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, January 30, 2011

Guru's Musings: AP Poll Thoughts, CAA Scramble, NCAA Bracket

By Mel Greenberg

Quick thoughts while killing time before heading up on post-midnight ride to Yukon, er, UConn territory for the Duke showdown.

Looks like several showdowns are ahead for the Huskies on this stretch.

Incidentally, it seems there could be as many as three vacancies in the AP voters minds as of this writing – caused by Georgia, Ohio State and possibly Georgia Tech depending on value of an overtime loss to Miami – in casting their ballots this week.

Therefore, glancing at conference standings, RPIs, and other stats, some worthy candidates might be:

Marquette – If you can make it in the Big East you can make it anywhere.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions are in a two-way tie with Wisconsin for the Big 10 lead after beating Ohio State at home, but maybe a brief waiting period should be injected this week until coach Coquese Washington’s squad completes a road swing to Michigan State and Iowa.

Duquesne – The Dukes have been knocking on the door but perhaps an answer on the worthiness of themselves or Temple will be answered Saturday when the Owls play Suzie McConnell-Serio’s squad in Pittsburgh.

Blue Demons Moving Up?

The lopsided win by DePaul over West Virginia Sunday in Chicago could propel the Blue Demons into the top 10 for only the second time in their history of AP appearances.

Coach Doug Bruno’s team was ranked 12th prior to Sunday night’s vote. But with Michigan State’s 66-64 narrow loss to Iowa and West Virginia losing twice, the leverage is there to vault into the high rent district for the first time since a 10th place approval in mid-January of 2006.

Colonial Athletic Association Intrigue

That is looking like some kind of tournament the Colonial Athletic Association will be holding in mid-March in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the Showplace Arena that hosted the Atlantic 10 women a year ago.

The three front-runners Old Dominion, James Madison, and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s UNC Wilmington squad stayed locked in first place with victories while Virginia Commonwealth remained a game behind by beating Drexel 69-65 at home in Richmond Sunday.

The loss by the Dragons (12-8, 4-5 CAA) and Delaware’s 81-68 loss at Hofstra together with George Mason’s win over Northeastern has created a four-way tie for fifth among Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra and George Mason.

The quartet is three games behind the four frontrunners but there’s an indication that quarterfinal play could be the wildest ever with a slew of upsets potentially happening.

The win by VCU (12-7, 7-2) was the first over the Dragons in three seasons as Courtney Hurt had 23 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

The Rams dominated the Dragons in the paint 38-14 on the scoreboard.

Jasmina Rosseel had 17 points for Drexel in hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers.

Drexel next hosts Towson Thursday.

Hofstra (12-8, 4-5), meanwhile, at home in the Mack Sports Complex, proved to be better against Delaware (11-9, 4-5) when Blue Hens’ sophomore scoring sensation Elena Delle Donne plays than when she is sidelined.

The Pride blew a 16-point lead earlier this month in Newark, Del., when Delle Donne was suffering from what was eventually diagnosed as lyme disease.

On Sunday when the 2008 national high school player of the year returned to action for the Blue Hens for the first time since a Dec. 19 loss at Penn State, Hofstra grabbed an 81-68 win as Shante Evans, a West Chester Henderson High graduate, scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Delle Donne, who returned to practice on Tuesday, entered off the bench early in the game and finished with 28 points, including a 9-for-9 effort on the foul line.

She now has 984 points in 37 games in her career and could reach 1,000 Thursday becoming the player to reach the milestone fastest in the history of CAA women’s competition.

The Blue Hens will host Northeastern and then play Drexel Sunday.

Decisions Decisions

Now that Baylor has beaten Texas A&M in the first of their two meetings in the Big 12 regular season, the bracketing configuration for the NCAA tournament could be messy in terms of near geography placement and keeping conference teams from playing each other until at least the regional finals round.

The Aggies could land in Philadelphia at Temple as a No. 2 seed but let’s hold all that until later as the Guru heads for the driver’s seat to head to UConn where the No. 2 Huskies will host No. 3 Duke in a game that also could have a great bearing on which team will be the top seed in the Philadelphia bracket.

-- Mel

Guru Report: Temple's Treys Keep Owls in First Place Tie

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru covered two in town, which explains the double dateline.

Until Saturday afternoon it was easy to believe how Temple coach Tonya Cardoza looked to UConn’s Geno Auriemma, her boss for 14 seasons with the Huskies, for mentoring her into running her own program.

However, judging by the Owls’ heady 84-56 Atlantic 10 victory over visiting Richmond at McGonigle Hall, when it comes to tactical execution she may have been using Villanova’s Harry Perretta as her secret role model.

What other way is there to describe Temple’s blitzkrieg of the Spiders (13-8, 40-3 A-10) in which the Owls (15-6, 6-0) set a program record with 14 three-pointers, connecting on 14-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc for 60.9 percent.

That’s very Villanova-esque indeed though not necessarily on the mark this season due to the Wildcats’ woes on offense.

“I thought this was probably one of the better games we played in a long time,” Cardoza said her after team won its eighth straight and stayed atop the Atlantic 10 standings with No. 7 Xavier as the only two teams still unbeaten in conference competition.

The Musketeers (17-2, 6-0), whose only losses have been a narrow one at No. 3 Duke and a blowout at No. 4 Stanford, kept pace with the Owls by defeating visiting Rhode Island 67-45 in Cincinnati as Ta’Shia Phillips had 12 points and 15 rebounds while teammate Amber Harris scored 16 at the Cintas Center to keep the Rams winless (6-14, 0-6) in conference play.

“I thought we did a good job of playing 40 minutes of good basketball and defensively, we really got at it, and tried to limit as many touches as possible on their past players,” Cardoza added.

“Abby Oliver, she’s really one of their best players – the fact she only had four shot attempts was a credit to our guys sticking with the game plan.

“I thought we really had a balanced attack and we were making shots and when we make shots like that and playing defense that is fun to watch.”

Kristen McCarthy had a season-high 25 points for Temple, which shot 52.7 percent from the field for the game. She also was 5-for-5 to lead the Owls’ long-range hit period in shooting treys.

Shey Peddy and BJ Williams each scored 12 points while Marli Bennett, who shot 3-of-4 on trey attempts, scored 11.

Peddy also had nine assists and quipped, “I wish someone would have told me so I could have tried to get a double double.”

Danielle Brinkley, a senior from the nation’s capital, came off the bench out of hiding with a career-high six points in the final seven minutes and in making her 2-of-3 effort on treys, one of them tied the Temple record set last year against Xavier and the other broke the mark.

Brinkley also had a chance at making a four-point play but missed the foul shot after connecting on one of the treys and that was the only Temple miscue in a 12-of-13 effort from the line.

“If she makes it we shoot 100 percent on the line,” Cardoza laughed after promising not to nit pick anything done in the game by her players.

Crystal Goring had 12 points for the Spiders while Brittani Shells and Genevieve Okoro each scored 10.

Temple next hosts St. Louis at noon on Wednesday to celebrate its annual Education Day promotion for school kids in a game requiring adults to wear ear plugs at the Liacouras Center if they are bothered by the screaming and yelling of young voices cheering in support of the Owls.

La Salle A-10 Tournament Bound?

It’s been several years since the Explorers have played in the conference tournament but despite the team’s struggles under first-year coach Jeff Williams they could be on their way to becoming part of the 12-team field after beating George Washington 73-64 at their Tom Gola Arena Saturday night.

The win moved the Explorers (6-15, 2-4) into an eighth-place tie with Fordham (10-12, 2-4) a half-game ahead of St. Joseph’s (12-9, 2-5), which lost at Dayton 79-68, and Massachusetts (6-16, 2-5).

La Salle also kept George Washington (5-15, 0-6) winless in conference play and holds a two-game lead over the bottom two teams, which at the end of the regular season, whoever lands there, do not qualify for the A-10 tournament, which will be held in March at a neutral site at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.

A year ago the Explorers lost a coin-flip to Fordham to be eliminated.

“I am pleased with the team effort and can’t ask for more than that,” Williams said in comments posted at the La Salle website.

Ashley Gale scored 26 points and her three-pointer with 2:30 left against the Colonials gave the Explorers a lead they held to the finish.

Overall Gale hit 5-for-9 on three-point attempts and her 184 career treys have made her tops at La Salle in that category ahead of the previous mark of 175 by Meghan Wilkinson (2001-05).

La Salle travels to Xavier on Tuesday.

St. Joseph’s held a 51-37 lead over the Flyers (14-7, 5-2) at the half before suffering a cold spell from the field the rest of the way.

Freshman Erin Shields had a career-high 22 points and hit 5-of-7 three pointers for the Hawks. Ilze Gotfrida had 16 points and Ashley Prim scored 13.

Dayton’s Justine Raterman, Elle Queen and Kristin Daugherty each scored 15 points while Raterman also grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Hawks next travel to Rhode Island Saturday in a must-win game to stay comfortably ahead of the two elimination spots in the conference involving the A-10 tournament.

Elsewhere in the conference Duquesne (18-3, 5-1) stayed in third a game behind the leaders by beating Fordham 87-65 at home in Pittsburgh as Kelly Britcher scored 16 points to lead six teammates scoring in double figures.

Fordham fell to 10-12 overall in being caught by La Salle in the eighth-place conference tie at 2-4.

St. Bonaventure (15-7, 5-2) stayed in the hunt for one of four first-round conference tournament byes with a 62-51 win over visiting Massachusetts as Megan Van Tatenhove had 20 points and tied her career highs in rebounds (13), and steals (six) and set her career game mark with three blocked shots.

Penn and Princeton Gain Ivy Wins

The Quakers (7-10, 1-2), who won just once in Ivy play last season, which occurred in their next-to-final game at Dartmouth, gained a split on their weekend New England trip by beating host Brown 52-32 in Providence, R.I., as they reached seven wins before February for the first time in six seasons.

The Bears fell to 4-14, and stayed winless in the league at 0-4.

“We talked about the fact that we didn’t win a league game until near the end,” said second-year coach Mike McLaughlin from the team bus.

“It was a great effort. We’re back on the road against next week – our first five games are on the road in the league – playing at Dartmouth and Harvard.

“Now we have to just keep building.”

Penn forced Brown into 23 turnovers and limited the Bears to a 27.1 percentage from the field.

The Quakers’ Alyssa Baron had 13 points and Briana Bradford scored 12.

The Bears’ Sheila Dixon scored 13 points.

Princeton (14-3), which swept the Ivies last season, is off to a 3-0 start after a weekend New England sweep that concluded Saturday night with a 52-37 win at Yale (7-11, 3-1) after trailing the Eli at the half 22-20.

Addie Micir scored 18 points for the Tigers and Lauren Edwards had 17 points, including 15 in the second half for the Tigers.

“We were totally out of rhythm in the first half,” said Princeton coach Courtney Banghart in remarks from after the game posted on the Tigers’ website.

