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, December 05, 2010

Temple: Close Again With More Cigars

By Mel Greenberg

Turning 60 is becoming a magical number for the Temple women’s basketball team.

The Owls reached the number for the second straight game and surpassed it just enough to clip host Auburn 62-61 Saturday afternoon in Alabama.

It is Temple’s second straight narrow victory having edged Rutgers 60-58 Wednesday night in McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia.
Suddenly the Owls have some traction getting to .500 with a 4-4 record.

The run actually began with a competitive effort a week ago at No. 13 UCLA in California.

“We were trailing and then made some big stops and held them defensively in the final minutes,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said afterwards by phone as the team headed back to Atlanta for dinner and await a morning flight to Ohio for Monday night’s game against Ohio U.

“Now we have to finish this trip off and hopefully we’ll then be back doing what we expected,” Cardoza said.

Junior transfer Shey Peddy produced another solid contribution with 17 points and nine rebounds. Kristen McCarthy and Qwedia Wallace each scored 15 points.

Alli Smalley scored a game-high 22 points for the Tigers (3-5) on a day the football team beat South Carolina for the Southeastern Conference title and a place in the BCS title game against Oregon in January.

Smalley had three 3-pointers to set an Auburn career record with 185.

But the most important trey of the day came from Temple’s Brittany Lewis. Her shot from behind the arc with just over a minute remaining produced the final score as the Owls made a defensive stand the rest of the way.

Drexel Streak Stopped By Virginia

The bad news for the Drexel Dragons was their best ever 5-0 start was ended in Charlottesville, Va., by the host Cavaliers 63-54.

The good news is Drexel forged a second-half rally to avoid a blowout that lay ahead with a 19-point deficit.

Kamile Nacickaite had 24 points and continued her torrid three-point shooting hitting 6-of-8 attempts. Jasmina Rosseel had all 11 of her points in the second half, while Hollie Mershon came off the bench to score 10 points.

Chelsea Shine had 17 points for Virginia (4-4), including 14 in the first half as the Cavaliers of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference recovered from Thursday night’s loss at No. 6 Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Conference series of challenges that were held at seven sites.

Drexel now takes a week off before hosting Seton Hall on Sunday when new Pirates coach Anne Donovan makes her first Philadelphia appearance since guiding the former Rage in the bankruptcy-shortened third season of the now defunct American Basketball League.

Child Prodigy Helps St. Joe Snap Losing Streak

Freshman Erin Shields, a graduate of Archbishop Carroll whose mother Renie played for the Hawks, hit a shot at the buzzer to force overtime and St. Joseph’s took it from there for a 77-70 victory over Detroit in the Big Easy Classic at Tulane University in New Orleans.

The elder Shields is now a compliance officer at her alma mater.

The Hawks (4-3) had struggled from the field in two of the three straight losses at Drexel and Lehigh. They improved somewhat in Friday’s 67-58 loss to host Tulane on Friday.

Michelle Baker had a career-high 21 points for St. Joseph’s, while Ilze Gotfrida scored 12 points and Shields scored 11.

Jalesa Jones had 21 points for the Detroit Titans (3-3).

St. Joseph’s will return to Philadelphia but will be away from Hagan Arena for the seventh straight game Tuesday when the Hawks visit Penn at The Palestra for their first Big Five game of the season.

Next Sunday they will finally return to their gym, hosting Villanova in another Big Five game.

Speaking of the Shields family, it was noted to the Guru in an email that Erin’s older sister Kerri Shields had 18 points for Boston College, keeping the Eagles alive for the high-scoring overtime win Thursday night over Penn State.

Penn Shot Down At Army

The Quakers (2-4) fell behind 12 points early as the Black Knights (3-5) prevailed 53-44 at West Point Military Academy in New York.

Army’s Erin Anthony had 21 points and 14 rebounds while Penn freshman Alyssa Baron had 13 points and Jerin Smith had 10.

