA games have you been to?

And he said, none.

And needless to say, three-and-a-half children later, he’s seen a lot of women’s basketball game.

Fortunately, he’s come to really enjoy it.

Timing Is Everything

I’m very much a product of timing. I’m here because of timing. I was born in 1973 – Title IX was passed in 1972. I had a chance to play basketball when people played attention, when athletic departments cared about the sport and funded the sport and did the right thing.

I played at a time when ESPN started to make a huge commitment – my mother thinks because of her telephone calls – showing the scores and the highlights and broadcasting the games. Carol Stiff, who is here, is a big part of that – so thank you.

And I got to play at a time when the WNBA existed, when people like David Sterm, Adam Silver, Val Ackerman, and Renee Brown, who is here, cared enough about this sport and recognized the business opportunites and poterntial of these women to show it on TV and give someone else to an opportunity to continue playing.

And people like Teresa Edwards and Teresa Weatherspoon (also 2010 inductees), who had gone overseas for so many years, a chance to come back home and show people in this country the best of the best. And I thank the WNBA.

And this class is such a fantastic class and what they represent. You have the best coaches on the college (former Maryland coach Chris Weller) and high school (Texas-Leta Andrews) level. The best administrators. And Gloria (Gloria Ray, former Tennessee women’s athletic director who oversaw construction of the WBHOF), thank you for your vision in getting this Hall of Fame started.

And Teresa Weatherspoon and Teresa Edwards: When I was in high school, the first memory I had was watching college basketball on TV, was watching Teresa Weatherspoon win a national championship at Louisiana Tech and wore those ridiculous T-shirt uniforms that you guys had with those zippers in front.

And I remember, `Spoon’s passion, the cheery curl and the smile.

It was the love of basketball is what it was all about.

And Teresa Edwards, I don’t even think she knows this but I think when I was in high school, all through my high school years, I had a poster of Teresa on my bedroom wall – A USA Basketball poster, a Converse poster, and she had these long braids, and sweat pouring off her face. That was on my bedroom wall. And I got a chance to play with Spoon (on the Liberty) for five years in the WNBA and I got a chance to play with Teresa (Edwards) on the Olympic team

And when I was the youngest one on the Olympic team and not finishing first in the sprints and understandably the last one off the bench. And what a terrific mentor she and Spoon both were to me, so I’m so thrilled this is the class I’m going in with.

Men Play?

But two years ago, a year and a half ago, my oldest daughter, who was 4 ½, and my husband was watching UConn men, playing on the television in the living room, and my daughter walked in the room and looked at the TV and said to Steve, Are those boys playing.

And I said, yes.

And my daughter said, I didn’t know boys played basketball.

So to all the people who had a hand in making this Hall of Fame what it is, and to all the people who continue to support the game of women’s basketball, but mostly, to all the people who did this before anyone was watching or people were really playing attention, I say thank you, because I’ve benefitted so much from it.

I’m so appreciative and this has just been amazing. So thank you.

The Guru will be back on the WNBA trail in Monday night's post
-- Mel

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame -- Day 2

By Mel Greenberg

Well, as life would work out, the Guru does not have to bear the brunt of providing every detail down here from this weekend's Women's Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies that began Friday with a nice reception, meal, and the storytelling session.

On Saturday morning will be the second annual 4-Kay run here to fight cancer in memory of the late North Carolina State coach Kay Yow.

Saturday night, of course, will be the actual induction ceremony, which will return to the Tennessee Theatre for the first time since the Guru's induction in 2007.

The reason the Guru can slack off a bit is that in addition to the local coverage, Helen is on the scene from womenshoops.blogspot.com and Mechelle Voepel is also here.

The Guru will tape all the speeches Saturday night and transcribe them but since he has an early Sunday morning flight back to Philadelphia, you all may have to wait a bit.

As for the Guru's activities, he is pleased to report that after bumping down the runway in a manner of speaking, he has been able to get airvborne in terms of flying the new iPad and, yes, it really is a nifty device.

Willbill and the Guru made it to Calhoun's to join local longtime Tennessee beat writer Dan Fleser for lunch.

