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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Maryland's Mincy Masters Monmouth In Opener

(Guru's note: There is a sidebar above this post on Monmouth's Carly Thibault, the daughter of WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault.)

By Mel Greenberg

In the fading world of print publications such as newspapers, orders to hold down the inches on a game story are easy to comply with when the winning team bolts from a 2-2 tie and takes a 24-2 lead making play-by-play accounts needless the rest of the way.

That was the story Saturday afternoon as No. 21 Maryland opened its season at home with a 73-40 win over Monmouth out of the Northeast Conference before a crowd of 4,015 in the Comcast Center.

The Terrapins star and freshman star of the game – there seems to be a lot of them down here to take turns – was 6-0 guard Laurin Mincy out of Newark, N.J. She scored 15 points in 17 minutes of action, shooting 4-of-6 overall and 2-of-3 three-pointers while also being a perfect 5-for-5 on the free throw line.

“Every game they continue to get valuable experience,” Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said of her newcomers. “They’re extremely versatile. I think different games you’re going to see different players step up like tonight.

“I thought Laurin was sensational. She played with a lot of confidence. Brought the ball up extremely well. Loved how she defended and used her length and that’s something we’re going to have to have on the depth on this team.”

Mincy was happy with her official debut.

“I’m extremely excited right now,” she said. “Me and the girls met the goals that were set for the team before the game. My teammates did a great job putting me in the right position to shoot the ball.”

The Terrapins hit on 19-of-21 free throw attempts while Monmouth was 4-for-5.

Incidentally, Hawks athletic director Marilyn McNeil is also the head of the NCAA women’s basketball committee in Division I.

While no one had individual gaudy numbers, the 10-player rotation suggesting much depth along with a spread-the-wealth approach on offense was telling for Maryland.

Diandra Tchatchouang and Lynetta Kizer each scored 11 points while Kim Rogers had eight points and substitute Tianna Hawkins scored nine.

Alysha Womack, a preseason all-Northeast Conference pick, scored 13 for Monmouth.

Monmouth coach Stephanie V. Gaitley is a former Villanova star who also coached at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia and at Richmond in a 25-year career that also included a head coaching slot at Long Island U.

When Gaitley’s former coach Harry Perretta has to play the University of Connecticut in Big East competition, his approach has been to “take your medicine and move on.”

Gaitley appears to have learned something from the veteran mentor as she lauded Maryland in the postgame press conference.

“Hats off the Maryland,” Gaitley said. “I thought they were a very talented team last year. The freshmen are a year older as we know as one of the best recruiting classes in the country.

“Once we settled down, we did some good things. But as St. Joe’s (men’s) coach Phil Martelli once used a phrase, `They have McDonald’s All-Americans and we eat at McDonald’s.’ There is a difference. Everyone one of their players would be the go-to player for us.

“They have something at every position,” Gaitley continued.

“They’re one of the biggest teams my teams have ever faced – and that’s in a 25-year career,” she added. “What makes Maryland so good is their size and athletic ability. I don’t see the ACC on a daily basis as they do but I can’t imagine teams being as big as they are and as athletic they are across the board.

“Their youth will hold them back a little bit because they’re young but come the end of the season they are going to be very solid.”

Frese was satisfied with her team’s first official performance of the season.

“Very solid first game,” Frese said. “Lot of things to work on but I was really encouraged, especially in the second half and the things we addressed in the locker room we improved on.

“We had a lot of depth and we played well together.”

The varsity media – that would be the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun – were not on the scene, not that they missed as much as both teams did from the field.

The Terrapins did have a huge 50-31 rebounding advantage.

Sophomore Dara Taylor out of Caravel Academy in Wilmington, Del.. – there are more products out of there than Elena Delle Donne -- was credited with providing a stabilizing influence off the bench when things began to stagnate for Maryland.

After two easy preseason wins and the lopsided opener, Maryland will step up a notch or two against the competition when the Terrains travel to the nearby Distric Tuesday night to play host Georgetown in the Hoyas’ bandbox McDonough Arena.

No. 13 Georgetown opened at home Saturday, beating Augusta St. 79-41 as Sugar Rodgers scored 13 points and equaled her career high with six steals.

It was Augusta State’s 24th straight loss dating back to last season.

“We’re excited,” Frese said. “We haven’t played Georgetown in a long time. First road game. The matchup that in-state rivalry. It’s going to be a tremendous environment. Our team is looking forward to it.”

Frese welcomes the increased opposition.

“You want to continue to learn where you’re team is at,” she said. “Tough nonconference schedule to get ready for ACC play.”

St. John’s Taken In Manhattan

In the only upset of the day in the Associated Press top 25 women’s ranking, No. 14 St. John’s would have been better off taking the short subway ride to Manhattan in the city instead of the flight to the Midwest where the Storm fell to unranked Kansas State 64-53 in the “other” Manhattan.

Mariah White scored a career high 17 points for the Wildcats and grabbed nine rebounds in the title game of the Wildcats Commerce Bank tournament.

Nadirah McKenith scored 24 points for St. John’s.

-- Mel


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