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.

Monday, October 04, 2010

USA "Conn" Job Leads To FIBA Gold Medal And World Title

(Guru's update note to the original existing precede note. The Guru, usually aware of the dangers of writing of the top of the head and not making a second edit in the vampire hours of the night, appreciates some typos and mangled sentenced that were pointed out by the readership. They have since been corrected, in case you are confused by notes referring to the errors that were made prior to corrections. And now for those of you on first read of this post: continue. -- Mel)

(Guru's original previous note: First, attention Guru local followers. Way down below the Guru will have some highlights of Area D-1 collegiate home or nearby travel games for some early planning into the New Year portion.

Meanwhile, nothing new at the moment on WNBA stories involving employment or further unemployment in case that was the main reason you are dropping by. Just mentioning it at top of the post as a Guru public service. But the Guru will jump in through twitter and then here with a post when new elements or subject matters warrants attention. -- Mel)

By Mel Greenberg

With the Fiba World Championship gold medal reclaimed through an 89-69 victory over the host Czech Republic, the USA senior national women's team won't be put in the awkward position of having to go through the qualifying process toward earning a berth for the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

The domination of University of Connecticut types -- five former Huskies and senior Maya Moore under USA/UConn coach Geno Auriemma -- once again becomes a bragging point for the collegiate program with seven national NCAA women's titles, just one less than the University of Tennessee.

In a sense a new contingent of of former collegiate stars on the USA squad as well as others that were cut along the way, who never wore the Blue and White have gained admiration of the way Auriemma gets things done.

That group includes Angel McCoughtry (Louisville), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Candice Dupree (Temple), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota), Jayne Appel (Stanford) and Sylvia Fowles (LSU) on the gold medal winners.

Dupree, who shot 75 percent for the FIBA tournament, set an American record breaking the mark held by, of all people, her former Temple coach Dawn Staley (now at South Carolina), who shot 69 percent in 1994.

Except for Dupree, each of the "non-UConn others" on the USA team suffered defeat at the hands of Auriemma's Huskies in college with McCoughtry, Catchings, and Appel also having done so in NCAA title games. Whalen's Gophers squad lost out in the 2004 semifinals after a Cinderella run to the Women's Final Four.

Fowles' LSU team did knock out UConn in the West regional title game in 2007.

There even was a WNBA dash of Connecticut Sun on the USA squad in the presence of Whalen, an All-Star for the Mohegan Sun-based team in Uncasville prior to her trade back home to the Minnesota Lynx before last season.

There would have been one more in the presence of Kara Lawson, the former Tennessee star who was among the final cuts. The USA selection committee wanted to stack up on post players, though the Australian and Russian challenging threats at those positions were eliminated in stunning upsets in the quarterfinals.

Renee Montgomery, another former UConn All-American who plays for the Sun, was a in contention for a spot prior to her cut.

In a way the presence of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, along with Moore, recalls the regrets heading into 1980. That was when those followers of the sport in the United States thought the entire Old Dominion squad (Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, except foreigner Inge Nissen) had a better shot at the then-dominant Soviets than a mixture of collegians in an era before the pro game was established in the United States.

Old Dominion had come closest in a 10-point loss to the Soviets at home in Norfolk, Va., during the Soviets' barnstorming tour of colleges the previous winter.

That all became academic, of course, when former President Jimmy Carter had ordered a boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980 as a political protest.

Meanwhile, this statistic off Sunday's result further puts a UConn stamp on where things are at the moment.

With the victory over the host Czechs, there are now six players who have been on champions in the NCAA, WNBA, Olympics, and the FIBA World competition. Four of them are ex-Huskies -- Cash and Taurasi joined Bird and Kara Wolters, now a broadcaster who also was on the roster of the WNBA Houston Comets during part of the glory days of the former Texas franchise. The other two are Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (USC and WNBA Houston), who is the new coach of UNC Wilmington, and Sheryl Swoopes (Texas Tech and WNBA Houston).

In other activity at a related FIBA Summit event that included discussions of new style uniforms and lowering the rim in women's competition, there were talks about moving the women's competition to a different time on the calendar, which would greatly help USA scheduling and avoid the crunch against the WNBA calendar.

Former WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman, also USA Basketball past president, has been spearheading this effort. Current WNBA commissioner Donna Orender also attended the sessions, next scheduled for 2012, according to The Associated Press.