“We knew defense was going to have to be our anchor until we settled into our looks … It was a hard fought battle and we’re thrilled to come out of it with a win.”

Princeton, as Penn’s traveling partner in the Ivies, stays on the road visiting Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend.

Notre Dame Keeps Villanova Winless In The Big East

Villanova coach Harry Perretta wants to win as much as anybody but with a Willdcats squad loaded with youth – four sophomores start – he’ll take the moral victories, which is what he thought his squad attained in a 58-43 Big East loss to No. 9 Notre Dame Saturday night at the Pavilion.

“It was maybe the best game we’ve played all year,” Perretta noted of the Wildcats (8-12, 0-7 Big East) being able to hold the Irish (18-4, 7-1) almost 25 points below their scoring average of 82.9 points per game.

Villanova stayed close early in the game but when Laura Sweeney went to the bench with two quick fouls, the Irish capitalized on a 17-7 run to gain the upper hand.

The Wildcats drew 2,327 but the crowd included two busloads from Baltimore to cheer Notre Dame guard Brittany Mallory.

Irish veteran coach Muffet McGraw, who will be inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June in Knoxville, Tenn., is a St. Joseph’s graduate and Big Five Hall of Famer so the visit here always has a spice of homecoming atmosphere.

Sweeney scored 14 points for Villanova while Devereaux Peters paced Notre Dame with 20 points to head a group that included Becca Bruszewski (10 pts., 10 rebs.), Skylar Diggins (13 pts.) and Natalie Novosel (11 pts.).

McGraw thought stopping Villanova’s prowess for shooting three pointers helped counter the Wildcats’ ability to take time off the clock with Perretta’s ability to slow tempo to a crawl on his team’s possessions.

“For them to go 2-for-16 from the three-point line was key,” she said. “That was our keys to the game – guard the three point line and we were trying to go inside offensively and I thought we did those things pretty well.”

McGraw said she wasn’t ready to substitute much because of Villanova’s pace, a trait echoing many coaches who have to deal with the Wildcats’ strategy.

Perretta talked about coping with the competition loaded with ranked teams in the Big East.

“We are just a very young team and we’re trying to find our way and it’s difficult,” said Perretta, who is six wins from reaching his 600th career triumph. “We have very inconsistent spurts on offense.

“We’re also inconsistent executing but I thought today we executed I would say at a “B” level as to where we were before. But they’re just so skilled offensively that if you make a mistake (Notre Dame) just scores the ball.

“It’s almost that we have to do everything perfect and then make the shot. They don’t have to do everything as perfect because their players are a little more experienced and a little more talented so they can bail themselves out of trouble sometimes.

“If they make a mistake they can bail themselves out of trouble by making a skill shot,” Perretta added.

“But that’s the way it goes in the Big East – Life in the Big East.

“This year it’s a rebuilding year for us and it’s a teaching year for me. So I’m saying to myself, `Please can we not lose by 35.’

“But I know what we are this year. So I spend time during the game just trying to teach. I’m concerned about the scoreboard, don’t get me wrong, and I want to win the game. But I’m more concerned about just trying to teach them and make them a little better.

“For us this year – coaches get in trouble when they say this – it’s not about winning and losing this year. No matter what we do it’s going to be difficult to win this year.

“But if I can teach them, then maybe we can win next year and the year after.

“Was it five years ago we were 8-21. That same team, if you remember, finished fourth in the league two years later and went to the NCAA tournament.

“As a coach, do I want us to be good all the time? Yeah. But when you’re not good, you just have to take the other approach.

“Dry spells are part of youth. That’s what young teams do and you just have to get yourself through it.

“We’re a lot better than earlier this year. Today my kids weren’t nervous. But when we played Providence you would have thought we were playing for the national championship because my kids are in a game now and they think, `Oh my God, I think we can win this.’

“It’s when you think you can win you get nervous. In this league it’s tough to get it when you’re playing (ranked teams) 7, 11, 14, 23, 18.

“We’ve played seven in the league. We’ve already played UConn, Notre Dame, DePaul, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Georgetown. That’s six of our seven games.

“Sometimes you don’t see improvement because our opponents are so superior. But obviously we were better today because we were in the game.

“Will we get it this year? I don’t know. But all I can do is teach them, I can’t do anything else for them.”

Villanova travels Tuesday night to Marquette, another Big East school contending for an NCAA tournament bid after 74-70 overtime win at Pittsburgh improved them to 17-4 and 5-3 in the conference to stay in a three-way tie for fifth with No. 19 Georgetown and Louisville a half-game behind No. eight West Virginia.

Meanwhile Rutgers lost at Louisville 56-45 to drop to 12-8 overall and 5-2 in the league as April Sykes scored 20 points.

If one were to dissect the Scarlet Knights’ mark against real teams in terms of what Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer would call true tests then Rutgers is 2-8.

She probably didn’t think of Princeton, which could be a third win considering he Tigers’ worth but that win occurred right before the end of the game.

Syracuse had been ranked but although the Scarlet Knights beat the Orange, they could be removed as a true test. That leaves the win at home over Georgetown with many more tests to come.

-- Mel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guru Report: Maryland Routs Wake Forest With Two-Way Threat

By Mel Greenberg

– There was a lot to like about 14th-ranked Maryland’s play Friday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference 75-44 victory over Wake Forest at the Terrapins’ Comcast Center.

The way Maryland (17-3, 4-2 ACC) executed its offense and defense didn’t leave much in the way of prayers for the Demon Deacons (10-12, 1-5).

Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said afterwards one phase begat the other for her squad, which did not let down after tarring the heels of North Carolina 88-65 at home Sunday.

“I really like where we were defensively tonight,” Frese said. “I thought we just a did a tremendous job in our man – I thought we were really aggressive and then I thought our defense led to our offense, our transition game, how our offense really getting out and running the floor.

“You can see how we’re moving out and shooting the ball with confidence. You can start to see that some really good things are coming together for this team.”

The offensive side was highlighted by a 17-0 run at the end of the first half to put the game away and it was triggered by junior guard Kim Rodgers, who nailed three straight three-pointers following Tianna Hawkins starting the run with a layup.

“I really felt that stretch was our depth,” Frese said of the key to the run. “We were wearing them out. There was one stretch where we went about seven minutes before a timeout and I thought the kind of shape we’re in and the depth that we play with and how hard we play on the floor, I thought was absolutely the difference.”

Late in the second half Maryland spent nearly two minutes in women’s basketball’s version of icing the puck. Though the Terrapins did not get a score out of the effort, they showed their prowess on the boards with five straight offensive rebounds off a series of five missed three pointers.

Thomas had another stellar performance getting her fifth double double in six games with a game high 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen’s good natured demeanor afterwards almost made him sound like he was holding a wake for Wake.

“I can entertain. I have a five-minute monologue ready to go if that’s what you want,” Petersen said and also praised the night’s work by Thomas.

“She’s really long, really athletic, and just makes plays in transition and she makes plays that don’t need a play,” he said. “She gets loose balls, she runs and finishes on the break, she gets her hands on a lot of balls.

“You (Maryland) don’t have to set a screen to get her a mismatch. Who are you going to guard her with? You have to put your five on (Lynetta) Kizer, probably going to put your three on (Diana) Tchatchouang, put your four on Hawkins, are you really going to put your two on Alyssa Thomas?

“It’s a problem (for opposing teams). You set a screen and all of a sudden you have a mismatch and she’s very good at taking advantage of it. She’s a very talented player who is playing very hard and very well.”

Rodgers’ shooting, not to be confused with TV cowboy Roy Rogers, netted her 17 points off the bench, while Hawkins had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Thatchouang had 10 points.

Wake Forest’s Sandra Garcia scored 14 points and Patrice Johnson scored 10.

The Terrapins dominated the boards with a 54-35 advantage, including 22-12 on the offensive glass.

“The one late when they got five straight offensive rebounds distorts the stats a little bit,” Petersen said, “but they got the ball back whenever they needed it back during the course of the game. They shoot a lot of free throws for a reason because they go chase down a lot of loose balls and rebounds and they’re strong and they finish. And we fouled them and they shot free throws.”

Frese noted the Terrapins, who have no seniors, have progressed a long way in the past month.

“Absolutely we’re now a million times better than the beginning of the season because we’re now played so many games together and practices and you can see the chemistry on the floor and the unselfishness that we’re playing with.

“I really believe this team just doesn’t understand yet how good we can be and we’re just tapping it right now. As you can see our depth, when you talk about Kim and Tianna and Laurin Mincy, and Alicia DeVaughn and as they’re putting games together they’re making us a dangerous team.

“I wouldn’t know how you would scout us when they’re playing consistent and that’s what we have to have to make a deep run. (in the postseason).”

In another ACC game played, No. 15 North Carolina shook off its loss to Maryland and sidelining injuries to Jessica Breland (knee surgery) and Chay Shegog (concussion) to down Virginia 64-52 at home in Chapel Hill.

She’la White topped four teammates in double figures with 14 points for the Tar Heels (18-3, 4-2), who outrebounded the Cavaliers 52-34.

Paulisha Kellum had 15 points for Virginia (12-10, 1-5), which needs to get untrack quickly in conference play to stay in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid if the Cavaliers don’t win the conference tournament and automatic bid.

During halftime Cheltenham High's Laura Harper, a member of the 2006 NCAA championship team at Maryland, announced a $5,000 check to the Team Tyler Foundation created by members of the champion Terrapins such as Willingboro's Crystal Langhorne on behalf of one of Frese's twin boys Tyler who was diagnosed with leukemia in late December.

Childhood leukemia awareness night was held by the university in association with Friday's game.

Princeton Wins Penn Loses

Only 12 games were played in Division I Friday night and most were either in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference or the Ivy League.

Two were in the ACC, which are already addressed.

Penn, which had been playing better in recent weeks, opened Ivy weekend action on the road and lost at Yale 53-44 in New Haven, Conn.

Alyssa Baron had 12 of her game-high 16 points for the Quakers (6-10, 0-2 Ivy) in the second half.

Yale (7-10, 3-0) nailed eight three-pointers to stay unbeaten in the league.

Penn finishes the weekend trip in Providence, R.I., Saturday night visiting Brown (4-12, 0-2), which lost to defending league champion Princeton 70-48.

The Tigers (13-3, 2-0), who went unbeaten in the Ivies last season, got 18 points from Addie Micir and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Devona Allgood.

Princeton had been idle for 24 days during final exam period and the semester break after beating Penn in the league opener.

The Tigers travel to Yale Saturday night.

Looking Ahead

Richmond is at Temple in McGonigle Hall at 2 p.m. Saturday in a key Atlantic Ten game in which the Owls will take the floor as one of only two conference teams along with No. 7 Xavier unbeaten in league play.

