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.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Guru Report: Temple Ruins Ohio In Athens

By Mel Greenberg

Athens, Greece is where tourists can view relics of the past, bringing home video footage of their travels abroad.
Athens, Georgia is where the Bulldogs of Georgia have loads of highlight film defending their court over the years under Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Andy Landers.

On Monday night Temple produced its own Athens video extravaganza, but the production was executed in the city that is home to the University of Ohio.

That’s where the Owls (5-4) achieved what teams with long-range purposes are expected to do against underdog opponents – dominant and take care of business.

Temple did exactly that with a lopsided 75-48 win over the Bobcats (2-5) of the Mid-American Conference to complete a two-game road sweep that began Saturday with a narrow but gritty win at Auburn.

Unlike the game against the Tigers, this one did not go to the last minute though the Owls did not begin to subdue the Bobcats until near the end of the first half and the differential never got lower than 15 after the break.

Junior transfer Shey Peddy celebrated her selection earlier in the day as the Big Five Women’s Player of the Week by scoring 16 points, the same total as junior Kristen McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Victoria Macauley scored a career-high 13 points off the bench.

Temple is becoming the new Villanova when it comes to nailing three pointers.

The Owls had 10 against Ohio U., of which Peddy had four in the Temple air attack. That’s the same minimum total they have made in four of nine games this season and they rank 13th in the NCAA in three-point field goal shooting percentage.

So beginning with last week’s narrow win over Rutgers in McGonigle Hall, Temple has built a three-game win streak as the Owls return home to prepare for Friday night’s non-conference battle in McGonigle against Hartford, which has been struggling but is one of the better programs in the America East.

The Hawks beat Temple in Connecticut last season and also pulled the upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament several seasons ago in Trenton.

The game has an interesting angle off the sidelines because Hartford is coached by former UConn star Jennifer Rizzotti, who was coached by Temple’s Tonya Cardoza in the mid-1990s during Cardoza’s 14-year stint as an assistant to Geno Auriemma.

The game is at 7 p.m.

Delle Donne On The Mend

Delaware sophomore star Elena Delle Donne checked in with the Guru briefly on Monday to discuss her return to action in the Blue Hens’ win at Navy Sunday in a game in which she scored 20 points.

She had removed herself six minutes into the win at La Salle in Philadelphia a week ago Sunday and remained on the sidelines when Delaware lost to defending Ivy League champion Wednesday.

Delaware coach Tina Martin said Delle Donne, the rookie and player of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, had been fatigued and Martin was hopeful that Delle Donne was not suffering from another attack of mononucleosis that caused the 6-foot-5 forward to miss 10 games as a senior at Ursuline Academy.

Despite her absence, she was still named the 2008 national high school player of the year. It now appears that Delle Donne had suffered a severe viral infection.

“I felt pretty good for the first game back after the virus hit me really hard,” Delle Donne said in a text message. “I definitely was winded since I hadn’t touched the court in a good week, but other than that I’m confident that I’m getting better and healthy.”

The Blue Hens (6-1), ranked 10th in last week’s Mid-Major women’s poll, are off until they make a key non-conference visit

Dec. 19 to Penn State where rookie Maggie Lucas of Narberth and Germantown Academy earned her third straight Big Ten freshman of the week Monday after averaging 19.0 points.

Delle Donne lost only a point off her average prior to the game with the Midships and remains the nation’s leading scorer in Division I averaging 26.2 points per game.

The nearest challenger also comes from the CAA but instead of the runnerup being Dawn Evans of James Madison, the No. 2 player on the list is junior Courtney Hurt of Virginia Commonwealth with a 25.8 average.

WNBA Commissioner Search

In the wake of Donna Orender’s resignation on Friday as president of the WNBA, effective Dec. 31, Hall of Famer and Phoenix General Manager Ann Meyers-Drysdale, the former UCLA All-American in the late 1970s, returned a call to chew the fat over a possible successor.

She immediately mentioned Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski, the former New York Liberty longtime general manager, off the all the points the Guru made in Saturday’s post below here as a potential candidate.

Meyers-Drysdale noted Blazejowski already lives in the area but the Guru wonders whether the WNBA would back off getting her on a short list for fear of offending the Knicks-Liberty operation at MSG, considering the nasty blindside executed after Blazejowski’s contract wasn’t renewed.

She doubted Lisa Leslie would be interested as a face of the league type candidate because of having young children though Meyers-Drysdale said with Leslie’s connections she might be able to tap into players and others from the NBA world to invest in the WNBA.

“Donna was successful doing that with her ties to the golf world,” she said. “Whoever gets it, though, has to have an understanding of the business operation.”

Meyers-Drysdale is the widow of Baseball Hall of Fame pitching great Don Drysdale, who starred with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Asked if she, herself, might pursue the job or would she at least answer if NBA Commissioner David Stern came knocking, Meyers-Drysdale quickly replied, “There’s one thing Don always taught me: `It doesn’t cost anything or hurt to listen to what someone has to say.’”

Meanwhile in an unrelated whispered rumor not connected to either team, don't be shocked, so to speak, to see the Connecticut Sun and Tulsa doing business prior to the next draft.

