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.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Drexel Dragons Have Bear of a Schedule

By Mel Greenberg

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Guru arrived in the outskirts of Hartford in another famous middle of the night ride making it two straight traffic-free trips to the Nutmeg State where he will be on the scene this weekend for two USA Basketball national team exhibition games at the XL Center, home of the Big East Women's Tournament and second home for UConn.

So a slice of the USA Team loaded with ex-Huskies and one active Husky in senior Maya Moore along with UConn coach Geno Auriema should feel right at home for the Friday night matchup with Australia and Sunday afternoon encounter with Spain.

But in this post the Guru will temporary leave the world of international competition and WNBA prowess to engage in some college talk, especially involving the locals back in the Philadelphia area.

Drexel's women's schedule arrived by email Friday and two years removed from a Colonial Athletic Association title and NCAA appearance and a year after an WNIT appeaerance, someone forgot to tell coach Denise Dillon that Gabriella Marginean, the all-time women's collegiate scorer in the Philadelphia area, has graduated after a stellar career.

How else the explain an ambitious but more than somewhat killer schedule in which Drexel may end up with as many Big Five wins as the actual Big Five champion even though Temple is missing from an otherwise complete list of crosstown confrontations.

By Nov. 26 Drexel could be 4-0 against City Series competitors or four and out.

One thing the Dragons will have -- wins or no -- will be an impressive RPI in which like the Scholastic Aptitude Test, Drexel should get credit just for presenting starting lineups to the scorer's table prior to the opening tip.

The games for Drexel begin to count on Nov. 16 when the Dragons visit La Salle and new coach Jeff Williams. That same night, nationally, Baylor will be playing UConn, which will be seeking to win its first 11 games and thus break the all-time win streak Division I record of 88 by the famed UCLA men's team under the late Hall of Famer John Wooden.

Then its home at the Daskalakis Athletic Center for a visit from nearby neighbor Penn and second-year coach Mike McLoughlin on Nov. 19.

Next up St. Joseph's, targeting its best season in a while, visits on Nov. 23. Hawks junior Katie Kuester, the daughter of NBA Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester was the top player in the Dept. of Recreation Women's Summer League, sanctioned by the NCAA. Kuester went up against past and present Dragons star on the way to a summer title.

On Nov. 26 Dillon's former Villanova coach Harry Perretta will leave the stands for his first sidelines appearance at the DAC and second against Dillon, one of his former Wildcats stars.

In past years Perretta was a frequent spectator at Drexel games, allowable by the NCAA because the two schools did not schedule each other till last year.

On Dec. 2 Tulsa -- not the WNBA Shock -- visits for a first-time matchup.

Then Drexel will take a trip on Dec. 4 to play at ACC power Virginia, which will be playing its first season since the graduation of Monica Wright, the overall No. 2 pick of the WNBA draft.

Seton Hall visits on Dec. 12 where Anne Donovan, whose brief 1.5 seasons coaching the WNBA New York Liberty ended Tuesday in Atlanta, will be in her first year with the Pirates.

It will be a homecoming of sorts because Donovan coached the former Philadelphia Rage in the bankruptcy-shortened third season of the American Basketball League.

On Dec. 17, Drexel will make a short trip to Princeton, which blitzed the Ivy League last season and drew votes in the weekly Associated Press women's poll.

Then on Dec. 21, the nonconference rivalry with Penn State will continue with a visit to Happy Valley. This should be the best squad in the four-year era of coach Coquesne Washington, who is in the running for landing several prized recruits including No. 1-ranked Elizabeth Williams out of Virginia.

Dec. 28 brings the start of holiday fun and beach with a visit to San Diego State's tournament, opening with, gulp, Texas A&M, a recent Final Four contender.

The full Drsgons schedule is posted at the school's website but the rest of the way is against CAA rivals.

Highlights include a Jan. 9 visit from Delaware, which will be one of All-America candidate Elena Delle Donne's matchups against Big Five schools. The Blue Hens will also feature, assuming she's eligible at that moment, Sarah Acker, a transfer who was Big Five rookie of the year at St. Joseph's several seasons ago before playing just one game the following season due to an injury.

The return game at Delaware is on Feb. 6. Drexel swept both regular season games in the closing minutes and then lost in a similar fashion to the Blue Hens in the CAA tournament.

On Jan. 13, Drexel visits CAA champion James Madison and All-America candidate Dawn Evans. The Dukes visit the DAC on Jan. 27.

The home and home series with Hofstra has a visit from the Pride listed on Jan. 23 and a trip to Long Island on Feb. 10. Henderson High graduate Shante Evans was one of the top rookies in the CAA last season.

Former longtime CAA champion Old Dominion closes out the conference schedule and Drexel's regular season on March 2.

Gardler Joins St. Joseph's Staff

Katie (Curry) Gardler, a Hawk and Big Five Hall of Famer, will return to her alma mater and reunite formally with coach Cindy Griffin who was a teammate on Hawk Hill replacing Ellen (Shields) Fitzpatrick, a former Hawk, as director of operations.

Gardler had worked with the women's boosters and several youth groups associated with the Hawks. She was the Atlantic 10 MVP her senior season in 1993.

She also has a tie to UConn's coach Geno Auriemma because she is married to Chris Gardler, the son of Buddy Gardler who coached Auriemma in the Catholic League.

That's it for now. Will be on the scene tweeting (twitter.com/womhoopsguru) and blogging from Friday night's USA Game.

And before being chided by the Guru's alma mater, yes, former Temple star Candice Dupree of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury is in the USA pool for selection to play in the FIBA World Championships later this month in the Czech Republic.

-- Mel


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