George Washington will be at La Salle Saturday night in another A-10 game while St. Joseph’s will be at Dayton.

Notre Dame, which is back in the Top 10, will visit Villanova in a Big East game at 7 p.m.

Rutgers will try to shake off Wednesday’s loss to No. 2 Connecticut when the Scarlet Knights visit Louisville.

Connecticut’s final tune up before Monday night’s nonconference showdown with No. 3 Duke in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion on campus will be at Cincinnati, coached for her second season by former UConn aide and star Jamelle Elliott.

Will be back in 24 to round it all up.

-- Mel

Friday, January 28, 2011

Drexel Dumb Plays Lead To Loss to JMU On Academic Night

By Mel Greenberg
On a night that Drexel honored over 200 scholar-athletes at halftime Thursday for academic success, Dragons women’s basketball coach Denise Dillon bemoaned some not so smart play by her squad, which fell 66-60 to James Madison, the defending Colonial Athletic Association champs who completed a sweep in the two-game series.

“I was disappointed with the way we played,” the former Villanova star said afterwards in the Daskalakis Athletic Center “I don’t think we came out with the intensity and sense of urgency you need against a team like James Madison.

“Just unsure of what we were doing. As well as we played Sunday, we played flat and you can’t do that against anyone,” Dillon continued. “We should have learned that lesson last week against William & Mary and George Mason.

“We have some young mentalities we should change over the last part of the season.”

Taylor Wootton had a career-high 18 points and also fouled out late in the game for Drexel (12-7, 4-4 CAA), while Kamile Nacickaite scored 16 points.

Jasmina Rosseel, who was sensational Sunday against Hofstra with 26 points in the second half, could only manage five off a 2-for-12 effort from the field.

Lauren Jimenez scored 19 points for the Dukes (14-6, 7-1), who maintained their pace with CAA tri-leaders Old Dominion and N.C.-Wilmington, which all won their games Thursday night.

Dawn Evans, the nation’s leading scorer with a 24.3 ppg mark through Monday’s NCAA statistical release, scored 18 points on a 6-for-16 effort from the field.

Officials from the NephCure Foundation headquartered in Philadelphia attended the game to cheer for Evans, who suffers from the kidney disease and is an ambassador for the group to combat the illness.

Former NBA star Alonzo Mourning also suffered from the disease.

The win moved JMU and the other two CAA leaders closer to a first-round bye for the CAA tournament that will be held in March in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the same neutral site the Atlantic Ten competed a year ago.

“We knew we had to come out and play well, that’s what we talked about all day long,” JMU coach Kenny Brooks said. “This senior group – this is the only building they hadn’t won in so we used that to challenge them and they did a great job responding and I’m very, very proud of them.

“We got picked No. 1 (to win the CAA) because they had to pick someone No. 1 but I think it’s wide open, which I said back on media day. But I also think we got a great shot but there’s a lot of good basketball teams out there.”

Drexel is still tied with Delaware (11-8, 4-4) which at home coughed up a rare loss to George Masaon, 51-49, in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

But the two are now three games behind the tri-leaders and one behind Virginia Commonwealth, who Drexel will visit in Richmond Sunday.

Blue Hens sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne was sidelined for the 12th time this season, but with her ailment now diagnosed as Lyme Disease, the scoring star is responding to treatment and is expected to see some action Sunday at Hofstra.

Delle Donne has 956 points in 36 games and has plenty of room to beat out Evans’ mark of 55 games as the CAA women’s player to be the fastest to score 1,000 points.

Evans, with 2,362 career points is nearing the CAA career record of 2,581 points set by Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean before she graduated after last season.

Trogele Triggers Penn State Win And Tie

Another Philly-area star has made good for Penn State (17-5, 6-2 Big Ten) in the Nittany Lions’ conference wars.

To date the talk has been freshman Maggie Lucas, a Narberth resident and Germantown Academy graduate, who has already broken former all-American Kelly Mazzante’s freshman record for three-point shots made.

On Thursday night it was a senior from the high end of the roster in terms of age to be a heroine when Devon’s Julia Trogele hit a layup with 9.1 seconds remaining to grab a narrow 67-65 win over host Illinois (7-14, 2-6) in Champaign.

Penn State moved into a four-way tie for first place with Michigan, which upset Ohio State; Wisconsin, and No. 10 Michigan State, which fell to No. 18 Iowa.

The Nittany Lions matched their win total of a year ago as Trogele finished with 19 points, matching her career high, and 11 rebounds.

Nikki Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Penn State will host struggling Ohio State on Sunday.


After No. 2 Connecticut blasted off from the start of the second half to transform a close Big East war with Rutgers into a 63-44 rout, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma came into the media room of the Scarlet Knights’ Louis A. Brown Athletic Center Wednesday night and noticed that something was not quite the same.

“Not like the old days. Remember the old days? The place used to be packed. People used to ask me questions that pissed me off and get me in trouble and things like that,” he said with a wry smile.

“Now it’s a bunch of friendly faces.”

On the Connecticut side, most of the regulars braved the elements to head south and cover the game. But Rutgers’ side has been virtually re-vamped and downsized.

What was noticeable to the Guru, however, this was the first time in a long while and maybe ever that not one columnist was on hand from any of the publications that cover either Rutgers or UConn.

When South Carolina upset No. 20 Georgia Thursday night it was not the first time that Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley ambushed the Bulldogs’ Andy Landers, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer.

Staley has gotten him once before when the Bulldogs were ranked and she coached Temple.

Since the Guru could not get to his home, due to the nature of how plowing doesn't gets done in his neighborhood, he is camped out to write this blog at a favorite and cheap hotel spot halfway to College Park, Md., where he will be on hand for the late-start ACC tilt between the host Terrpains and Wake Forest.

-- Mel

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Delle Donne Heads Back To Active Duty At Delaware

(Guru's note: Click this Philly D2-3 Link to read Tuesday coverage at a future extension site of the Guru empire. Permanent links will soon be part of the melgreenberg.com site. Click Mel's blog on the left to read the Delaware official announcement also follow a link to Wilmington News Journal sportswriter Kevin Tresolini, who spoke with the primary Blue Hens folks earlier in the day while the Guru was here in Philly for the game referenced above.)

By Mel Greenberg

For all the private whispers that had been going on in the Division I women's basketball community wondering whether Delaware star sophomore Elena Delle Donne had lost interest again in the sport she excels, the answer arrived in the negative Tuesday afternoon when the school announced the 2008 national high school player of the year was about to return to practice with the Blue Hens.

Furthermore, Delle Donne, who was both the Colonial Athletic Association rookie and player of the year in 2009-10 after having bypassed a season, might see limited action Sunday afternoon when the Blue Hens travel to Hofstra on Long Island for a key CAA game.

Delaware is currently tied with Drexel for fifth place in the CAA, both schools trailing by two games a group of Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington and James Madison, who are in first. Virginia Commonwealth is in second.

Following fears of recurring mononucleosis, which Delle Donne contracted her senior year at nearby Wilmington's Ursuline Academy, or a major back injury, it turns out that Delle Donne apparently had been hit with Lyme Disease, which she had suffered once before, according to her interview Tuesday with longtime Delaware beat writer Kevin Tresolini of the Wilmington News Journal.

Additionally, both Delle Donne and coach Tina Martin texted the Guru Tuesday night.

"I am not going to be myself for a good bit," Delle Donne said of attempting to recover from a disease that affects the joints and could lead to more serious effects in the body. It is usually caused by a bite from a deer tick.

"A lot of heaviness and pain in my legs I'm just gonna have to deal with."

Delle Donne was asked if she had seen the trick shot youtube video attraction on the internet involving her good friend and former Germantown Academy star Caroline Doty, who is missing this season at UConn recovering from a third knee injury.

She had not but planned to check it out.

Delle Donne did not comment on the recent transfer of freshman star Samarie Walker from UConn to Kentucky but was surprised to hear the first part of the story when she was made aware of it as it broke on Thursday.

Martin will use Delle Donne sparingly, but considering the tightness of the CAA race, basically any help at all to keep the Blue Hens in the thick of things is worth something. What Delaware would need is to gain one of the four byes in the CAA tournament, get the extra day of rest, and then hope Delle Donne can be enough of a force to make a three-day run.

As it is, the Blue Hens are 4-3 in conference play without her and nearly upset Old Dominion two weeks ago.

"She still does not feel the best, but she is going to try to help the team," Martin said. "We will take it day to day.

"Elena practiced today. She is not 100 percent but she is going to try to play. It is going to be a long process to recovery. It is going to take her time to try to get back in shape. She can help our team and I am hopeful that with each passing day she will feel better and better," Martin continued.

"We are substituting her in and out every few minutes. It is going to take time. She did some shooting and some 5 on 0 work. She scrimmaged half court and a little full court."

Delle Donne has not played since a Dec. 19 appearance at Penn State and had missed almost two games prior to the trip to Happy Valley before returning against Navy.

She had gotten off to a fast start early in the season and her 26.0 scoring average was the best in Division I until her absences cost her eligibility to be listed in the NCAA statistics. The top spot, ironically, comes from another school with a CAA star in JMU's Dawn Evans, who is also battling kidney disease.

The Dukes visit Philadelphia Thursday night to meet Drexel, whom they recently edged in overtime at home.

In late November, Delle Donne removed herself six minutes into the win over La Salle in town and afterwards Martin said her forward had been very fatigued and worried that potential recurring mononucleosis might be factor.

She was to undergo a series of tests. She then missed the home loss to defending Ivy champion Princeton but then played at Navy the following Sunday and with a two-week break in the schedule then played at Penn State.

However, several days later she sat out the home game with St. Joseph's and planned to undergo a series of tests to get a diagnosis.

Martin told the media if Delle Donne said she couldn't play, then it had to be accepted until a resolution could be found.

Soon the focus was on her back where it was suspected some nerve condition was affecting her stamina.

But after a battery of tests, the focus then moved on lyme disease.

With that known and considering that many persons would just shut themselves down to a slow recovery at least it is now known that Delle Donne's joints and bones are the problem but certainly not her heart.

-- Mel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stopping Elena's Lyme From Causing A Lemon

By Mel Greenberg

Here is a link to longtime Wilmington News Journal Delaware beat reporter Kevin Tresolini's interview with Elena Delle Donne Tuesday afternoon about her illness.

Delle Donne Expected Back In Action

By Mel Greenberg

Hi all. The Guru is in West Philadelphia for a DII game between University of the Sciences and Philadelphia University that starts soon.

But here is Delaware's release announcing sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne is due to return to action. Will try to make contact later.

-- Mel

DATE: January 25, 2011

NEWARK, Del. -- University of Delaware women’s basketball All-American
Elena Delle Donne, who was leading the nation in scoring before missing
the last 10 games due to fatigue and deep muscle and joint pain, will
resume practice Tuesday and could be ready to return to game action this
Sunday when the Blue Hens travel to Hofstra.