There may be nothing to it, but the Sun could have some value to exchange for Tulsa's No. 2 overall pick. Connecticut missed the playoffs and would normally have had the No. 4 overall pick off the lottery but what became that pick was traded away on draft day last season to the Minnesota Lynx for Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin.

Dreamers think of it this way: Tina Charles and Australian Liz Cambage on the same roster.

Geno’s Recruiting: That Was Then Maya's Now

Longwood women’s coach Kristin (Lamb) Caruso in Farmville, Va., was fired Monday after having been on suspension by the school for what has been characterized as a personnel matter. Men’s assistant coach Bill Reinson was named interim head coach.

If her name rings a bell of familiarity, Caruso played at UConn from 1986-1990 and was Geno Auriemma’s first recruit in his very first season, according to a listing on the UConn Legends page at the university website.

Caruso, who was an associate head coach to Hartford’s Jennifer Rizzotti, scored 1,244 points in 110 games with the Huskies where she then served as an assistant at her alma mater from 1990-93 and was on Auriemma’s staff when UConn made its first Women’s Final Four trip in 1991.

Caruso, who was in her fourth season at Longwood, was 34-60.

The Guru has no idea what went down in Virginia but found Lamb likeable over the years and she was quite humorous when he made a visit to UHart after Rizzotti got the job in 1999-2000.

Big East Rules AP Poll

Well, it’s week 599 in AP Poll history after Monday’s release and a bit of a shuffle not only has Connecticut maintaining its stranglehold on No. 1 but the Huskies’ Big East Conference is now dominating the rankings.

The exit of Nebraska after a one-week stay cost the Big 12 a slot while the entrance of DePaul gives the Big East six teams this week, one better than the Big 12. The Atlantic Coast Conference has four teams while the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference have three each.

The Big East group: UConn (1), West Virginia (9), which visits Villanova Thursday night; Georgetown (11th), Notre Dame (18th), St. John’s (20th), and DePaul (24th).

The entrance of the Blue Demons from Chicago enabled Doug Bruno to stay tied with Maryland’s Brenda Frese at 22nd with 107 appearances.

The exit of the SEC’s Vanderbilt cost Commodores’ coach Melanie Balcomb a chance to move up and tie Old Dominion’s Wendy Larry for 16th on the active list with 146 appearances.

Balcomb’s 145 also includes time spent at Xavier before the hire of Kevin McGuff, who had also been a candidate for the St. Joseph’s vacancy in the spring of 2001 when he was still an assistant at Notre Dame. California’s Joanne Boyle, then an assistant at Duke, was also in the pool for the Hawks’ job that went to former St. Joseph’s star Cindy Griffin.

The same season McGuff landed with the Musketeers while Boyle was hired at Richmond.

Speaking of Xavier, the defending champion and favorite in the Atlantic 10, depending on how one thinks of the conference identity, there are now two non-BCS conference schools in the rankings with the addition of Wisconsin-Green Bay for the first time this season out of the Horizon League.

Meanwhile, in other poll news off the Guru’s database, Michigan State made a major move jumping from 25th to 15th reminiscent of Rutgers’ jump of 10 spots in successive weeks several season seasons ago.

Michigan State, though, has experience riding the poll roller coaster. After finishing 21st in 2009, the Spartans began last season in 10th and then plunged after the first set of games to 21st.

Rutgers, which has been unranked all season, has a bunch of ACC schools looking to dislodge the Scarlet Knights from their spot in 10th with 329 appearances in the 35-year history of the AP Poll dating to the 1976-77 season.

North Carolina is 11th at 327, Maryland is 12th at 326 tied with ACC and unranked rival North Carolina State, unranked Virginia is 14th with 321 appearances, then the SEC’s Auburn (unranked) is 15th with 319, and Duke, ranked fifth for the second straight week, is 16th at 312 overall appearances.

Second-ranked Baylor made its 100th appearance in the Top 10, listed at 24th in one of the elite categories.

Oklahoma tied Southern Cal at 25th with 200 overall appearances.

UCLA’s move to 10th is the Bruins’ highest ranking since 10th on Jan. 24 in 2000. Georgetown’s 11th is the Hoyas’ highest listing ever.

As we approach week 600 Tennessee and Coach Pat Summitt head numerous categories having missed only 14 rankings.

Look for lots of good stuff next week off the poll trivia list but for now the database says a total of 148 teams have been ranked 13,964 times.

Meanwhile, the Guru can be found at The Palestra in town Tuesday night for host Penn’s Big Five battle with St. Joseph’s. He is considering a local visit to Division III Wednesday when Ursinsus and Haverford meet.

Thursday is to be decided. No. 11 Georgetown visits Rutgers while No. 9 West Virginia visits the scoreless wonders at Villanova.
Hartford, as noted, is here Friday at Temple. A short road trip Saturday is under consideration for Easton, Pa., where La Salle will meet Lafayette, whose new coach Dianne Nolan has been a past head coach at Fairfield and is from across the river in Gloucester, N.J.

The Guru leaves Sunday’s visit for discussion later this week. The next post besides having the Penn-St. Joseph’s game, the only local action Tuesday, will update this week’s NCAA stats for significant items.

-- Mel

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