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

WNBA: A (Younger) Thibault Sprouts At Monmouth

(Guru’s note: Game story is below in a previous post in a special 2-for-1 from your Guru).

By Mel Greenberg

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –
When WNBA Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault arrived with his wife Nanci at the Comcast Center late Saturday afternoon for No. 21 Maryland’s season opener with Monmouth it initially seemed an odd matchup.

Was Thibault, the coach with no first round picks next April, here to evaluate the Terrapins, who have no seniors?

Considering his son Eric is an assistant at St. John’s, which will be here next month in Maryland’s tournament, perhaps there was a little cheat scouting going on under the covers.

Nope, not that either.

“We’re here strictly as parents,” Thibault smiled while sporting a Monmouth sweatshirt.

Daughter Carly is a sophomore with the Hawks, who are coached by former Villanova star Stephanie V. Gaitley, who also coached the St. Joseph’s Hawks in Philadelphia in the 1990s.

In the summer Carly Thibault gets an up close and personal view of the entire WNBA as a staff helper with her father’s team.

On Saturday as the first one off the bench, she couldn’t do much to help the cause in the Terrapins’ 73-40 wipeout that some would consider an act of compassion.

Of course last season UConn coach Geno Auriemma demonstrated compassion also on his former assistant Tonya Cardoza when the Huskies eliminated her Temple team 90-36 in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Va., on the way to a second straight unbeaten championship.

Carly Thibault, who is the one of the top three-;point shooters on the Hawks, had three rebounds, was 0-for-1 from the field, dealt an assist and committed a turnover in 10 minutes of playing time. Maryland put the game away quickly bolting from a 2-2 tie on a 22-0 run.

However, Gaitley had nothing but praise about Thibault’s daughter when asked during the postgame press conference.

“ Someone like Carly this is a tough game for her because she doesn’t have great speed, but she’s smart,” Gaitley said. “Size-wise, she had trouble getting her shot off. But once we get into our competition (Northeast Conference), I think Carly will do great.

“She’s a pleasure to have, she’s a coach’s kid,” Gaitley explained. “One of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached. It’s hard to judge herself based on this game because it is so different than the majority of the teams we’re going to play.

“I would say out of our 29 game schedule, I’m going to say over 20 of them are 50-50 games. With the exception of the Marylands and Marquettes, which are play up games, I think once our kids settle down they’ll be fine.

“This game is going to do nothing but help us and hopefully Maryland gained their confidence too.”

There are some whispers that Monmouth was paid well for its appearance as the sparring partner for the Terrapins before Maryland’s next game – a short trip to Georgetown Tuesday night in the District to meet the Hoyas in bandbox-sized McDonough Arena.

Among the crowd that again included former Maryland stars Marissa Coleman of the WNBA Washington Mystics and Laura Harper of Cheltenham High in the Philadelphia suburbs who played for the former WNBA Sacramento Monarchs, was UMBC assistant coach Abby Gordon.

A former UConn manager as an undergraduate, Gordon had been equipment manager of the Sun before her hire with UMBC for this season.

-- Mel

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