Delle Donne, who earned All-American honors in 2009-10 as a freshman
when she was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player and Rookie
of the Year, was leading all NCAA Division I players in scoring at 26.0
points per game before missing 11 games overall due to the ailments.

According to UD Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine Dr.
Andrew Reisman, Delle Donne underwent a thorough medical evaluation for
her symptoms and has started on medication for the treatment of Lyme
Disease. She has shown good clinical improvement and has resumed a
conditioning program.

“We are happy that Elena’s health is continuing to improve each day and
that she is feeling better,” said Delaware head coach Tina Martin, whose
team currently owns a record of 11-7 overall and 4-3 mark in CAA action
heading into a Jan. 27 home game vs. George Mason.

Delle Donne was averaging 34.0 points per game over the first four
contests this season before missing most of the the LaSalle game Nov. 28
and the entire Princeton game on Dec. 1 due to fatigue issues. She
returned to action and scored 20 points vs. Navy on Dec. 5 and 25 vs.
Penn State on Dec. 19 before fatigue and deep muscle and joint pain
forced her out of action.

Guru Report: UConn's Doty A Future Harlem Globetrotter?

By Mel Greenberg

Monday was quite the slow day to the point that the Guru returned yet again to Drexel, yet this time to watch Bruiser Flint's men's team suffocate Georgia State.

However, in the first half at the Daskalakis Athletic Center until the final minutes of the period, Dragons women's star Jasmina Rosseel had actually outscored both men's teams combined with her 26 in the second half of Sunday's win over Hofstra.

Georgia State's total in the 30s was so low that former star Gabriela Marginean has actually put up at least three better total game efforts herself in the DAC before graduating last season.

Anyhow, this is not new, but this for the benefit of local folks in town here who may not always venture to the massive coverage of UConn up North in Hartford and Storrs.

Apparently, former Germantown Academy star Caroline Doty, who is recovering from a third ACL knee injury sidelining her this season from the Huskies, has become a must-see attraction on video giving an exhibition of trick shots.

To understand how things are different up there when it comes to women's basketball, the Doty video is being promoted on page one of the Hartford Courant in Tuesday's editions on a day in which a bombing of the main airport in Moscow and the president's State of the Union address are the main topics elsewhere.

If this works, here's the Doty Youtube link.

Incidentally, the Huskies are at Rutgers Wednesday night for a key Big East game and still remain on target to land in the Philadelphia Regional Finals of the NCAA women's tournament in March.

The next big test will come at home in Storrs Monday night when No. 3 Duke visits.

Penn's Baron and Temple's Peddy Share Big Five Honors

They were on opposite sides Saturday afternoon when Temple beat Penn in The Palestra in a closely fought City Series game but two of the top local newcomers shared Big Five player of the week honors Monday.

Shey Peddy, a junior transfer from Wright State contending for Big 5 player of the year honors, earned a share of the award for her effort in scoring 19 points in the win over St. Joseph's, which was not part of the official round-robin standings, and then had 20 points in the win over Penn.

Baron, a true newcomer as a freshman, made an extra splash in the awards department besides being named for her career-tying 23 points. She became just the sixth player in Ivy history since 2001-02 to sweep both the rookie of the week, which she won outright, and player of the week, which she shared with Megan Vazquez.

The native of Miami, Fla., who has won rookie Ivy honors three previous times this season, had 17 points on Wednesday when the Quakers beat La Salle to end an 0-for-24 slump in City Series games dating back to Dec. 1, 2004, when Penn beat St. Joseph's.

Penn begins the rest of the Ivy slate -- the Quakers lost to defending champion Princeton on the road two weeks ago -- this weekend with a Friday stop at Yale and Saturday stop at Brown.

Poll Trivia

Although it was noted in the previous blog as likely to happen but was down deep in case you all bailed out, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer has now guided Ohio State years ago and Stanford since then to a combined 400 appearances in the AP poll, landing behind Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Georgia's Andy Landers.

Duke has now appeared in the Top 10 of the weekly AP vote 200 times and if the Blue Devils hold serve heading into Monday's game at UConn -- the vote will be out before the game -- they will be making their 100th appearance in the Top 5.

OK, that's it until the next 24. The Guru returns to a little DII action on Tuesday night visiting University of the Sciences hosting Philadelphia University.

Incidentally, James Madison, the defending CAA champs featuring Dawn Evans, the nation's leading scorer, visits Drexel on Thursday night.

-- Mel

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guru Report: Rosseel's Half Makes Drexel Whole

(Guru's note: Information elsewhere from SID email and wire reports)

By Mel Greenberg

Homecoming weekend featured a career-day special with the Drexel women’s basketball team Sunday while elsewhere around the nation at several places a game of trivial pursuit sought answers to such questions as:

When was the last time Maryland crushed Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina so badly?

When was the last time Duke rallied from a 20-point deficit to win?

When was the last time a Penn State player rebounded the ball so ferociously?

But first let’s keep it right here in the City of Brotherly Love where host Drexel and Hofstra began the day locked with Delaware in a three-way tie for fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings.

Now it’s a two-way tie courtesy of Drexel’s 69-57 win over the Pride at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center where they are 8-0 this season and Delaware’s ability to edge host Georgia State 50-46 in Atlanta.

Drexel (12-6, 4-3 CAA) showed some resiliency coming off a tough loss at George Mason 49-47 Thursday night in the closing seconds in Fairfax, Va., at the Patriot Center.

Kamile Nacickaite was the show in the first half with 17 of her 19 points as Drexel went to the break with a 32-20 lead over the Pride (11-7, 3-4).

Hofstra then surged on a 9-0 run before senior Jasmina Rosseel went to work and scored all 26 of her career-high points in a game as Drexel rushed to a lead of as many as 18 points.

Tyler Hale playing all but three minutes had 11 points and 15 of Drexel’s boards in an overwhelming 55-25 rebounding advantage that had to please associate head coach and defensive coordinator Amy Mallon, a Big Five Hall of Famer who played at St. Joseph’s.

And before anyone asks, Drexel has done even better in the past grabbing 70 rebounds on Nov. 21, 2000 in a win over Rider.

“Our players were able to handle the pressure, especially with that big shot by Jazzy,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said of a long three-pointer by Rosseel that extended to one more from the line when Hofstra was assessed a foul on the play.

Hofstra freshman Nicole Capurso had 16 points, Candice Bellocchio scored 10 and West Chester Henderson High’s Shante Evans was held five points below her scoring average with 12.

“They wanted to control the tempo better than we did,” Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Stevesky said.

Meanwhile down in Atlanta, Delaware (11-7, 4-3) shook off a two-game losing streak to keep pace with Drexel as Danielle Parker’s three foul shots at the finish secured the win over the Panthers (7-11, 2-5).

“Right now we have to win games by defense,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin, who remains without star sophomore Elena Delle Donne still sidelined with back problems. “We have to win games by rebounding. I told the kids I thought our defense in the second half was very good. It was a very physical game.”

Lauren Carra had a team-high 16 points for Delaware, which will host George Mason on Thursday night.

James Madison (13-6, 6-1), which features the nation’s leading scorer in Dawn Evans and will visit Drexel Thursday night, is part of a three-way first-place tie including Old Dominion (12-6, 6-1) and North Carolina-Wilmington (14-4, 6-1), which is under first-year coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, the former WNBA superstar.

Virginia Commonwealth (10-7, 5-2), which lost to JMU 69-59, fell to second place as Rams scoring sensation Courtney Hurt reached her 1,000th career point.

Old Dominion’s 71-43 win over Towson at home in Norfok, Va., made Monarchs coach Wendy Larry the 21st coach overall to reach 600 victories.

Philadelphia University’s Tom Shirley in Division II hit the number on Wednesday night on his fourth straight attempt while it was Larry’s second attempt.

The CAA continues to be a free-for-all which could be even wilder if Delle Donne returns to play for Delaware this season.

“This conference has really grown the last several years in terms of teams being a tough one for you every night,” Dillon said. “Obviously the road games are harder than the home games and if you can win on Thursday against a very good James Madison team it makes up for some of the tough road losses.”

Penn State Rebounds Against Indiana

Now to answer some of those trivia questions, let’s head to Happy Valley in central Pennsylvania where the Nittany Lions (16-5, 5-2 Big Ten) put aside Thursday’s loss at Purdue and defeated Indiana 82-69 in a conference contest at home.

Sophomore Nikki Greene grabbed 20 rebounds, the first PSU player to grab that many in 24 seasons dating back to Vicki Link’s 20 against Rutgers on Feb. 16, 1987, when both schools belonged to the Atlantic 10 conference.

Greene classmate Mia Nickson had 25 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while Alex Bentley scored 15 and freshman Maggie Lucas, the scoring star from Germantown Academy, had 16 points.

Nickson’s 20 carooms tied the Bryce Jordan Center record set by Michigan State’s Kristen Rasmussen on Dec.30, 1997.

The Hoosiers fell to 8-12 overall and 2-6 in the conference. As a team Penn State set a new arena record for the BJC with 61 rebounds, while Indiana had 36. The Nittany Lions had 68 rebounds against Florida Atlantic on Nov. 23, 2001.

Penn State, which travels to Illinois Thursday, became postseason eligible, meaning they could be picked for the WNIT if they don’t land in the NCAA field. The Bryce Jordan Center is one of 16 first-second round sites this season – host team in uniform or not.

Coach Coquese Washington’s squad is now tied for third with Michigan in the conference standings, a half-game behind second-place Wisconsin and a full game behind No. 12 Michigan State, which beat visiting Minnesota 66-54 Sunday afternoon.

Atlantic Coast Roll and Rally Warfare

No. 15 Maryland rolled and No. 3 Duke rallied to highlight Atlantic Coast Conference play Sunday night.

The host Terrapins (16-3, 3-2) blasted the No. 10 Tar Heels 88-65, who again come off a recent rout by No. 2 Connecticut to not play well against a major ACC rival when returning to conference play,

Maryland freshman Alyssa Thomas had 16 points and13 rebounds. The Terrapins had just nipped Virginia in overtime Friday night in Charlottesbville after trailing by six points with two minutes left in regulation.

“You’re starting to see a team come together … This is a real opportunity for us to gain momentum,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said in the Comcast Center at home in College Park.

The Tar Heels (17-6, 3-2) were without Jessica Breland who had minor knee surgery, the school announced Friday, and is day-to-day.

As for the trivia fact off the win, it was Maryland’s largest margin of victory against North Carolina since an 88-60 blowout on Feb. 6, 1990.

The Tar Heels’ Italee Lucas scored 17 points.

Maryland next stays at home to host Wake Forest (10-11, 1-4 ACC) Friday night at 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, No. 3 Duke trailed nearby rival North Carolina State by 20 points but was able to remain the last unbeaten Division I women’s team when Chelsea Gray drove and scored with 12 seconds left for a 66-65 victory over the host Wolfpack in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.

