Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Guru Musings: Foxwoods Bets On WNBA Liberty

By Mel Greenberg

The WNBA New York Liberty continue their ascent from a franchise that had become listless in 2009 to one that continues to grab its share of headlines through the early phase of the season.

There was the blockbuster three-team deal several months ago that brought former Rutgers star Cappie Pondexter back to the East Coast after she had quickly gained All-Star status in four summers with the Phoenix Mercury that included a pair of WNBA titles.

Then came the news that coach Anne Donovan would return to her native New Jersey after this season to attempt to revive Seton Hall's fortunes in the Big East.

On Wednesday it was announced the entire playing roster is also about to get into the new jersey act.

Although the Liberty could land across the Hudson the next several summers during renovation of Madison Square Garden, the new jersey news is about the new look apparel New York will wear for the first time Friday night on a visit to the Connecticut Sun.

The Liberty has become the fourth franchise to have a corporate name on their jerseys via the announced partnership with Foxwoods Resort Casino, located near the Mohegan Sun action that involves ownership of the Connecticut Sun.

New York joins the Phoenix Mercury (LifeLock), Los Angeles Sparks (Farmers Insurance), and Seattle Storm (Bing -- microsoft internet search engine).

For those fans in Gotham who have criticized president and general manager Carol Blazejowski's gambling moves in the past, she has managed to hit the jackpot in 2010.

That's especially true since the Seattle Times' Jayda Evans, the Storm beat writer, reported that all these deals are worth about $1 million.

Some of that cash might be put to good use next winter for the Liberty in the search to find Donovan's successor.

Just prior to the start of the season, new Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, the former La Salle star in Philadeelphia, noted the WNBA's sense of humor in having her team open against the Tulsa Shock, which had been the Detroit franchise of which she was assistant coach and general manager last season.

Well, one has to chuckle at the timing of Wednesday's announcement considering the business rivalry that already exists between the tribes at Mohegan and Foxwoods.

One wonders now whether some of the rules of the road up near New London and Mystic will change.

For example, Connecticut law forbids casino employees to gamble at their own casino.

Thus the nature of the WNBA Sun relationship has meant that after WNBA games, while the visitors could entertain themselves at Mohegan, if Sun players wanted to socialize with friends from the opposition, the group had to go head to Foxwoods.

WNBA teams have been said to get room expense-free (not incidentals) housing on visits to Mohegan. Will New York out of etiquette now stay at Foxwoods?

Technically, the Liberty could still gamble at Foxwoods since the establishment is not in an ownership relationship.

Actually, considering the four jersey sponsorships to date, they can all be inter-active with each other.

Bing, for example, would provide the best deals at Foxwoods, Farmers would protect one's winnings, while LifeLock would protect identity at the tellers' windows.

All this reminds that since the Guru is now a free-agent, he is available for a jersey deal to go hand-in-hand with sponsorships at this blog or at another fancier platform.

Back in the day, the Guru could be seen in The Inquirer newsroom sporting many different shirts with the name of a university or restaurant.

In fact, he may have been ahead of his time in terms of these WNBA deals.

During one moment in newsroom history during a union contract negotation that seemed headed for a strike, the Guru proclaimed for the right price he would wear an entitled shirt on the picket lines when TV crews would be on the scene covering the labor activity.

The marketing attempt was short-lived however because the contract was settled at the deadline.

Other Musings

The Tulsa Shock's Alexis Hornbuckle drew a two-game suspension for a DUI incident from last year. That's quite different from the praise she drew at Tennessee for driving under the influence of Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt.

As part of WNBA mandated financial austerity, teams were supposed to be limited to just one assistant coach this season. The Guru won't name the perceived guilty but he has noted things still in tact with several teams, some of whom still list multiple assistants in their media guides.

In some ways, it's ridiculous anyway considering individuals could be re-assigned other duties or given other titles the same way several NFL Indianapolis Colts assistants came out of a brief retirement they had to take because of financial adjustments made by the pro football league.

The debacle over power issues at Oregon State resulting in the exit of fifth-year coach LaVonda Wagner was a bit surprising to the Guru.

He says that only in regards to an acquaintance over the years going back to her time on the staff of former Illinois coach Theresa Grentz where Wagner rose to associate head coach and then later when she served as an assistant under former Duke coach Gail Goestenkors.

Wagner always went out of her way to offer a pleasant hello and catch up on news when the Guru covered games involving both schools and also when mingling with the lobby crowd at the coaches' convention hotels at NCAA Women's Final Fours.

The Guru isn't in denial these things many have occurred in the Northwest, only that it comes as a surprise in light of the aforementioned dealings over the years.

Looking to the weekend the Guru expects to be at Mohegan Friday night for the Liberty-Sun tussle and in Washington Saturday night for the Mystics-Atlanta Dream confrontation. Don't know if the Sun-San Antonio Silver Stars hookup Sunday at Mohegan will be on the agenda.

The Guru is looking at different configurations but helpful is the discovery he is eligible for an Amtrak train discount that is greatly beneficial.

The Silver Stars, incldentally, are at the Indiana Fever Thursday night in a game that both teams are looking to regain some traction.

Until the next post

-- Mel


Blogger BasketCases said...

Do you think the Sun might change their name to the "Mohegan Sun" instead of the Conn Sun now that the Libs are sporting their biz competitor's name?

I can think of a few good sponsors for you, Guru, but I think I'll keep my suggestions to myself! LOL!

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