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, December 20, 2010

Guru's Musings: Notes Off UConn's Win - Other Items

By Mel Greenberg

Hello all.

The Guru’s coverage of UConn’s 88th win to tie the UCLA men’s record actually became another guest star appearance in print in The Inquirer so you can go to Philly.com to read it.

There will also be an advance for Tuesday’s game in Hartford and the Guru will be on the scene.

But here are a few notes and thoughts at the top here of the day’s and weekend’s events.

First, the crowd of 15,000 plus was the second-best women’s collegiate attendance in Madison Square Garden behind a Rutgers-Tennessee tilt several years ago. It was the top for the Maggie Dixon Classic since the event moved over from the first year at Army, where Dixon coached the Black Knights for a season and led them to the Patriot League title and NCAA tournament before her sudden death several weeks later due to heart disease.

The original record was about 12,000 back in the day when Immaculata and Queens played the first women’s game there in the early 1970s.

In later years the WNBA New York Liberty drew crowds of 17,000 or more when first launched in 1997 and going forward for several years. A few All-Star games in the WNBA held in the Garden also drew similar numbers, I think.

Former WNBA president Val Ackerman was in the house as was Renee Brown of the WNBA home office.

Seemed a bit strange in that this was the first event for women’s hoops in the house since former Liberty general manager Carol Blazejowski’s contract wasn’t renewed after she had been the franchise’s top executive the past 14 seasons since the Liberty launched.

John Whisenant, the new coach-GM who held similar positions with the former Sacramento Monarchs was interviewed on the in-house video screen during a timeout. A bit earlier the Guru had internally mused that he thought the MSG handlers might have had him visit the media room to hobnob, especially since several UConn beat writers cover the WNBA Connecticut Sun in the summer.

Because of the magnitude of the UConn attack on the streak, other things that would normally be highlights of the day were relegated to second fiddle.

Of course, Rutgers reduced itself to a paragraph except by the Scarlet Knights beat writers by succumbing quickly in a rout by Texas A&M.

Tennessee’s first bit of any notice was a wire story out of Knoxville going into the weekend in which the headline indicated Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt was questioning the heart of her team.

Of course, Tennessee righted itself a bit beating Stanford in overtime, but picked the wrong day to do it. As for the Cardinal, that’s two straight losses, again stopping Tara VanDerveer from getting her 800th victory which Bentley’s Barb Stevens achieved Sunday.

Two straight Stanford losses will now leave some suspense over what kind of threat the Cardinal will be to UConn when the Huskies visit The Farm on Dec. 30.

Right now if one wants to look ahead to the Temple regional, it appears the only way UConn would have problems being placed in that part of the NCAA bracket on the top row would be a sudden collapse or a loss to Duke that might put the Blue Devils ahead of the Huskies and then getting an edge on near geography.

However, Duke could win the game but run into trouble in the ACC and not jump over UConn if they were on the same seed line.

The Local Mix

Temple’s win over Villanova appears to set up a future Big Five showdown between the Owls and St. Joseph’s next to the final overall game of the regular season.

Both teams are likely to be 3-0 and are the only two unbeatens left in the city with Temple 1-0 and St. Joseph’s 2-0. La Salle is 0-1 and Villanova is 1-2 with Penn left on the Wildcats’ schedule.

St. Joseph’s got a nice double overtime win at home against Princeton, the defending Ivy champions who have never beaten the Hawks in nine tries.

When the Tigers defeated Drexel Friday night despite an early loss of Niveen Rasheed to foul trouble, coach Courtney Banghart had said it was nice to win a close one for a change. That lasted just two days.

St. Joseph’s has another test Wednesday at 6 p.m. playing Delaware which, besides having Elena Delle Donne, also has Sarah Acker, the former Hawks rookie who became eligible several weeks ago. She had been the Big Five rookie of the year.

Delle Donne had 25 Sunday at Penn State in her first game in two seasons against a superior opponent outside the Colonial Athletic Association. But the Blue Hens fell down the stretch after extending the Nittany Lions a long way.

The two schools had not met since 1991.

La Salle beat Rider to stay perfect in the series with the Broncs at 9-0, which is also the same number in reverse of their current record this season.

Drexel is at Penn State Tuesday night, which will be a good test for both teams before Drexel plays Texas A&M in the opener of San Diego State’s holiday tournament.

In another life, the Guru would venture out to Happy Valley but duty calls at UConn.

Be back with something in the next 24 hours.

-- Mel



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