Jasmine Thomas had 14 points for the Blue Devils (19-0, 5-0), who travel to No. 2 Connecticut next Monday night in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion on campus in Storrs.

As for more trivia, it was in nearby Hartford in January 2004 that Duke once rallied from 20 points down the last time by such a deficit to win 68-67 on a three-pointer by Jessica Foley at the buzzer, which then stopped a previous NCAA-record home win streak by UConn.

Marissa Kastanek and Kody Burke each scored 14 points for the Wolfpack, who fell to 9-10 overall and 1-4 in the ACC.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia, which had lost that heartbreaker to Maryland, finally got a conference “W” and got it emphatically beating Virginia Tech 72-37 at home in Charlottesville in the John Paul Jones Arena.

And this game also has some way-back trivia in that it was the most lopsided conference win by the Cavaliers (12-9, 1-4 ACC) since beating Maryland 82-41 on Jan. 5, 2001.

Conestoga High grad Chelsea Shine was UVa’s top scorer for the third straight game, this time collecting 16 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.

Virginia Tech (9-10, 0-5), which is still seeking its first ACC win this season, got 12 points from Alyssa Fenyn.

Clemson beat Wake Forest, 77-73, in overtime, while Georgia Tech recovered from its recent rout by Duke to beat Boston College 67-54.

Poll Milestones

When the Associated Press women’s poll for this week is released on Monday it will mark the 400th time Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has had a team ranked including her previous stop at Ohio State.

Currently prior to the release Tennessee’s Pat Summitt is No. 1 with 591 appearances, missing only 14 in the entire history.

Georgia’s Andy Landers is second with 456.

When it comes to total appearances at the same school, Summitt and Landers, whose teams could both be unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play when they meet in Knoxville, Feb. 21, are ranked 1-2.

Third is former Texas coach Jody Conradt at 395 followed VanderVeer’s Stanford total which is 371 prior to Monday.

Duke will appear in the Top 10 for the 200th time.

The schools above the Blue Devils with more than 200 or more Top 10 appearances prior to Monday are:

Tennessee 534
Louisiana Tech 373
Connecticut 311
Stanford 304
Georgia 258
Texas 224

See you in the next 24.

-- Mel

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guru Report: Temple Holds Off Penn While UConn Helped By Moore

By Mel Greenberg

As daylight breaks on Sunday morning the Temple women’s basketball team can look at the Big Five standings and find itself locked at the top with St. Joseph’s at 2-0.

Then the Owls (13-6, 4-0) can glance at the race in the Atlantic 10 and learn they are now one of only two teams in conference play still unbeaten, trailing No. 7 Xavier, 16-2, 5-0) by a half-game after the defending league champion Musketeers handled host Charlotte 82-61 Saturday night as Amber Harris had 27 points and 12 rebounds while teammate Ta’Shia Phillips had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

But Temple’s lackluster play Saturday in a Big Five game against host Penn (6-9, 1-3) had coach Tonya Cardoza concerned despite Temple’s ability to slip past the Quakers 62-55 in the closing minutes at The Palestra.

“They outworked us in every way,” she said of Penn’s attempt to get another City Series triumph after Wednesday’s win against La Salle had ended an 0-24 slump extending back to Dec. 1, 2004 when the Quakers had beaten St. Joseph’s. “They were hungry for a win.

“We came out lackluster. I thought they did a good job of taking it right to us and fighting us down to the very end. You could tell how hungry they were with how they played. And I think our guys just stood around and just watched for the most part and did not take it right back to them.

“And the thing of it with us is we don’t every want a team to outwork us and I think they definitely outworked us today. The only reason why we won is we have a little bit more talent.”

Shey Peddy scored 20 points for Temple while Qwedia Wallace had 14 points and Natasha Thames had 10. But Kristen McCarthy, the reigning Big Five player of the year, was held to four points, way below her 13.4 scoring average.

Penn freshman Alyssa Baron tied a career high with 23 points, though she was the only Quaker to score in double figures and Temple dominated the boards with a 45-31 rebounding advantage.

But those stats were not truly reflective of the game, according to Cardoza, who was unhappy with her players shooting 2-for-8 down the stretch from the foul line until Wallace hit a pair with 25 seconds left in the game.

Penn trailed just 53-48 near the three minute mark until a pair of back-to-back three pointers by Wallace and Peddy enabled Temple to have enough points to withstand a Quakers rally at the end.

“Even with our rebounds, we don’t finish off offensive rebounds and we don’t get putbacks so those don’t make much of a difference,” Cardoza said. “I just think we probably got more shots at the basket. But we don’t score on those putbacks, if we score on those putbacks we’re up 20 points.

“It’s been the same thing every game. We had three games where we were playing great defense and when we come in here, you’d think we wanna step on the gas and defend them and we didn’t defend them at all.

“They got just about anything and everything they wanted. They’re a really good team. They play hard but they really outworked us.”

Penn has really accelerated its effort in the last several weeks, scaring Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia in Charlottesville last Sunday, beating La Salle and then keeping the Owls within striking distance.

Before that they threatened Villanova down the stretch and had started the New Year at defending Ivy champion Princeton by gaining a 20-20 tie in the first half before the Tigers broke loose.

But now Penn actually feels it might have some momentum going into the Friday-Saturday Ivy wars that get under way this weekend beginning with road stops at Yale and Brown.

“Without a doubt,” second year coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress and growth in this team. To be able to come out here against this type of team and put us in another opportunity with a chance to win – that’s all us coaches can hope for.

“Our kids compete, they defend and they play every play and whoever we play is going to have their work cut out for. It’s not always the cleanest basketball, but I don’t think you’re going to have a better effort than from our group.”

Asked the difference in the outcome, he said, “We struggle to score. They got a couple of putbacks late, they got a couple of open shots late.

“I see a group that went from one level to another level,” said McLaughlin, who had made Holy Family the dominate Division II power out of Northeast Philadelphia in the city before coming to Penn last year to revive the Quakers’ performance.

“They believe they can do this. They’re committed to do this. They have a littlte confidence now and they realize they can compete. And when you have a group that doesn’t give up a lot of good can happen.”

St. Joseph’s Ends Losing Streak

Despite having a less formidable opponent in the Atlantic 10 than in recent weeks in hosting Massachusetts, the Hawks trailed by as many as 13 points before rallying to eventually stop the Minutewomen 72-68 at Hagan Arena.

Michelle Baker snapped a scoring slump and had a team high 21 points while Kelly Kavallo had another double double performance with 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks (12-7, 2-3 A-10). Erin Shields had 12 points and dealt seven assists.

Massachusetts, which will host Temple Wednesday when St. Joseph’s hosts St. Bonaventure, fell to 6-14 overall and 2-3 in the league.

Duquesne Handles La Salle

The Dukes shook off a home loss to Richmond on Wednesday to win their 10th straight road game, beating the Explorers 81-65 as Wumi Agunbiade had 14 points and 10 rebounds at Tom Gola Arena.

The visitors, who are coached by former Penn State all-American Suzie McConnell-Serio, an Olympic gold medalist and former WNBA All-Star, improved to 16-3 and 3-1 in the Atlantic 10.

Ashley Gale scored 22 points for La Salle (5-14, 1-3).

Incidentally, former coach Tom Lochner is now assisting former Penn star Diana Caramanico at Penn Charter high and he is also employed elsewhere at La Salle.

In other Atlantic 10 games, host St. Bonaventure (13-7, 3-2) got a 66-52 win over Rhode Island (6-13, 0-5) in upstate New York, while downstate in the city, host Fordham ((10-10, 2-2 A-10) got its first win ever against George Washington, 59-56, after having gone 0-16 against the Colonials (5-13, 0-4) in the all-time series between the two schools.

Becky Peters scored 27 points for the Rams, who several seasons ago had gone 0-29. Tiana Meyers scored 15 points for GWU.
Dayton (12-7, 3-2) topped host Richmond (13-6, 4-1) from the conference unbeaten list as the Flyers gained a 66-55 win over the Spiders as Kristin Dougherty scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Dayton will host La Salle Wednesday.

Nova Remains Winless in Big East

Another game against another ranked team in the Big East produced another loss for Villanova, which fell at No. 16 Georgetown 60-44 in McDonough Arena in the nation’s capital.

Laura Sweeney scored 16 points for the Wildcats (8-11, 0-6), who have now lost five of six, keeping coach Harry Perretta stuck on career win number 594.

The host Hoyas (15-5, 3-3) got 18 points from Tia Magee and 17 from Sugar Rodgers.

Villanova is off until Saturday when the Wildcats will host another ranked Big East team in No. 11 Notre Dame at 7 p.m. at The Pavilion.

Muffet McGraw, a former St. Joseph’s star who is a longtime coach of the Irish, will be making her first homecoming appearance since being named last summer as part of the this June’s inductee class into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

Rutgers Warms Up For UConn Visit

The Scarlet Knights (12-6, 5-0 Big East) got ready to try to take advantage of No. 2 UConn’s reduced post presence by using an inside attack to beat Providence 60-39 in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J., and drop the Friars to 9-9 and 2-4 in the conference.

Rutgers will host Connecticut Wednesday in the only game against the Huskies in the regular season.

Chelsea Lee scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Monique Oliver scored 15 points. April Sykes in the backcourt had 12 points.

Connecticut (18-1, 7-0), playing its first game since freshman Samarie Walker announced her intention Thursday to transfer from the Huskies (she’s headed for Kentucky), topped Pittsburgh 66-46 at Gampel Pavilion, it’s campus arena in Storrs.

Senior all-American Maya Moore scored 20 points in the first half and 28 overall against the Panthers (9-9, 1-4) while freshman Bria Hartley scored 13 points.

Pittsburgh got 16 points from Taneisha Harrison while Big East double double leader Chelsea Cole had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“The score did not reflect what a great game this was,” Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said.

Elsewhere in the Big East among ranked teams, No. 9 West Virginia (19-1, 5-1) got 16 points each from Sarah Miles and Liz Rapella in a 78-52 win over South Florida (9-11, 0-6) at home in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers this week will visit Georgetown on Tuesday and DePaul on Sunday before hosting Connecticut the following week.

DePaul (19-2, 6-0), ranked 13th, topped Seton Hall 77-59 in Chicago as the Pirates fell to 7-12 overall and remained winless at 0-6 in the conference.

Keisha Hampton and Taylor Pikes each scored 16 points for the Blue Demons.

Syracuse rallied to a 69-63 at Marquette in a key win over the Orangewomen who fell out of the rankings several weeks ago.

Louisville topped host Cincinnati 83-47.

Stanford Slams Southern Cal

The No. 4 Cardinal (16-2, 7-0 Pac-10), which stopped UConn’s NCAA Division I record win streak at 90 last month, is feeling its muscle rolling along in conference play.

