Womhoops Guru

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

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Delle Donne Getting Reinforcements

(Guru's Note: A separate WNBA set of notes and news is below this post.)

By Mel Greenberg

Despite the presence of freshman sensation Elena Delle Donne, voted the top rookie and also the MVP of the Colonial Athletic Association, when attention was last paid to the University of Delaware the Blue Hens were routed 67-49 in the WNIT by Atlantic 10 member Richmond.

The size and physicality of the Spiders were considered the major factor why the Blue Hens were ousted, finishing still with an improved 21-12 record.

Apparently, Delle Donne is about to get help in the post from an unexpected place just as the former nation's top prospect out of Wilmington's Ursuline Academy had been an unexpected roster addition a year ago.

Delaware announced some new arrivals Tuesday and one is 6-foot-3 Sarah Acker, who was the Big Five's rookie of the year at St. Joseph's in 2007-08.

She played one game the following season before suffering a hip injury and then eventually left the team for personal reasons.

Prior to her arrival on Hawk Hill, Acker, who comes from Nanticoke, Pa., upstate, was one of the better players that summer in the Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation's women's league.

If Acker returns to her freshman season form when she was with the Hawks -- she became the first true rookie to lead St. Joseph's in scoring (11.9) and rebounding (8.7) -- her addition will be beneficial to Delaware's navigation through an upgraded non-conference slate that includes a visit to Penn State and a tournament at Virginia Tech.

Coach Tina Martin can't comment of transferring players until the first day of class which is Wednesday.

Acker must meet certain academic requirements but is expected to be eligible just before the Penn State game on Dec. 19. Ironically, St. Joseph's has been added to Delaware's slate beginning with a game at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del., on Dec. 22.

Delaware, which meets Drexel home-and-home later in the year in CAA competition, will host Villanova Dec. 16. The Wildcats were one of Delle Donne's four finalists when she originallhy picked Connecticut at the front end of her senior high school season in Sept. 2007.

The Blue Hens will also visit La Salle.

Delle Donne may not yet be a magnetic force to attract future talent but Acker's addition, achieved because of a suggestion from her boyfriend according to the Wilmington News Journal, is definitely forward progress, no pun intended.

Acker also made an inquiry to Temple according to people familiar with her deliberations.

Another newcomer is 6-3 freshman forward/cventer Kelsey Buchanan,

Additionally, two transfers, who won't be eligible until next season, are a pair of guards -- Akeema Richards from West Virginia and Trumae Lucas from Florida.

Delle Donne, of course, was the key in the return to happier times, though the Blue Hens lost a bunch of games in the final minute to the upper teams in the CAA standings.

She had originally committed to two-time NCAA champion Connecticut in the front part of her senior high school year (2007-08) but only last less than 48 hours, leaving after signing in for summer school in June 2008.

Delle Donne eventually identified the problem has homesickness. But two yeara ago this week she announced she was giving UConn back the scholarship -- the Huskies went on to two straight NCAA titles unbeaten in both -- and was going to enroll at Delaware but to play volleyball.

By winter she realized how much she missed the sport and eventually gravitated back telling Martin she was ready to lead the Blue Hens out of their two-year downfall.

Hawk Ghosts Emerging

The news of Acker's return to activity, playing for Delaware, isn't the only ex-Hawk emigre to suddenly re-appear.

Not that she actually disappeared but Hilary Klimowicz, the A-10 freshman of the year in 2006 who then went to Division III College of New Jersey and became the D-III player of the year as a senior, is authoring a blog from overseas where she is playing in Switzerland. The blogsite is at http://thrillsoverseas.blogspot.com.

Besides losing those two players, St. Joseph's had to cope without freshman Ashley Robinson from Archbishop Wood last season because of an injury in the summer league.

The Hawks will be much healthier this time and if Katie Kuester plays as she did in helping her summer league team in the Dept. of Rec. win the title, coach Cindy Griffin may celebrate her 10th anniversary at her alma mater with a long-sought NCAA appearance.

Griffin is second only to Villanova's Harry Perretta in Big Five women's coaching senior -- Temple's Tonya Cardoza and Penn's Mike McLaughlin are relatively newcmers while La Salle's Jeff Williams will be in his first season.

UConn Influence At Temple Continues

When Temple's Tonya Cardoza became coach of the Owls three seasons ago after a 14-year stint at UConn as an assistant to Geno Auriemma, she promised her staff would be expected to have Huskies seasoning.

Assistant Willnett Crockett is a former player at Connecticut.

On Tuesday Cardoza announced the elevation of Stacey Nasser to director of basketball operations.

When Cardoza was hired to succeed Dawn Staley she brought Nasser, who had been a manager with the Huskies, to Temple as a graduate assistant.

Nasser's duties, according to Temple's announcement, will be to coordinate team travel -- interesting because traveling was a major issue for Temple last season but not the kind that involves airplanes or bus trips. She was also coordinate practice operations and asssist with summer camps.

She recently earned her masters degree at Temple in sport administration.

-- Mel

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