Chris Weller has a sizeable group on the scene -- the Guru had a nice conversation with former Maryland star Jasmina Perazic -- and among the atendees to salute the former Terrapins coach is retired but longtime sports information director Jack Zane and his wife. Several more former assistant coaches are also on the scene.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza checked in with the Guru to say she will arrive mid-Saturday afternoon.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, a member of the WBHOF board, is here and closed out the session with some eloquent remarks that were noteworthy also for their brevity.

Stringer has had a history of last words becoming quite lasting in time, according to veterans of postgame press conferences.

In terms of recalling games, the one that all in the Maryland group centers on was the first sellout back in the day when Maryland off a win over Virginia, had zipped to No. 1 after beating the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, and then the two met again in a 1-2 game that went into overtime at Cole Fieldhouse until Virginia got revenge.

Another memory was the Maryland win over Tennessee in the first AIAW tournament that led to a Final Four format in which the Terrapins made the finals in Los Angeles along with Montclair State (Carol Blazejowski), UCLA (Ann Meyers-Drysdale), and Wayland Baptist.

Hopefully, the Guru has the group all right because this is being written off the top of his head, having spent the last several hours bringing the iPad up to snuff.

Former Georgia star Katrina McClain is here on behalf of her teammate Teresa Edwards, who will join McClain, a past inductee, as a member.

The Connecticut delegation will be on the scene later Saturday.

WNBA Friday Night Fireworks

The Guru said he would monitor the WNBA's five-spot on Friday night, though taking a brief timeout from the league to be on hand down here.

Well judging by the results -- yes the WNBA Center Court apps works great on the new device -- things are getting interesting in a hurry.

The Connecticut win over Indiana -- they meet again Sunday night in the Midwest -- propelled the Sun into first place in the East. The New York Liberty took down the Atlanta Dream at home and can complete a dynamic week by winning at Washington Saturday night.

However, the Mystics will be returning off an impressive win in Chicago so it will be quite the battle in the Verizon Center.

San Antonio made a little headway at the bottom of the West by beating Tulsa anjd moving into a tie with the Shock.

Out West, the Seattle Storm -- the 9-1 Seattle Storm -- once again powered over the Los Angeles Sparks, who are now 2-7 and could easily be a game worse had not they produced a one-point win over Phoenix earlier in the week.

So that's it for the moment.

But we'll be back with something later in the day.

-- Mel

Friday, June 11, 2010

Women's Basketball Hall of Fame -- Day I

By Mel Greenberg

It was quite a productive and revenue deducting day for the Guru after arriving here late Thursday morning for this weekend's induction ceremonies at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

The six inductees who will become new classmates of the Guru, circa 2007, are former UConn star Rebecca Lobo, former Maryland coach Chris Weller, former Georgia star and renown Olympian Theresa Edwards, former Lousiana Tech star Teresa Weastherspoon, currently the head coach of her alma mater who, like Lobo, was a prominent member of the WNBA New York Liberty, former Tennessee women's athletic director Gloria Ray who hired some woman named Pat Summitt to be the Vols coach back in the day -- Ray is also the chief executive overseeing the WBHOF, and Texas high school coach Leta Andrews, the winningest coach in the country at her level.

As for the revenue part of the day, the Guru was met at the headquarters hotel at the Marriott next to the hall by William Ewart, affectionally known as Willbill, a long time photographer with the Tennessee women's athletic program, who exclusively handled the Guru's part of his own induction in 2007.

The first order of business was a trip to Litton's for some of the best hamburgers and fries, as in real Boardwalk-style tasting fries. For those of you reading this who are down here but not from the area, head straight out of town toward the hills on Broadway to Fountain City.

Friday afternoon will feature the other culinary must -- Calhoun's -- the famous ribs place located near the hall. Willbill and the Guru will be joined by longtime local beat writer Dan Fleser and his newspaper colleague Phil Kaplan.

As for the revenue reference, Willbill took the Guru, in desperate need of a haircut -- since he's also part of Saturday night's ceremonies as a past inductee -- to place where a sensational job was done for just $10.