Jeanette Pohlen scored 21 points and dealt a career-high 12 assists in a 95-51 win over visiting Southern Cal (12-6, 4-3), the Cardinal’s 10th straight since road losses at DePaul and at Tennessee in overtime.

Briana Gilbreath scored 17 points to become the 22nd USC women’s star to reach 1,000 in her career, joining an illustratious group that includes Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller.

Stanford’s freshman Chiney Ogwumike and her older sister Nnemkadi each scored 14 points for Stanford, which also got 16 points from Kayla Pederson in the Cardinal’s 56h straight home win at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif.

Meanwhile, No. 8 UCLA (16-2, 6-1), the conference’s other ranked team, got a career-high 22 points from Darxia Morris in a 65-56 win at California (11-7, 3-4) in Berkeley.

The Bears got 22 points from DaNesha Stallworth.

Elsewhere in the conference, Dymond Simon scored 13 points to help Arizona State (12-5, 4-3) to a 52-49 win over visiting
Washington (7-10, 2-6) in Tempe, while host Arizona (13-5, 4-3) got 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight steals from Ify Ibekwe in a 64-58 win over Washington State (5-15, 3-5).

Longhorns Finally Hook Big 12 Win

Chassidy Fussell, a freshman, scored 21 points to get Texas (12-7, 1-4) its first Big 12 win of the season, a 63-56 triumph over visiting Oklahoma State (13-5, 1-4) at home in Austin.

Top-ranked Baylor (18-1, 5-0), whose only loss was the one-point defeat at Connecticut in November, continues to ride Brittney Griner, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots in a 64-51 Big 12 win over visiting Texas Tech (16-3, 3-2) at home in Waco, Texas.

The game was the first meeting between the two schools since Griner, then a heralded freshman, got suspended for two games last season after she threw a punch that broke the nose of the Red Raiders’ Jordan Barncastle.

Sixth-ranked Texas A&M (17-1, 5-0) stopped No. 20 Iowa State’s 19-game home win streak in Ames, gaining a 60-51 win courtesy of Danielle Adams’ 25 points against the Cyclones (13-5, 1-3).

In other Big 12 games, Brittany Chambers tied a career-high with 26 points as host Kansas State (13-5, 3-2) got a 64-37 win over Nebraska (11-7, 1-3).

The Other Green Bay News

Attention is focused on the Packers’ bid to stop the Chicago Bears in the Windy City Sunday in the NFL and go to the Super Bowl, but in a battle of cheesetowns Saturday in the Horizon League, No. 21 Wis.-Green Bay (18-1, 7-0) got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Kayla Tetschlag in an 87-39 win over state rival and visiting Wis.-Milwaukee (6-12, 3-4).

Staying Perfect In Other Conferences

Starr Crawford had 15 points as TCU (14-6, 6-0) topped host Utah 56-46 to stay unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference while Navy took over sole possession of first place in the Patriot League by beating Army 55-46.

Gonzaga beat San Francisco to be unchallenged in the West Coast Conference while Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference beat Nevada 67-43 at home and celebreated a national championship reunion.

Incidentally, a recent AP story noted one of former NBA star Karl Malone’s daughters were transferring to Tech, his alma mater but didn’t mention former WNBA All-Star Cheryl Ford, who also went to the school in Ruston.

Montana State won at rival Montana 72-69 to remain unbeaten in the Big Skuy Conference.

Missing in Sunday’s Action

Jessica Breland had minor knee surgery and won’t be with North Carolina when the No. 10 Tar Heels visit No. 15 Maryland in a key Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in College Park.

Elena Della Donne is still sidelined with back problems and won’t be with Delaware when the Blue Hens visit Georgia State Sunday.

See you again in the next 24.

-- Mel

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guru Musings: UConn Still Has Moore With One Less

By Mel Greenberg

Back in 2003 when Connecticut's previous record win streak of 70 straight came to an end at the hands of Villanova in the Big East championship game, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma commented in his press conference remarks that one potential fallout from the upset would be that the Huskies could end up going out in the first round of the NCAA tournament losing to the 16th seed.

Most in the room took a pass on the remark because a) the Huskies were scheduled to play the first two rounds at home and b) the Huskies had Diana Taurasi and no one else did.

So now that prized freshman Samarie Walker has departed, the Huskies are shorthanded in the post, and the end may be near.

Not so fast.

This time around UConn's Taurasi equivalent is Maya Moore and on Monday night with Walker already absent for the North Carolina game the feared challenge from the Tar Heels never came because of the nation's top player and a career highlight by Tiffany Hayes.

No matter what happens dead ahead for the Huskies and dead ahead is just around the corner, they're still likely to be sent to the Philadelphia Regional and may not get much of a challenge considering the lack of threats from teams along the Eastern seaboard. Remember the NCAA committee plays the geography game in setting up the women's bracket.

But the next two weeks will offer how much Walker's self-imposed subtraction is affecting UConn.

The Huskies will be still be a strong favorite in Vegas to win at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights, while not being a leader of the pack, does have people such as Monique Oliver to block a shot or two.

It also looks like Jan. 31 is the new must-watch date when No. 3 Duke, which crushed ACC-rival Georgia Tech 69-32 Friday night, visits Gampel Pavilion looking to catapult over UConn in the polls and in projected NCAA committee seeding.

Afterwards will be two major Big East encounters with a visit from DePaul and a trip to West Virginia.

So after that set of games we'll know if the traditional resiliency that has stood UConn well over the years in times of adversity is still a potent factor.

Terrapins Ready To Dance Like Its 2006?

Back in the stretch of the 2006 season Maryland rose up to beat Duke at about this point in time and barely missed upsetting North Carolina.

However, the back-to-back performances did wonders for the confidence of a young Terrapins group who then got both schools in the Women's Final Four for Maryland's sole NCAA title in women's basketball.

On Friday night, the Terrapins rallied in the closing minutes and then stunned host Virginia in overtime for a 77-75 victory, not that the team Maryland beat is your grandmother's Cavaliers.

But if this gives the Terrapins a big shot of confidence, coach Brenda Frese's group will be in position to get North Carolina when the Tar Heels visit the Comcast Center at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Virginia meanwhile needs a run quickly if the Cavaliers want to avoid sitting in the stands when one of the NCAA opening set of games are played in their John Paul Jones Arena.

Drexel Lives By The Winning Shot and Also Dies By It

A week ago, Kamile Nacickaite kept Drexel in the thick of the Colonial Athletic Association race with a buzzer-beatng trey in overtime to stun host William & Mary.

On Thursday night a comeback went to waste when host George Mason got Drexel with 4.1 seconds left in regulation on an inside shot by Taleia Moton for a 49-47 triumph.

That setback put the Dragons (11-6, 3-3 CAA) two games behind the mob of leaders in Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, James Madison and VCU.

"I'm only worried about one thing -- having lost Marisa Crane and Jackie Schluth to knee injuries has hurt our chemistry," coach Denise Dillon said afterwards. "We seem to be going backwards. We as a coaching staff don't want to dwell on the losses. We don't talk about it. We want to move forward and keep playing the kind of defense that had us winning."

Drexel is locked with Delaware and Hofstra at 3-3 but already has a win over the Blue Hens. So when Hofstra visits Sunday at 2 p.m. in the second annual homecoming of former West Chester Henderson High star Shante Evans, consider the game a must-win on both sides.

Saturday's Local Slate

Temple will visit Penn at 2 p.m. for a Big Five game against a Quakers squad coming off an upset of La Salle.

A vastly improved Duquesne team coached by former Penn State star Suzie McConnell-Serio visits La Salle at 2 p.m. trying to recover from the loss to Richmond, while at the same time St. Joseph's will be at home trying to break its slide by beating Massachusetts.

Villanova must deal with another Big East ranked team when the Wildcats visit Georgetown, while Rutgers will be looking to keep the momentum going when the Scarlet Knights host Providence.

The Guru will have it all so see you all in the next 24 hours. In between keep you eye on the tweets.

-- Mel

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guru Report: Milestones Galore

By Mel Greenberg

On a night of milestones across the City of Brotherly Love Wednesday Philadelphia University coach Tom Shirley plus the Penn women’s basketball program equaled Temple junior star Kristen McCarthy.

Now that you are completely baffled by that opening statement, here’s the numerical translation.

Shirley finally gained his 600th win courtesy of his Rams’ 76-60 victory over Chestnut Hill College in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference home game at the Gallagher Athletic Center as Christine Wooding scored 20 points, Taylor Magnus scored 15 and Stephanie Agger scored 12 points.

Now in his 30th year of coaching including an eight-year stint at Allentown College (now called DeSales University), his alma mater, Shirley became the 20th NCAA coach across all divisions to reach the number, though Old Dominion’s Wendy Larry can hit the total Thursday night if the Monarchs win their home game against Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association.

North Carolina-Greensboro coach Lynn Agee was at 598 out of the weekend.

So that’s 600.

Next up are those Penn Quakers (6-8) who won their 400th game in the program’s history by beating La Salle, 45-40, at home in The Palestra to break an 0-24 City Series slide since Dec. 1 2004 when Penn beat St. Joseph’s.

Quakers freshman Alyssa Baron scored 17 points while Ashley Gale scored 13 for the Explorers (5-13).

“Our defense was great and our offense was just good enough to carry us,” aaid Penn second-year coach Mike McLaughlin.

“It’s a big step forward for the program to win a Big Five game. When we came here that was one of our goals to move forward to try to win at least one Big Five game a year. I’m really happy for our seniors who have never won one of those.”

So that’s 400.

Add them together and you get 1,000, which also happens to be the career point total Temple junior Kristen McCarthy passed at the Liacouras Center in a 53-43 victory over St. Joseph’s in a key Atlantic 10 victory. She is now at 1,010.

McCarthy became the 18th player in the history of the program to have a grand total of points and moved to 17th in the school record books for career scorers.
Shey Peddy had 19 points for the Owls (12-6, 4-0 Atlantic 10), who won their fifth straight and also 10th straight over the Hawks. It was only the second game in the last 11 in the series between the two schools that was decided by more than six points.

McCarthy finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks (11-7, 1-3) got 10 points each from Kelly Cavallo and Samira Van Grinsven while Cavallo also grabbed 10 rebounds.

The two teams meet again Feb. 23 at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena in a game that also will count in the Big Five standings and both teams could be 3-0 that night.

Overall Temple has now beaten the Hawks 16 of the last 17 games and the one loss was decided at the buzzer at St. Joseph’s.

The Hawks have lost four of five and has been the case both Katie Kuester and Michelle Baker, the two leading scorers, were limited by the opposition.

“Anytime we play Temple it is usually a low scoring game on both ends,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “I was happy with our defense. We out rebounded them. I felt we held their two leading scorers in check, though Peddy obviously had a very good game for them, but the defensive effort was terrific.

