Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, 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.

Honors

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

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