At this point in time, the Guru is unsure whether he can cut and paste the Associated Press coverage into the post because of situations that have popped up elsewhere on the internet involving similar issues.

But many sites are linking to the wire coverage by AP national women's collegiate writer Doug Feinberg, also a successful coach of youngsters. Congratulations to him now for two-time gold medal coverage including the Beijing games in China in 2008.

The Guru will check to see how many golds Feinberg needs to catch his predecessor Chuck Schoffner. And also congratulations and good luck to AP national WNBA writer Vin Cherwoo out of New York who is just seven days away from becoming officially associated with a woman in a Memphis merger down South.

In AP speak in order to send congrats, the Guru offered anonymity to the other principal party in the Cherwoo deal until given authorization to make her name public, though one can figure it out on his facebook page.

Time for Some Local College Advanced Planning

As the Guru said at his precede note at the top, the following is an early guide to plan for those of you women's fans in the Philly area and elsewhere who at times find days in town where choices have to be made because of several conflicts of games of special interests.

This comes off the Guru annual planning schedule, which will post when the first draft has all time starts completed. Keep in mind we just entered October so changes of dates may lie ahead because of TV skeds involving men's D-1 action.

Also, remember Temple's Liacouras Center is the host venue for one of four NCAA Sweet 16 sites, which are the regional finals leading to the Women's Final Four in Indianapolis.

We'll get to the action in the other divisions involving locals toward the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Penn has pulled off a coup in coach Mike McLaughlin's second year because it seems all four of the Quakers' Big Five games will be in The Palestra.

St. Joseph's will be home three times in City Series round robin action, while Temple will be home just once and La Salle, under new coach Jeff Williams, won't be home at all. Villanova is even at two visits and two home games.

In that regard, here are the Big Five games as they stand in this year's race for the title currently held by Villanova.

The schedule is such that no school on a potential 4-0 sweep will end the race early as Villanova has done and it may go real deep into the season before a champion or co-champions are determined.

Nov. 12 (season opening date) La Salle at Villanova, 4 p.m.
Dec. 7 St. Joseph's at Penn, 7 p.m.
Dec. 12 Villanova at St. Joseph's, 2 p.m.
Dec. 19 Temple at Villanova, 12 p.m.
Jan. 12 Villanova at Penn, Time TBA
Jan. 19 La Salle at Penn, Time TBA
Jan. 22 Temple at Penn, Time TBA
Feb. 12 La Salle at Temple, 2 p.m.
Feb. 19 La Salle at St. Joseph's, 2 p.m.
Feb. 23, Temple at St. Joseph's, 7 p.m.

Now here's the overall highlights and conflicts, as things stand now on Oct. 3, that also includes Rutgers, Penn State, Drexel and Delaware in the equation. Because of the late hour writing this, the Guru is not giving it a read for self-editing so apologies for any typos that might occur.

Nov. 12 Season opening date. La Salle at Villanova and powerhouse Ohio State at Temple, times to be announced.

Nov. 16 Drexel, playing all city teams early in the season, is at La Salle while Villanova is at Delaware, both at 7 p.m. Remember, Nova was one of Elena Delle Donne's original four final choices before deciding to go to UConn and then opting for the Blue Hens.

Nov. 18 Princeton, the defending Ivy champion, is at Rutgers at 7:30 p.m. Gave the Scarlet Knights a scare last season and still strong.

Nov. 19 Penn is Drexel in a neighborhood tilt but at moment time start has to be resolved because we have a 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. listing. If earlier time, then consider Buffalo is at Temple at 7 p.m. marking the homecoming of former Owls coach Linda Hill MacDonald.

Nov. 21 South Carolina is at Penn State, 3:30 p.m., marking a second visit in three seasons to Happy Valley by former Owls coach Dawn Staley, now with the Gamecocks.

Nov. 23 Lots of conflicts all at 7 p.m. Highlight is St. Joseph's at Drexel, but also St. Francis, Pa., coached by former Penn State star Susan Robinson Fruchtl, brings defending Northeast Conference champs to Delaware; Temple hosts Northern Illinois, and defending Patriot champion Lehigh is also at Villanova. Penn, incidentally, will be at Rider just up the road in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Nov. 26 Villanova at Drexel marking second time in two years Wildcats coach Harry Perretta faces his former star Denise Dillon and his first appearance on sidelines at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Nov. 28 Delaware at La Salle marking Delle Donne's first visit of the season to the city.