“It flips to the (Hawks’) offense and our two top scorers – they struggled today. I think it has a lot to do with how Temple was guarding us, for sure, but I think we have to get better in some areas and to compete those two need to play better. That’s where we are right now.”

St. Joseph’s next hosts Massachusetts on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, in her third season, nearly mirrored Griffin’s comments but as a winning coach.

“Since I’ve been here it’s always been hard fought and down to the wire,” Cardoza said. “They’re a team that never quits. They work extremely hard. They’re disciplined and no matter what, they always give us a hard fought battle.

“But I thought our guys came out and did a great job defensively trying to shut down their top scorers – trying to make sure we didn’t give up any threes (first time this season Hawks were stopped in that category).

“But I think our defense is doing a great job right now and we have to continue that right now. We got a little erratic on offense but a lot of that had to do with what St. Joseph’s was doing pressuring us and forcing us to take bad shots.”

Temple plays at Penn Saturday at 2 p.m.

Wildcat Non-Strike

Villanova remained winless in the Big East as the Wildcats (8-10, 0-5) fell at home at the Pavilion 58-53 to Providence (9-8, 2-3) despite Laura Sweeney’s 19 points.

Villanova coach Harry Perretta remained stuck on 594 victories and at this moment in time it could be said he is six wins away and perhaps a summer also before he crosses the 600 plateau.

Record Night For USP

The University of the Sciences of Philadelphia has been known for its success in rifle as a sport but it was a night for other shooters in the Bobby Morgan Arena as the Devils (10-4, 6-2) topped Georgian Court 79-50 in a CACC game that was USP’s fourth straight win.

The Devils set a school record for field goal shooting percentage, targeting the basket at a 59.6 percent rate topping the former mark of 59.3 percent set on March 2, 2004 against NJIT.

Marissa Chesnavich was 8-for-8 and finished with 17 points while becoming the first CACC women’s player to have two perfect nights in the same season hitting seven or more shots. She was 7-7 earlier in the year against Wilmington.

Caitlin Shaw had a game-high 21 points for USP, while Alyssa Hamm had 14 points and Colleen Christian scored 10.

Commiserating Greetings To UConn

In the continuing non-disclosure of whatever caused UConn coach Geno Auriemma to leave freshman Samarie Walker home from the North Carolina trip to play the Tar Heels because of a personal matter, Temple assistant coach Wilnett Crockett, who had her share of grief playing for the Huskies, was told perhaps a whipping girl award was ready to be claimed in the role Crockett once endured.

“Well, my heart goes out to her,” Crockett said while giving an indication she had no idea of Walker. “But I’ll tell you he never did that to me – he never left me home.”

Crockett has also said she has nothing but good feelings after the fact of the results of her career at UConn.

Things The Guru Noticed

Xavier coach Kevin McGuff picked up his 200th victory as the Musketeers beat St. Bonaventure 76-56 in an Atlantic 10 game at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Richmond kept pace with Temple and Xavier as unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play rallying from an early 12-0 deficit and upsetting host Duquesne 72-58 at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.
Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio’s Dukes visit La Salle Saturday night.

In a battle of Mountain West Conference teams unbeaten in league action, TCU edged BYU 54-51 at home for the Horned Frogs’ seventh straight win.

Dayton (11-7, 2-2) beat George Washington 80-64 as the Atlantic 10 Colonials fell to 5-12 and 0-3 and it doesn’t seem that long ago that GW was several cuts above the WNBA Washington Mystics.

Texas A&M beat Texas in Big 12 play leaving the Longhorns at 11-7 overall and 0-4 in the league. Texas is getting close to be flung to the limbo land of the bubble in terms of who might make the NCAA tournament.

On Thursday night Drexel is at George Mason – the Guru contemplating heading that way in suburban Washington – while Delaware is at N.C.-Wilmington.

Penn State, meanwhile, gets a major test at Purdue as the Nittany Lions attempt to stay at least tied with Michigan State at the top of the standings.

That’s all for the moment.

-- Mel

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guru Musings: UConn Women Vs. UConn Men

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru has been taking advantage of a relatively dead night Tuesday to do some organizing to soon add local Division II and III coverage to the melgreenberg.com site.

But while checking out an interesting fact relating to Philadelphia University coach Tom Shirley's impending 600th victory, which could come on his fourth try at home Wednesday night against Chestnut Hill College, this amusing thought hit the Guru's mind involving special comparisons this week between the University of Connecticut men's and women's teams.

What was the difference between the two Monday night and what will be the difference between the two programs on Sautrday?

On Monday, the men's team used a Walker named Kemba to beat Villanova at the finish in a Big East game at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

That same evening coach Geno Auriemma's women's team didn't need a freshman Walker named Samarie, leaving her home for unspecified reasons regarding a personal matter, while the No. 2 Huskies went on to trounce No. 10 North Carolina on the road in Chapel Hill.

On Saturday, near what once was a traditional weekend women's date for a CBS-TV appearance by the two schools, Tennessee's men will visit Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford.

As far as the other gender goes, what was once the top rivalry in the women's game has been no more since Tennessee coach Pat Summitt cancelled the series after the 2007 season for reasons that have never been made precise in public.

Though the two programs will be miles apart instead of close together there will be some proximity because Tyler Summitt, the son of the Hall of Fame Tennessee women's coach, is a freshman on Bruce Pearl's roster this season.

Meanwhile, did you know that the combination of Auriemma and Calhoun have produced 1,590 career victories, which is tops in the entire NCAA for two coaches working at the same institution?

Why does the Guru know this?

Because the only other 1,500 tandem in the NCAA is right here in town at Philadelphia University where going into Wednesday night's men's-women's doubleheader at home at the Gallagher Athletic Center is the combination of Tom Shirley and all-time NCAA winningest men's coach Herb Magee who are at 1,515.

Auriemma's wins have all come at UConn while Calhoun had been elsewhere before joining the Huskies.

Conversely, all of Magee's wins have come with the Rams while Shirley, in his 30th season, coached eight of them at his alma mater Allentown College, now known as DeSales University.

The next tamden approaching the 1,500 mark are Tennessee's Summit and Pearl, though the Guru is unsure how wins are being handled during Pearl's eight-game Southeastern Conference suspension in relation to NCAA rules violations.

The Guru, who has been on the Philly U. case, will be dealing with those events by remote since it is important to be at the first of two Atlantic 10 showdowns between St. Joseph's and Temple. This one will be at the Owls' Liacouras Centerat 5 p.m. before the men's team meets Penn in a Big Five game.

The Big Five tango between the Hawks and Owls women, which could decide the title, will be near the end of the regular season on Hawk Hill.

Post No Posts

Meanwhile, whatever is the problem involving Samarie Walker, former recruit Elena Delle Donne, now at Delaware, might be off the hook after her one-day attack of freshmanitis back in 2008.

And for those who may have missed these quotes from former Auriemma whipping girl Wilnett Crockett, now a Temple assistant, about her UConn experience which the Guru used to advance the UCLA men's NCAA win streak-tying game in New York against Ohio State, here are most of them on instant repost:

“It was a learning experience," Crockett said. "You have to get used to how he was – his sense of humor and everything like that. I think that initially it’s like `Are you serious. Did you just say that right now out loud for everyone to hear. ‘

“I mean, once you get past that and you realize that’s just how he is and he’s just trying to motivate you and get the best out of you and then you pretty much brush it off.

“Do I have any funny stories – I don’t think my stories are any too much funny that I recall. It was plenty of nights – tears and not too much left.’”

"I think when you’re in the moment you don’t realize everything but once you step out of it, and you get around your teammates that you went to school with and you start talking about what went on and you laugh about it.

“But in the moment, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t laughing about anything that was going on. Even though you’re going through it and you say, `This is hard. This is hell.’ You always have your upperclassmen your teammates to tell you `Don’t worry about. Brush it off.’”

“I look back now and I don’t regret anything. I’m happy with my four years. Two national championships. You can’t complain. You take the good with the bad and you move on.”

Meanwhile, though, when one adds Heather Buck's lackluster work in the paint to Walker's situation, instead of Auriemma worrying about low posts or high posts, he's dealing at the moment with no posts.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, an assistant to Auriemma for 14 seasons before taking the Temple job in 2008, had a little trouble moving on recently in terms of travel.

When the Owls recently played at Charlotte in an afternoon game in their Atlantic 10 opener, the team had to wait a day to return home on a commercial flight due to timing and cost issues involving several flights.

"In my last job, we would be on that charter right after the game and would have already been home in our beds," Cardoza said with no rancor intended.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno recently noted the pros and cons of chartering flights after collegiate games at places that can handle the costs of such luxuries.

"The good news with charters is we're home in time for the players to get in their own beds and not miss much class time," he said. "The down side is you're not in a town long enough to learn a few things, see a few sights and enrich your collegiate experience beyond playing basketball."

Well, looks like the Guru managed to say enough until next time.

-- Mel

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guru Musings & Report: UConn Goes Smoking On Tobacco Road

By Mel Greenberg

That's quite the tease that those Connecticut Huskies set up with a little help from North Carolina heading into Monday night's showdown that didn't show what many thought would happen.

The last two times the Huskies and Tar Heels met, UConn grabbed lopsided victories that resulted in UNC going into slides that seemed to be caused by a battered psyche -- though other factors were involved a year ago.

So what did we have this time in terms of news coverage advancing the game. Tina Charles was no longer around to patrol the inside, in case anyone who follows UConn forgot. Not all the freshmen are getting the system down and one, Samarie Walker, was left home for personal reasons. Then there was Tiffany Hayes' mild concussion suffered Saturday in the Louisville game that became a major cause of concern. Additionally, the performance vanishing act of Heather Buck was also addressed.

And on the Carolina side there were reports how things would be different this time around. Yeah, unlike the last Chapel Hill visit the white stuff sprinkled here Monday night instead of in the Tar Heel State.

So with all that adversity and another blowout, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was apparently able to commend his group for playing the best they had all season.

All of which brings the Guru to address some chatter that has been going on involving how could UConn be ranked second behind Baylor after the Huskies' loss to Stanford when they beat Baylor -- albeit by one point.

The answer is that when we get to this stage of the season who beat who does not factor as much as it might have earlier or otherwise the thought process in that direction would result in a voting stalemate.

Polls become snapshots in time. Yes, UConn beat Baylor BUT by the time UConn played Stanford, the Bears were still going strong while the Huskies did not exactly have a classic down-to-the-wire effort that might have produced a different outcome.

But once the order has been set, that is the way it will stand until enough people think Baylor is teetering in the Big 12 and UConn is plowing through the Big East on some nights considering the weather to get to the game and then continuing after arrival as the Huskies did in Chapel Hill.

Stanford couldn't hit the upper reaches of the poll because the overtime loss at Tennessee and the loss at DePaul due to a short roster and prime performance by the Blue Demons became a drag on the vote.