The Quakers apparently engaged the Black Knights with blank bullets, shooting 26 percent from the field, though Army’s 37 percent would certainly not be enough Wednesday to win the war at high-scoring Penn State.

Sunday’s Focus: Delle Donne and UConn

Gotcha.

There is no connection between either at this point in time but if the headline causes an increase in traffic this way off search engines, go for it.

UConn will be going for consecutive win number 86 when Sacred Heart visits, though the Guru would like to dispense with formality and write the expected that the top-ranked Huskies will be getting the triumph and move to within two of tying the UCLA men’s mark of 88 set in the legendary John Wooden era.

Meanwhile, Maya Moore should quickly break Tina Charles’ career school scoring record, making even further moot in time the same achievement back when Nykesha Sales had suffered a torn Achilles tendon two points short and Villanova and the Huskies conspired to let her limp on the court on the Main Line and get the mark that had been held by Kerry Bascomb.

The timing is great, however, for the UConn fans to quit paying attention early after Moore’s mark is official and until the final score is certified while they continue to talk about Saturday night’s football win over South Florida and the Big East title for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

Meanwhile, Army-Navy gets mentioned close together in terms on the annual football classic, which many times has been held in Philadelphia.

Both are being mentioned here but a little further apart.

Navy earns a mention because on Sunday the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Md., will be hosting Delaware, which will be trying to recover from Wednesday’s handling by defending Ivy champion Princeton.

As of Saturday night, the Guru had not received nor seen any report on whether Blue Hens sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne will return to action.

A week ago she removed herself six minutes into Sunday’s win at La Salle in Philadelphia and afterwards coach Tina Martin said Delle Donne had been suffering from fatigue.

She did not play in the Princeton game, though was on the bench dressed in street clothes. Delle Donne is listed as day-to-day until the cause of her condition is diagnosed.

Starter Jocelyn Bailey was expected to return after missing Wednesday’s game because of a concussion suffered at La Salle.

The same Explorers will be hosting Tulsa, while Rutgers, which lost at Temple, will be looking to rebound in more ways than one against visiting Central Connecticut.

In the loss to Temple not one Rutgers player got an offensive rebound, a stat that left Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer both speechless but with plenty to say if you can catch the drift of the reaction when the statistics sheet was delivered.

Penn State will be looking to get back into the win column hosting Texas Tech after suffering the loss at Boston College Thursday night.

In some other games of note Sunday, No. 4 Xavier will be making the arduous road trip three miles down the interstate for an nonconference game at host Cincinnati, coached by former UConn assistant Jamelle Elliott, whose Bearcats are 5-1.

Elsewhere in the Buckeye State, those No. 6 Buckeyes, scheduled as opponent No. 88 in the UConn win streak, will be hosting No. 11 Oklahoma.

It is not known whether Sooners coach Sherri Coale will be offering any scouting tips to Ohio State’s Jim Foster about dealing with UConn in a few weeks.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve will be in the house to check out Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender, one of several post players from Ohio that may be available with the No. 4 overall pick after Reeve takes UConn’s Moore No. 1 overall. The other two, of course, are Xavier’s Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips.

In Memorian: Phil Jasner

And to get serious from the previous levity for a moment, the Guru, who made a similar mention on his twitter account Friday night, joins the many paying homage to Philadelphia Daily News NBA writing legend Phil Jasner, who passed away Friday night after having battled cancer.

Jasner was a contemporary of the Guru and the Guru now shares writing friendships with his son Andy, who provides local coverage to the Associated Press.

The Guru recently saw both of them early last month when Phil was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame – Jasner’s fifth such honor including the Naismith Curt Gowdy Media Award for print at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Andy did the introduction.

Though covering different genders in the world of hoops, Phil would often pass along notes to the Guru poignant in nature.

Many times Philadelphians coaching elsewhere such as Oho State’s Foster or UConn’s Auriemma would ask the Guru about Phil, especially concerning his recent battle.

He will be missed and Philadelphia sports coverage will seem somewhat dimmed, though students he helped mentor along the way exist to carry Phil’s legacy.

-- Mel

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