Then came a visit to the local Apple Store where the Guru used some of his adios-Inquirer gifts toward the acquisition of an IPad -- 64, 3G -- and while the transaction was made late Thursday afternoon, only a little while ago did the Guru finally get some access to the internet with the device.

Oh yes, as mentioned on the Guru's twitter account, one has to love the pilot on the connecting flight in Charlotte, N.C., who announced on the plane at the gate it would be a short 30 minute ride to Knoxville but didn't add that it would take 40 minutes to get to the end of the runway and the start of the actual 30 minute trip.

On tap on Friday will be a media session at the hall with the inductees at 5 p.m., followed by the unveiling of some new exhibits, a private reception, and then the dreaded (for the inductees) storytelling time.

On Thursday night in the headquarters hotel here at the Marriott next to the Hall, the Guru caught up with Chris Weller and some of her entourage.

The group included former player and assistant coach Belinda (Bo) Pearman.

As we talked old times, former Maryland star and Olympian, as well as WNBA Wasington Mystics player Vicky Bullet arrived.

"No one ever worked any harder than Vicky Bullet," Weller said upon greeting her former player.

Tara Heiss, a WBHOF menber and another former Maryland Olympian, will be here for Weller.

Since no one else is here to give you all the little tidbits, here is what is known about Lobo's delegation.

Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, a wBHOF 2006 inductee, will be here, as will as associate head coach Chris Dailey, former assistant and current Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, basketball operations director Jack Eisemann, and former UConn teammate Kara Wolters.

More details will come with some tweets from the Guru's http://twitter.com/womhoops Guru account -- did I get that right, Erin? -- and later some blogging here.

For the curious, no, there was no known party Thursday night at Summitt's pool house as the one the Guru had her host back in 2007.

The Guru also plans to catch up with his former sports editor Jay Searcy, the original suggestion man for starting the AP women's poll, who is retired down here.

So that is the news of the moment as the sun comes up in Knoxville, a an occurrence that continues in spite of another early exit in the NCAA tournament by the Vols.

-- Later


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guru Musings: "T" Party Movement in Knoxville

By Mel Greenberg

Almost appropriate for a "Red" State it will be a "T" Party Deluxe in Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame annual induction festivities Friday and Saturday night.

The only politics in this one, however, is a celebration of six new members, including two of which go by the knickname of the appropriate letter.

One of the duo is former George star Teresa Edwards, who finally gave in to retirement several years ago to get on the road of induction eligibility. Her career is highlighted by her collection of Olympic medals and she was a founding member of the former American Basketball League.

The other "T" is former Louisiana Tech star Teresa Weatherspoon, also an Olympic medalist who achieved most of her pro career stardom as a member of the WNBA New York Liberty.

This past season was her first as a full-time coach at her alma mater after holding the interim title halfway through the previous season. Weatherspoon guided the Techsters back to the NCAA tournament by their capturing the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

The other inductees are former Maryland coach Chris Weller, former Tennessee women's athletic director Gloria Ray, the chief executive of the WBHOF, former Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo, and longtime Texas high school coach Leta Andrews.

The Guru is writing this post quick off the top of his head before catching a sunrise flight to Knoxville to be on the scene, so apologies for typos, etc. However, the WBHOF site and the Knoxville paper has full coverage their web site.

In these economic times, it does not appear that the media horde will be following Lobo on site, but the Guru will try to make up for their absences

The Guru will update all this after arrival later Thursday.

CAA and Big East Zoned Out?

Having done some internet browsing while eating a late dinner, the Guru read that the ESPN Zone restaurant/sports bar in five cities will soon be closed because of economic conditions.

Two cities on the hit list are New York and Washington, which caught the Guru's attention for several reasons.

The ESPN Zone in the nation's capital has been the headquarters the last several years for the annual Colonial Athletic Association preseason media for both its men's and women's basketball teams.

Several years ago, the establishment in Manhattan became the headquarters for the Big East conference women's media day after the league had expanded to 16 teams.

Prior to then, the event was usually held at a hotel near the Newark Airport in New Jersey.

The Guru will try to catch up on this one.

That's it for now.

He will tweet from the blackberry http://twitter.com/womhoopsguru along the way.

-- Mel