As we go the rest of the way, the things to watch is what is becoming a five-for-four race involving to chase for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. The contenders are Baylor, unless Texas A&M makes itself felt in their Big 12 battle; Connecticut, unless Duke or Notre Dame next times around mounts a challenge, or some surprises befall the Huskies in the Big East. And Duke still has to deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Stanford seems to have a clear path through the Pac-10 unless UCLA can launch a challenge. Tennessee just needs to avoid being taken down by someone in the Southeastern Conference.


Temple's Kristen McCarthy earned her second Big Five player of the week award while Villanova's Laura Sweeney, Penn's Alyssa Baron, and La Salle's Ashley Gale were named to the women's honor roll.

In what is becoming a nearly weekly announcement, Penn State's Maggie Lucas of Germantown Academy was again named Big Ten freshman of the week for the sixth time this season. On Sunday she knocked down one of Kelly Mazzante's records by scoring her 66th three-pointer to break the previous freshman record of 65 set by the former Nittany Lions star.

OK, time to slog it home though it now appears to be wet stuff as in rain.

See you in 24 hours.

-- Mel

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guru's Musings: Lucas Oils Penn State To Top of Big 10

(Guru’s note: There is a post below this one as a separate breakout on career win number 600 still be elusive for Philly U. coach Tom Shirley. If you are on the melgreenberg.com site just click the mel’s blog button on the left to get back to the blogspot archive. The Guru was at Philly U. Some quotes in this post are from the wire services or other websites and reports.)

By Mel Greenberg

It was a year ago next week that Penn State slipped into the Associated Press women’s poll for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

The nod from the national media panel voting each week seemed a sign that the Nittany Lions had made it back to their place under the women’s basketball sun in coach Coquese Washington’s third season.

But the success was quickly short-circuited as the team went into a dive. Although PSU made it into the postseason for the first time since 2004-05 thanks to the expanded Women’s National Invitation Tournament, Hofstra brought thoughts of a deep run to an abrupt end with an upset at Happy Valley in a first round game.

Now the Nittany Lions (15-4, 4-1 Big Ten) have roared to a first-place tie in the Big 10 with Michigan State and off to their best conference start since 7-0 in 2004-05. As a result, they may soon get another vote of approval in the AP poll, perhaps as early as Monday’s release of this week’s rankings.

But is there enough staying power on hand to avoid being a one-week wonder?

It could be because unlike a year ago the first female leprechaun since all-time scorer Kelly Mazzante graduated in 2004 is on the scene.

Her name is Maggie Lucas and she hails out of Germantown Academy, the same suburban Philadelphia school that has housed such future prized collegians as Connecticut’s Caroline Doty.

Lucas in her first season is already hammering away at the blocks of granite cultivated in the Mazzante era that made it seemed her records would be indestructible for a long time.

On Sunday, Lucas, who has been monopolizing Big Ten rookie of the week awards, nailed six three-pointers and eclipsed by one Mazzante’s freshman mark of 65 in a season as she reached her 320th point and Penn State beat Illinois, 83-62.

Remember that’s a season record that Mazzante completed in late March and Lucas may have at least 12 or more games left before 2011 officially is retired to the PSU records archives.

For those looking way down the road, the meter on Mazzante’s storied career record that also became a Big 10 mark stopped at 2,919 points. Lucas could very well threaten that achievement.

This season there is extra motivation for Lucas to lead her team back to the Big Dance.

The Nittany Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center is one of 16 first-second round sites and if PSU gets a bid it gets to stay home. Then there’s the possibility for better or worse depending on the top seed that Penn State would be placed as part of the Philadelphia Regional giving Lucas and three of her teammates a special homecoming in March.

Nacickaite’s Heroics No Longer Foreign To Drexel

Although Drexel is still dabbling in foreign affairs in the wake of all-time scorer Gabriela Marginean’s departure, the concept of a native of another land rescuing the Dragons continues to be familiar.

Going into the season the question about Drexel was who might fill the go-to role that starred the native of Romania.

That was quickly answered with the play of junior guard Kamile Nacickaite.

On Sunday, she was at it again in a game-saving performance.

The native of Lithuana connected on a long three-pointer just before overtime ended to give the Dragons a 59-58 victory over William & Mary in a Colonial Athletic Association victory in Williamsburg, Va.

“Kamile made a ridiculous shot to win it,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said from the team bus as the Dragons (11-5, 3-2 CAA) were returning home. “We were running the play for Hollie Mershon but the ball ended up in Kamile’s hands and she didn’t have a pass to make so she shot it.”

Nacickaite finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Jasmina Rosseel, the native of Belgium, had 11 points and hit a key three-pointer earlier in the overtime. It was the third straight game decided by three points or less for the Dragons who lost 77-73 in overtime at James Madison Thursday night.

Taysha Paye had 19 points and four assists for the Tribe (1-14, 0-5).

Though two Drexel players were recently lost for the rest of the season with knee injuries, the Dragons got a third one back in forward Tyler Hale, who had missed three games because of a concussion.

“That’s important because we really need her in our rotation,” Dillon said of Hale, who had nine points and five rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench.

Drexel next travels to George Mason Thursday night.

Delaware Close But Not Enough Again To Topple ODU

Danielle Parker had a career-high 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but the Blue Hens (10-6, 3-2 CAA) fell to the conference-leading Monarchs (11-5, 5-0) at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark by a score of 62-59.

ODU has beaten Delaware four straight dating back to last season with the games decided by an overall total of seven points. Monarchs coach Wendy Larry gained her 599th-career victory to tie her with Philadelphia University’s Tom Shirley at 20 on the all-time list across divisions.

Shirley missed his third straight shot at 600 but has another Wednesday night when Chestnut Hill College will visit the Gallagher Athletic Center.

Larry’s chance is Thursday when Virginia Commonwealth will make the short ride from Richmond to Norfolk in the Dominion State.

Mwanwhile, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne missed her eighth straight game because of back problems. Coach Tina Martin was hopeful last Thursday that perhaps a diagnosis of the condition with a possible solution might be made by Monday.

How About Those Penn Quakers

Can Ivy defending champion Princeton be tougher than Atlantic Coast Conference traditional power Virginia?

Consider a week ago that Penn’s developing program in Mike McLaughlin’s second season opened league play in Jadwin Gym against the Tigers and after playing even at 20-20 in the first half got waxed pretty quickly after the break.

The Quakers (5-8) weren’t given much hope on their visit to Charlottesville Sunday to meet the Cavaliers (11-8) in the John Paul Jones Arena.

However, though trailing by 17 early in the second half, Penn sliced the deficit all the way down to three points at the three-minute mark until being forced to foul resulted in a 54-45 win by Virginia.

Penn’s Alyssa Baron scored 13 points while Virginia’s Chelsea Shine, a graduate of Conestoga High in the Philadelphia suburbs, scored 20.

The Quakers will host La Salle at the Palestra Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and then Temple at 2 p.m. Saturday to complete their Big Five schedule.

Villanova Better In Disguise?

Before playing the Wildcats (8-9, 0-4 Big East) in a conference game Sunday afternoon on the Main Line, Doug Bruno, coach of No. 14 DePaul (17-2, 5-0), expressed concern Saturday night about facing Harry Perretta’s squad, which had been having scoring problems all season.

“Villanova always plays better later in the season, Rutgers always plays better,” Bruno said while attending the Philly.com/Rally High School girls tournament at Philadelphia University.

Despite his fears, DePaul still was able to take a relative easy 64-45 win over the Wildcats at the Pavilion.

Villanova has been forced to meet conference heavyweights such as UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia, and DePaul early though there are actually few easy pickings in the Big East this season.

Still, Perretta thinks there is some progress being made as he explained to Glenn Papazian, who covered the game for his Philly College Sports website.

Lindsay Kimmel, by the way, had 12 points for Villanova while DePaul’s Keisha Hampton had 20 points and seven rebounds as the graduate of Philadelphia’s Engineering & Science High celebrated a homecoming.

“We are playing against such quality opponents you don’t notice it,” Perretta said. “Sometimes you look like you’re not playing better.

“Our number of quality shots has gone up, our turnovers have gone down. Are there enough quality shots? No. But we are getting more now than early in the season.”

UConn Ahead Again As Fork In The Road For North Carolina

The fourth in a series of predicted potential potholes for the two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut Huskies is just ahead Monday night when they make a nonconference visit to ACC power North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

At the beginning of the season when UConn was still on the way to its Division I record win streak at 90, there were several danger spots to the Huskies that were rather obvious.

The first was dodged when they edged Baylor by a point, though the Bears have since gone ahead to take No. 1 over UConn in the AP poll.

Then Stanford applied the hammer to end the win streak as the Cardinal triumphed at home in Palo Alto, Calif. Notre Dame almost got a win a week ago at home in South Bend and will have another shot visiting UConn and then potentially again in the Big East tournament.

Now the Tar Heels are ahead on the radar but the last two seasons UConn’s lopsided wins so got into UNC’s psyche they went into a tailspin both times.

But Tina Charles is no longer around to help patrol the paint so again it may be up to Maya Moore to keep the Huskies out of trouble.

North Carolina will travel to Maryland Sunday for an ACC game in the Terrapins’ Comcast Center at 5 p.m.

UConn meets another ACC power at the end of the month when No. 3 Duke visits on January 31. Oklahoma is also coming from the Midwest and Big 12 conference to resume the Sooners’ national rivalry with the Huskies.

The Mostly Local Week

St. Joseph’s visits Temple at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Liacouras Center in an Atlantic 10 women’s game before the Temple men meet Penn in a Big 5 game. The first of the annual home-and-home confrontations for this season will not count in the Big 5 standings.

As mentioned, La Salle, off a nice win against St. Louis, visits Penn at 7 p.m. the same night. Villanova with a shot to get a Big East win will host Providence, their home-and-home conference partner this season.

Drexel on Thursday will be at George Mason for a CAA game in Fairfax, Va., near Washington while Delaware visits N.C.-Wilmington which is doing surprisingly well under first-year coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer who was a superstar in the WNBA.

Friday features the annual Big 5 Hall of Fame induction luncheon at the Palestra.

On a loaded Saturday, as mentioned, Temple visits Penn at 2 p.m., Rutgers will host Providence in the Big East the same time, Massachusetts will visit St. Joseph’s in the A-10 at 2 p.m. while another A-10 matchup has Suzie McConnell-Serio’s hot Duquesne squad visiting La Salle at 7 p.m. Villanova will be at nationally-ranked Georgetown in the Big East at 2 p.m.

And on Sunday Hofstra with former West Chester Henderson star Shante Evans will visit Drexel at 2 p.m. in the CAA, Delaware will be at Georgia State and Penn State will host Indiana following Thursday’s Big 10 visit to Purdue.

See you all within the next 24 hours.

-- Mel