Dec. 1 Princeton, with several Philly kids, is at Delaware but highlight is Rutgers at Temple. Owls upset the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway last season.

Dec. 3-4 For those of you with sa few dollars who want to plan now, St. Joseph's is in New Orleans to play host Tulane Friday night and Detroit-Mercy Saturday.
Temple that Saturday will be at Auburn and Penn will be visiting Army. Drexel will be at Virginia. If not a road trip, perhaps Holy Family, Philadelphia U., or Cabrini or Gwynedd-Mercy will be home.

Dec. 5 Texas Tech is at Penn State, 2 p.m. Don't know how good Red Raiders will be but if this is the year for Nittany Lions, it's a key game. Incidentally a ton of PSU games will be televised on the Big 10 network or streamed on the internet by the conference.

Dec. 7 St. Joseph's is at Penn, 7 p.m.

Dec. 9 Georgetown, which made major strides, is at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m., and West Virginia is at Villanova, 7 p.m., in two early Big East openers.

Dec. 10 Pick your visiting coaching star. Jen Rizotti's Hartford Hawks at Temple against her former UConn assist coach when she played in Owls' Tonya Cardoza. Maine's Cindy Blodgett, a prolific scorer, brings her alma mater to Penn. Science fiction author Stephen King is a Bears fan and has traveled here before when Maine has been in Philly.

Dec. 11 Only game of schedule is La Salle at Lafayette, 1 p.m. with chance to check in on new Leopards coach Dianne Nolan of South Jersey. Also some nice restaurants up that way and, there's the still relatively new casino.

Dec. 12. Tough choice with 2 p.m. starts. Villanova is at St. Joseph's in key Big Five match while Seton Hall under new coach Anne Donovan visits Drexel. She once coached the Philadelphia Rage in the former ABL.

Dec. 15 Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer will be out to beat Kane in neighborhood tilt at 7:30 p.m. at home instead of trying to raise one.

Dec. 17 Drexel is at Princeton at 7 p.m. in only game listed.

Dec. 19 Delaware tested at Penn State, 2 p.m., Rider is at La Salle, 2 p.m., Temple is at Villanova, 12 p.m. (first to 18 points wins), Princeton will be at St. Joseph's, 2 p.m., but in Madison Square Garden in the Maggic Dixon Classic Rutgers meets Texas A&M before Connecticut meets Ohio State at 2:30 p.m. and if the Huskies have not been stopped by Baylor or Georgia Tech along the way this could be the game that ties the Wooden-UCLA record of 88 straight.

Dec. 21 Drexel visits Penn State 7:30 p.m. -- remember Gabriella Marginean is now a Dragons alumni; Florida State in Hartford will meet UConn in game at 7 p.m. that could break win streak record.

Dec. 22 St. Joseph's at Delaware at 6 p.m. Not only do Hawks have to face Delle Donne, but this will be second game of eligible for transfer Sarah Acker, who was Big Five rookie of year several seasons ago for St. Joseph's.

Dec. 28 If you can find a crab house open take a trip to College Park, Md. to say La Salle attempt to deal with hosts Terrapins in UMD's tournament at 12 p.m.

Dec. 28-29 St. Joseph's hosts tournament in afternoon both days including New Hampshire, Quinnipiac and Lafayette. Quinnipiac coach Trish Sacca, a local, played for Lafayette's Dianne Nolan at Fairfield.

Dec. 30 Connecticut at Stanford. If streak is still alive will it end here. Huskies almost upset last year by the Cardinal in the NCAA title game. Temple is at Duke that night and Rutgers will be at Tennessee, hopefully with a functioning clock this time.

Jan. 2 Marquee game is Maryland at St. Joseph's, 2 p.m.

That's far enough in advance for now to get you into the New Year of 2011 before the conference portions kick in. And since some dates are still in flux, the Guru will give you the rest of it between now and the start of the season.

-- Mel


Blogger ladyswish said...

Hey, Mel, great job as usual. But in your item about the only players to have won NCAA, WNBA, Olympics and FIBA Worlds, you identify the last in the group as Swin Cash. Did you mean Sheryl Swoopes?

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does this mean?
"Dec. 30 Connecticut at Stanford. If streak is still alive will it end here. Huskies also upset last year by Cardinal in NCAA title game" It seems to me the Huskies WON the last two NCAA title games.

10:08 PM  
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